a journey to healing part iv
so here there i was, in february of 2015, hitting a wall in my therapy and recovery. at this point i was starting to ease back into running and agility exercises. i had only been incorporating these new exercises for about a week or two and my knee started to swell. at first my therapist and i both assumed it was because i was stressing it more than usual, but as days went on and it was getting worse, something had to be done.
i went back to strength training and stretching, abandoning the running and agility. i was also referred to a rheumatologist down the street at mgh to take a look and do some tests. they ordered an mri just to ensure that nothing was wrong mechanically. once that came back clean, the doctor aspirated my knee, just like the orthopedic doctor i had seen over a year ago had done. she sent the fluid to the lab and also did some blood work. it was confirmed that my left knee joint was inflamed by some form of arthritis. both the doctor and myself were confused because all of my other joints were fine, and i was so young to have arthritis.
the rheumatologist injected a steroid solution into my joint and said she wanted to see me back in a month to check on things. when the swelling had returned over that time, she prescribed an oral anti-inflammatory to try for a few months. we had discussed next steps in case the medication didn't work, and i was definitely nervous. it was a possibility that i would have to go on a bi-weekly inject-able medication for the rest of my life. obviously, i wanted to avoid that as much as possible because the side-effects and long-term effects were daunting.
so i gave the oral medication a shot for about five months with no luck. over these few months, i still couldn't progress in my therapy because the swelling kept building up. i should have been fully recovered at this point (may/june 2015) but instead, i was behind about three months which was incredibly frustrating.
during these months, i really struggled to stay positive and optimistic. i had been an athlete my entire life. although i never considered it my identity, it was a huge part of my life, and something that made me happy. exercising and sports were therapy. and i was just stuck in limbo, not progressing, but not declining. it impacted my social life and self-esteem big time. i didn't want to go out and do anything, so i just went to classes and back to my apartment. i would hang out with cian of course, but even when we spent time together, i was not a joy to be around. i became obsessive about what i was eating because i couldn't exercise. i constantly analyzed how i looked. and all of these things carried over into my relationships, especially with cian. he gave me a wake-up call right as school was ending, and luckily, that was enough to pull me out of my slump.
i realized that i just needed a new outlook. and that eventually, i would be fully recovered. who cares if it was taking longer than expected? even though i thought i was less healthy than i was before, i really wasn't. i hadn't gained a pound. i needed to re-evaluate how i saw myself and what defined me. so i decided to focus on getting my knee issues under control and less on the physical aspect of it. i centered my mind on other aspects of my life that made me happy - ones that were much more important than being able to run three miles or kick a ball down a field. i still wanted to play soccer my senior year, but the obsession had to stop. and i needed to enjoy everything else in my life that i was blessed to have be a part of it.