I Have the Knees of An Eighty Year Old
I kind of…um… haven’t blogged in a while, huh?
Yeah, about that.
I don’t know how else to say this, but, um, sometimes I get into these “moods”. And I go inside. Like, deep inside. Like, empty, echo-y hallways in an abandoned building deep inside. Like, wrap myself up in blankets and read four hundred books on self-help topics deep inside. Like, carry around a journal at all times because suddenly every weird guy on the bus and every crow on every telephone pole is fodder for what is surely going to become my opus and no one had better interrupt while I’m writing down the color of the sky deep inside.
This always seems to happen around this time of year. A few weeks ago, the weather went from sunny to cool in a heartbeat like it always does here in the Northwest, and just like that- like the flash of a ghost at a window- I turned inward and didn’t feel like talking to anyone anymore. Not even the Internet.
And we’re all familiar with that lovely, vicious cycle, aren’t we? The one where this introspection takes over your whole being and you don’t want to talk for fear you’ll lose out on this awesome opportunity to do some quiet soul searching, but then you wind up isolating yourself a little too much and you get sad because you realize all your friends either hate you or have died in fiery car crashes, and then you realize your tendency to exaggerate is, well, exaggerated when you get like this and that no one, not one person, hates you or has died in a fiery car crash and that they’re probably just busy with their lives, and the reality is that you haven’t done one thing to reach out to them, and then you feel ashamed for over-dramatizing the fact that your friends are just busy with their own lives and that there are people out there with real problems, problems their shitty brain chemistry hasn’t invented out of thin air, so then you don’t talk to anyone for fear you’ll sound like a nutcase for imagining that no one likes you anymore, which makes you isolate yourself even more. Yeah. THAT cycle.
When I feel these dark moods coming on, I usually start swallowing Vitamin D by the fistful and drinking massive amounts of coffee in hopes that sooner or later, some equilibrium will be achieved and I’ll snap out of it. I hold out for the day when I will want to crawl out of my nest of scribbled-on napkins and mugs full of shriveled-up tea bags and piles of books and reading lamps and balled-up tissues and pretend like I haven’t just been living like a rodent hoarder of pens and memoirs about war and death for three months.
Well. Here we are. On the other side of that heinous hill. There is obviously a level, a very real and delicate little red line in my brain, that indicates when I have all the chemicals I need to make rational decisions. And I’m pretty sure that when the level falls below that line, I start doing things like wanting to live in pajamas and never leaving the house and eating malted milk balls for breakfast. And when it’s over that line, well! I can handle anything. I want to talk to people! About real things! And I want to plan my future and travel and clean my house! Rainbows appear as if to say welcome back, my child! I’m not even kidding, y’all. Check THIS shit out:
And then! This morning I got the results back from the MRI I had on my knee last week. My knee has been bothering me for some time now… like, since I was a teenager and everyone just thought it weird and funny that it sounded like a hundred dried up twigs snapping every time I bent down.
Nothing will kick you right out of a non-posting funk like x-rays of your kneecaps flipping the rest of your body the bird, I tell ya. Apparently, my kneecaps have been “migrating” away from their groove in the rest of my knee joint and that has been causing some massive damage. Oh, and pain. Lots of pain. That twig-snapping noise I’ve been hearing all these years? That was the sound of my patella deteriorating. ISN’T THAT HILARIOUS?
Do you know WHY this news got me out of my non-posting funk? Because the sight of my kneecaps marching off into the sea of black x-ray film like they were pissed-off teenagers just made me laugh. It made me laugh in that defeated “there’s nothing left to do but laugh” kind of way. It made me laugh because it was completely out of my control and there was nothing I could have done to stop them. My scrunched up Eustachian tubes? My poor, overworked adrenal system? That was some serious and worrying shit. This? This was and is just ridiculous. How could I have stage 4 chondromalacia at my age? Well, I was born this way, with knees that don’t track over my shins. I’ve been slowly grinding down the surface of my patella and rubbing away my cartilage my whole life. That pain? That was bone on bone action I was feeling. There’s no cure for this kind of thing. And I will probably need new knees by the time I am 60.
I’m not special. Nearly every human on earth has some form of arthritis. It comes with the territory of standing upright and, for the duration of our lives, balancing the entirety of our body weight on two little bulbs of bone the size and shape of silver dollar pancakes. I just have happened to have discovered my arthritis earlier in my life than most people do because I’ve been experiencing shooting pains in my knees when I work out.
So there you have it. Funk resolved. Brain chemistry out of its bad-poetry-writing dark hole and into are there bone chips floating around my kneecaps? territory. All I can think about when I am walking around town is “scrape scrape scrape scrape”. There’s more patella I am rubbing away. When I’m jumping up and down in Zumba class all I can think is “clap, SLAM!, clap, SLAM!” See ya later, cartilage. It’s the strangest thing in the world to actively know you are aging yourself by simply living. It’s even weirder to think that the act of staying in shape, presumably to prolong my life, is actually taking years off my knees, and therefore my life. Oh, Irony! You big jerk.
My doctor says I have a few options: Cortizone injections (into my joint? Are you serious, doc? Because, um, the average papercut sends me into a low blood pressure tailspin. I don’t want to know what a long needle being dug into my knee is going to do to me). There’s also surgery to snip away the bands of tissue that are working to pull my kneecap away from the rest of the joint and into an adjacent universe. Neither one actually solves the problem of having ground down my kneecaps into three quarters of their former selves or the pain that will cause.
I’m holding out for new knees. I really, really hope that by 2042 science has either a) found a suitable replacement for cartilage or b) my insurance company gives me a pair of kick-ass robot knees and that, when I run and leap over parked cars (which I will be doing NON-STOP, obviously), they make a junh-junh-junh-junh-junh noise so I sound like the Six Million Dollar Man. Except it will be 2042 by then, so maybe I won’t be leaping over parked cars- maybe I will be leaping over the entire Amazon (’cause we’ll have reduced it to four square feet by then- hurray for development!). Or maybe I’ll be leaping over hovercars. Yeah. Hovercars. Because that implies that I’ll also have had my biceps replaced with rocket boosters. Or maybe I’ll run a marathon. Or maybe four marathons, right in a row. Hopefully I’ll have replacement sinuses by then, too, because MAN, am I going to be working the lungs.
Come on, science. Hurry up. Mama needs a new pair of knees.