Monday, October 22, 2007

Update (252) and Knees

Yes, I weighed in at a lovely new low of 252 this morning. I am feeling pretty good!

I wanted to share a little about my activity level, and specifically, how my weight has affected my knees, and how my knees have affected my life. Back in the good old days when I was 165 pounds (1996), I used to have no joint issues whatsoever. It never even occurred to me to worry about my joints. I used to walk 2 to 4 miles every day for fitness. Then one day, my left knee started to feel funny. It felt a little sore behind the knee, on the outside. I walked a little slower, and a little less, but it just got worse. Soon it was excruciating pain. So I went to the Doctor. He did an exam and proclaimed that I had a torn meniscus. Ouch! He said it was very unlikely to heal itself without surgery. Unfortunately, I got divorced shortly after this and lost my insurance. So... I never got the surgery, and just could not walk long distances anymore. I was okay to go to the store, but no more walking for exercise. I could walk maybe a mile, tops.

Then I started gaining weight. In less than one year, I went from 165 to 245, mostly due to stress eating but also due to my curtailed activity level. I thought nothing of it. I had too much on my plate (literally and figuratively) to worry about my health.

Fast forward 9 years. All that time I hovered between 240 and 278 (mostly at the high end), and suddenly I was having new pains in my knees. Not only did I have the pain of a torn meniscus, but my knees started crackling, snapping, and being generally uncooperative. They would give out from under me once in awhile. I could not raise my legs straight out in front of me AT ALL if I was sitting. Soon, I could not walk to the park. I could not walk down the block. And as of December 2006, I could not even walk out the door and get the mail without extreme pain and doing a balancing act with hand rails. I had to go up and down stairs very slowly, placing both feet on each step, like a little child does. Sometimes, I could not go up and down the stairs at all. 278 pounds does terrible things to one's body. And I never realized until it was too late.

I went to the ortho, who said I had ruined my knees with my weight. They did an MRI, and sure enough, there was that torn meniscus AND rapidly advancing degenerative arthritis. Most of the cartilage was gone and I have bone spurs in both knees. OUCH. He basically said, "Loose 100 pounds NOW or you will be unable to walk without a cane in a few years and will have a total knee replacement before you're 50." (And no, that was not my wake up call. I came home and binged. I didn't lose any weight until months later, when something clicked in my head).

So what does one do when faced with a life of pain and surgeries? Well, I decided to do everything I can to ease that pain and put off the surgery. My goal was to be able to walk, shop, and be a normal person (no more walking for exercise, just normal everyday walking). So I have lost some weight, which surely helps. I am riding the recumbent bike to strengthen and stabilize my knees. I do daily stretches and exercises to assist that goal. I also take glucosamine every day, and I drink tart cherry juice concentrate every day (1T in a mug of hot water/honey), and I am taking Celadrin, another product that is supposed to help. And what are the results? I can walk out to get the mail. I can walk down the block. I can walk in the store, and I can walk my daughter to the park again (4 blocks round trip). I can do all this with no arthritis pain and minimal meniscal pain. My knees FEEL better. My life feels better. I can even go up and down MOST stairs again like a normal person! But if you hand me my daughter, who weighs 25 pounds (just about how much weight I have lost), then I can no longer go up and down the stairs. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Taking off the weight and taking better care of ourselves really will give a better quality of life. And this is YOUR life. Don't waste it being sad and unhealthy. Get up now, do what you can. It's never hopeless. We will succeed.

12 comments:

hanlie said...

I binged for three months after being diagnosed with high cholesterol and insulin resistance...
One of the psychological reasons we gain weight is fear - so scaring the living daylights out of us will never make us change our ways and lose weight! It will only make us put on more weight. Showing a smoker pictures of diseased lungs and printing warnings on cigarette packets have the same effect...
You're doing fantastically well! Good for you!

Heather said...

Yea! for the loss! that is great. I also think its wonderful that you are continuing on with your life and working to lose that weight so you can move again without pain. Some people would just give up or claim it as a "disability" but you are taking responsibility and control and that is just amazing!

Shannon (Gale02 from 3FC) said...

Lyn,
I love, love, love your blog. You have such insight and know exactly how to articulate it. Good for you for sticking with things, even through DH being gone (what a drag) and joint pain. You're doing a great job, keep it up!

Sybil said...

I've got knee issues too and it's amazing how 'just' a 20 pound or so loss has brought me back to normal movement and minimal pain. Occassionally I'll have a day when it feels odd, but overall - I'm without problems.

Thanks for writing about this - it's a reminder of something else to be grateful for!

Leigh said...

congrats on another loss! that is great progress!

honib1 said...

you know today must be a revalation day for all bloggers .. even I did a similiar post.. several blogs i have visited today have done the same thing.. you post is SPOT ON that is for sure.. when I was told to "either do something or I was going on BP meds" I went out and ate a buddy bar, a candy bar, icecream and something else I am not sure what but I am sure I did.. I binged for weeks after that and like you poof one day it suddenly clicked... I go see the doctor friday .. I am a bit sad but thats okay. all i have done since May is maintained for the most part.. not lost anything.. .. this pain crap is driving me nuts...I tried the chiropractor.. I dont like that at all..will try the gloucosamine..

Teale said...

I also tore my miniscus years ago! It was horrible! They told me I didn't need surgery, and after a lot of PT and a cortisone shot, they stopped treating me. It's more or less OK most of the time. Since losing 25 pounds though, I can tell a definate difference. It used to start locking up on me (something I thought only happened to OLD people!), and I realized that this was very bad! I actually RAN to my car last night in the rain, with minimal knee pain!

Joanne said...

Your comments are right on and I like the way you write. I have been fighting my weight since I was 22. I am now 45. I have monthly swings of 5-10 pounds. Every month I tell my husband I will throw away my heavy clothes. Lately, I have been successful with my diet and I like your suggestions. I am also getting out and walking. I have been drinking tart cherry juice and taking glucosamine. After a recent visit to my doctor, she told me about a product called Fruit Advantage Cherry Prime. It combines glucosamine and tart cherries. My doctor said it has no sugar, compared to tart cherry juice about 18 g. I have been taking it for over 4 months and I feel great. I thought I would pass it along to you. www.fruitadvantage.com. Keep up the good work

FatGirl said...

This is my first time coming by this blog and I was really impressed with this post. I've been overweight my whole life and it's amazing that just over the last year my back problems have gotten so much worse because of the weight I've gained.

It's definitely become motivation for me to really try to overcome the horrible struggle

magnanimous72@yahoo.com said...

Hello, I was looking on the web to find real people who have had the affliction of extreme obesity and has and is in the process of doing somethng with it. I have been obese all of my life. This past year I have undergone an independant study in metaphysics that I have begun to identify the reasons why. I wanted to compare this with others and see what the universal thought pattern is for being overweight.

Chubby Chick said...

Lyn, thanks for the comments on my recent posts. I really appreciate them!

I just checked out the comment you suggested, and the email I received was not from this person. The email I received seems legit, but I don't feel entirely comfortable with it, so I am going to decline their invitation for an interview. You can never be too careful, you know?

Maria said...

Hi Lyn, I happened upon your blog for Oct 22, 2007 'Update (252) and Knees'...i am in the same boat, but weigh more and I am have reached that point where I have to see a doctor about my knees. I am not sure what kinda of doctor to see. An osteopath or orthapedic surgeon. You might ask 'why doesn't she ask her doctor'..because I don't like the see the doctor, never have because I have always been fat and ashamed when they tell me what i don't want to hear. I am so glad I happened upon your blog. I have read a few and it is like you are me. good luck to you..I do look forward to hearing what kind of doc you saw about your knees