Friday, July 11, 2008

Strengthen the Feeble Knees

Hope is a two-edged sword. When it is placed in something that has meaning, it can lift and inspire us to positive outcomes. But when it is puffed up in false dreams of quick, painless solutions, that counterfeit hope can be devastating once it has been dashed.

Well, it is no secret I have very bad knees. With my last pregnancy I was bedridden for much of the time and the muscle atrophy plus the effects of many babies left my knee caps pulled permanently out of place. I went to a number of specialists who were stumped by it until finally one little nurse practitioner, Mary Harms, figured it out.

Actually it is very common for women who have had more then three children, especially those with twins to have this condition. The statistics I remember is that 46% of women will experience patella-femoral syndrome or PFS. Very simply what happens is as your hips widen during the birthing process, the VMO muscle which connects your knees to your hips pulls your knee caps slightly out of their grooves. Instead of bending smoothly, your knee scraps along raw bone and sounds a little like rice krispies when you bend it.

Well, due to a few other health conditions, my PFS has gotten pretty bad. As a matter of fact I usually take the stairs one at a time. One Sunday I was hobbling down the three little steps at the front of the chapel after singing in the choir when a sister noticed my graceless decent and mentioned that she had a knee doctor that worked miracles. Now I think I've read just about everything there is on this subject. I know that for a while they were doing kneecap replacements that weren't very successful and before that they would burn the muscle so it would contract and put the patella back in place- but that lasted only a short while before the weakened muscle left you in a worse predicament. There is another procedure where they try to restructure your leg using the tibia and fibula but the recovery is difficult and the success rate isn't very high. The truth is, there isn't very much that anyone can do. You just try to diet, do isometrics and try not to use your knees too much.

Well, after listening to this woman at church I started hoping that she was right, dreaming that there really might be some simple answer. I made an appointment with the doctor and went to it this morning. I wanted so much for a miracle cure. As I sat explaining my condition to the nurse, reality started oozing in and I became somewhat weepy. Sure enough, the doctor told me everything I already knew. That I needed to lose weight, duh, and do my little exercises every night. (Turning out my feet and doing small leg lifts, twisting my leg inward until I'm pidgeon-toed over and over, and if I'm really brave wall sits with a ball between my legs.)

He said I could go to physical therapy again and that they might have a couple of things I hadn't seen yet but the reality is most true answers don't come in a pill or an operation or even in a priesthood blessing, although they may help a little. Most real solutions come by making good decisions day after day. The blessings build a drop at a time. The healing trickles in over months and years. Both physically and spiritually. Quick fixes are rarely long lasting. Bummer.

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