Middle aged. In good shape. Keeping up on the court with the young guys at age 42. Invincible. Old man time, meet the new generation.
Playing tag with my kids. At he boundary I juke right, cut left. Instead of smoothly slipping away, though, my foot slips on the slick cement and my kneecap hits flush on the surface with much of my body weight and all the power I had pushed off with. Nothing broken, but my leg is a rubber band for the next 15 minutes. Seasoned veteran, I ice it for the next few days.
Although the leg feels good, I can’t bend my knee without pain. There is still power in the joint, but the pain steals a lot of it. Even after a month, I grab the rail going down stairs and wince when I go up them. (In one comical event, I try to stretch my quads by pulling my foot up and end up doing a poor imitation of a medicine man dance. This happens because my right side cramps up from the combination of the effort of raising my foot back and up as far as I can and trying to reach down and back to grab my foot.)
I see my doctor. She tells me there’s nothing I can do, it is just something I’ll have to deal with, but also that I can try this supplement called glucosamine. It works for some people but not for others. I ask her if I’ll have to take it my whole life if it does work. “Probably.” Since I refuse to take anything that I will have to rely on for more than a week, I ask her about surgery. She says she can refer me to the orthopedist and they will recommend surgery “because that is what they do.” We share a sarcastic sense of humor and we both laugh.
So I feel stuck with these options. Nagging pain when I bend my leg or glucosamine and possible, not guaranteed, salvation with the downside of a lifetime commitment. But I am not without hope. I work out on the exercise bike, the elliptical, and strengthen my leg. It feels better. Not great, but very bearable.
The middle aged athlete’s problem. The heart vs. the mind. I know I can stay this way and be fine. I can’t sit in a crouch and start a campfire, but I can do most everything else. But I can’t be satisfied. From talking to my friends, it seems that most of us need that one life-changing injury that puts us on the straight and narrow, puts family before fun or career before competition. And apparently that wasn’t my wake up call. My heart still wants to compete.
I played basketball for the first time in about seven months on Monday. It was great. Ear to ear smile up and down the court. A little pain afterwards, but nothing a day of rest couldn’t cure. I know I can go three-quarter speed and hold my own in tennis, hoops or softball, but when the game gets close, I worry that I’ll overcompensate because of the pain.
And that is why we are at the threshold of the great glucosamine experiment. I am able to continue without it, but I feel I have to give it a try. I did some research on the supplement and it seems that glucosamine works best in its sulfate form, taken with chondroitin. The information about its effectiveness, dosage, etc… was on the Mayo Clinic’s website.
I also found contradictory testimonies which said that glucosamine gives no measurable relief at:
Deciding that I would trust the Mayo Clinic and my own doctor’s observation that it works for some, I am going to follow the Mayo Clinic guidelines and start taking it today. By this time next week, I hope to report that I am pain free. Invincible I am no more. But I hope to show that, as Ulysses said, “age hath yet his honor.”
(for follow-ups on my progress, visit http://newsfrompalookaville.blogspot.com/