Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Seriously, I'm Just 38...

On my 'Running Shoes Chronicle' posting last week, I admitted seeing a doctor about my knee issue.  For the longest time, I had been in denial about it, thinking that it will just go away, that it was merely hormonal and certainly nothing permanent.  

Now I would like to set the record straight.

Though the heightened sensation of pain might be hormonal, the cause behind the pain certainly isn't.  The doctor, after a series of questions regarding my symptoms, in conjunction with a physical examination, diagnosed me with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or simply put, Runner's Knee.  Essentially, it refers to pain behind the knee cap occurring from knee over-use and / or misalignment.  Apparently, it does not help at all that I was born flat-footed.

He also instructed that I get a knee X-ray, after which he confirmed my suspicion that I do have osteoarthritis of the knee.  Life is swell, isn't it?

To further sweeten the deal, he told me 'no running, just do the elliptical, bike or swim'.  Sure, that's easy.  Except that I don't swim (am terrified of the water so don't go telling me it's not too late to learn) and I don't think I can afford an elliptical machine right now and I also don't have a bike.  Frankly, the treadmill has been my best friend where it comes to exercise and weight loss, not to mention that I have completely fallen in love with running!  

Oh and did I mention that the good doctor managed to casually advise that losing more weight would benefit my knees?  Duh!....You say this now after telling me I am not allowed to pursue my favorite work out routine??!  Really??  Thank you for making my life so easy for me!!  

At this point, my only real motivation in following my doctor's instructions is the thought of healing as quickly as possible so that I can once again manage to run on my treadmill.  I am on pain medication and have been given exercises to strengthen my thigh muscles.  I hope the healing comes sooner than much later.

More than anything, I'm realizing that I am getting old.  I see it on my face, my eyes, my skin, the lines and spots, the feeling on my joints.  But I'm also realizing that beyond these external manifestations of aging, things inside me have also changed a lot through the years.  

I have somewhat mellowed in the 'being right' department.  More and more I find that it matters less to me that people don't agree with my thoughts and perspectives.  The art of agreeing to disagree has truly grown on me since my late 20's and though I don't claim to have completely mastered it, the practice certainly feels more natural now, more effortless.  After countless impassioned arguments in my past, I now know better than to impose my truth on others.  What I see more clearly now is that a lot of times, people merely confuse the need to be right with the need to be heard.  That is all.  

Another change I've noticed is that I find that I've also managed to significantly tame the urge to over-explain and give details.  (And believe me, it took me a long time to get here).  I see the wisdom in choosing silence when appropriate and have come to accept the fact that somehow, somewhere, someone will always want more information, but that can never guarantee deeper understanding, nor arriving at a single 'truth' (which can be so relative to begin with).  In my age, it's okay to leave people in the dark.  It's okay to not offer all the information you have.  For all I know, no one is wondering and even if they were, my boundaries are what are most important to me.  It is not my duty to make everyone else comfortable all the time.  If the lack of information or my silence causes them discomfort, that's their problem, not mine.  I'm too old and tired to worry about everyone around me.  That's certainly one benefit of aging.  Your lens are so much clearer now for seeing who your real significant others are...the select few who are truly entitled to information.

In connection with being asked for details or offering information in the spirit of clarifying something, another thing that shows I've definitely 'aged' is that I now know that to be understood is not as important as I once thought. Until about three years ago, the need to be understood was so important to me that the thought of having even just one significant person not getting my point or accepting my reality pained me.  It would then cause me much frustration and a sense of alienation, making me wonder about which part of my reality is so hard to accept.  Then I got tired of it all.  The realization hit me.  Sometimes, you just need to accept the futility in situations, make peace with it and move on.  In the end, the only real person who needs to be on board with what you believe in is you.  Nobody else. The truth is that there are just certain things in this life that are only meant for you, and not for the world, to understand.  Others not understanding does not invalidate your reality.  And there is no reason to resent others either.  As I said earlier, it may just be enough to be heard.

It is obvious that the common thread here is validation.  I do believe that as one gets older, the fixation or obsession for validation wanes.  You become more sure of yourself, more sure of your mind and of what is in your heart.  You gain more certainty with the paths you choose, more traction with each step, in spite of a bad knee, arthritis and all....