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21 March 2015

Thoughts on using a cane

Hello friends.
This is my second post today, which is a little abnormal for me, but there was something I just needed to get out there, and I couldn't think of a better place for it then here.

But first: How do you ladies like the small changes I made to my blog today? Can you tell what they were outside of my header? I did fix the clickable link to my Instagram, since I changed my name there. I spent a large part of today figuring out how to change minor things to my blog today. I'm glad they were super easy.

Onto the purpose of this post::
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So I know that I briefly talked about the fact that I am "broken" in this post about deciding what I wanted to do with my life, but I didn't really talk a whole lot about it. Well, the Army is kind of making the decision for me, as to what is going to happen in my future. If you follow my Instagram, then you would have seen this post about my "new friend" for the next unforeseeable future.


I have been trying to figure out what is wrong with me for the last almost five years, since the first time my knee felt like it was on fire int he worst way during basic training. I've tried everything the Army could think of, three rounds of physical therapy, a painful steroid injection, tons of stretching and strengthening exercises.... but nothing has really worked. I've spent multiple visits talking to my different doctors without much success.

It wasn't until I came to Germany that I was even taken seriously. In my last unit, we were part of the 82nd Airborne Division, where three times a week you run at least 4 miles and the muscle failure days can be beyond brutal. Deployment wasn't much better. Don't get me wrong, I love working out, but within my own limits without pushing myself past the breaking point. Unfortunately, the physicians at Bragg didn't care when you complained about pain in your lower body, they just automatically assumed you were faking it to get out of running. That wasn't it for me. While I wasn't fond of running, especially once it began to hurt, I had accepted that it was part of the Army life and was unavoidable. The issue was the severe pain I endured during and even after I was done running. Some people just aren't made to run, and it seems like I am one of them. It took three years of fighting before my old physician got tired of my constant visits and complaints and decided to put me on a permanent run at own pace and distance profile and instead of running for a PT test, I did the 2.5 mile walk.

This change offered some reprieve from the pain, due to less of a jarring impact, but the pain is still there. The walk, is NO. JOKE. I have to walk the 2.5 miles in 36 minutes or less, and if you've never done that before... I advise trying that right out of the gate. This is almost worse then the running. For me to walk this fast, especially with a knee brace that doesn't allow my knee much room to move, I have to completely adjust how I walk, especially if I want to pass the test. And failure is NOT an option for me. 

In December, right before I went on leave, I was sent to an Ortho surgeon, who discussed with me my options. He suggested a steroid injection into my knee, but he didn't know if it would help. He did x-rays and said he looked at my previous medical records, and said he couldn't see anything, but it didn't mean that nothing was wrong. I don't know if he honestly looked through ALL of my records, because I was told in 2011 that I had meniscal degeneration, thinning of the ligaments, inflamed surrounding tendons, a suspected ACL injury, and my kneecap tries to dislocate itself. The Ortho doc recommended me to my third round of physical therapy and told me to think on the injection. Upon going to Physical therapy, I was told that one leg is longer then the other, which isn't abnormal, but the problem was the difference was great enough to cause pain in my knee and also caused my knee cap to pull to the left. I was also diagnosed with chromamalaysia patella (an issue with the bottom of my knee rubbing against the bone below it). Three days before I went on leave, I decided to get the injection, to see if it helped any.

The bad news is that the injection didn't help, it caused me more pain for the next couple of days. The good news is, I finally went back to see the Ortho doc (my flight surgeon won't see me for anything involving my knee or that pain) and we decided on some solutions. Hence my new cane. He told me that the pain might be caused by something outside Ortho's realm of expertise and he was going to talk to my flight surgeon about his recommendations of what it could be, as well as recommending me for a Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) for potential medical retirement from the military.

Since I am ATC, my doctor is a Flight Surgeon (who specializes in Aeromedical medicine). As Aviation, we have strict guidelines on medications we can take and the doctors we can see. Basically, there isn't any pain medication I can take and still continue to do my job. It all "grounds" me or medically disqualifies me from doing my job for various reasons. 

Now I am awaiting the call from an MEB nurse to start the process and to talk with him/her about the things the Ortho doc said might be causing my pain. I am anxious to talk to them about these options, because I really want to know what it is. I've lived with this for so long and not even known what my problem is. It's effected my way of life and put severe limitations on what I can physically do. An MEB will decide whether I am fit to return to duty (potentially reclass me out of my MOS to another one) or unfit and medically retire me. Considering my limitations, I think it will be the second one. 

Yes, I was considering getting out of the Army. Partially because I need to focus on getting better. I have spent so long putting the Army and my job first, but I physically can't do it anymore. My body has finally said no and it quits. I am wayyyyyyy too young for this to happen. I am wayyyyyyyyyyyy too young to be using the cane for the rest of my life. Part of me kind of feels like I am giving up. The other part says it's not giving up but putting myself first finally.

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I just kind of needed to get that out. I am still waiting to hear from this MEB nurse and talk about the things the Ortho doc said it might be. I won't discuss what they are yet, but will let you guys know when I know what it finally is. If it is what he said it was, then it would make a lot of sense due to the symptoms. I really just want to know what this is.

Hope you all have a good weekend. Mo and I are just hanging out around the house. He's playing a new version of Battlefield that he downloaded while I serf the inter webs and look at my favorite blogs.