I feel like every doctor’s appointment comes with additional hoops.

I went to my prescribed bike fitting, to discover that the first hour was just about the seat- it’s height and it’s tilt and it’s forward/backness, and how it will likely need to be replaced. I need to book a 2nd hour for the handlebars, and I likely need a new stem. The first hour also included 1.5 degree inserts for my shoes (I swear, I am not making this up) to help align my knees (dude, she brought out “lasers”). I spent an hour on a bike in a trainer getting on, getting off, having her tweak it, or having her tweak my shoes, and getting back on, repeat…

Also, I am allergic to something that is in the leukotape I use to tape my kneecaps. My left knee in particular is red and swollen, and I need to now douse it with Milk of Magnesia before I tape to avoid this sort of break out. Fun!

The Physical Therapist (aka, Personal Torturer or Pain and Torturer) is a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Let me state  that these folks are preternaturally cheerful, and I was initially handled (no, not physically but more atmospherically) by a Kinesiology student we’ll call Puppy. Puppy had me do all kinds of silly walks with a rubber band — most of which are designed to strengthen your muscles (hellO, weak ass!) — and then I had to spend 2 minutes on each side of my legs “massaging” out my IT band. Lest this sound fun, I want you to imagine this: Take a hard foam roller — I mean, really hard. As in, it does not give. Then put your ample body weight on it, in a painful spot. Then roll it slowly back and forth across the painful spot, until you are absolutely sure that your legs are the blossoming purple that is the University of Washington’s color.

Then have a PT take her elbow, and press, hard, against it, for another minute or two. Have her do this to the extent that you remember your Lamaze breathing, and you are gnashing your teeth and trying NOT to scream. Because, as we all know, this kinda freaks other people out.  Then have her point out you need to do the rolly-thingy at home (please go purchase the $22 roller first) every day. Don’t worry, after 2 weeks the pain goes away.

Then have them hook up your most painful bits (aka, your left knee) to an electrode. Again.

Only to discover that the more stressful parts of work actually MAKE YOU FORGET YOU HAVE ELECTRODES ATTACHED TO YOUR PAINFUL BITS.

Let me further clarify: Reading Work Email Kept My Mind Off Of Therapeutic Electrocution.

This next week is follow-up with the doctor, another bike fitting, two more PT sessions, and a final sojourn to the Foot Zone.  If I can just get through all of these hoops… I can do more next week :p

Weak Ass

In honor of my hundredth post, I give you the latest and greatest on my Adventures in Healthcare. 

This Wednesday I found myself getting XRays in Kirkland. I highly suggest you invest in Philips (PHG) as they apparently outfit every machine in that office, including the XRay machines. The technician was all work and no play right up until the end, when she handed me the “customer feedback” form: then I got a smile. I’m not judging, I know people can be a pain and I’m sure I was just one of many bodies she’d have to fry that day. They did give me an awesome lead triangle-shaped apron to wear to protect my ovaries, so that’s good.

The XRays are to discover if there’s anything ELSE wrong with my knees (than what have been discovered thus far), and if I do indeed have a left leg longer than my right. I’m kind of excited to know, it will make for a great conversation starter at a party. I just need to know the precise delta for full effect. Here’s hoping I get it in millimeters or centimeters or what have you.

Shortly after XRays I went to my first Physical Therapy appointment, where there were no Bulgarian Split Squats but there was a lot of IT Band massaging (which is not as fun as it sounds), some electrode-wielding (I think I posted about that already, yes it was painful, yes I have to keep doing it), and some McConnel taping tutorial (basically: tape my kneecaps to where they’re SUPPOSED to be and that will train the muscles around them to behave as they should so essentially they’ll eventually go where they’re supposed to be on their own. I think.)

The appointments continue: there’s a bike fitting appointment, an orthotic fitting appointment, 12 more physical therapy appointments, a follow up doctor visit, and that is just if the Xrays do NOT find anything new. There will also have to be new running shoe buying, for which I have a chart completed by the PT, and I plan to indicate all the fun of shopping at FootZone. I hate shopping.

For those interested: the official diagnosis, thus far, is Patellofemoral Syndrome, and Patellar Tendinitis. Other comments from the PT:

  • My Iliotibial Band (IT Band) is so tight you can twang it.
  • I have a weak gluteus medius and a weak gluteus maximus (translation? I have a weak ass, because my quads and hamstrings have been doing all of the work)
  • My patella tracks laterally instead of neutrally

Of course, all I hear is that I have a weak ass.

Give Me Money. Again. Please.

I’ll be running (walking, limping) in the American Lung Association’s 5k run this coming May 1st. This is one of those “get people to donate money” things, and last year I had the amazing incentive of annoyance plus the ability to have people sign my helmet for the Ride.

This year, options considered for fundraising included shaving my head. However, that was vetoed by Man and Boy, and so instead I found something far more temporary: a tattoo.

Specifically many tattoos (hopefully), of the 30-day Henna variety. The week before the race I’m engaging a henna artist to tattoo slogans, pictures, names, etc. — whatever is wanted, as long as it is PG — on my limbs and upper back for the race. At the $25 level, of course.

And you, too, can be a part of it. You can even *watch* as I plan to tweet the proceedings 🙂

But, you need to donate money. Here’s where you do that: http://action.lungusa.org/site/TR/RunWalk/ALAMP_Mountain_Pacific?px=4415558&pg=personal&fr_id=2590 

I may even come up with fancier incentives for fancier money 🙂

An Open Letter of Apology to My Spin Class Instructor… the New One

Dear Instructor Deb,

I know I’m not in class right now, and you need to know what happened, because I LOVE your class. I love the music (that remix of Stevie Wonder’s Superstitious? the one with the Indian drums and guitars? Is AWESOME!). I love you (in a totally platonic, non lesbian way). I love the new bikes. I love the old bikes. You have singlehandedly (or double wheeldly) made me love the gym.

And I’m not there today. I won’t be there next week, either.

I went to a Sports Medicine Doctor today. I went there, because last weekend after finishing up an hour on the bike I decided, HEY! I totally signed up for a 5k in May, I should see what I can do on the treadmill. After three steps– at 5mph, we’re not talking fast– it really did feel like someone was stabbing me in the knee. This is not good, you will totally agree, so I decided to see a sport medicine doctor. My Sport Medicine Doctor — Madame le Docteur, actually, as she is Quebeqois — is awesome. I totally stole her from my friend Kevin. At any rate, today was my appointment with Madame le Docteur.

Madame le Docteur first asked me about symptoms, so I told her about the last two half marathons, and the triathlon, and the giving up running in early 2010, and the attempt at running. I told her about pain-free cycling, about painful cycling, and about how much I love my ibuprofen. I told her about the spectacular crunching noises my knee makes going downstairs but not up, about how I feel cold in my knees. She asked me when I started feeling pain and I said about 3-6 months ago, I noticed after a good hard spin class I’d be a bit swollen and it would be a bit tender. She raised a Gallic eyebrow and looked at me: “You mean to say, you knew you had pain in your knees, and you decided then to run?” I totally felt like I was in school.

Madame le Docteur (ok, we’re going to refer to her as MlD, for ergonomic’s sake) next instructed me to put on a pair of shorts. As I didn’t come equipped with any, she handed me a pair of oversized men’s boxers– printed with Spongebob Squarepants. I knew I liked her when I entered her office and saw it very zen, with draperies and cool paint colors and I wasn’t one of fifteen people she was seeing that hour. But when she handed me the Spongebob? I knew I liked her.

She tsk’d tsk’d over my pronation (known to me) and after various assessments (the sounds my left knee make are painful to hear, even for MlD, and she made me stop after 1/2 of one lunge), she declared:

  • It is highly likely my left leg is longer than my right
  • I am highly over pronated
  • The orthodic inserts assigned to me from my former Podiatrist are crap
  • I need six weeks of physical therapy, 2x/week, at minimum
  • That my last round of physical therapy was NOT what you do if you want to keep your knees. Those Bulgarian Split Squats? Yeah, those aren’t cool.
  • I need a bike fitting
  • I need new orthodics (duh)
  • I need Xrays
  • I need to learn how to McConnel tape my kneecap
  • I may not exercise (bike or run) without taping first
  • I have to wear an anti-inflammatory patch on my knee 24×7 for at least a week. This is different from what they’ll put on there in physical therapy.

And now the good news: I will be able to do STP. As long as I do what she says.

“We are going to make you work very hard”, she said in her stern french accent. “If you want it you will need to work for it.” Well.  I certainly will have to.

If only to make all of the @%(^#*$ appointments.  But let the record state: I really love M. le Docteur. Oui.