Knee Update … I’m an Athlete, dang it AND Amazing Friends … :)

5 06 2008

There are many things about me that confound people. One is my general distrust of Western medicine. I guess it’s just that I do trust a lot of the positive work that has been done, but I prefer to be able to figure out what is going on within my body vs. cutting it apart or medicating. My knee is a special case in point. After quite literally throwing my body into most everything I’ve done, this rather physical girl has to take it easy to have it working for the long haul. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be around this long – so borrowed time it is and I’ve got no patience for a falling apart me. I am actively swapping out my destructive self determination with proactive competitiveness … and listening to those whom I can trust to honestly take my personality and such into consideration … because their vested interest is helping me continue doing something I’m obviously addicted to.

My frustration with my frailties isn’t exactly abating but I have been asked to take it a little easier on myself and realize that in order to keep competing and get stronger, I have to not kill myself along the way for short-term gains. No problem.  It’s hard to keep me down when I’m wanting to play … I think Dave noticed this slightly at the Clinic … and I did, reluctantly, listen when I heard “NO LIZZY” … ok – so I do listen but Dave’s been a competitor most of his life, and, more importantly, I’ve given him enough personal insight to trust him and his experience … I don’t have to like it … but I don’t like going around and around and around on a track for judged races … he’s my coach and a friend, I’d like to think.  At any rate, I’d promised that I would go to a medical doctor and have my knee evaluated. I had the appointment today and I was reluctantly ready to hear “You’ve got to take a month off …” I went in with everything feeling pretty good actually. The apparent knee slip at the Trophy Series probably put everything back into place … strain –> sprain –> slip –> stop! I’d made the appointment … and because I’m an info-piggy … I wanted to know what was going on so I could keep this from happening and have something to report to the other info-piggy.

I don’t much care for going to the doctor. I feel like they’re just there to act superior, find things wrong and deal drugs. Growing up around the medical profession, I know this isn’t the truth in all cases … but I’ve had some really unfortuante experiences and it is a good thing that I pay such careful attention to myself … I might take lousy care of myself, but at least I can babble through my medical history! The … doctor… (I use the term loosely and only because he graduate from Stanford Med according to the plaque on his wall) must be a relation to the Internest Crappy-Bedside-Mannor who was the lead charactor in a nightmare belonging to my dear friend Steve who, unfortuately, is no stranger to hospitals. Something didn’t feel right from the very beginning.

Anyone who knows me would be happy to know that I referred to myself as an ATHLETE when talking with the doctor. Although Dave’s been after me to see myself this way since I started working with him … it has taken my gaining confidence with my racewalking to really believe it for myself. “So, you’re a sports person?” said the heavy set, white coated medical professional I’d been assigned. Maybe I don’t look like an athlete. I was wearing walking shorts, I’ve got relatively thick legs, and I’m a “big girl”. I’m not some svelte little whatever … never have been ‘cept when I really hated myself and was a functional anorexic … but that’s another lifetime.  I told him my sport was racewalking and the look and the “oh that funny waddly thing.” Um … not a good way to start.

My head went with … Look, LARD ASS, it’s an Olympic Sport … I can call it my funny-looking waddly sport but that is because I get out there and look like a tall skirted duck and enjoy it!!! I may not be extremely fast right now, but the reason I’m seeing you is so I can build myself up to be faster than I am and keep challenging myself. No – I didn’t call him a lard ass. Wanted to, though. Fortuantely my brain put the kabosh on what I was thinking and the mouth translated to “Yes. I racewalk. There are rules to this Olympic sport which require my knee to be straight. I have been having some trouble with my knee and would like to verify there isn’t anything seriously wrong with it so I can get my training back up to par for my upcoming marathons.” PFEW …

“Training … Marathons? You walk and run, correct. Walking isn’t really a sport in and of itself. It’s something people do.” He didn’t even look at me and was doing the familar leg wiggle, bent my knees and before I could answer shoved his thumb hard into a spot on the lower outside of both my knees – and said “Does this hurt?” OH MY GOSH! He shoved his thumb hard into one area on *both* my knees and the one that hurt *more* was my *good* one! That was it … BOTH sides hurt!

I’ve got a bit of a glare when I’m pissed off and I did my best to keep my temper. He decided, in his Infinite, Snobby, Self-Absorbed, Mightier-Than-Thou, and Condescending way that my knee didn’t need to have any diagnostics done. Although I do not have arthritis (PFEW) the pain would be “cured” with a “course of cortisone injection and pain pills.”


Now – this slightly trash-talking racewalker didn’t kick him in the nuts (assuming there really were a pair in the correct general location) like I so wanted to. On the one hand: I didn’t fly off the handle and start cussing. I kept it together because I knew I’ve been really crabby about this frailty and not being able to train properly.  I was really irritated because I was doing the right thing in seeking medical advice and I was getting a really BS answer. “Pardon me, doctor… you’re willing to shoot my knee full of cortisone and put me on pain medication without knowing what is going on through basic diagnostic tests?” Um … I so don’t think so. I’d worn shorts to the exam so there wasn’t getting re-dressed. He was amazed that I didn’t want the pills and the quick fix.  “Doctor … you might not think racewalking is an athletic endeavor, but I do. I came here wanting to know what was going on not to be pat on the head, shot full of meds, and sent away with something which will dull the pain so I can hurt it further.” I respect medical opinions, but without proper diagnostics and not taking into consideration the observations made by a patient who takes her body into consideration … I think it would be folly to start messing with my body chemistry. 

On the other: as to racewalking not being a sport … how about a little ‘race’ down your long hallway? The fool took me up on it. I explained the rules of the game … and we took off down the straight away … yes he was caught off guard and did run. Sometimes my bat out of hell even in bare feet starts are a good thing. No I did not hurt myself … no limping or being stoic where I wouldn’t let the mistake of medicine see me … in fact, although I was upset … I felt better than I have in a while .. 

I got home pretty upset. I wanted good info to work with and to send Dave … and I got bull. I sent a rather incendiary note to New York and took myself out on a walk. I had had a crappy training leading in to this appointment … and my head has been in a bad space for a lot of reasons. I took myself out to Chatfield State Park and set my watch all the way down to 14 minute miles … between 14 -> 11:30. When the watch was screaming … it was because my legs were taking me OVER the top … not under the bottom. That made me happy … and better yet … everything felt really good.

This morning, Alicia reminded me that a couple of folks from our running club have a Physical Therapy business. I don’t know how I’m going to afford it, but they’re two of the fastest people in the club and racewalking isn’t a foreign entity to them. I’ll look in to this and make it happen.

There are a lot of reasons I want to re-hab this knee properly. I might say I just walk and my closest friends tease with me about it … but I want to glide through a race – pushing and getting faster – showing what walkingis about. I intend to come out of this stronger and sassier with a better glide form so when I am out walking a running race … more runners will take it seriously. I love when people have complimented me during races and used me as a marker because they know I’m not running. Heck – 5″9′ and 169 pounds of thick-set, racewalking, laughing loud chick in a skirt … I just want to keep the smile on as long as possible.

People are starting to “get it” with respect to racewalking in the running arena. I know I want to do the judged races to keep me honest and to compete in “my arena”. I’ll be the funky novice on the track, but I’m OK with that … coming in wherever I come in … I’m down with that too because that kind of racing is completely directed. Out in the Public, I guess I’ve always done sports not exactly understood at the time. I might get passed by tourist walkers and random butterflies … but I’m also passing runners … not only the struggling ones. My closest friends describe me as “This is my friend Lizzy – she’s a Racewalker and getting faster!” It really feels nice when your speedy sneaker running friends do that … and continually remind me that they’re OK with waiting for me to come in … they get to cheer someone, recover, find the good snacks and goodies in the expos, and know their friend is working really hard to compete in their events with a sport they can’t even fathom doing.

I’m lucky that I’ve got amazing friends who are keeping my spirits and motiviation high. I’m lucky that I’ve got a sport that is the bastard step-child of self-propelled solo sports (they’ve not put the 3 legged race in the Olympics yet, right?) that I love. I’m lucky that I’ve got enough self preservation to decide being doped up is NOT where I want to be. I want to feel what is going on and have the chance to correct it … to race another day!

Cheers – Dizzy





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