Diagnosis: Crunchy Knee

I am not normal.

(You knew that already.)

This afternoon I went to my primary-care physician to have her take a look at my right knee, which has been bothering me for two to three years but has gotten worse since I began running again in November. It has had noticeable swelling for several months, and it “crunches” when I bend it, especially when I climb stairs (this has been true since before I started running). I had been waiting until after July 1 to see a doctor about it so that my insurer couldn’t accuse me of having a pre-existing condition before my one-year waiting period was up. (It happened to Bruce last year, and we’re still paying the denied claims.)

The doctor had me move my knee back and forth while she held onto it, and she said she felt it “crunch.” Her diagnosis: Crunchy Knee. I don’t know what she wrote in my chart, but Crunchy Knee is what she told her staff.

I like her.

Except for this: She told me I should stop running. I told her I’m registered for a 5K this Saturday. She said maybe I could walk it. Then, dad-gum it, as an afterthought she asked, “Is the course flat?” Uh … that would be NO. In fact, it’s quite hilly (we love hills, remember?).

She would forgo the race, she said, not even walk it. And, in fact, she would find a less jarring type of exercise. Permanently. At “our age,” we should find something that’s easier on our aged joints and bones. (This is hard for a 48-year-old woman to hear, especially when she finally has gotten serious about fitness and weight loss. And is in a Biggest Loser competition at work.)

The doc made me an appointment with a local orthopedist, who will probably order an MRI before possibly going in with a scope to “clean it out,” if that course of action is indicated. (We’ll wait for him to determine what’s necessary, but she was just sayin’.)

My emotions when I left her office were varied. Nothing too strong – I think I was in a state of shock, or denial. I’m still in a mild state of shock.

Here’s why I’m pretty sure I’m not normal:

Any normal person – after writing the $30 check for the office visit copay, having her vital signs recorded and telling her doctor that her knee “crunches” when she bends it – would have expected her physician to reply, in essence, “Stop doing bouncy exercises that make your knee worse.” Even temporarily.

Any physician worth her expensive medical-school degree would have said that, and she would have been correct in doing so. Any normal person would have thought this was sensible advice. After all, the expectation of sensible advice and treatment is why we make appointments with our physicians in the first place. (That, and unnecessary antibiotics.)

And when I called Bruce to break the disturbing news, he was not surprised. My mother was not surprised.

Why am I the only one who was surprised?

I am not normal. I live in my own little fantasy world. A world in which pounding on the pavement every day and causing an injured knee to get worse (not to mention the foot with plantar fasciitis) makes perfect sense, because the runner has come to love the sport in a way she never expected. At age 48.

I don’t want to stop running.

In the little scenario I had fantasized about in the weeks leading to today’s exam, the doctor was going to send me to a specialist, who would take some images of my knee, possibly slice it open and fix the problem. (I was even going to ask if I could watch. My brother watched his knee surgery.) Then (not before the specialist visit, but after; not before Saturday’s 5K, but after) I would forgo running for a few weeks (six at the most) and be better and faster than ever when the knee had healed. Super Suzy in stability shoes.

My doctor had a different scenario.

But, hey, maybe there’s hope. Maybe my aging doctor (she’s probably in her 50s), who had to give up tennis and has aches and pains she didn’t have in her 20s, is the one who’s not normal. Maybe she’s just bitter and doesn’t want me to have any fun. Or lose any more weight. Or win the Biggest Loser.

Maybe the orthopedist is more realistic. And not bitter because he had to give up his favorite sport. And understands how I have come to love running.

Yes. He’ll be more reasonable.

He’s going to take one look at my 20.6-pounds-smaller self, smile at me and say, “We’ll fix you right up, and by the weekend you can go back to your running schedule! Here, have some heavy narcotics!”

I’m not normal.

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4 thoughts on “Diagnosis: Crunchy Knee

  • Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 9:37 pm
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    No, no — you’re normal. See, it’s the Coyote who really is the “crazy clown.” Don’t let them run you down. It’s the Road Runner who is normal: “Just runnin’ down the road’s” your “idea of having fun.”

    “Look, it’s just a stress fracture; I can race Saturday.”

    “No, I don’t need a wheelchair from admitting. I’m completely over passing out at home 30 minutes ago.”

    You seem perfectly normal to me. 😉 XOXOXO

  • Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 6:51 am
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    Well, honey, it’s a well-established fact that you’re insane, so I’ll take your comments with a grain of salt. The pot calling the kettle black. Or white.

  • Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm
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    I’m still trying to fall in love with running….at 42. Not really working, but Drew is trying his best to help it along.

    Have you thought about biking?? You can still be outdoors and have your hills….just not the jarring knee action.

    I once had a doctor tell me my lungs sounded “crappy”…always wondered what med school he went to – apparently, the same one your’s with her “cruncy” diganosis went to.

    Take it easy, Suzy!! Don’t hurt yourself!!

  • Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm
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    I got on my bike Sunday, went about 20 yards and turned around and got off. My knee couldn’t handle it. As for “crunchy,” that was my word and the doctor picked up on it. She was just trying to be lighthearted. She’s letting the ortho doc make the real diagnosis.

    Thanks for the good thoughts and the advice.

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