Take your Health into Your Own Hands

So as I’ve been mentioning previously – or maybe not, I can’t remember – but I’ve been going to physio for my knee. I have Patella Femoral Syndrome – basically my kneecap doesn’t tract properly and it’s quite painful. I’ve been going to physio since September and have also been working with a movement specialist. Through this they’ve discovered a combination of weaknesses in some muscles and tightness in others which are likely the culprit of my problems. As instructed by them, I am not allowed to run – despite running never having bothered my knee in the past – and no weight training my legs.

I’ve been doing this for over 4 months and yet I’m still having the problems with no real sign of things getting better. My knee still hurts doing stairs and certain poses in yoga. Yes, I am more aware of alignment and areas to improve on for strength and stretching, but things are going frustratingly slow. Things ARE improving, though – I redid the Y-balance test the other week and all areas have improved on both sides in all directions… so I guess that’s a good thing.

At my last appointment with my physiotherapist, I did get some insole arch supports and they seem to be helping – and they’re not hurting my feet as I was expecting them initially to do. The one thing I had noticed was when the movement specialist man-handled my feet into the proper positioning, my knee was much better but I felt very unbalanced and unsteady. When I’m at the movement class or yoga when I can focus on alignment and weight distribution, I’m okay – but that’s just an hour a day – maybe. I needed something for the rest of the time – like when I’m walking around in my work boots or at the gym. So that seems to be helping!

However, with my fitness test coming up in about 5 weeks, I need to start working on that and for me, it’s the running. So I took my husband to Basic Training on 4 January and I started at the gym 5 January and have only missed 1 day since then because of the weather. I’m slowly adding more intensity, heavier weights, and, yes, running. I only ever have to do, maybe 3 minutes of all out exercise with my fit test – and the one I always have problems with includes running – sprinting – with a movement similar to a burpee at certain distance intervals. It sucks. You only have something like 54 seconds to complete it and it doesn’t allow much room for error.

The way I see it, is my knees have never bothered me during or after running. I’m not a strong runner – never have been, but I’ve been wanting to work on it and start preparing for races. If my knees start to hurt, of course I’m going to back off, but I’m starting off with slow intervals.

The other things I have noticed is that the more I move, the less I hurt… other than the normal and expected DOMS from a heavier weight workout! I don’t remember the last time my knee or hips hurt from sitting too long. Plus the more I move and the more healthful foods I consume, the weight will eventually start to come off and I’m certain that will also help ease pressure on my joints.

At one point, my physiotherapist said that once I can run 5 minutes straight, I’ll be discharged. The problem is, I could always do that – the only thing that would hurt is my lungs! So now what? Well, I’m tired of waiting, so I’m taking my physical health into my own hands. For now, I’ll continue to do what I’m doing; slowly start running with shorter intervals and combine my physio exercises with my regular weight workouts for my legs.

There comes a point where you need to take responsibility for your health – and sometimes that’s going against a medical specialist. Maybe it means getting a second opinion. Maybe it’s insisting on certain tests to try to get a proper diagnosis. Maybe it’s not getting the procedure the doctor recommends – or not taking the meds the doctor recommends. Not all doctors try to uncover the root of the symptom and try to mask it. You know your body. If something doesn’t feel right, question it. My physiotherapist said that I will learn what works for my body regarding my knee – she has the same problem as I do. For me, it’s stretching and rolling out my legs vs abstaining from certain exercise.

Here’s another example. I worked with a gal who was celiac. It took them 13 YEARS to properly diagnose her. The frustrating thing was within the first 6 months of trying to figure out what was wrong, she asked “what about celiac?” and the doctors dismissed her query. She endured tests and medication for 12 ½ years longer than she should have because they dismissed her suggestion. She obviously doesn’t know anything because she’s not a medical professional. Of course, this was over a decade ago before celiac disease became a part of regular vocabulary.

And I recently read a story about a woman who went into emergency and was pretty much turned away. The next day she went back because she was convinced something was wrong. She ended up getting rushed into emergency open heart surgery!

When we listen to our bodies, we know what it needs and what will be beneficial to your wellbeing – something science and doctors can’t tell you. Yes, they can look at symptoms and provide a diagnosis, but how many actually dig deeper? I’ve been lucky in the past and have had decent doctors, but in the instance with my knee, everything my body is telling me is to train and run. My physiotherapist says I won’t harm my knee – it’ll just be uncomfortable. And, really, that’s what I was afraid of –tearing something and needing knee surgery. She assured me that won’t be the case.

When it comes right down to it, we quite often know what’s wrong. As much as I’m appreciative to the military medical system – especially as prescriptions are 100% covered – certain things irritate me. For one, I suffer from migraines. They are MUCH better than they were a few years ago largely because of chiropractor and yoga, but I still get them, usually around severe weather changes. There’s nothing they can do for me – the best thing is to sleep it off in a cool, dark room. I’ve gone to the neurologist and ophthalmologist to ensure there’s nothing funky going on upstairs like a tumour – migraines just happen. Also, I tend to have sinus issues so when I get a cold or something, all I can do is take OTC medication, keep my fluids up and sleep – deal with the symptoms so I can get some rest. I am an adult and can pretty much take care of my own health. I know when it’s bad enough and I always go to the doctor, but I don’t think the doctor needs to be utilized for everything. Their time should be freed up for more severe issues. Plus, if you’re sick, I don’t know about anyone else, but having to go to the doctor can suck! When we were in Comox, it was nice because the clinic was 5 minutes away. Here, it’s about 30 minutes away if I drive from home and sometimes well over an hour if I need to take public transit – and then I’m spreading around my germs! And if I’m in the grip of a migraine, I should NOT be driving!

We have to listen to our bodies and do what’s right for us at that moment. Yes, medical professionals are absolutely essential for our wellbeing, but we shouldn’t become complacent and reliant on them. There are many other options out there that are equally important for our wellbeing – mentally, physically, and spiritually.

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