Parallels: Messed-up Lungs vs. Messed-up Leg

Two and a half years ago, I spent much of my summer walking up and down tennis courts as a Tournament Assistant for my provincial tennis organization (I still don’t understand tennis scoring, by the way). At some point that summer, I did something to my knee on the uneven surfaces/gravel/grass behind the tennis courts I spent much of my summer walking along. That something means my knee now chooses inopportune moments to hurt, usually when I’m active but sometimes when I’ve “overdone it” and when I’m not doing anything. And mostly when I walk on an uneven surface—and given I live in ‘Winterpeg, Manisnowba”, the snow does me no favors.

The compounding factor is that I have all kinds of biomechanical weirdness—post-septic arthritis resulting in significant leg length discrepancy by way of hip dysplasia to be technical about it. So I just call it “biomechanical weirdness”. Of course, the knee pain is also in the weird leg. So because of the compounding weirdness, it’s really hard for both the sports medicine doc I saw and the athletic therapist friend he sent my clinic notes and x-rays to, to determine what is causing my knee pain.

Today, 2.5 years into the knee issue, and almost ten years into the asthma issue, I realized there are many parallels between the two.

  1. They interfere when you least expect it. Things can be totally fine and then BAM.
  2. I’ve been carrying an inhaler around for close to ten years now (well, minus today when I went out and forgot it—oops!). I also most often trek out with a crutch or two, thanks to the mysterious knee injury’s unpredictability in exaggerating my already present “normal limp”, especially when snow/uneven surfaces or long distances are involved. (Also, cold and exercise especially are times I want an inhaler around. But also, um, all the time.)
  3. Even though the above items can be annoying, they do improve my life (as in: improve my knee pain or improve my breathing!). Thus, I tolerate them.
  4. Accessorizing: although I’ve more recently accessorized (read: decorated with contact paper) my SmartCrutches, I’ve definitely done the same to my inhalers in the past.
    Making things fun is important, even when they are things that suck, like asthma or knee pain!
  5. Both make sports difficult in different ways that require adapting for.
    Tonight I tried to kick a soccer ball, and my injured leg is my kicking leg, so that was not the most pleasant feeling. But also, I also can’t balance well on my injured leg since it’s also my short leg. I guess I should be playing crutch soccer?
    Asthma, on the other hand, is a bit more predictable for me to adjust for—taken my inhaler beforehand and give’r. (Definition for give’r. Also a band, giv’r.)
    Except that isn’t failsafe all the time either.
  6. In my case, both have had some degree of mystery. While my knee pain wasn’t misdiagnosed like my asthma was, other than a patellar tracking issue (and walking funny), my knee issue doesn’t have a name. It also took too long to get both figured out. (Although honestly I did wait a whole year before seeing a doctor about my knee. Oops. But then he found nothing anyways.)
  7. I know my asthma isn’t going anywhere. I hope, with the exercises my athletic therapist friend gave me recently, the knee pain does. Even if it’s been over two years already, I’m hopeful it goes away.
  8. I keep my lungs as healthy as possible by taking medicine (and exercising which I should do more, except it’s hard with the knee, which is not an excuse!)—and I’m working on remembering to do the exercises to get my knee “healthy” again, too. I need to make that part of my daily routine.
  9. Sometimes, you just have to push through: whether it’s the lungs or the leg causing problems!
  10. (In)visiblity. People don’t ask about or know about my asthma unless I tell them about it.
    Oddly, I got asked what was wrong with my leg more often pre-crutches than post—while that may need time adjustment, I know I was asked twice about my limp in one month alone last summer, never mind including the rest of my life. Now people are just like “Ah, your leg is messed up somehow.” in their heads and we both go on with our lives.
    I think I’d rather the invisibility asthma affords, though.

Oh, and of course, thanks to SmartCrutch, I’ve met a lot of cool people on Instagram, too. Asthma also had this effect, but pre-Instagram. So, that’s pretty rad. Find your people, people. They make life better. ♥

(Disclosure: I received my SmartCrutches free for review. More here. I love them regardless.)

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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