Sunday, November 1, 2009

Update on the Knee

Thank you to those who responded to Minwah's recent updates. After leaving Africa I was able to make a few, but I could not really tell the story for those who had stayed behind, even for Orian, who was in contact with me more than anything else, and definitely not for Minwah, Nate, or Quinn. Although speaking from personal experience, it is almost impossible to make a blog post in Africa unless you are in a major city like Tanzania, and even then it is a feat, especially when you are on the move. So it is nice to see these updates after the fact. I have some more pictures from the trip, and maybe I will add to the posts I have already made. Some stories are easier to tell upon reflection, when you have a little distance, both in terms of geography and time.

I do have another update to wrap up part of a story: my knee. The update: as of today, I consider my knee pretty much healed. I've been able to run 25-minutes on the treadmill multiple days a week, and actually on Friday I ran 30 minutes, and today (Sunday) I ran 30 minutes, and did some elliptical work and stretching, and also walking to and from the T and the gym, and my knee is not acting up at all. YAY! It's been a long process, and is definitely the worst injury I've sustained in my life. It's only been since early October that I've been able to stand for a long time and walk for distances without my knee flaring up, and it's only been the past week or so since I've been able to run.

For those of you who read all along, or for those of you who have seen me since the trip, you know that my knee was the reason I left Africa, and it was not an over-use injury this time (on my bike trip across the U.S., I was constantly dealing with various over use issues). It was, like many accidents, the silliest of mishaps, one wrong step into darkness, a wrenched knee. Even at the time I considered myself I mentioned before, I really thought in that split second I realized that I hadn't placed my foot on something solid, I thought I was going to go down into the darkness of the water at the base of the dock, tangled with my bike, too hard to find. So when I found myself wedged between the dock and the boat, I counted my blessings.

At first my knee seemed to heal quickly, but as one month passed, and then two, and I still could not walk around the block without an awkward gait and pain, I started to worry. Of course, in the first month, I didn't exactly take it easy. I thought that if I kept exercising...gently, mind you...the knee would work itself out. So I took the dog for a walk everyday and did yoga in a room heated to 95F. Well, the knee didn't get better, and for awhile it got worse. So I tried not doing anything. This was very hard for me, and actually took some concentration, to convince myself, "not today, just a little longer," and especially with the grey and rainy spring/early summer, didn't do anything good for my spirits.

Eventually I started to see a physical therapist recommended to me by my father, who has gone to this guy for various things, most recently his back. I've always been a little skeptical of traditional doctors and their ability to treat musculoskeletal injuries, but since Dad used to call physical therapists "physical terrorists" I thought I would give this place a try. Everyone was super nice and gave me little exercises to do to keep my supporting muscles strong, or build them back up. They also tried some techniques like ultrasonic stimulation and some kind of voltage stimulation that was supposed to get gunk from the healing process up and moving. This was in late June and early July.

The physical therapy process was an interesting one since I haven't had any before. I don't have time today, but maybe in the future I'll write more about the experience and the things I tried. Anyway, if you are in CT, I definitely recommend the Eastern Rehabilitation Network branch in Blue Back Square, West Hartford. Since Orian and I didn't have insurance back in the States, my parents generously assisted me financially by paying for my sessions: at $90 a session, they weren't cheap, but they were worth it. I don't remember now how many sessions I had, but I think I had around seven.
If I need to get physical therapy, I'd still be a little skeptical if I didn't have a recommendation from someone. If you are thinking about P.T. for something, ask around and find someone through a friend. I guess it's like finding a doctor: some are better than others. But a bad physical therapist has the potential to do a lot of damage.