PUMPING IRONY: A Healthy Pessimism

The problem with optimism is that it gets you all optimistic. And then you do something you have no business doing. Last week, my knee (yeah, that knee) seemed to be gradually improving, so on Friday I figured it would be OK to grab my umbrella and hoof it the short mile in the rain to work. I probably… Read more »

The problem with optimism is that it gets you all optimistic. And then you do something you have no business doing. Last week, my knee (yeah, that knee) seemed to be gradually improving, so on Friday I figured it would be OK to grab my umbrella and hoof it the short mile in the rain to work. I probably could’ve climbed on my bike, but why not test the knee out and see if my optimism was warranted?

Bad idea.

By the time I got to the end of the block, it was already barking at me and demonstrating with each excruciating step the difference between wandering around the house and trekking a mile on an unforgiving sidewalk. I tried shorter strides, longer strides, a little pitiful shuffling, then finally settled into a sort of Bataan Death Limp that got me over the bridge and up the hill to the office.

Runners are accustomed to hearing about the damage their knees can suffer from the constant pounding on the pavement, but I’ve never heard the same said of walkers or bicyclists or guys who are just standing around. After Friday’s little adventure — yeah, I hobbled back home after work, too — I spent the weekend trying to undo the damage by bicycling several miles and generally flexing the recalcitrant joint whenever I found myself standing still. It doesn’t seem to be helping very much.

I know this doesn’t make for scintillating reading; though it should prepare all my younger readers for the stark realities of late middle age, when conversations routinely seem to tilt toward pharmaceutical discoveries and diplomatic descriptions of recent digestive functionality. That, at least, is something of a public service. Besides, blogs are by nature confessional, and I have to confess that this whole knee thing has now moved beyond the interesting phase.

Typically, when this sort of thing has cropped up in the past, I would simply back off on the activity in question and it would heal up in due time. I waited out a nasty rotator cuff injury that way several years ago. Couldn’t throw a pillow across
the room. Stopped trying to throw stuff for a while. Cleared up. Can now throw lots of things across a room. When the bursitis in my knee first flared up a couple of years ago, I stopped running and it cleared up.

So, I’m embracing a little pessimism. I’ve told my tennis buddies that I’m out for the rest of the season, with an eye toward
getting back on the court next spring. That should give me enough time to rehab this thing. Back to Dr. Needle on Thursday for more magical therapy. And no more walking to work for the time being. Any other ideas out there — short of knee replacement? I’m all ears . . . though you should know that I’m a bit hard of hearing.

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