Two things have disappointed me greatly since our move into the Pink Lady: my left knee and my right knee.
With the move, I looked forward to walking everywhere. So much is within walking distance. Walking distance used to be easily three miles for me, each way. Three miles from the Pink Lady would take me to the Notre Dame campus and nearby shops and restaurants, a long trail along the St. Joe River, homes of all of my friends who live on the north side, and a number of parks, to say nothing of all the downtown shops and restaurants.
But I can now barely walk half a mile because every step hurts. That half-mile radius does include much of downtown South Bend and a large medical complex, where I will hobble off to in a few weeks for an appointment with an orthopedist. I went to my doctor last week, hoping to get another cortisone injection for the knee pain. But he sensibly said that it was time to get an orthopedist’s opinion about whether, and when, I might be a candidate for knee replacement. So he left me in pain for now.
Meanwhile, I need to keep moving because sitting around with arthritic knees just makes them freeze up. The pain is manageable if I don’t overdo it and space my short walks over several days. But walking has lost its pleasure. I now require a specific destination and purpose to get me out on foot.
Last week when family was visiting we walked to downtown restaurants two days in a row and my knees felt like crap afterward but it was worth it. The other evening I walked to the neighborhood center for a meeting about a community mural. Every Wednesday I walk all over the large vegetable gardens at our Community Supported Agriculture farm and harvest our weekly vegetables. I try to make my painful steps count.
Today the weather was glorious and I had a book on reserve at the library so I decided to walk there to pick it up. This stretched my half-mile radius a bit. Vic also wanted to check out a room he’d reserved at the library, so he went along. We admired our neighbor’s daylilies, stopped to join hands with MLK and Father Hesburgh, and picked up the book I’d heard reviewed last night on the Newshour.
It helps to have someone to walk with, but my pace has slowed and I hate to slow others. I remember always having to slow down for my mother. She had bad knees, too. Now I know that she wasn’t just slow; she was in pain! She never complained and I, in my blithe middle-aged health and ignorance, didn’t ask.
But you see, I do complain. And I do so in the interest of encouraging empathy with all slow-moving elderly folk.
My left knee is the main culprit right now, but my right knee isn’t far behind. I can’t say I look forward to knee surgery, but a few years of full, painless mobility would be nice. Is that too much to ask?
Any good knee-replacement stories out there?