In Which I Ramble About Health and Age

Last week, my mother went to the doctor to have him check out her knee. It’s been “giving her the blues,” as she puts it, for some time, and she’s been limping a bit.

Once the specialist looks her over and takes some x-rays, the diagnosis comes back: she’s got arthritis in her knee. The treatment: cortisone injections and weight loss. I’ll get to the weight loss part in a bit.

So, the doc pulls out this BIG ASS NEEDLE (yeah, needles are the reason I have yet to get a tattoo) and proceeds to well, stab it into my mom’s knee. She, of course, responds with language that would make a sailor blush. After he finishes, he reiterates what will help her knee feel better: the cortisone, the anti-inflammatory medication, and weight loss. To his credit, he does emphasize that said combination therapy won’t cure her knee, but it will make it better.

As my mom’s knee is smarting at this point,  she is still swearing under her breath, and is NOT paying attention to what’s going on, the doc speaks all of his recommendations to me, so that I can remind her of them later. As he talks of the “getting some weight off of that knee” part, he eyes me and my belly. I respond by laying my patent-pending fuck-you bitch-face stare on him. He averts his gaze.

I wasn’t there to see him, and there’s nothing wrong with my knees. I suppose it was a concerted effort on his part to wordlessly (he was talking to/ about my mom, after all) get me to consider MY weight and what it’s doing to my knees. *eye roll*

Once we’re back in the car (once we get my mom’s pants back on and she stops swearing) I tell her what he said. I don’t mention him giving me the once-over. Her response: “While my knee does feel better when I weigh less, I’m more concerned with strengthening it. So, I’ll work on that. I’m not concerning myself with the rest of it, because I think he’s a liar.”

Me: “Eh? Liar? Where did THAT come from?”

Her: “He promised me something to numb my leg before he STABBED me in the knee, and he didn’t. (When I thought about it…he did say that.) He also said it would feel like a bee sting, and THAT was a damned lie. Besides, unless me starving (this is her pet word for dieting) is going to cure this, and it isn’t, I’m not focusing on all of that.”

Me: “Ok, then.”

We ride in silence for a while, before my mom quietly says: “Damn it. Old age is kicking my ass, but I’m not gonna go quietly! It’ll have to take me kicking and screaming!”

When I get home, I relay the abbreviated version to BuddingStarlet. She responds: “What’s old age have to do with it? I’m 25 and I’m considering knee replacement surgery. I have arthritis as well. I mean, I suppose all those years of dance lessons and gymnastics didn’t help, but age? Not even.”

It was here I had a bit of a realization. See, when folks are diagnosed with arthritis, often the first reaction is “Lose weight!” But what if it’s brought on with way too much activity? Maybe it’s hereditary. Hilariously, my mom’s concern had nothing to do with her weight, but everything to do with her being 45. I might add she was an avid athlete when she was younger, and has been working retail since before I was born (I’m 23.) I’m sure that helped.

My point to all this rambling is, I guess, that just as fat and health can’t be lumped together, neither can age and health. I know folks older than me who are much healthier than I am, and in fact, unless they told you their real age, you’d assume they’re much younger. It’s all relative, and I’m of the mind that you’re only as young as you feel. (And seriously? That makes me about 70. I have an old soul, y’all.)

And since my mom wants to feel HER age, I’m gonna look into some strengthening exercises for her. I’ll go too, and see if I can start feeling my age as well.

16 Responses to “In Which I Ramble About Health and Age”

  1. January 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    oh hells yeah. i have arthritis too, in my knees. doctors tell me it’s because i’m fat. doesn’t matter that when i was a teenager, i roller-skated 3 to 4 hours a night, 3 to 4 nights a week, every week from the time i was 12 until i was 22. doesn’t matter that every time i fell, i landed on my knees, whether i was running or skating, it’s the weight that did the damage (and never mind that i wasn’t really fat at the time i was doing the skating, i was fat when they saw me and diagnosed the arthritis at the ripe old age of 34). also doesn’t matter that everyone in my family, on both sides, has arthritis (and most of them are fat to one degree or another). maybe that’s why we all have arthritis, because we’re all fat (even though none of us were fat when we were younger, we got fat as we aged). so i agree with your mother, doctors can be liars and should be disregarded when their advice doesn’t gibe with what you know to be true about your physical being.

  2. January 12, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Good for your mom on realizing he’s a liar! A letter explaining why he’s fired (assuming you have other providers available) might be a good idea too.

    I also have arthritis, but what had me limping and in constant pain was jumping into an exercise program a bit too fast and injuring myself. What helped was physical therapy and strengthening my leg muscles, especially the quads. FYI, I talked about it here.

  3. 3 Lu
    January 12, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Hi, just got here via the fatosphere feed. I was shocked to see I’m your mom’s age (I think all moms are my mother’s age 😉 ). Anyway, I just got diagnosed with a condition in my knee (chondromalacia) that is arthritis-like, if not actually arthritis, and the prescription was physical therapy, *not* weight loss, although in the eyes of the medical establishment I “should” lose weight. Just over a month of P.T. has helped immensely, and I have not lost weight or tried to. But I’m writing to also second the idea that physical activity can hurt your joints. I had years of ballet (lock-kneed kicks) and also for years went out dancing on the weekends for hours-long sessions of jumping up and down in hard, flat shoes. That, my friends, is an Rx for cartilage damage right there. Exercise.

  4. 4 Lu
    January 12, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    P.S. I wasn’t fat when I did all that dancing, either. In fact, I starved myself to be thin.

  5. 5 jennie
    January 12, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    About 10 years ago my mom went to the doctors several time complaining of pain in her knee so bad that it hurt her to walk. My mom is a probably overweight by clinical definition, but only by maybe 10-15 pounds tops. The doctor told her every time that losing weight and increasing her activity would solve the problem. Yeah, two years, 10 pounds and countless hours on the treadmill later it turned out that she had a torn meniscus and a bad attitude. Now she has a knee that doesn’t hurt and a new doctor. Turns out weight loss doesn’t magically regenerate body parts after all. Go figure.

  6. January 12, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    tattoo needles aren’t bigass! And they aren’t a horrible stabby pain, more like an annoying getting your-teeth-cleaned pain. Arthritis sucks, my mom just had a bunch of it cleared out of her spine, her surgeon was pleased she has lost a bunch of weight. *eyeroll* Not that she was trying, she was freaking out before surgery and not eating because of her nervous stomach. I hope the cortisone works at least and was worthwhile.

  7. January 12, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    I’m about your mom’s age. I don’t have arthritis but chronic pain. Mild exercise does help. I don’t mean the length of time doing it but intensity. I started working out by lifting weights twice a week. “Strong Women Stay Young” is a good book to get started and it doesn’t focus on losing weight but getting stronger. Most fitness books will talk about losing weight, you just have to ignore that part.

    Remember that ‘no pain, no gain’ is a lie. I’m currently doing exercise DVDs. I really love Pilates although I can’t stretch like the women on the DVDs. I don’t push my body. I do it until I can feel the stretch, but not until it hurts. I’m getting stronger. I have more endurance. I really helps with the pain.

    Remember you don’t need to be breathing hard or sweating like a crazy to be getting stronger. You need to focus on the muscles working. I miss her the best of luck.

  8. 9 Sandy
    January 12, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    You had me with “laying my patent-pending fuck-you bitch-face stare on him.” I can’t stop laughing. When you patent that, please let us know. You’ll make a fortune. 🙂

  9. January 12, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks for the well wishes and suggestions, folks. We really appreciate it!

    As for the doc: she’s gonna keep seeing him, but I’ll make sure he actually numbs her leg before the injection, because I cannot be responsible for what happens if he doesn’t! 😆

    On another note, to the commenter whose post got sent straight to the garbage, don’t concern yourself with who comments on this site. Thanks, and have a great day.

  10. January 12, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Oh yeah – I’m close to your mom’s age 🙂

  11. January 12, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    See, when folks are diagnosed with arthritis, often the first reaction is “Lose weight!” But what if it’s brought on with way too much activity?

    Yeah. Which is why I don’t get all this “but I have to lose weight for my joints!” stuff at all. Unless you’re literally going to wave a magic wand and take off the fat, which is a trick that will make you a zillionaire if you can pull it off, it’s going to take exercise for any significant weight to come off. Probably vigorous exercise. And a lot of it. And cartilage does not regrow itself EVER once you hit adulthood. Best way to “get weight off that knee”? Don’t stand up…ever.

  12. January 12, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    I love your mom. And she’s two years younger than me. Tell her my knees wish her knees well!

  13. 14 serendopeity
    January 13, 2009 at 1:19 am

    OMG, a cortisone shot without freezing??? That is just wrong. However, the freezing needle was more painful than the cortisone when I had mine.
    Be careful of any doctor who wants to treat your mom with alot of cortisone shots. It is recommended that a person have no more than 2 shots a year here in Ontario, Canada. Additionally I think there is a lifetime limit also. Cortisone is really brutal on your liver, as it is a steroid, and can cause more damage than it is worth in the long run. Good luck.


  14. January 13, 2009 at 10:01 am

    You mom kicks butt. And your post got me to thinking how people in general like to have SOMETHING to blame for when health goes downhill (age, weight, etc) and really it is just an attempt for people to kinda brush aside the glaring truth that we are all MORTAL and things break down over time, not just because of a particular age or weight.

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