On July 26, a particularly warm Summer day, I set out for my usual lunchtime walk. I was enjoying the fresh air, sunshine and exercise when pop, stumble: my knee let out an audible, ratcheting pop that unsteadied my step. It wasn’t painful, per say – more simply startling and uncomfortable. A bit later and pop, stumble, it happened again. Three times during that walk, my knee popped. I tried to recall if I’d injured it during the previous day’s workout; after all, we’d done lunges and squats. Maybe that was it. For the next few lunch breaks I’d kept attempting to walk but the popping became more frequent. For the coming weeks, I’d stopped walking but kept working out despite the discomfort. While each pop wasn’t painful, the frequent cracks and clicks would leave my knee tender by evening and a throbbing in the knee occasionally woke me in the middle of the night. I tried to treat it at home with rest, ice and elevation but it wasn’t seeming to improve. Worst of all, it was affecting my workouts. It is bad enough that my depression has sucked all the ambition from my weight loss attempts (my heart wasn’t in it but I was still doing the workouts and the meal plans), but now an injury was taking workouts off the table. Finally, last week I let myself get talked into going to the doctor.
I get very nervous going to doctors. “White Coat Syndrome” kind of nervous. Since losing a large percentage of body fat, it had gotten better – gone were the nagging questions and soul-crushing diagnoses about blood pressure, glucose levels and cholesterol. I’d gotten every medical ailment that maligned me under control through my healthy diet and exercise. But last Tuesday, after a bad day of drinking no water (only four cups of coffee) I found myself with an unexpectedly sudden doctor’s appointment – the doctor could fit me in that afternoon. I rushed out of work and hurried to the doctor’s office in Silicon Valley commute traffic, parched and out of breath. The inevitable happened: my blood pressure tested high. I tried explaining… the coffee, the stress, the dehydration. I tried bargaining… look at my results from my last visit when my blood pressure was fine. It was all to no avail. Kaiser brags heartily in radio ads that 86% of their patients have blood pressure under control and I was NOT going to negatively-impact their precious percentage. Choked-up, teary-eyed and devastated, with few confidence-inspiring answers about my knee, I found myself standing in line at the pharmacy to fill a prescription for Lisinopril (not to mention a future appointment to visit the lab for blood work).
The whole experience has hit me hard. Sitting in the doctor’s office with an injury preventing me from working out, I found myself facing down a dragon I’d slain long ago. While, intellectually, I know I have lowered my blood pressure and improved my health, being put back on blood pressure medication for the first time in more than six years was adding insult to injury. I have not filled this prescription since I was 290 pounds but here I am again. Aside from requesting a new general physician (which I am doing), I am no more sure how to recover from this emotional injury than I am sure how to recover from my knee issue. I have a physical therapy session tonight to teach me stretches and exercises to help with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome – even though I’m not convinced that is the problem with my knee after a seemingly periphery examination of the joint. I am hoping to resume exercise soon. I’m not sure when I can resume the pride I’d had in my accomplishments.