How I Healed Myself
I have a very cool, albeit slightly double-edged, thing to tell you guys today.
You might already know that I’ve had a lot of knee surgery – three rounds, in fact – to repair them after I had an accident in 2007 that brought on something called patellofemoral dysplasia – in English, that means your kneecaps dislocate for no reason at all.
Well – officially, there’s no reason.
If I’d listened better to what the doctors were telling me at the time, I’d have acted on the fact that my condition would’ve been made a hell of a lot easier to treat if I wasn’t morbidly obese.
Anyway, that means my knees are pretty much made of sticks and glue (or, rather, metal) now. I’ve got bits of hamstring holding together bits of kneecap, and I’ve got a bunch of metal in my shins to keep my knee moving in the right direction. There’s only so long they could guarantee that surgery would last for, given my weight – and before I started my second wave on this programme earlier this year, my kneecap was starting to dislocate again. Meaning more surgery – sooner, to fix the dislocations, and later, when the metalwork eventually wore out and had to be replaced.
Given that this type of metalwork has a shelf life of around 20-30 years, that’d mean at least two or three knee replacement style surgeries on each side, assuming I lived to a ripe old age.
Pretty grim, I’m sure you’ll agree. But I just thought that was one of those things you just have to put up with. Fine.
If you’re following me on Twitter, you might’ve noticed that over the last couple of months, I’ve been complaining of pain in my knee again. I thought it might’ve been bursitis caused by overuse, or just an inevitable side effect of my slightly dodgy knees – but it has definitely been inhibiting me a tad. Mostly in yoga, where I’m fine until I have to kneel – and then it aches. Really aches.
So, I’ve been worrying about it.
I took myself to the GP, and they sent me off to a surgeon who’d be able to take a look at it.
And guess what?
I don’t need my metalwork any more.
In fact, my body outright does not want it in there.
My muscles and bones are now so much stronger through following this programme – what with its healthy, balanced diet and combination of resistance training and low-impact walking – that I no longer need the massive hunks of metal holding my kneecaps in place. They’re fixed.
The fact that the surgeon was amazed at the range of movement, strength, and lack of pain I experienced when he was testing my knee out – or rather, playing what I can only assume is the medical version of Pong with my patella – was awesome for me. He was almost as delighted as I was when I found out pea and mint hoummous is a thing. I’m used to disappointing doctors, and usually I’m braced for bad news because I do seem to have a remarkable ability to injure myself in unexpected ways – so this was a whole new experience.
Alas, this does now mean another surgery to take that metal out – 7th November is D-Day, so you can expect me to be very, very whiny around that time – but I’m sure you’ll agree, that’ll be totally worth it to get rid of the pain that, ironically, the unnecessary metalwork is now causing.
I’m fixed. After tibial tubercle transfers, lateral releases, patellofemoral ligament reconstructions and loads of other things I cannot fathom how to spell, it turns out the thing I needed to do to cure myself was just walk, build muscle, and eat right.
I cannot stress this enough. I was totally in denial about my weight when I had the surgeries before – and I know there are a lot of people out there who need them for reasons other than that – but 6 months ago, I was experiencing dislocations again, even after the ops. Now, I’m practically skipping, because my skeleton and my muscles aren’t doing the equivalent of trying to lift a car using cocktail sticks. Everything is in balance.
So if you’re overweight, and you’re experiencing joint pain, I’d say please, please give this a shot before you go and have surgery. Because I definitely could’ve avoided at least a few of the procedures I’ve had – and having the surgery reversed seems a lot like a pointless exercise knowing I could’ve avoided having it done in the first place.
Because – as I said in this article I wrote for MindBodyGreen – a lot of the time, the reason pain inhibits us so much is because it’s a psychological strain, as much as a physical thing. It’s really, really hard to comprehend that when you’re suffering it – lord knows people told me that when I was struggling to even get out of bed, and I’d want to beat them over the head repeatedly with a crutch.
But the fact that I’ve come so far physically has meant that psychologically, I’m a lot stronger too. I know I can cope with pain, and I know I can do what I have to do to get through it – within reason. I’m not advocating pushing yourself beyond your limits – I haven’t touched a weight in a week because I’ve been resting a slightly strained shoulder – but there’s a strong chance, in every situation, you’re stronger than you think.
I don’t want to sound like a crazy saleswoman again – but I never, ever in my wildest dreams could’ve thought, when I started on this programme two years ago, that I’d be having this metal taken out of my legs and not replaced with something else. It’s amazing to me that something as huge as this can come from something so simple – and that’s why I’m so eager to share it. You can probably tell this has been something of a high-enthusiasm-haven’t-even-stopped-for-breath post – but I am fixed now. I’ve seen improvements on the scales, in my clothes, and in my overall wellbeing – but this is absolute proof of how much of a difference this sort of programme can make to your health in ways you don’t even expect.
Frankly, I’m pretty damn impressed.