Bottom of the Barrel
Last month my father underwent an arthroscopy, or knee cleaning. During high school, forty some years ago, he sustained a soccer injury where an opponent accidentally kicked him in the kneecap and broke it in half. The injury came back to haunt him and he couldn’t walk without extreme pain and immobility.
In January, during the polar vortex, his knee got so bad that I had to walk the dogs (with my father’s osteoarthritis we sometimes find ourselves in a blind leading the blind situation) but after a couple of cortisone shots he became more mobile. Unfortunately, these shots didn’t work in the long term so his orthopedic surgeon decided to go in there and take a look.
The procedure went well and the surgeon found out why my dad was in so much pain. There were bone fragments lodged into the muscle! Yuck! My father was on crutches for two days and bed rest for a week. He then finished his recovery with one week of Physical Therapy and closed this chapter of his life (fingers crossed he doesn’t need a full knee replacement in the future).
Unfortunately, I noticed something rather upsetting. Even right after the surgery when he was on crutches my father was more able-bodied than me! In fact, he was so much so he didn’t use the crutches and snuck a walk with the dog. According to him, he hadn’t felt so good in years. Even while incapacitated my father was more able-bodied than me on a good day.
He walked without even use of a cane, he had no trouble moving in and out of a sitting position and he slept like a baby without discomfort which, for me, are all now things of the past.
Am I really the bottom of the pack? If I were any other animal in a herd I would be left for dead because I couldn’t keep up. I’m slower than the sickest mammal and thus the weakest link.
Okay, that’s a little dramatic, my biology background just came roaring to the forefront. But, the idea remains. Even at my best (I do feel like I’ve been okay this summer) I’m still behind recovering patients. Not only recovering patients but people recovering from orthopedic conditions who are well into their sixties – I’m not even thirty yet!
So, that thought now floats around in my brain, knocking out every last feeling of strength, confidence, and assurance I can deal with my Rheumatoid Arthritis and I don’t like it. Is this what it feels like when my ego deflates? When my confidence wanes? I can take Mocha out for two-hour hikes but am I really now competing against my own father? I thought I left my outwardly competitive nature with my early 20s because I stopped comparing myself to others. I’m glad I did because otherwise I’d be constantly reminded of my shortcomings. Are these just insecurities swirling around my head? I try to remember all the things I’m good at despite my limitations. But, I guess, that’s the key phrase isn’t it – “despite my limitations”. My body is at war and destroying it from the inside out. No matter how successful I am, I still scrape the bottom of the barrel, don’t I?
How do you deal with your insecurities? Let me know in the comments!
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?