Facing Fears

I went for a walk during my lunch break yesterday. And it was kind of a big deal.

When I started working from home last fall, I knew I was going to have to get some additional activity in, so I mapped out a route around the neighborhood that I can walk during part of my lunch break. It’s just under 2 miles, and I can walk it and still have time to grab some food before lunch is over. Heck, over the following months I was even to the point of jogging for about 1/3 of it.


Then one day, mid-April, I got back, had lunch, then by later that afternoon my knee started to really hurt.

I’ve been dealing with knee pain since my early 20’s, in part because of my weight.. and also because my knee caps seem to have these spurs on them that tend to aggravate the cartilage.


NormalKneeCapHere’s a random shot of a “normal” knee cap… notice anything different about mine? Yea. Anyways, like I said, been dealing with pain for years. It has improved tremendously since I lost the weight, but still has some issues here and there. I know my knee pain. This was something entirely different.

Over the next few hours it intensified, making it hard to stand (I have a standing desk for work with a stool I can use when desired), but even worse, after sitting and getting up it was excruciatingly painful to try and straighten my leg again. I could hardly put any weight on it for a few minutes until after it seemed to… loosen up again or something.

I haven’t had to go to the doctor in awhile, definitely not since having moved to Washington, so I didn’t have a primary care physician at this point. I did some quick checking the next day and found someone I could get in to see a couple days later. By the time I got to my appointment, the pain had come down a couple notches, it wasn’t a constant pain… just mostly. But the issue of getting up after sitting was still there.

The doc sent me for some x-rays and blood work… (which I was prepared for since had not had my annual bariatric surgery blood-work done in a while), neither showed much (except that I’m a bit low in Vitamin D and high in B12). He felt the likely culprit is a torn meniscus, which wouldn’t show without an MRI. He gave me some samples of Celebrex. An NSAID.

Long story short, I made it through a Disney vacation in May – I did ok with the miles of waking the parks, but the whole getting up after sitting was still a problem. Went back to the doc, he referred me to an Orthopedic surgeon, who is two blocks from my house. I walked to the appointment. My options were “take it easy” (as in do as little walking as possible) for the next six weeks and see how things are, or get an MRI and see if that shows anything. I did not want to essentially do nothing for six weeks and risk still being where I was right now. They scheduled an MRI for a couple days later. Same building, I walked there. While I wasn’t in a lot of pain at this point, the MRI tech was outside when I walked up and when he saw me inside knew I was there about the knee.

Quick sidebar, I had never had an MRI before, but I heard about how noisy they are, etc… well… not sure if I was just way too tired or what, but I fell asleep.

The MRI did show a small tear in the meniscus. But they’re not sure if that’s the cause of the pain I was experiencing. They did prescribe Celebrex, which at this point after learning a bit more about it, I was willing to try short-term to see if it would do anything (spoiler alert, it didn’t). Looking back, I probably should have gone with the cortisone shot right away. I ended up getting one about 5 weeks later anyways. Which I’m not really sure has done much… it’s honestly hard to tell.

So here we are now, over three months later. I’ve been doing some small-scale hiking. A bit of walking, but I’ve not been doing my daily walk. And if you haven’t guessed why I’ve been waiting, the title should give you a clue.

It’s fear.

I have absolutely no idea what happened.

I don’t recall any sort of slip, mis-step, stumble or anything on that day my knee problem started. Heck, I don’t even know for sure it “started” there or maybe there was something going on and there and that first day of major pain was just from some cumulative affect.

Back in June, I went with a group to Mt Rainier, and did a light… very light.. jog of about 10 steps across the parking lot and my knee popped. And boom, there was pain again. I missed a good chunk of the walk that day because of it.

How do you prevent something from happening again when you don’t know what caused it?

A few of the main reasons I moved to Washington in the first place was so I could hike, hike, and hike. I had a great time pushing myself on a 14 mile hike earlier this year, and had to cancel a similar one for June because of this. Will I be able to even attempt anything like that again?

I can tell my knee is still a bit gimpy. I can feel it just walking across the room. I don’t think that I could run to save my life right now. Will it always be so?

I’ve put on weight over the summer, in part, because I’m not getting the activity I would like to be doing in. Can I reverse this?

Fears. All of them.

And while they seem relatively minor in the greater scheme of things… they’re all things impacting me. Here. Now.

It’s part of why, while I am sure I could have been doing my daily walks weeks ago, I only started again this week. Well, and the summer heat hasn’t helped. But the point is…

Actually, I’m not sure I have one.

If you were coming to find out how to help face your own fears… sorry.

Maybe just “talking about it”, expressing it, getting it out there, acknowledging it, maybe that’s the first step.

I’m open to suggestions.

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2 Responses

  1. Kitty says:

    So what happened with the docs? Three mths later and all you had was a cortisone shot? Did they have any other suggestions? My husband has had 2 torn meniscus (1 in each knee), has had repairs in both, and says his knees hurt more than before. Well, the tear is repaired, but it’s like the surgery *gave* him arthritis! He obviously had arthritis to begin with, but opening & closing (surgery) seemed to encourage it.

    ANYway Rob… I hope you get resolution. Post something if you find anything out!

    • Rob Portinga says:

      Beyond the shot, I tried to get the PA to commit to something as far as what limitations I need to set. She wouldn’t really.

      You know the joke about going to the doctor “doc, it hurts when I do this… what should I do”?

      I didn’t even get the full answer, but essentially left feeling like I need to be careful, and if it starts hurting, dial it back again.

      It will be awhile before I can go back for any follow-up because of insurance situation, so making the best of it for now.

      Thanks for the well wishes!

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