Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Patellar tendonitis

So my diagnosis has been upgraded from "angry knee" to "jumper's knee." At least this diagnosis makes a little more sense - even if it is a malady usually reserved for basketball players (and, apparently, people who can't pedal a bicycle as well as they think they can.) The bad news is my condition is at least "grade 3," which means I need to:

* Rest completely from the aggravating activity. Replace it with swimming/running in water (if pain allows).
* See a sports injury specialist/therapist who can apply sports massage techniques and advice on rehabilitation.
* Accept the fact that I've basically wasted an entire month.

The doc recommended physical therapy. That sounds expensive. But I'm willing now to accept that this is a problem worth throwing money at. The fact that I've been so stingy and stubborn is one of the reasons I've lost an entire month.

Because I acquired the injury in an interesting way - riding a 100-mile snow bike race - the doctor always ends up spending more time chatting with me about my bicycling than he does talking about my knee. He was asking me another string of questions about the Susitna 100 today when I finally dropped my most pressing question.

"So I want to be able to ride another 100-miler by early May. Think that's possible?" I asked.

"Yes, that's possible," he said.

I paused to wait for the qualifier, but it never came. So I said, "But ... um ... will I have time to get back into shape before then?"

"The idea is to not fall out of shape," he said.

I waited for more doctorly advice, but he just looked at me with a straight face. I was confused. This is the guy, after all, who recommended active recovery all along. But he wasn't gushing with specific suggestions. And because I'm pretty sure that I had it all wrong before, I went for something I've never tried."So, should I try swimming?"

"Swimming is good," he said. "Your physical therapist will be able to help you develop some recovery-specific exercises."

I felt a bit bewildered. There I was, fishing for an authoritative lecture about all of the things I shouldn't be doing, and I was only getting closer to having an actual MD tell me I should start riding my bike again. He chose that awkward pause to pick up our chat where we left off, in which I told him about my desire to ride the 24 Hours of Light.

"I'd like to ride the 24 Hours of Light," he said, "but I'm going to be in Coeur d'Alene that weekend."

I knew the doc was a cyclist, so I said, "Oh, are you going to do some riding down there?"

"I'm going to race the Ironman triathlon," he said.

"Ironman? Um. Wow. That's great." It's just my luck that I'd get a crazy enduro-nut for a doctor. He probably considers patellar tendonitis to be a perfectly normal condition, like blisters. He's probably tough enough to go out and run 100 miles through such a niggling injury, but that PhD degree forces him to recommend physical therapy to lesser animals like me.
This is all hugely speculative on my part, of course. But the diagnosis seemed to be good news either way. I had plans to go out after my doctor visit to consul myself with sushi. But instead, I decided to celebrate ... with sushi.

Now it's time to call those PT people and get to work. White Rim, here I come.