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An old injury comes back to haunt me.
By Hannah Wallace
Thirty years old and falling apart.
OK, not really. But for all my sporty activities, I’ve been hampered by a few nagging injuries lately—tennis elbow from, oddly, hockey; an old rotator cuff injury from high school now re-aggravated by boxing—but none quite so nagging as my left knee.
I blew out my knee in 2003 playing pick-up soccer at Lakewood Ranch’s Adventure Park: torn ACL, MCL and meniscus. Surgery, a year of rest and rehab, and then I started playing hockey and never looked back.
…until spring ‘08, when I played in a single outdoor, full-sided soccer game (scored a hat trick, mind you), planted funny and twisted my knee a little. It wasn’t even bad enough to stop playing. But a week later the swelling was worrisome, so I went back to my old friend Dr. Gary Shapiro, who’d performed my ACL reconstruction in 2003. I like Dr. Shapiro a lot. He’s friendly but not terribly animated—a demeanor that was very reassuring to me throughout the ACL situation. So I was happy to at least have a familiar face to consult.
An MRI a year ago April revealed nothing more than a little bone bruise and slight somethingerother to the cartilage. Thingy. Nothing that should be problematic in the long run, once the swelling went down.
But it was a problem. I used to go jogging all the time—three miles or more around Indian Beach, then CCB and I would do regular one- or two-mile loops around McKechnie Field. But last year my knee started seizing up, going totally stiff after about two minutes, and I’d have to walk to get it to loosen back up.
Still, it didn’t bother me playing hockey, or kickball, or even indoor soccer. It was only the repetitive bouncing that did it. So I let it go, figured maybe it needed more rest, or strengthening, or something. I could exercise in other ways for the time being. Then, it never seemed like a big enough problem to get checked out; then I got scared that if I did have it checked out, nothing would be wrong, and I’d be making a big deal out of nothing.
Problem is, it seems like everybody’s been running lately: Thing 1 started logging her miles on Facebook; Bek’s been training for a damn marathon; even Rockstar Kim has joined a group prepping for a 5K. I actually started missing it.
Then a couple of weeks ago, the bouncing of just staying on my toes in boxing became a problem. As much as I hated complaining about something so vague and infrequent, I made myself go back to the doctor.
It was exactly what I was afraid of: He couldn’t find anything wrong, couldn’t guess what it might be, wasn’t confident that anything would show up in another MRI. He told me that knee injuries can be like this, and I might just have to accept that I couldn’t go jogging anymore. After ACL reconstruction, the only limitation I’d been given was that I probably couldn’t do yoga; now, a phantom injury is threatening to derail a whole category of athletic activities. “That sucks,” I told him.
As I write this, I’m looking forward to my appointment Wednesday afternoon to review my new MRI results. It’s a frustrating catch-22 that I’ve been through too many times before—if the MRI doesn’t show anything wrong, then I have to deal with the physical problem on a much more abstract level, never quite knowing what it is I’m trying to heal or how to heal it—or worse yet, if it can be healed at all; if the MRI does show something wrong, then, well, something’s wrong.
Could this be the first major limitation that’s been placed on my athletic endeavors? Weird when you find yourself hoping that you’re injured.