I thought about my knee for the first time while working in the yard. It started to hurt.
I thought about the parts of a knee, which, except for the anterior cruciate ligament, were foreign to me. I have rarely thought about knees over the years, the first time being when I was a student in medical school 40 years ago. And then I never learned the parts. In fact, the only orthopedic parts I learned were the bones of the hand because of the mnemonic “never lower Tillie’s pants, her mother might come home.”
A recent AARP article entitled “Be Good to Your Knees,” helped. It offered the usual advice about exercise and weight, but more importantly, it had a picture of a knee in it. I studied the picture. The illustration showed the major ligaments: posterior cruciate, lateral collateral, anterior cruciate, medial collateral, and the two major menisci; lateral and medial, all surrounding the tibia and the femur. I did not think the pain was coming from any of these parts, so I went to the doctor. I was right. The pain had something to do with mice. At least that’s what the X-ray showed; tiny flecks of calcium, “like mice,” he said.
“Arthritis is like little pieces of calcium that make a sound like mice running in the joint when you move.” I understood that because I heard them in my painful neck when I looked around to back the car. So, that was it, huh? Mice.
Mice are the calcium nuggets in there that cause inflammation, attracting white cells and kinins and enzymes and stuff like that. They begin to attack the cartilage. And then those mice and the cells and the enzymes and the kinins irritate the little tiny nerves that send pain messages to my brain to stop pushing on the shovel with the foot attached to my knee, and to stop lifting the heavy flower pots with the muscles attached to my knee, and to stop going up the stairs using the bones near my knee.
“Four times your body weight on your knee when you climb one stair,” he said. Really? The pain made me think about my knee for the first time in my life. And I took that knee for granted for so many years. I will never do that again, nor will I ever abuse my knee as I did when playing sports.
I promise myself to take care of my knee because I have grown to hate mice and kinins that attack cartilage and make me uncomfortable, and I have grown to love my knee. Now I have mice to think of. Now I have pain when I disturb those mice. Now I take pain medication; non – steroidals. Will those mice start gnawing my stomach lining, so that I will no longer think of my knee?