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Author Topic: Self Image  (Read 1178 times)

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Offline CariG

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Self Image
« on: June 24, 2012, 02:07:35 PM »
Over the years I've struggled with my own image of self. I'm guessing this is considered a normal part of the healing/coping process of having a chronic condition. But to be honest, I've struggled with it, and at times I still do.
Body image is something that gets more and more attention through the media, and so it should. It's an important aspect of how we treat ourselves, and how we treat others.
For the first few years after my knees became problematic I was in denial of anything being wrong. But I was so self concious of people staring at me, at my leg in a brace, that I was hesitant to go out, and even in the midst of summer I would wear long pants if I had to go out.
I didn't want people to think I had a weakness, or that I was crippled. Sometimes my daughters would jokingly call me a cripple, which made me feel rather blugh. I hate the word to be honest, and hate the mental images that spring to mind.
When I started to accept that this is a part of who I am, and with the encouragement of my man, family and close friends, I started to look a bit kinder towards myself.
Part of this process has included naming my crutches and walking stick my legless buddies, and making a joke of some of the other contraptions that I use on a regular basis.
 ;D Actually, the family joke we make to my daughter's friends who are new to the group is....and I love this......don't miss behave or break the rules around here, coz if I am able to electrocute myself (TENS) then imagine what I could do to someone who has ticked me off?
Mean? You bet.....but the looks on the faces when any of us say it....PRICELESS!!!
Even around the house, if some of the guys would drop in after work to visit with my man or my brother in law I would scramble to the bedroom as quick as I could and change out of shorts into trackie pants or jeans or something that would cover up my leg.
These past 12 months though I've apparently come to a happy place....one where I am confident enough within myself to wear shorts/skirts and have my brace/support/strapping on display. Actually, it's strange to take my supports off and see a slight, unintended tan line where my supports have been. Am I the only one who has struggled with this?
I can't actually pinpoint a moment where the care factor hit zero on other people's opinions/attitudes. It just happened without me noticing.
I can say now though that I am taking more pride in myself, and in my ability to move around, aided. I paint my toenails crazy colours and patterns, I make sure I dress myself up before heading out, and I take the time to continue going to the hairdressers and having my hair styled, getting my nails manicured and doing the little things that make me feel girly.
My man actually encourages this behaviour, mainly because, in his words "It makes you smile which means I can breathe a little easier for another day or two"
And my friends have jumped on board with aiding and abetting me in maintaining a positive mental image of self. Actually one of my dear friends is taking me out for a professional pedicure a week before my surgery (no nailpolish) so I can be pampered before it becomes a difficult for a bit. My other friend has promised to take me for a repeat experience as my reward for being patient and working my butt off with rehab.
Don't get me wrong, there are still days when I feel like a worthless sack of manure, useless and if anyone even looks at my leg brace sideways I'll break down in tears.....I blame hormones and pain meds for these moments.
How do we manage to overcome a low self image though? And how do we boost our own feelings when we're experiencing our down days?
 
All is possible....
2004 ~ clicking/cracking original pain started R Knee
2007 ~ MPFL Reconstruction R Knee
2008 ~ Removal of cartilage (80%) R Knee
MPFL Reconstruction L Knee
12/7/2012 ~ Lateral Release & Scope R Knee

Offline KneeZilla

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Re: Self Image
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2012, 02:56:57 PM »
I'm a 21 year old male and it makes me feel feel pretty useless. I can't even take walks around the block with my friends. I don't have a car so I can't get anywhere now ( I used to walk everywhere). All in all the whole knee thing makes me feel like a pile of manure too. :( I'm glad to hear you are taking a positive approach to coping. Keep up the good work.
Knowledge is power.
RK
- Injury with a pulp hook :O jan/12
-MRI possible articular cartilage damage
-scope + debridement 3/22/12
-Pain is back :(

Offline CariG

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Re: Self Image
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2012, 03:29:59 PM »
Hi Kneezilla....thanks for the feedback. I hear ya in regards to the inability to get around on your own. We found out from our motor insurance that I can't drive our car as I wouldn't be covered if there was an accident. And I used walking as a coping mechanism to stress....I think for me that was one of the hardest things to come to terms with. Oh, and the fact that a 3 year old can walk faster than myself most of the time....and climb the stairs.
Do your friends come over and drag you out to places? Do you have the option of a discount card for the local taxi service in your area? I applied for one last year, and it's been a godsend to be honest. It means I only get charged for half the fare now up to $50 each trip. After that I pay the difference, but there aren't too many places that require that amount of travelling I need to get to. It's meant I'm able to go and visit my friends without relying on others taking me, and has made it easier to get to GP and Physio appointments.
What do you do to keep yourself sane while you're recovering from your injuries and surgeries?
All is possible....
2004 ~ clicking/cracking original pain started R Knee
2007 ~ MPFL Reconstruction R Knee
2008 ~ Removal of cartilage (80%) R Knee
MPFL Reconstruction L Knee
12/7/2012 ~ Lateral Release & Scope R Knee

Offline Kwal57

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Re: Self Image
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2012, 04:45:07 PM »
I called it my superhero complex. The inability to mentally recognize myself being hurt, thinking I can do things I used to do, and not wanting to admit to it publicly. I'm 26, and have been on and off with knee problems for the last year and a half. I'm also looking at more surgery. I'm blessed to have a great support system from my boyfriend, and other family members.
I've also made it a point to go to therapy during this rough time mostly to help me through those down days. We talk about turning the mind, and working on self acceptance. For example, I personally work on accepting that I can't go drive up to the mountains and hike any more. I also have to accept that there will be down days, and try to figure out the positive light from it. I've picked up plenty of computer games, knitting projects, and crocheting projects.
I've got to say I am proud because I was in a wedding a couple weeks ago, with my short pink dress, and ugly black brace. People kept talking about how I should take it off, or I shouldn't be sitting at the front of the isle for the ceremony for pictures. It got me down too. but seriously, how much do they understand if they have to tell you to hurt yourself to make you look better? All in all, I ended up having a great time, mind you I did take about 45m out of the reception to ice and elevate.
honestly, I can't keep thinking about the negative stuff, and just have to prove to be me. I like to use positive self talk. 'If you don't like me for me, take a hike!' or the 'wow, you actually care for me, and want to help me through this, that is an amazing feeling.' Enjoy the positives; hate the negatives, and remember its you're time to live. So make sure you live it a way you won't regret. :)
*Kay*
'Runners' knee > Lateral Release 3/11
Minor Meniscus tear > clip 3/11
Fall on bad knee 1/12
PT 3/12-6/12
MRI > Cartilage missing = Cortisone + PT 5/12
Arthroscopy > cartilage missing, meniscus tear, & misalignment 8/12
TTO/ACI 10/13
Healing....for now :)
instability :/

Offline kneepaincure

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Re: Self Image
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2012, 07:06:21 PM »
I can't bring myself to wear a knee brace in public either. The closest I ever came to showing that I have knee trouble was taping, and only in the gym. Have to say that the number of curious looks it got me was pretty uncomfortable, and if I walk around in a brace I'm sure I would get more of them. The worst really is the disbelief from family. The 'hows' and the 'whys' can really get to me. They are supportive too, but sometimes they can't wrap their heads around the fact that young people can have knee problems too.

P.S. @CariG - The blue/red text against blue is pretty hard to read. Maybe a different color might be easier on the eyes? :)
Have had tilted kneecaps for many years, and occasional patellar tendinitis.

Offline CariG

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Re: Self Image
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2012, 08:39:26 PM »
Good Morning!!  :)
Thank you all for your comments and suggestions overnight....each of you are so inspiring.
To Kwal57...YOU ROCK!!!! What a great way to describe the rollercoaster of emotions and denial we all sometimes experience. And way to go on the wedding attendance!!  ;D
To Kneepaincure (sorry about the text :-[ ) you are amazing!! You've made me smile on this slightly chilly morning...and shed a little tear too. I can relate to some of the emotions you've bravely shared.
Today I'm off to assist my daughter in buying her first work clothes...she starts a Traineeship next week and has requested my awesome self to share the moment with her....and apparently I'm off the hook financially, so am leaving my cards at home!!! But....sorry, digressed for a second there....I am determined to go and put my best (and worst) foot forward today.
Too bad I can't go out in public with my fluffy duck slippers on  8)
Have a fantastic day/night
All is possible....
2004 ~ clicking/cracking original pain started R Knee
2007 ~ MPFL Reconstruction R Knee
2008 ~ Removal of cartilage (80%) R Knee
MPFL Reconstruction L Knee
12/7/2012 ~ Lateral Release & Scope R Knee

Offline Kwal57

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Re: Self Image
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2012, 08:44:09 PM »
I vote you go out with the slippers. but that's just me....:-P
*Kay*
'Runners' knee > Lateral Release 3/11
Minor Meniscus tear > clip 3/11
Fall on bad knee 1/12
PT 3/12-6/12
MRI > Cartilage missing = Cortisone + PT 5/12
Arthroscopy > cartilage missing, meniscus tear, & misalignment 8/12
TTO/ACI 10/13
Healing....for now :)
instability :/

Offline MyKnee2010

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Re: Self Image
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2012, 01:52:32 AM »
Hi,

I've found that the more my knees hurt, the less I care about what other people think! We live in a very small town so everyone knows about my knees. People I don't even know will ask me how my knees feel. At one store, the guys always tell me I would have been shot by now if I was a horse! Yeah, yeah, ha, ha, ha! ;)  It doesn't bother me because I find plenty of ways to pick on them! Also, people are always impressed by what I can accomplish even if it's something not affected by my knees. I'll take any praise, even if I don't really deserve it! ;)

One thing I've recently decided is I'm not going to put things off anymore. I used to say I'll do this or that when my knees get straightened out. Now, I've decided I'm not putting my life on hold anymore. I wanted to get a puppy but kept saying I'd wait until the knees are better. Well, heck with that! Little Hunter our new puppy came home yesterday. I am so happy I didn't wait any longer. I've decided we're going to do whatever we want (vacation, expanding my garden, etc) & if my knees hurt I'll deal with it then. It's not like the knees are not going to hurt if I don't do those things so why not just have whatever fun I can!

Hang in there everyone!

Offline CariG

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Re: Self Image
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2012, 03:31:16 AM »
 ;D to Kwal57....I kept the slippers on till the last possible second....next time I might just say to heck with it and wear them anyway!!
MyKnee2010....WAY TO GO!!! I've come to the same conclusion this year...is it something in the air??...and have travelled down to spend time with my family further down south, and am planning another trip up to Port Douglas to spend time with my in-laws in the not too distant future. I'm doing more of the things that I've been postponing for the same reason...'I'll do that when I'm better'...but the feeling of accomplishment when I've achieved something makes the residual pain from doing it oh so worth it!!
When I was visiting my brother in April I took part in the Relay for Life in their town. It was the first time I've done it, and was one of those things that I'd put on the 'someday' list.....I had such a ball, took it easy by my previous standards, but still pushed myself enough. Since returning home I've signed up my own Team to do it here in Brisbane in November....even if I'm in a wheelchair, I'll still be out there! I've even got people lined up who are prepared to push me around if I need them to....mind you, I've made sure they all like me and won't be tempted to push me onto the train tracks or under a truck!!!  8)
How is Little Hunter?? Where are you planning on taking a vacation to?
Congratulations on such a wonderful attitude, and thank you for sharing with us.
All is possible....
2004 ~ clicking/cracking original pain started R Knee
2007 ~ MPFL Reconstruction R Knee
2008 ~ Removal of cartilage (80%) R Knee
MPFL Reconstruction L Knee
12/7/2012 ~ Lateral Release & Scope R Knee

Offline dm

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Re: Self Image
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2012, 04:07:27 AM »
It is difficult to admit there are things you can't - or shouldn't - do. I've had 6 surgeries on my knee since 2000, and have just finished Hyalgan shot #5, trying those in an attempt to see if they help. Doc says wait 30 days after this last shot and see how the knee feels. If it's still awful, they will try a cortisone booster, sometimes it takes that to kick it into submission for a while. I'm told that if these shots don't provide appreciable pain relief, then there's little they can recommend besides a TKR. Doc says that doing a scope for a suspect meniscus tear on the damaged side is a waste of time, as it won't fix the underlying problems - a retorn acl and severe arthritis in 2 compartments.

I live in a giant unloader brace, have had one since 2004. I quit wearing it for a couple years, but have been back in it full time the last year as the knee has degraded, trying to stabilize it and keep my knee from dumping me on my behind. It's big, it covers most of my leg from upper thigh to mid-shin, and is metallic blue. It also has extensive wear marks from the heavy use it's gotten, so it looks fairly beat up.

In late 2010 I had a microfracture procedure (that took 18 months to fill in) along with an acl repair (that failed after 14 months) and had tears in both menisci trimmed. I spent 2 months not being allowed to put an ounce of weight on the knee while going to school, and wearing one of those huge postop braces for 6 months. I resorted to a wheelchair at school, rather than try and navigate me and my books through big buildings on crutches and risk accidentally putting weight on that leg or falling. I had to deal with a lot of feelings about using the wheelchair and having this monster brace (even bigger than my blue monstrosity) for 6 months.

I hate that I can't get a solid night's sleep because my knee wakes me up if I do manage to find a comfortable spot- then roll over in my sleep. It sucks big time. I don't like painkillers, have to make myself take them when I realize that my pain levels are spiking and it's getting to the point where it's affecting my attitude and mood to the point where I'm inadvertently taking out my irritation on others who don't have a clue what's up with me... not fair to them.

I just want to be able to walk around, and to get a night's sleep, without being in misery. The more I try to do, the more miserable I am by day's end. There are things I want to do, but I feel like my knee is this ball and chain keeping me from doing things. I'm only 40... it shouldn't be like this. I'm not severely obese....I've lost 40lbs since 2006 in fact. I've been working to keep my weight from going back to where it was... and have kept that weight off for 2 years now.

I have other health issues, and have had people ask me why I don't just apply for disability. My answer.... because I'm not ready to just give up. If I can hold a job and earn my way...I intend to, even if it cost me in icepacks etc every day to do so... until it gets to a point where I just can't anymore. I'm looking at the prospect of using insurance, while I have it - with the way our health system's going with pushing costs off to consumers it makes me concerned that if I don't consider doing the knee sooner rather than later, the insurance companies will make it even harder to get it fixed as time passes, then I'll really be stuck, because the knee's only going to get worse.
multiple arthroscopies 2/00,3/01,6/01,1/03, 12/07,10/10. chondromalacia, severe medial joint space narrowing following 3 partial menisectomies, chronic pain problems, kneecap problems, OCD lesion, failed mfx.

Offline Kwal57

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Re: Self Image
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2012, 04:47:25 AM »
DM....congrats. you have even inspired me a little bit. I know there will be a point where I am to look at  a TKR. heck I'm looking at two surgeries by years end. More power to you. I love how you're willing to pay in icepacks etc.. that totally made my day. Keep on trucking, it sounds like you're doing good for you.

I feel like I just started a career, in teaching 4&5 year olds, but I don't have the endurance to keep it up. While at the job, I fell on my bad knee, causing it to be worse. This knee business feels like a 360*. Should I go back to chasing around the Pre-K kids? It's something I have to think about it, and I don't plan on making a decision on that until after my scope. :/

Thx all you guys rock!! :)
*Kay*
'Runners' knee > Lateral Release 3/11
Minor Meniscus tear > clip 3/11
Fall on bad knee 1/12
PT 3/12-6/12
MRI > Cartilage missing = Cortisone + PT 5/12
Arthroscopy > cartilage missing, meniscus tear, & misalignment 8/12
TTO/ACI 10/13
Healing....for now :)
instability :/