It’s taken a long time to get round to this Partial Knee replacement – 58 years to be precise. The first eighteen went swimmingly then I hurt my left knee playing football at school. “Bravely”, I soldiered on, limping for a while until the pain went away and the knee gained strength again. Soon I was back on the pitch, and all was forgotten.
Life continued, and I became, amongst other things, a walking guide; taking people for walking holidays around the world and in the UK as well as teaching walkers navigation skills. I was out hill walking a great deal, certainly above the norm. It wasn’t until sometime in my forties that I started to develop a bit of “knee” trouble. I remember one walking holiday I led in Finland. Every day, around midday, my left knee became quite painful. After half an hour or so the pain wore off and I’d forget about it until the next day! It was all very odd.
On my return, I went to the doctor and was told, after minimal investigation, it was just the start of osteoarthritis, and there was nothing that could be done apart from having steroid injections. I went away to think about it and decided not to have the injections. The knee had stopped its lunchtime pain-fest, so I chose to forget about it too. Now and again I’d have a slight issue but not something to worry the doc with!
It was around that time that I became aware of my walking gait too. I realised by looking at the wear on my boots that I tended to walk on the outside of my feet and with my feet slightly splayed. I decided to try and rectify this and for a while consciously tried to ensure my feet pointed forward not slightly sidewards as I walk and to plant them firmly across all the sole, not just the outsides. This seemed to work, and after going through a period of shin pain, I had seemingly solved the issue.
So let’s fast forward to 2011, I was by now leading fewer trips and spending more time sitting at my desk writing or designing websites for clients. My weight had crept up to 16.5 stone, and life was good. It was a sunny day in June, my partner was away on a residential school trip, and as I looked out of the window at the sunshine, I decided to go out for a run. I had been a runner at school and had been out occasionally over the years but it wasn’t something I’d stuck with. Five years earlier, on Boxing Day, I had tried to go for a run, hated every moment and vowed never to run again!
On that sunny day in June, something was different. I dusted off the kit, found the old running shoes and headed out, on a circular route of about 4 kilometres. As I hit the northern end of the village, the heavens opened with a biblical downpour. I scuttled into a bus shelter and waited, and waited and waited until I started to cool off. There was nothing for it but to carry on through the rain back home. Once showered and warm again I suddenly realised I needed to do that again.
So let’s cut to the chase, after carrying my excessive weight around for a few months I decided to lose weight and continue to run. I took to Myfitnesspal and counted calories and 22kg later, and frequent questions from acquaintances as to whether I was poorly, I got back to a size I hadn’t been for many a long year. I felt great, and the running was going well. Distances were increasing, 5km, 10km, a few half marathons and eventually I fell into the trap – I applied for the 2016 London Marathon.
I started training in earnest from October 2015. I followed a training plan and gradually built up distances, endurance and speed. Regular leg massages were scheduled in, and the knee was behaving. There was a slight “twisted” pain on the inside of my left knee, but only when I touched it!
So we arrived at Easter 2016, four weeks before the Marathon. A friend called; a group from the running club were going for a fell run along Derwent Edge, starting and finishing at the Ladybower reservoir car park. When I started to train seriously I decided to avoid fell running “just in case”. Derwent Edge though, I reasoned, was well-slabbed so it would be just like running on pavements anyway. And we wouldn’t be running uphill anyway!
As I needed to put in a longer run than the others had planned, I said goodbye to the others at their descent point, and I carried on intending to run back to Bradwell where I’d left my car. My descent took in a short steep descent to the roadside. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain at the back of my left knee. I stopped in agony, sat down and massaged and stretched it. After a while, whilst still tender, I carried on. Once back at the car I forgot about it and went off for Easter Day lunch and thought nothing more.
The next day, my knee was swollen and painful – I was furious with myself. Had all that training resulted in this? I had four weeks to go. I took to painkillers, the swelling gradually went down, and the knee eased. I vowed to avoid going to the docs until after the run. I didn’t want them to tell me I couldn’t run!
Marathon day, painkillers and porridge for breakfast and I had a fantastic run beating my projected target time by 2 minutes. I was buzzing, a great achievement and a brilliant experience.
Once home and over the post-run aches and pains, it was time to take my knee to the doctors; it was still tender and needed looking at.