I'm a wimp- a wimp with a very large tolerance for pain and a larger dislike of doctors. I will interview CEOs and go toe-to-toe with academic department chairs, but when it comes to making a doctor's appointment, I throw temper tantrums. My knees started to bother me soon after starting karate. Ninja-ing, as I like to call it, is a lot of kicking, jumping, squatting, jump squatting, lunges, more jumping, twisting, spinning, and more kicking. All of these actions are very different from the one foot in front of the other motion of running. The discomfort was not surprising and would easily remedied with a dose of glutimine in my post-ninja smoothie.
One night in early November, we did nothing but right leg front kicks. We worked on form and power. And my right knee has not been the same. I woke up the next day and went for a run and felt fine. I wore heels to the office and noticed some extra soreness.
I should note here that the combination of karate and running means that I'm almost always sore. Before I started karate, I was doing strength training with a personal trainer. At this point, I'm able to recognize typical muscle soreness from something-ain't-right. Soreness means your muscles are growing or changing. There are exercise-y people with scientific definitions and reasons for why soreness is a good thing.
Back to the night of my knee. I woke up two days after the front-kick fest and was greeted with a sharp, burning fire sensation in my right knee. I iced it throughout the day and kept my leg elevated. I bought a cheap-o knee brace from CVS that afternoon and felt immediate relief after putting it on. I went to ninja that night and out to the bar after.
A dull ache has persisted in my right knee since. I've iced. I worn the stupid, cumbersome knee brace that makes my thigh look like a sausage. The brace helps the knee but hurts the rest of my leg. I've diagnosed myself with runners knees, torn meniscus, sprained ligaments, tendinitis, arthritus, and the same thing that Chase Utley has. I'm on the DL list.
While the breakdown in my runnerness of late has come from a busy schedule and conflicting priorities, there is also a little voice in the back of my head saying, "ummm..... maybe this needs looked at." And also a louder, nag-type real voice from boyfriend and mother telling me the same thing. Here's the thing: I hate doctors. I resist going until I'm on my figurative death bed. I subscribe to my father's theory of illness, "I can go to the doctors and get meds and I'll be better in seven days. Or I can just let my body heal and I'll be better in a week." I even resist taking OTC medicine until orange juice fails me.
It took me three months to gather the courage to call an orthopedic doctor. I faked that I was looking for recommenations. I wanted to wait until after Gasparilla. Honestly, I'm scared! Dr. Google and the staff of Runner's World have the rational side of me convinced that this a minor injury that can be healed with ice and rest. The irrational side of me has been listening to my mother too much and is pretty sure that I'm going to need a total knee replacement and will never be able to run again. I'll just have to learn to swim or bike or deal with my emotions through a non-physical outlet. The horror! Even worse, the irrational side has a 60-40 majority.
My appointment is tomorrow afternoon. I'm hoping that I will be a waste of the doctor's time and this chronic dull ache is just a symptom of overuse. But, what if it's not?