Ouch! It Hurts When I Walk!
I am approaching my 70th birthday at the end of this year. I don’t know how that happened. I am just doing life day by day, and then BOOM! I’m almost 70! I am grateful to say that I am a relatively healthy individual. I have been blessed with good health. I have had my share of medical issues—an appendectomy at age 6, a tonsillectomy at age 7. I had four healthy babies, and a year after having my last one, I had an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, that very well could have taken my life. Over the years, I have had a few issues, like a bone spur on my shoulder, or other issues what I would call minor issues (nothing that would be a chronic illness). I have great blood pressure. I take only one prescription medication, and that is for my dry eyes. The only real issue I have had in my life is being able to maintain my weight. I have discovered after receiving help from a doctor that in order for me to lose weight and maintain my weight, I must move—for me it is walking. I learned to love walking and hiking.
This past seven months, though, has become an issue in the fact that walking of any length had become very painful. Two years ago,I had a little bit of pain when working out, so I was told before I continue, to have it checked so I don’t injure myself any further. I was diagnosed with mild arthritis in my left hip. I was told if it bothered me, just take an Aleve, and keep moving—moving is good for it. Last fall I noticed I was slightly limping when I was walking along with some mild pain. My husband was at the orthopedic office for a bone he broke in his foot and I mentioned my limp, and the doctor told me to make an appointment with one of the doctors in this large practice.
In December I saw the doctor and told him about my hip pain and limp. I told him that we just purchased a home in Arizona that is at the foot of a mountain with eight hiking trails. It was a major draw to the neighborhood we chose to build our home. I want to be able to hike on that mountain along with walking all over the neighborhood streets. I told the doctor I was concerned about my hip and the possibility of it getting worse.
“Dr. Fandango (names in “ ” are changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent) had my hip x-rayed. He said the arthritis was very mild, and could not understand why it was hurting so much, but if I got a cortisone shot, it may help relieve the pain. So, I received shot #1. He told me that some people benefit greatly from these shots, some not at all, and everything in between. The effect the shot for me was minimal. By April the pain in my hip increased but this time it was on the outer side of my hip, so “Dr. Fandango” had me get an MRI. He said I had bursitis in that hip, and proceeded to give me a cortisone shot on the outer side of my hip. There was a bit of relief. One of the odd (to me) symptoms I had was—okay, how do I describe it—do you remember when you cut your finger? It throbs? You never notice your finger attached to your hand until it hurts, and then you notice your finger all the time? That is how my leg felt, I noticed discomfort in my leg all the time.
My husband and I continued our three mile walks in the neighborhood. I was a bit stiff, but walking was doable, until one day in early May. I could not walk more that 100 feet and stabbing pains were radiating in my left knee. It was so bad, I could barely walk. Now, I’m a bit panicky because in a little over a week, we are leaving for a three week trip to Europe. I called the doctor first thing Monday morning, and he just had a cancellation the next day, so I got right in. He took an x-ray and didn’t really see any problem in the bone structure of my knee. He didn’t know what could be cause such excruciating pain. He asked me to get an MRI on my knee the next morning. The results were a bit confusing for him. He didn’t see much damage. He said he saw a small amount of roughness on the back of my knee cap that could be irritating my knee, but none of it was bad enough, like my hip, to need surgical intervention (thank goodness), and the only thing he could offer me just a few days before my trip to Europe was another cortisone shot in my knee and a knee brace to stabilize my knee as I walked the uneven surfaces of Europe.
Arriving at our Airbnb in London, we discovered we had 4 1/2 flights of stairs to get to our room. When going up the steps, I led with my right leg, and going down, I led with my left leg. That put very little pressure on my left knee as I hardly had to bend it doing stairs this way, even though it was a slow trip up and down the steps. I went out in the morning and did not return to those steps until evening, thus having to ascend and descend the steps only one time. For the next three days, walking was very difficult. As we were on some tours, I had to find a place to sit out while I told Dennis to continue walking. On the fourth day, all of a sudden I could walk again. There was slight soreness, but I could walk distances. I was so happy, because we were going on to Germany for over a week, and I wanted to be able to explore. I was able to do that.
We flew home at the beginning of June, and was home only five days before we loaded up our car and took a road trip to Arizona, to be there for the final inspection and closing of our new home. We would be there for two weeks. A few days before we left to drive back to Missouri, I told my husband that i needed to get a massage. I just felt like my muscles, especially in my leg, just needed some relaxation.
I found a place and made an appointment. I actually made an appointment for a 90 minute massage. The young massage therapist was quite familiar with hip pain. She broke her hip at age 14 doing point ballet! Yikes! As she massaged my left leg, of which took most of the time of the appointment, she commented on how my quadriceps were really knotted up. At the end of the massage, I had better movement, but I also knew this was not a one time thing, and there was more to be done. Then we got in our car the next day for a full two day drive home, and things went back to the old normal.
When I got back to Missouri, I researched online for a massage therapist whose expertise was pain management. I actually found one who had certifications in this area. I made an appointment — almost three weeks out. In the meantime, Dennis wanted me to call my family practice doctor, so I went in to see my favorite of all my doctors, “Dr. Lily.” I asked if she received the information from the orthopedic doctor, of which she said it was all in her notes. So we reviewed what all he did. Then I told her about the massage therapist, and also that the massage therapist asked me if “Dr. Fandango” sent me to physical therapy, of which I said no. I think it was because I was leaving for Europe, but he didn’t even mention it as a possibility for after I returned. “Dr. Lily” smiled, and said that is why I am seeing her. She ordered physical therapy for me. I asked if I should cancel the massage therapist, and she told me not to, that I should do both. The one thing I absolutely love about “Dr. Lily” is that she will keep investigating to find me an answer, and she is open to whatever may work. Her ego does not get in the way of good treatment.
I have been to the physical therapist three times so far, and finally got my first massage appointment. I love the fact that the “Eva” the massage therapist, explained every muscle she touched that sent me to the roof, and explained how they were connected to my body, why I felt them trigger pain in a different place, and what the purpose of that muscle was. She pointed out the main muscles that were just too tight and needed relief: the Adductor, especially Aadductor Longus. This muscle runs from the bottom of the pelvis to the upper, rear surface of the thigh bone. Contracting these muscles brings the thigh toward the midline of the body (adduction). Then the Pectineus – the uppermost of the inner thigh muscles. It is located just below the crease of the groin. Finally, the Gracilis – is like a long thin strap that runs from the underside of the pelvis at its upper end to the inside of the knee at its lower end. All these muscles manage the movement of the leg, and connection to the hip.
When I was finished, I felt like I had rubber legs, but I also noticed I had better movement. Between the physical therapy and the massage therapy, I am confident that I will be walking and hiking again. I will be able to drop the few pounds I have gained and maintain once I can move about freely without pain.
I am an optimist, and I am expecting great results. If not, “Dr. Lily” and I will figure out the next step to take.
There are so many things I have learned over these months with this issue:
- It is amazing how one body part can affect the whole body.
- Doctors do not have all the answers.
- Why do specialists not think outside their “specialty box”?
- I am grateful for generalists who think in all areas (family practice general practitioners).
- I am learning patience. I want this fixed now, but like all good things, it takes work and dedication.
- I cannot stop moving if I want to stabilize my weight.
There is a chapter in 1 Corinthians in the Bible that talks about the parts of the body. It is written about our physical body, and relating to the spiritual body of believers (or the church). It is so true what this ancient biblical writer understood about our physical body, and our spiritual body. Every part, visible or not visible, is important to the good functioning of the body (physical or spiritual).
“There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts. Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body. The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy. You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
Yes, I like that part, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” So true. My leg hurts, but it sure has affected everything in my body and what I can do with my body. Just these few days of therapy and massage has made a difference in my walk. It’s nowhere near fixed, but I see really good progress already. Apparently, I am “serious” when I am pain. Last night at dinner Dennis commented that I was back to my goofy self! Sign of good health in Andrea: She gets goofy again!
I am turning 70 in a few months. I want to be the person, when out walking and hiking, that everyone says, “Wow, is she really 70? Look how active she is.” That’s my goal, and I’m sticking to it. Like many things I plan, it may not come out exactly as I plan it to be, but I also know that God will have it come out exactly as it should be.