I rang in 2017 with a bad knee sprain.
I had no idea how long this would take to heal, not to mention the complications of re-injuring my knee twice since the initial sprain in the winter.
The initial injury happened in a way that was totally preventable, and I felt a lot of anger about the way it happened. I was on an airplane, flying back to Toronto from Calgary. I was in the window seat, and there was another passenger in the aisle seat. At one point during the 4-hour journey, I had to go to the washroom, and asked her if I could get by. She tucked her knees in so I could get past her (which was very awkward). On my way back to my seat, she had her phone plugged into one of the seats in front of her and I again, had to climb over her awkwardly and maneuver over her phone cord. In trying to twist back into my seat, I felt my left knee pop, buckle and then flush with excruciating pain. It hurt so badly, I thought I had broken it somehow.
WHY didn’t I politely ask her to get up so that I wouldn’t have to awkwardly climb over her?? Well, I’ve learned my lesson about maneuvering into tight spaces and speaking up.
Since the winter, I enlisted the help of osteopaths, physiotherapists, massage therapists and got advice from a personal trainer. It’s been nine months now, and my left knee is still in the healing process. From what I’ve learned, knees (and joints in general) can take a very long time to heal.
Certainly, a physical injury can take an toll. You have to pay attention to it, nurture it, strengthen it, and hope that it continues to get better. In part, increased biking has helped me to strengthen my quads (as advised by the healthcare professionals I’d spoken to). But it is still occasionally tender and I still worry about reinjuring it yet again, now that it’s been compromised.
The first osteopath I saw mentioned to me that a knee injury (well, any injury) takes not only a physical toll, but a mental one too. It can make you feel unstable, shaken, and a little insecure. Certainly, I have found this to be the case for me. I’m much more cautious about how I move around. I feel concerned about re-injury, or what this will mean for the future. I wanted to take a tap dance class this fall, but with my knee still not feeling up to the task, I had to postpone.
I find myself worrying and wondering if it will ever heal completely—or at least to a place I feel good about. And more than that, I’ve had to deal with anger at myself for even “letting” the injury happen the way it did in the first place.
Then, there are the moments of self-comparison. I look to other people who have sustained far more serious injuries than myself and think, “They’ve got it way worse. What do I have to complain about?”
Beyond day-to-day concerns, I have found that my enthusiasm for exercise has waned slightly. I have fears about damaging my knee further (even with a lot of the helpful advice and information I’ve received about strengthening it). Putting these restraints on myself make me wonder if I have started to “coddle” my knee too much out of fear of further injuring it.
Of course, this fear isn’t necessarily productive when it comes to recovery or healing. But, I suppose it is one part of the process.
Thinking about the mental tolls of physical injury have reminded me how interconnected our bodies and minds are.
Moving forward, I’ve realized it’s important for me to address and acknowledge these mental tolls as things that need healing just as much as the physical healing my knee requires.
What about you?
What experiences have you had with injury and healing? Do you find physical injuries take a mental toll? How do you address physical injuries and what ways do you go about healing them?