Chronic Pain and Attitute

Hey everybody! This week has been a bad knee week, which is why I’ve missed a few days of posting. I have to come clean and admit, it’s not been all about pain. During the day, my knee has been feeling pretty good. However, every night, pain was waking me up around 2:00am and restful sleep eluded me for the remainder of the night. It was really starting to wear on me. I was tired, cranky, and off. I really got a lesson in how chronic pain can effect your attitude.

I was doing a fair job of working through all this until I had a conversation with a friend this past weekend who is experiencing chronic joint pain and has been for months. This friend told me how chronic pain can cause depression and be absolutly debilitating. Now, I’ve always looked at my knee problems from the perspective that its not really that big of a deal. I’m generally fit and healthy, and I figure that I could have health issues a lot worse than a bad knee. After hearing the effects of chronic pain, I bought the message and started to go down a dark, sleep-deprived, depressed path. Compounding this was a pending trip to my orthopedic surgeon to follow-up on my gel (Orthovisc) shots and to discuss my go forward treatment plan. I was thoroughly convinced that knee replacement surgery was imminent. I lost my motivation to exercise. I still went out on the water and rowed; but, my heart just wasn’t in it. I was in general slow and distracted. Not a good place to be. I also stopped blogging.

This trip to the doctor’s office was different because Sandie was with me and I wasn’t scheduled to receive a painful shot. Needle anxiety had always kept me from asking any good questions or even communicating any issues. I told the doctor how I was having trouble sleeping. Her response was, “If your knee issues are starting to effect your quality of life–which losing sleep is, it’s time to consider surgery.” There it was. My heart sank. She then did her typical grab of my calf followed by a twist and turn of my leg and said, “I’m going to have the brace guy come in and fit you for a knee brace. Are you willing to try that?” Ah… yeah! I’ve always been against showing any outward manifestation of my injury and getting the extra help from a brace was a symbol of me giving in and succumbing to my bad knee. No way was I ever doing that! So, I never asked about a brace nor had the desire to wear one. Now, please pardon the pun, I am embracing the brace. It is an infinitely more preferable outward manifestation of my injury than being cranky and stupid. So far, I’ve had two nights of deep sleep courtesy of my new brace, and am ready to go hit it again.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my my dad is that there is one common denominator in all of your bad situations. The one constant aspect of life that you always have complete control over is how you respond to and adapt to adversity. The challenges of responding to injury in the pursuit of fitness can be an allegory to life. Respond positively and adapt. Now it’s time to go KICK MAXIMUM ASS!