I’ve had a couple of days to process the information the doctor provided when we met to discuss my knee pain and resulting MRI. I now find myself somewhere between a rock and a hard place. In order to understand the complexity of my exercise choices and decisions, let me briefly go back 22 years.
While hiking on a very hot July day in 1996, I drank out of a stream and contracted a water-born parasite called Giardia. I knew it was a bad idea to drink out of an open stream, but I was hot, tired and naive, so the rest is history. Personally, I don’t have many regrets in life, but this one decision with it’s negative consequences I have to live with for the rest of my life.
Through the process of time, the Giardia parasite led to an eventual Crohn’s disease diagnosis in 2002. For 5 years, I followed the standard medical treatment and protocol until 2007 when I faced a difficult decision between my health and the health of my unborn child. If you’d like, you can read about that experience here. The Journey Begins
Endurance athletics, and particularly running helps keep my body’s immune and digestive system functioning as optimally as possible with Crohn’s disease, because there is no cure. I don’t know why but running keeps my body balanced, moving and functioning. In the last month of cross-training- swimming, biking and rowing, my digestive system has been grumpy, and left me anxious to get back to running and feeling better.
At my doctor’s appointment, I was told I have a Baker cyst, patellar chondromalacia, and tendinosis.
Essentially, my kneecap’s do not sit properly in their joint which has caused abnormal rubbing on the backside of my right knee. This contact and friction has led to deterioration of the cartilage on my patella. The chondromalacia has also likely caused the Baker cyst and tendinosis. The doctor recommended I give up running because I am likely to always experience pain when running.
Sitting in the doctor’s office with Coach Paul, (who graciously came to the appointment with me) my first question was what can be done? The doctor told me there’s not a lot of options because the body doesn’t regrow cartilage. However, I do have a few potential solutions.
After some discussion, we decided a two-tiered approach that would address any bio-mechanical issues (my running form, gait and muscle strength/weaknesses) and the degeneration from the chondromalacia.
Step one- meet with a physical therapist and address any bio-mechanical issues and strengthen weak muscles.
Step two- try PRP or platelet rich plasma therapy. The doctor will draw my blood, spin it for about 15 minutes to separate the red and white blood cells, my plasma and platelets. The doctor will then inject my platelets back into my knee and through the process of time, my body’s natural growth and healing process will be refill/build the cartilage hole I have in my knee.
My doctor likened the process to filling a pot hole. He said that while I’m not growing any new cartilage, the patch my body grows should help to ease the pain and buy me some time. Research has shown the procedure and results are positive and often successful but he can’t guarantee 100% efficacy.
So there it all is, my problems and options. The simple answer might seem like I should just give up running, but as I mentioned earlier, I don’t feel like that’s a viable option.
I love being active (I have mountains to climb, children to chase and races to run) and don’t like feeling limited. Doctors have been wrong before (I was told because of my uterine abnormalities I would not have kids AND that I could not treat and manage Crohn’s disease successfully without prescribed immune suppressing medicine) but I also don’t believe in being an ostrich.
In the mean time, I will continue to live life, adjust and adapt while exploring all available options. Once again, I’ve got a great team of people helping me. Step one has already begun.