I've been meaning to write an LJ post for awhile about my overall health, but I've had so many things change along that front that I figured I'd let them settle down first.
First, the issue with my knees. About a year ago, I began feeling pain just below the kneecaps on both knees. I started wearing knee braces to rest the knees, and would try removing them after a few days of being pain free. But this only made the pain come back, and even worse: I would feel sharp stabbing pains in the sides of my knees. That scared me lots, because I had no idea what was wrong with my knees, and I was afraid to do anything that might aggravate them further. So I continued to wear the knee braces just in case I had something degenerative going on.
It took a few trips to the knee doctor, some MRIs, x-rays, and 2 months of physical therapy to finally get to the bottom of things. If you've ever heard a healthcare specialist say, "everything is connected", this is a classic case of that. The pain I felt under my kneecaps turned out to be patellar tendinits. Apparently the space between the bottom of my kneecap and the top of my tibia was a few millimeters too short for someone my size, which meant the tendon was shorter. This in turn predisposed me to things like that. Combine that with hitting the bicycle hard at the gym (more on that shortly), and I set myself up for issues with that tendon. And the stabbing pains in the sides of my knees? Seems I had not been working the supporting muscles on the sides of the knees, and the knee braces caused them to atrophy a little from underuse. So when I tried going off of the knee braces, I gave myself overuse injuries and a little scar tissue. Oops.
On the subject of the supporting muscles in the knees, the physical therapy I had at Zarett Rehab rocked really hard. The people there were very knowledgeable and taught me exercises such as Russian Single-leg Deadlifts to work all of the muscles in the knee, not just the patellar tendons. They also discovered some weakness in the muscles in my hips and lower back, and gave me exercises to do for those muscles as well. This should keep the muscles in my knees and feet from getting overtaxed. After several weeks of physical therapy, they then helped me wean myself off of the braces by way of having me walk longer and longer periods every day without them. At this point, I've been off the knee braces for two weeks, and have been taking walks in the evenings. It's really nice to be able to walk across town again. :-)
I said something earlier about the gym, and have come to the conclusion that gym machines are fairly evil. The problem with them, as I learned first hand, is that many machines only target a single muscle. Let's say you're using a leg extension machine. This will work the quads... and little else. This means that the supporting muscles don't get worked out, and can lead to problems down the road, especially if the quad were to get injured, causing you to limp, and causing more strain to be put on those other muscles. Muscles can start having issues one after another that quickly.
I've quit my membership at the gym, and am going to look into taking up yoga at some point. In the meantime, I'll keep doing my calisthenics 3 times a week, and walk seven days a week. I still have some discomfort in the knees and the tibialis anterior, but since it's a 100% soft tissue injury (e.g., the joints are fine), that will heal with time.
The second major issue is my feet. I began feeling this awful burning pain in them at Anthrocon last year. It limited my enjoyment of the con and was quite scary. So after the con I saw my doctor, then my pawdiatrist. Originally, it was pointed out that my feet had high arches, which meant that more load was borne by the ball of the foot and the outside of the feet. The first step to try and treat this was prescription orthotic inserts. But, the pain continued. So I was sent off to physical therapy. Unfortunately, I had an HMO at $OLDJOB, and could not choose which facility I was sent to. So while the people at the rehab facility I went to were really nice, I didn't get the best care I could. (My pawdiatrist used the word "McDonald's to describe them)
Fast forward a few months to December, when I changed jobs, and got a much better health plan. I was then sent off to Zarett for my injuries (yes, physical therapists can treat multiple injuries during the same visit, as I learned) and while it helped with the knees, it did less for the feet. Oddly enough, I discovered just a couple of weeks ago that removing my shoes while seated at my desk makes the pain and discomfort go away. Walking is fine, too. It's only standing and being seated with shoes on that cause me issues.
At this point, I've had X-rays, seen a pawdiatrist, physical therapist, neurologist, and had an ultrasound done. Yet, nobody can really tell me what's going on. The closest the physical therapist could say is that it was very likely a chronic injury spent by walking around with high arches for 30-plus years, but even he wasn't sure what the specific injury was. As he said, "Chronic injuries are frustrating for both the patients and us".
Overall, the pain in the feet is less than what it was last summer, and with things like fractures, arthritis and neuropathy all ruled out, that means I shouldn't have any serious issues going forward with my life.
TL;DR I got old, so I punched old age in the dick.