Category Archives: invisible illness

The Life I Live

My life, like anyone’s, has been filled with ups and downs, awesome times, and hard times. However, the medical aspect of my life has not been one I’ve found that many people relate to.

From partly genetics, and partly sports and activities, I have injured every joint in my body. In recent years, the reminisce of old injuries caught up with my aging joints. (I must clarify that I’m nearly 30, so ‘aging joints’ is slightly exaggerated.)

I’ve had roughly a surgery a year – 2007 (right knee), 2008(left knee), 2009(hiatal hernia repair), 2011(emergency gallbladder removal), 2012(right knee) – and need at least one more. Each one of these surgeries started with a doctor appointment where I was told I was “too young to have this problem”, then a series of tests that came back normal, and because of still severe pain the joints all ended in exploratory surgeries.

(Apparently my joints just want to wreak havoc in my life with problems that fly under the radar, and my body just threw a hiatal hernia and a need for my gallbladder to be taken out in there just to mix things up.)

Currently I am going through doctors and specialists and tests, to determine what is wrong with my right knee again/still. I moved to a new state a couple years ago, and the doctors I’ve seen now in both of these states have differing ideas as to what is wrong. It has been, to say the least, a frustrating process, and a process that seems to start over every time I see a new doctor. I mean, I get it, they have a protocol, there is a system to go through in terms of tests and such, but as I sit here still in pain, its just frustrating to continue to wait….to continue to have tests done as old ones become irrelevant because of time and pain levels being worse.

As I battle pain that I’ve learned to mask, people don’t know its there. Most people think I’m just tired or sad or quiet most of the time…. but I am more than likely in physical pain and just trying to deal with it. Medications don’t help me, I think I’ve become immune to most of them. Physical pain is debilitating often times, and restricts me from a lot of the things I love. It has reached a point that even walking too far on a flat surface hurts. I can’t hike, and miss being able to, a lot.

I daily face the dilemma: do I fight the pain and do what I want, knowing that I will hurt a lot more the next couple days; or do I not fight it, and feel down that I missed out on something I really wanted to do? For working out, I’ve modified everything and that has helped some for longevity of a workout, though cardio is the hardest aspect to get in. I’ve taken to the stationary bike, and on a good day (when my pain is lower) I can go about 5 miles and feel good about that; on a bad day I might be able to go about 1/2 mile and that frustrates me. Being active on any level is a constant battle.

In dealing with chronic pain that doctors don’t know how to treat, that people don’t see, that I’m “too young for”, I’ve learned to adapt and learned to take things as they are. I can do only what I can do. I push myself sometimes because I don’t want to give into a limit, though I still have to restrict the amount that I push.

At the start of all these surgeries, I was really down and frustrated. I would be nearly recovered from one surgery, then find out I needed another. I often felt stuck in a cycle of surgeries and thought I might never recover and never be able to do what I wanted.

But I realized, and made the decision, that what I did was still my choice. I was unable to do things completely for a few weeks after each surgery (some quicker recoveries, some a lot longer). After some recovery, and before each surgery, I had the choice to be bitter and dwell in the frustrations, or to realize all the positive things that were happening in my life outside of my medical saga.

How I reacted to my circumstances was my choice. I had a lot of support from family and friends through all of this, and continue to. I don’t like when people feel sorry for my ailments, but am glad when I get to encourage other people in their struggles through my story. I have a life to live, and don’t want people to feel they need to do things for me. Some people, when they hear I have pain, say ‘well, you mask it well’. I haven’t decided if that is good or not, because I’ve had to adapt to life with pain.

I have chronic knee pain. I have a life to live.