There's a little lightness to my step today. I am relieved and so thoroughly impressed. An Australian doctor in Cambodia found a cyst behind my left knee when scanning my veins related to my long haul flights. I thought it was weird because it caused me no pain. 3 months later, it had grown. I'm not what you might call a competitive athlete - you might rather call me an overweight, unemployed housewife, 45 years of age...in fact. But I am clearly going through this midlife crisis that I'm embracing, and my circles are finding...well...entertaining.
My weekly schedule isn't formal at all, but I try to swim 2xweek (like 800m-1K each time) ride my bike 4xweek (80 - 120 K each time) and run (on my treadmill) 4x week (3 - 5K). see? Not exactly olympic efforts, but we're battling middle age and a family and I teach Spinning 5x/week...about ready to bump it up to 8x/week.
So, naturally when the doc found the cyst, he got me into that circular reasoning of "you're too heavy, running isn't good for you....you're heavy, so you should run..." stuff and we both blamed my weight and my running...and I bought it hook line and sinker because I would drop running in a heartbeat, I hate it that much...(though admittedly something in my grinch heart is changing toward running, now that I haven't done it in 3 days...I crave it)
SOOOO....I flew to Bangkok for an MRI. Mention the world of medicine to anyone in the US and they'll roll their eyes about going to a beach-side resort place like Thailand, but I have news for you. This place ROCKS! Their international hospital is by far the best I have ever ever experienced. Efficient, state of the art, pleasant...holy cow. But what really blew my mind was the doctor and the diagnosis. Remember, I don't feel pain - I went feeling like I was wasting everyone's time and money.
He said that if he could look inside my knee he could know what was causing the cyst and with the followup he said that the MRI showed several little fissures/cracks/tears in the cartilage and the meniscus of my left knee.
He looked me in the eye, this middle aged Asian man, with his lab coat rolled up to the elbows and his glasses sliding down his nose and said, you don't just ride your bike around town on errands. You ride far.
To which I replied, yes - sometimes 4 to 6 hours at a time...I like the distances.
He said you ride early in the morning before you warm up.
To which I replied yes...in Cambodia it is 100 degrees before ten a.m. I have to leave the house at the first sign of light.
He said "you ride in higher gears...you'r legs are strong and you don't prefer to go fast, you prefer to go slow with heavier gear..."
By this time I was entranced....I just nodded my head.
Then the punch.
"your seat is too low."
W H A T ?????
I am the QUEEN of bike fit!!! This is my profession and I take it seriously! My seat is too low???
He said that as I'm still only 45, I still might be able to heal the knee on my own, if I don't further abuse it. My knee was creating more fluid to help protect it from further damage.
I said... "but, but, but....don't you think it could maybe, possibly be my weight and my running..." (please let it be my running...I'll stop, I promise...I'll get help...I'll stop running today!)
He took me on a tour of my knee through the MRI - all the angles you can imagine and he said based on where the damage is, it is clear to him that I am making these fissures from high pressure performed with my knee at an angle....it is not from running and it is not from my weight.
great news...but once again, here I am standing before you all sharing my flaws and failures as an athlete and trainer. Can this be advantageous? Well I sure hope so. I don't have anyone to fit me to the bike! I go on my own comfort and I already know I like it high (road bike, mtn bike and Spinning bike alike)
I'm going to train one of my training partners on how to fit someone to a bike and have it done to me. ...which is a perfect segway into that thingamabob that Josh (is it Josh Tyler?) worked on with Spinning - a big sort of protractor which shows the angle of the knee and indicates what is appropriate height and fore/aft positioning for the saddle.
I feel so lucky to have caught this before it was a problem. It may take 6 months or more to heal completely, but now I have a baseline of imaging so if I have more problems in the future I'll have something to compare to.
Lesson 1: Don't be afraid of foreign doctors...just get a good one!
Lesson 2: Be excellent - strive to better yourself so your clients leave you with the same awe I left this doctor with. Confident, knowledgeable, respectfully dispelling myths and augmenting your interactions with reason and intelligence...I am thoroughly impressed and inspired to know my work better, like he knows his work.
Lesson 3: GET YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY FITTED TO YOUR BIKE. COMFORT ISN'T THE ONLY TOOL IN YOUR TOOL BOX.
Lesson 4: Tackle the little niggles before they become catastrophic issues in your life...