One morning several weeks ago, I woke up and climbed out of bed with an annoying pain in my right knee.
I didn't think much about it at the time because stuff like this happens fairly often as I muddle through my seventh decade: a pinched nerve here, a tight shoulder there. These things usually happen after getting out of bed, suggesting that perhaps I should never go to sleep in the first place because what's going to pop next when I do wake up?
Almost all of the time, the aggravation is temporary. A little ibuprofen and I'm usually good to go.
Well, except for this knee thing. It was persistent, day after day.
So I went to the doctor. I'm one of those people who uses the doctor only as a last resort because, you know, a little ibuprofen a day keeps the doctor away. I just wanted to make sure that nothing was torn. A quick Q & A, along with a cursory exam, ruled out gout and arthritis. But the doc wanted to take X-rays just to make sure.
X-rays? This was getting a little more involved than I wanted it to be. I have my mouth X-rayed every few years to make sure that the tooth pain I woke up with on any given morning wasn't another root canal lurking in my wallet. I'm probably iridescent enough with all the X-rays I've had over the years to generate my own glow.
Plus, I get the feeling most people can see right through me.
At any rate, the X-rays (there were three different angles) showed no tears, and just a little fluid on the knee. It sounded like a sprain.
I'm not sure how this happened. I don't jog anymore because, you know, I didn't want to damage my knees and become a candidate for knee replacement surgery. I don't lift anything heavy at work that puts stress on my knees because, you know, I'm opposed to heavy lifting.
The only thing that made any sense to me was that I may have sprained my knee getting out of the car. I noticed that after I open the car door, I plant my left foot on the ground and push off the floorboard with my right foot to exit the vehicle. Consequently, I put a fair amount of torque on that right knee.
Anyway, the doctor prescribed me a mega dose of ibuprofen (800mg three times a day) and to apply wet heat. "Wet heat" meant dampening a hand towel and then putting it in the microwave (kind of an in-house X-ray machine), heating it enough to slap on my knee.
This actually felt pretty good, except that I had to get up every five minutes or so to reheat the towel. That meant, of course, more work for my knee.
I also wore a Velcro knee brace for a few days, which made me look like some kind of a heroic aging athlete. I was disappointed that I didn't get as much sympathy as I thought I would, however. I couldn't understand that until I looked around me and saw nearly everybody else wearing knee braces, too.
But I think things are getting better. I figure I'm about 95 percent these days.
And at my age, 95 percent is good enough.