Bad knees run in my family, but I still never thought they would sideline me. I used to sit cross-legged with ease. Kneeling was something I didn't think about.
Then when I turned 60, my knees starting "talking" to me.
First, there was burning and discomfort during long flights sitting in cramped economy seats. Stairs began to give me pause. Even curbs were sometimes painful.
So began my knee odyssey, which has been marked by physical therapy, X-rays and MRIs, multiple doctors, a pricey brace so difficult to put on that it is unused, lots of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, numerous ice packs, cortisone shots in both knees, various dietary supplements, topical ointments, and one foldable cane.
The low point came when one of my knees blew up like a balloon, requiring fluid to be removed with a long needle and no anesthesia. That was followed by nearly a week of sleepless nights because of a knee that felt like it was on fire.
If I could have removed my kneecap, I would have done it in a heartbeat.
During those sleepless nights, I ran across Richard Bedard's e-book, "Saving My Knees: How I Proved My Doctors Wrong and Beat Chronic Knee Pain," which gave me hope that invasive procedures didn't have to be in my future. It introduced me to physical therapist Doug Kelsey and his book: "The 90 Day Knee Arthritis Remedy." I've read and reread both books and shared what they recommended with my physical therapist and physician. Neither objected to my trying Kelsey's program.
I've also trimmed a few pounds and plan to lose more, taken up yoga, and bought a device that keeps my legs moving under my desk.
Are my knees better? Yes, an improvement measured by my physical therapist and how the foldable cane is gathering dust. But if I slip off the program, I soon pay the price with stiffer knees, less flexibility and more pain.
My hope is that, like Bedard, I can bring my knees back to better health and sidestep future invasive procedures.
But I also know that knee improvement will happen slowly on cartilage time - not my timetable - and that it will be critical to listen closely to my knees so as not to cause any more damage to precious cartilage or joints.