Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Clear as mud

Have you ever had two people you like and respect disagree about the right course of action?

Have you ever heard an opinion and been completely swayed... until you got in the room with someone of a different opinion whereupon you completely agreed with the second person? 

That's happened to me plenty. Normally it leaves me feeling frustrated with myself for my inability to take a side. This means I might go into a voting booth and check a box I'm not entirely sure about. Or it means I raise my hand during a meeting vote with my eyes cast down since I'm not feeling confident about my choice.

In this case, I don't have the luxury of being one vote among many. In this case, I am the one and only decider. So in this case, I had damn well better figure out what I want to do and believe in it before I make a decision.

In case you haven't guessed, the opinion of my physical therapist, Kevin, is that I should have the ACL reconstruction. He agrees with the surgeon that I could probably get along without it... IF I contained my running to flat, even surfaces with no sharp turns. (Uuuhhhh, there's no such thing in this neck of the woods....) If I "PT my way to health" and start to run, he says, my knee will not be completely stable and I carry the significant risk of doing serious damage to the meniscus - which is pretty much the end of running.

This all sounds really reasonable.

But, remember yesterday? The doctor said he thinks I have a partial, not a complete tear. (The PT's clinical assessment was a bit more grim. He didn't feel the ligament 'stopping' the bones from pulling apart). He said that people over-operate on ACLs unneccesarily. He says, given my first go-round in 1994, the ACL repair might be more trouble than its worth.

Seeing as I have just come from PT, my opinion on the matter more closely matches that of Kevin. 

For now, I go forward with PT twice a week. Even in the short time I was there today, I saw huge improvements in my ability to bend and straighten the leg.  With the seat raised comically high, I was able to spin a little on the stationary bike today. When I started out, it was SO hard to get the knee bent enough at the height of the peddle. But, as I went along for a few minutes, it got less and less tight and I was basically pain free after 7 or 8 minutes. Huh. 

I have lots of exercises to do at home. Not the impressive kind. Just the small movements in the quad and gentle extension and flexion stretches to increase my range of motion. It's boring stuff but very important... and not easy, let me tell you.

I don't have to decide yet what I'm going to do. I am glad that I get to decide, I think, but it would be simpler if it was someone elses job to make the choice.

The idea of surgery is horrifying for so many reasons. First, I have to PT back to full range of motion and strength for a few weeks in order to have the operation... only to then be cut open and destroyed.... so that I can then return to PT in order to regain full range of motion and strength. Blech. Second, surgery itself is hard. It just is. I don't handle anesthesia that well and I am pretty worried about infection, given my history and especially how deadly many of them are these days.

The idea of living my life in a physically-cautious way is also horrifying. I can't fathom worrying about every uneven sidewalk or root-laden hike or fast corner I run around. I still have young kids, so there is a lot of tag and hide-n-seek in my future. Do I want to be 'that' mom who can't run and play? No, thank you!

I feel especially tired today and I don't think it has anything to do with how much rest I'm getting or how much energy I am burning. Not knowing the right road to take is just plain exhausting.

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