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Old Wounds

They say time heals all wounds … But I think they can still haunt you for years. 

The girl with one knee brace ...

I can still vividly recall my first knee injury. It was during our volleyball team warm-ups where we ran around the court then dove head first into a team huddle on the floor. Except one day, for some reason, I didn’t quite dive. My left knee caught and bent inwards, and I instantly started howling and crying. I remember feeling both panicked and embarrassed as people helped me off the floor. My parents took me to the ER and, at the time, I sat in the backseat of the car thinking the pain was the worst thing I’d ever experienced ...  

There were more high school sports injuries after that – to both my right and left knees, during volleyball, basketball and softball. I can’t remember all the details for each, but I still know exactly where I was and how I felt in those moments. 

And, eventually, the girl with TWO knee braces. 

After high school, I stopped playing sports, but I didn’t stop damaging my knees. My weight ballooned through college, early marriage and my first pregnancy. I didn’t start taking my health seriously until Kenlee was nearly 2 years old. 

Battle Scars
When I first started running, I could feel my past in my bones. My knees creaked, crackled and sometimes shouted at me to stop. But I didn’t. And, amazingly, as I lost more weight and took the pressure/force off every step, my knees finally quieted down. 

Actually, aside from the occasional ache after a long run, my knees hadn’t bothered me at all for the last three years. I could still hear a crackling when I walked up the stairs, but it was only painful to my ears. 

The noise was like a battle scar I was proud of. You see, after all those years of visits to doctors, sports chiropractors and physical therapists, I was finally at peace with what they told me: “If you take some weight off those knees, they’ll feel a lot better.” 

As an overweight teenage girl, those words stung to my core. “They’re judging me. They don’t understand. They’re using my weight as an excuse,” I cried. 

And, maybe that was partly true. Fat-shaming and discrimination are real – I won’t deny it. But, after losing more than 100 pounds, the amazing difference I felt in my knees was also very real.  I can’t deny that, either. 

Please understand me here: I'm not saying all knee problems are caused by weight issues, or all knee problems can be solved by losing weight. It's just my personal experience.

Forget sunrises and scenic trails ... this is my normal view these days. 

Denial
With my most recent knee injury, it's clear the physical and mental wounds of my past have come back to bite me. Each health care provider I see comments on the crackling in my knees. “High school injuries,” I say, too embarrassed to explain my weight history, too … I know carrying around 284 pounds probably caused just as much damage as my athletic endeavors, but that story is even more embarrassing and painful. 

“But the crackling doesn’t bother me, I swear! That can’t be the problem. And I know I’m pregnant, but I’m still healthy! I HAVE to run. You just don’t understand …” 

Maybe it’s the raging hormones, maybe it’s deja vu … but I definitely feel like that vulnerable teenage girl all over again. 

Without an MRI or other imaging, we can’t know for sure what happened to my knee when I felt that snap three weeks ago. But, deep down, I know EXACTLY what’s wrong. The problem isn’t my meniscus, my weak hips or my loose joints. The problem is I can’t outrun who I used to be. I can’t keep denying my past. Because while I like to think I left obesity behind, its effects are going to be something I always carry with me. 

Moving On?
For now, recovery is a day-by-day effort. I seem to constantly take one step forward and two steps back. The healing process seems to be complicated by pregnancy (swelling, circulation and weight gain are factors), and it's unclear if I'll be able to get a definitive diagnosis/treatment plan until I give birth. Until then, I'll just keep fighting - my injury and my demons. 

Time heals all wounds, they say. So here's hoping the next 12 weeks of my pregnancy are all the time I need to heal this one. 

Red and swollen knee after a PT session ... It actually looks better than it did the day before. 

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