february, 2009

Mon, 9 Feb 2009 18:57:40 -0800

One senses a minor decrepitude these days. Friday at 2, my ninth week (by some measure; fifth by another) in the last 3 months of being primary traffic-oncall ended, I put the Internet in a lined, beribboned basket and handed it off to Denny, closed my computer, and curled up on my new soft red couch, courtesy of Manisha and her hip surgery. Breathed a sigh of relief or ten. Went to yoga thinking to stretch and twist out the slight cramp that had been lingering in my chest all week -- on the right side, so not exactly presaging imminent death, but still somehow a small artifact of stress. The pain only worsened as I held one urdhva dhanurasana after another, and by the time I'd showered and found a slinky black dress and subtle stockings to wear to the ballet that night, even laughing hurt.

Rob's brother-in-law diagnosed me over the phone as I cabbed it downtown: costochondritis, he said, inflamed cartilage holding my ribs to my sternum. Pure stress, internalized. Sitting in the audience with Laura that night, then, I watched as muscled dancers right around my age leapt and swung their limbs wildly, enumerating the ways in which my body just wouldn't do that now. Funny, I didn't used to feel this old.

The doctor told me this morning, drawing from a composite of my MRI, bone scan, and X-ray, that he'd recommend the torn lateral meniscus in my right knee for arthroscopic surgery.

I'm only half done with the gum grafts the dentist recommended last summer. The stitches are still in my mouth from the coronal repositioning I had done two weeks ago, the morning a lovely boy on his way to the airport (aren't they all?) kissed me goodbye and dropped me off to have my gums torn up and resewn, before I got on a shuttle with NSAIDs in my empty stomach, arriving at work upset about the state of my mouth, my digestion, and my love life.

I still don't know what to do about the ball of my foot, still occasionally painful even after something like two years.

I feel, physically, if not old, then at least no longer young.

Being oncall -- this state of mind that should be reserved for legitimate adrenaline junkies (the flood of it into my head will actually hurt after the second or third page of the day, and I'll reach whimperingly for the single-origin chocolate on my desk); that which surrounded the discovery of my first grey hair (even if I can't find it on my head now, I know it's there) -- suddenly got a lot less crazy, with the end of this rotation. I'll fix the knee, probably via surgery. My gums are mostly healed. But still, somehow I'm no longer a rubbery-band-y 23 ...

Wed, 25 Feb 2009 22:28:31 -0800

Sometimes I think the primary benefit of not quitting my day job to become a starving musician (as I threaten periodically, like when hearing Joe's new piece premièred by the Ives Quartet this Sunday afternoon, and meeting the SFCM-professor violist afterwards) is my health insurance. Young I may be; "hale" apparently correlates strongly to the frequency of my outdoor activities (as Mom pointed out -- small, but some, comfort, that). But it's gratifying, as of this morning, to think I may be on the brink of a solution (as the binary-minded engineer in me would have it) to these persistent knee problems (maybe or maybe not caused or exacerbated by hilariously falling out of a hot tub a year ago), the even more dogged foot pain: Surgery, yes; but with doctors and massage therapists and yogis and friends around to fix me and rehabilitate me and feed me post-op. An end in sight; a data-driven decision.

("'Excited'?" said Craig this afternoon as we brought our plates of food back to the conference room in which we were squatting in the San Francisco office so we could eat with Dan, who'd hobbled himself even worse on skis this weekend -- "you must have never had surgery before.")

A piecemeal approach has not worked. This untreated sesamoiditis has become so background as to be only as annoying a fly long trapped in the window -- I only hear its buzzing when I concentrate on it. (I've long stopped wearing flats because I think I should; my sparkly heels are fucking cute, and I'm going to wear them to the fucking opera.) I'd even forgotten that most recent diagnosis when Jennifer asked me about my foot pain at bodywork on Monday -- all I could remember was it was not, thank you very much, a "rare neurological condition affecting Type-A women between the ages of 25 and 30." I've almost gotten to the point of not caring that I haven't been able to run in three years.

So it might be understandable how gratifying it is to have not one but two doctors corroborate both a diagnosis and a prescription, and to have the yoga community and its fingers reach out to the rest of my right leg. The surgery is a must, I'm convinced -- though torn menisci are sometimes reparable non-surgically, this one couldn't even be sutured manually, since it's on the inside of the double-doughnut shape of the piece of cartilage that apparently sits inside my knee, crucially away from the blood flow that might heal it naturally.

I am lapping up this data, these hard facts. My new doctor has a framed quote from Lord Kelvin on her office wall:

[W]hen you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of Science, whatever the matter may be.

That attitude, with Jennifer on the holistic view, makes me optimistic. (This also seals my assumption that there will be no snowboarding for me this winter, but at the same time greatly increases the probability that there will be next.)

The winter San Francisco rains have finally come to bear. As frustrating as it is when my feet kick out from under the protection of my small-but-orange Marimekko umbrella and get wet, I will happily -- eagerly, even -- accept the temporary uncomfortable dampness in exchange for greener grass (both proverbial and literal) and longevity.

all this Šnori heikkinen, February 2009

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