There is a part of me that holds the power to define the rest of my life. I made the connection a few months ago. It was a powerful abstract fact that made me stop and think. However, 2 months ago, things got real.
See, 2 months ago I got hurt while exercising. Initially I thought it was extra soreness. I went a little harder than I normally do and that was a mistake on my part. I didn’t have any pain during that workout, but it all started in my knees about 24 hours later. It ebbed and flowed a bit for the first week after that work out. A week after the initial incident, I went to a festival that requires a lot of walking. The pain increased from there, followed by 10 days of crippled old man walking. It felt like there were shards of glass in my knees.
To many of you, this may sound like a simple sports injury. Heal it up and I’ll be good as new. It’s not so simple.
I had to quit sports as a teenager because of the pain in my joints. I picked the least impactful sport there is (swimming) and that was too much. Like most swimmers, the breast stroke kick was tough on my knees, but my shoulders would grind during freestyle, and my ankles would snap in and out of place as I kicked. I got in trouble during one dry workout because I couldn’t jump the stairs like I was supposed to. I couldn’t do it because my knee was out. Not all the way out, like “hey, my foot is facing backwards” but enough that it made movement very painful. My whole team had to do memory sets because of me. Sorry team.
After seeing a long line of doctors, I was told that my joints are loose and that I should grow out of it. The way I describe it that makes most sense to me is to say that I was made with used parts. Everything works, but each joint has its own little quirks. My knees are in the worst shape. I have to pay attention to every step I take. Anything with a pivot is prime for pain. Getting out of a car, going up a stair case, stepping into the tub, or suddenly getting out of the way all take special consideration. It has gotten better since I was 15 when I had to quit sports altogether, but I haven’t grown out of it by any sense of the term.
What does this have to do with personal finance? Everything
This recent bout is the most significant knee pain I’ve had in 8 years. I was concerned that I’d done some serious damage. Even if I hadn’t done a lot of damage, the most adult thing for me to do is get this all checked out. With the amount of grinding and small dislocations I’ve had over the years, I know my knees are not in great shape.
What does this mean?
This could be expensive. I had an appointment with a specialists who took X-rays. Thankfully, the x-rays didn’t show anything alarming. There is no obvious damage from the X-ray, except that my knee joints are structurally messed up. #usedparts.
The Doc wanted to do an MRI to rule out a meniscus tear. If it was a meniscus tear, I’d need surgery. At this point, I’m holding off. By the time I got in to see him, the pain was trending downward. My experience didn’t seem like a tear. There was no traumatic event and there was no swelling. Perhaps an inflamed meniscus, but not a tear. If the pain flares up again, I’ll get an MRI.
Going to the doctor was a great first step in figuring out what the heck is going on with my knees. I need to take my joint situation seriously. So far I’m out ~$400 here.
One of the main things I took away from my meeting with the Doc is that I can’t run anymore. Mainly because he specifically told me, “No more running.” For the month while I was limited by knee pain, I didn’t care. I couldn’t walk without pain. Being able to run was a pipe dream. Now I can walk again, so I have to fix as many knee problems as I can.
The first problem identified is the most obvious. I need to lose weight. My pain situation moved me losing weight from “Yea, I know I need to do something about this” to “THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!!”
Did you know that every pound you weigh puts four pounds of pressure on your knees?
I need to give my knees the opportunity to function as well as they can. The best way to do that is take pressure off them and make them stronger. Thankfully, I already have most of this lined up. I signed up for personal training at my gym and I’m working to improve my eating.
I’ve been working with my trainer for 6 weeks and we had a bit of a knee revelation. On top of my knees being lose and unstructurally sound, my knees naturally collapse inward. This collapse makes my legs and glutes significantly weaker. When inflamed, weak legs and glutes cause significant knee pain. Awesome.
At the time, I was even more bummed that here was another factor working against me, but unlike the other pieces, I can change how strong my legs are.
This extra cost now is worth every penny if I can prevent greater costs later. Since just before the injury, I’ve relieved 28 pounds of pressure from my knees. 🙂 🙂 🙂
This is my main motivation to save and live on less. However, I’m not sure if this means become financially independent ASAP or take some time off in the next few years to live it up while I can still get around. This is all dependent on how my pain and the condition of my joints advances.
It’s been difficult mentally to deal with crippling knee pain at age 28, but I am so thankful to have a wake up call now. The alternative was to wake up tat 58 when I’ve had both my hips and knees replaced and don’t have the money to escape.
One thing if for sure: I need to save for this.
I need to save for independence
I need to save for travel
I need to save for doctor visits. Thank goodness for HSAs.
Has a medical issue changed your life view?