Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Knee is Killing Me

"My knee is killing me!"  I didn't realize how often I had been saying that phrase until one night our 3-year-old daughter Piper opened the family room door while my husband and I were watching TV to exclaim, "My knee is killing me!" a new excuse she had created to get out of bed and avoid going to sleep.

It was then that I realized I needed to figure out why the heck my right knee was, indeed, killing me. And for the last 6+ months, that's exactly what I've been doing.  My treatment started with a Cortizone shot by my primary care provider for what was believed to be bursitis.  That worked for about three months, but then the pain came back stronger than ever, accompanied by a clicking in my knee.

I ignored it for a while, wondering if perhaps my weight was having an effect on my knee.  After all, as my doctor explained, every 10 pounds of weight loss takes 40 pounds of weight off your joints. So if at the beginning of my weight loss journey I was 40 pounds overweight, this is an additional 160 pounds on my joints!  Perhaps that's the culprit.

But even so, the pain became so persistent that I decided to go to an orthopedic doctor, Dr. Oberlander, who I was told has a particular talent for knees.  Being that Dr. Oberlander is the orthopedic specialist for the Oakland Raiders, I figured my knee would be in very capable hands.

I visited Dr. Oberlander for the first time about six weeks ago. Not having worked out in several months, I felt a little bit silly visiting his office with my non-sports-related injury, and walking down the hallway leading to the exam room filled with professional athlete-signed jerseys. He took an X-ray of my knee, which turned out negative. The next step, he recommended, was to get an MRI to see if there was a meniscus tear.

Ah, if only it were so simple. Truth be told, I think that losing 40 pounds by my 40th birthday will be easier than getting my insurance company to approve an MRI. I should write another blog with the theme of trying to get an MRI by my 40th birthday! Blue Shield denied the request because I had 1) not taken a non-steroid anti-inflamatory for four weeks and 2) not gone to physical therapy for four weeks.

So a week ago, I purchased a bottle of Motrin and visited the physical therapist, Jeannie, for my first bi-weekly visit that will continue until early May. Her observation, besides the fact that I have flat feet: my knee is swollen and warm to the touch (a sign of a persistent minor injury), I have GREAT ligaments (apparently that was in my chart!), and I need to get some more practical shoes (I could have told her that).  Up until now, I've always lived by the motto that it's better to look good than feel good. But now that I am approaching 40 and my knee is killing me, I need to take a trip to the Walking Store for some sensible shoes.

My knees marked up with pen after my first physical therapy appointment.  The coolest part?  When I showed the kids my written on knees, my 9-year-old son said, "Wow, Mommy!  Your legs are skinnier!"

During our last visit, Jeannie asked how soon after working out at the gym (which she is aware I do not do very much of) my knee started to ache. I honestly couldn't answer that question because I hadn't worked out in a couple of weeks. So yesterday evening, at her direction, I went to the gym and worked out on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes. One hour and 45 minutes later, my knee started to ache, which I thought wasn't too bad. But then, I did my assigned knee exercises before I went to bed and a sharp pain shot up the inside of my knee.  This time, my knee was really killing me.

I was so excited to tell Jeannie about this during my 3:30 p.m. physical therapy appointment. I knew for sure she would tell me to take a break from working out at the gym because I was overdoing it on my knee.  Predicting this outcome, I had it all planned out that, instead of going to the gym, I would instead get a pedicure. Ah, the best laid plans.

To my surprise, she actually told me to rotate going to the gym and doing my exercises, but just don't do both on the same day. She suggested, "Today, go ahead and go to the gym, and then tomorrow do your exercises." When I told her I was fully expecting (and hoping) she would order me not to work out today she laughted and said, "I don't think in my entire career I've ever told anyone not to work out."

Right after my appointment, I went to the gym. I did 20 minutes on the recumbant bike, and 10 minutes on the elliptical machine.

And THEN, I got my pedicure!

Let's hope stepping up my exercise program will help me battle the bulge this week, especially since I gained a pound over the last week, bringing my total weight loss to 11 1/2 pounds towards my goal of losing 40 pounds by my 40th birthday on August 15th.  Honestly, I'm not really sure why I gained a pound this week because I've been pretty disciplined with my eating. My goal for the upcoming week is to drink a lot more water and go to the gym at least four times. Let's hope this makes a difference. In the meantime, don't my toes look great?

Here's this week's pic of me, along with the "before" pic for comparison. 

Before (at a Project Linus event on Feb. 20th).  I absolutely detest this picture of me!

And today, 11.5 pounds lighter (in my practical shoes).


  1. You are doing great! Don't let that silly lb. throw you off!

    Love your pedi and your sensible shoes!

  2. Keep it up! That pound is probably water weight and next week you'll loose double the amount. (and the toes look great!) Hope you find out what is wrong with your knee...

  3. Thanks Lara, and thanks for fanning me!

    Debi -- Thanks a bunch! How's your daughter doing on WW? Saw your profile pic with your grandbaby...too precious! Congrats!

  4. Jen you have gorgeous toes! they are picture perfect! kinda hot ;)