I was hoping that I wouldn’t have anything medical to write about until my next cancer-doctor visit, and then I hoped the only news would be, “No chemo yet!” Alas.
Between cancer appointments I guess my body got bored and decided to develop a new chronic problem, which my regular doctor thinks is….osteoarthritis! (Unless the doctor’s wrong. Still a tiny bit of me hoping she’s wrong, and the X-ray and MRI were both broken.) In other news, I’m moving into a retirement community next month.
Anyway, my knee started swelling and bruising randomly, which I thought was my elderly person cancer, but turns out is my elderly person cartilage degeneration. I have no idea why this is happening, because osteoarthritis is mainly caused by old age or athletic injuries.
To be honest, this feels completely unfair. Avoiding situations like this is why I didn’t go into sports, people! Well, this and the fact that I’m incredibly uncoordinated when it comes to athletic endeavors. I dabbled in basketball, at which I was rubbish. Then I very briefly tried ballet, an ill-conceived attempt to:
1. Be as cool as my sister
2. Wear a pretty costume
This failed on both counts. In the first place, my sister is cooler than anyone I know and an amazing dancer to boot. In the second place, I was obviously in the lowest possible class for my age group, and I was cast as a flower petal. Yes, a flower petal. Have you ever tried to be a flower petal when you’re six feet tall and have the limbs of Gollum? I didn’t think so. Spoiler: it doesn’t work out well. Also, the costume will not fit.
My only other attempt at anything athletic was horseback riding, which I’m fairly sure had no impact on my knees. It was awesome for a whole host of other reasons though, the primary one being that it is roughly 476% easier to imagine that you’re Éowyn when you’re riding a horse as opposed to a bicycle.
To recap, I have no idea how this cartilage degeneration happened. But happened it has. Perchance the orthopedic doctor will explain it all to me. Perchance it won’t take them 3+ more years to get it all sorted. In the meantime I have my snazzy knee brace and I’ve already had one bonding conversation about arthritis with an elderly grandmother, so there’s that.
I’ve actually been having a very hard time with this, because I really don’t want/need another health issue to manage right now. But I’ll have you know that in the two weeks since I first heard from the doctor, I have already progressed through Kelley Goewey’s 4 Steps of Chronic Illness Grief. That’s not a real thing, do you say? Wrong. Here it is, in all its glory.
Kelley Goewey’s 4 Steps of Chronic Illness Grief
1. Cry a bunch.
2. Sit alone and think about how little you want/need another health problem.
3. Watch loads of _____________(Choose one: Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Doctor Who, Firefly, Blakes 7).
4. Return to your regularly scheduled pill-taking, appointment-making life. Pill takers gotta take, take, take, take, take.
Honestly, though, I’ve already made it to the “Okay, this isn’t ideal, but I can handle it” stage. And I’ve only had two tests and one appointment! I haven’t even seen the specialist yet, so I’m moving at lightning speed, comparatively. I know you’re all wondering what my secret is, so I’ll tell you:
It’s Christmas, when my astonishingly expert self-deception is no longer possible. Christmas, when I am continually reminded of who Christ is.
“He stoops to earth, the God of might,
Our hope and expectation.“*
I’ve had this tricky problem with forgetting that Christ is, quite literally, my only hope. I have tended to hang a fair amount of my hope for the future on having a family of my own, or on my health not getting any worse/more complicated, or on having a successful career.
But now I’ve got a new health problem. It could potentially be very expensive over the course of my life. I currently have no job. Relationships are extra hard when they’re complicated by chronic illness.
But it’s Christmas.
And Jesus, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father, became incarnate from the Virgin Mary. And He offers me life. Not debt free, not pain free, not on this earth. But Life. Life instead of death. Hope instead of despair.
It’s taken this silly, stupid knee to shake loose the empty hopes to which I’ve been clinging. Some of the heaviness of my situation has gone with them, the discouragement of endlessly disappointed hopes. Instead, I have this, in the midst of pain and uncertainty and the struggle of unemployment: “For God alone, o my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” **
Hope has come.
*”Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light” by Johann Rist and John Troutbeck. Do yourself a favor and listen to Jenny & Tyler’s version.