When I returned from NYC it was while I was on a project in Chattanooga, TN. One of my best friends got me staffed on the project and we had a ball! Our team was great – it was a very enjoyable project
I specifically remember being in Nashville, TN at the end of February with a few coworkers and thought ‘Everything is perfect right now. I love my life!’. Brad was on a project in North Carolina so he came home every weekend, I had a relatively healthy work environment during the week and had enjoyable weekends. Because we both were traveling we had an easy opportunity to go places on the weekend to meet up, explore new places and just be with each other!
I wish I would have knocked on wood because I’m pretty sure I jinxed myself. At that time my friend Prerana and I were attending yoga classes on the reg and I was trying to get into running. I had never run a 5k (or any race for that matter) and decided that in 2012 I was going to do it! I started a couch to 5k program in January and pushed myself to run at least 4 times a week. On days that I just couldn’t bring myself to run I’d do the elliptical or the bike.
I soon found myself having hip pain while I was running and immediately started thinking that the sciatica returned. I was SO mad! I had specifically been making sure I was properly stretching before and after running so this wouldn’t happen. Because I had been in PT before for this condition I started doing the exercises myself. The pain was an off and on again thing – some days I could spring out of bed just fine, while others I felt like an 80 year old woman and it honestly took 10-15 minutes to be able to move and get up. It wasn’t until late March that it started bothering me everyday. I remember the day that started the everyday pain. It was when I was in the middle of reading the Hunger Games series and I was riding the bike. It was a Friday afternoon after work and I got caught up in reading. I had nothing else to do so I figured might as well work out while I read. Next thing I knew it was 3 hours later and my left butt cheek was throbbing. I immediately knew my decision to ride the bike for 3 hours was a bad one.
Again, I chalked it up to the sciatica.
I made it til mid April setting my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier in the mornings so i could get out of bed until I threw in the towel and knew I had to see a doctor. I had been up to New York City for the weekend and upon returning to work Monday morning my ankle and hip was KILLING me. It honestly felt like I broke my ankle. I went back to the ortho that had done my other surgeries and they were convinced it was sciatica too! I had an MRI done on my hip and everything came back normal.
Then something strange started happening…. my knee started swelling.
And then locking.
And then soon I couldn’t straighten it.
Then I couldn’t move it without extreme pain.
Every week I was traveling back and forth to Chattanooga, TN from New York City and Pittsburgh, PA. I wouldn’t wish walking Atlanta airport with these symptoms even on my worst enemy! It was horrible.
There was most definitely something wrong. If my hip MRI came back normal, PT for sciatica wasn’t helping at ALL – in fact it was making my knee issues worse! – then the next step was to check my knee. So off I went for another MRI (at this point it had to be like my 10th) to check out my knee. The results showed that everything structurally was in tact, except there may be a small tear in my meniscus again. It also showed that my synovial tissue had begun to thicken again and there was an excess of tissue growing in my knee. Solution? Surgery.
Based off of my MRI the doctor thought it would be a relatively simple procedure and I’d be back on my feet in a few weeks. I planned to take a week off work to recover and then work from home until I was cleared to get back to traveling. It just so happened we were going to be working remotely for the summer anyways so it was perfect timing!
In June I headed back to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh for my 4th knee surgery. Upon cutting into my knee the doctors thought the tissue had signs of PVNS, but luckily after a biopsy it was not confirmed. No one knew why the tissue was there, but they knew it was obstructing my motion so they had to remove it. In addition to the two small port holes for the arthroscopy another incision had to be made to insert a drumle to shave down the tissue. My meniscus ended up not having to be repaired and I was able to start PT the next day. In previous years I had only been given wooden crutches. When I was discharged from the hospital they gave me metal crutches and I was soon excited. I always wanted the metal ones over the wooden. (It the little things right? Haha the silver lining!) Upon returning from NYC I had temporarily moved in with my parents. So once I left the hospital we went back to their house and I set up camp in the basement.
For the past 4 years I had grown accustomed to a completely fast paced lifestyle. If my mind wasn’t thinking about work I was traveling for pleasure or out doing something. The Monday morning after my surgery it was weird not having to get up at 4:30am to catch a cab to the airport. It was even weirder not having work to do and having the whole day to myself.
My project wrapped up and I no longer had any work to complete. I began to try to find activities to fill my day with. My Mom bought paint by number paintings (haha!) and we worked on completing them. I made a scrapbook of all Brad and I’s Adventures. And I caught up on tv shows.
The weeks went on and I pushed myself at PT. My range of motion was slllllllowwwllyy coming back, but the pain wasn’t completely gone. After about a month I dropped the crutches. Yippie! Was happy to get rid of them and hoped that I never had to use them again! I still couldn’t walk completely normal, but I was getting there. My parents were taking us on a family vacation to the Florida Keys the first week of August and I was determined to be able to go snorkeling!
During my July follow up with my ortho I expressed the concern for the pain I was still having. I had gotten off the pain meds, but was still not feeling completely right. The doctor advised me that it was more than likely the swelling and my lack of motion that was causing me pain. After discussing options I was prescribed an at home stim machine to use 3 times a day and received a kenalog injection.
My knee felt better, not great, but I was definitely able to go on vacation! Getting away was great! It was a taste of my old life. Once I came back I continued PT and decided with my doctor that I was ok to go back to work if I could work remotely.
My “summer break” ended and I was ready to jump back into my life. My friend Amanda and I signed a lease on a house right outside of Pittsburgh and I was excited and ready for a new adventure!
Back then I had no idea what was causing the tissue to grow in my knee. Now looking back I can speculate that perhaps the psoriatic arthritis was the cause? Maybe swelling in my SI joint caused the sciatica that resulted in the flare up in my knee joint?
After my last post about sciatica many members of the Psoriatic Arthritis support group on Facebook had a great discussion about similar flare ups. Looking back I can now connect the dots and identify that the flare up was most likely PsA related, but it was very “comforting”, if you will, to know that others have been in the same situation. Sometimes you feel like you’re alone and you’re the only one going through these problems. I feel like this blog so far has facilitated a platform for some great discussions in related support groups. I’m looking forward to see if anyone identifies with this thickening of synovial tissue and other tissue growing within their knee or other joints.
I thought that by the fall I’d be back to work, but I had no such luck. Click here to keep reading my story and how I spent that football season basically posted up on my couch.
Wishing you a pain free day!