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Author Topic: "You're lucky, it could've been worse!"  (Read 1789 times)

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Offline margret

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"You're lucky, it could've been worse!"
« on: March 13, 2013, 09:46:49 PM »
WHAT do you say when people ask you what happened to your knee, and then tell you this? Of course things could always be worse, for anybody! But 4 years of daily pain, giving up everything from kneeling to walking more than a mile to playing sports, and having no known end of surgeries and rehabs in sight...doesn't that deserve a little more sympathy than "you're lucky"?

I've tried telling the story different ways--short or long, blunt or sad or funny, hopeful or neutral or gloomy--and it doesn't seem to matter. 75% of the time, I'm forced to agree that I'm lucky, which means I really have no right to be as angry and sad as the past 4 years have made me. It doesn't help, I'm tired of it, and I need an answer that is gentle enough for the people who are well-meaning but clumsy when they say this, but stern enough to let the rest know that it's not OK to judge the amount of suffering I've been through. It's not the worst suffering in the world, but it is suffering, and I have a right to feel how I feel about it without having someone else's "perspective" forced on me.

Offline kimb

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Re: "You're lucky, it could've been worse!"
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2013, 10:04:55 PM »
There probably isn't anything you can say to them without coming across as being rude about it. No, they have no right to tell you how you should think or feel about your own struggles. But they are also coming at it from a point of view of "what if it was me?" and people who have never experienced knee problems don't have a clue the extent of the pain, the problems, or the mental challenge in dealing with them. They are ignorant. If I didn't care if I came across as snarky and rude, I would say "no, you're the lucky one for having knees that function normally." And leave it at that.
Even my parents (I'm 37 so I don't live with them or anything but I spend time with them often) make comments like "You're sure milking this knee thing, aren't you?" and I only just injured my knee in December. They don't understand the frustration at one second having a normal knee and the next second having a knee that will never function the way it did. They don't know what it feels like to be walking and have a kneecap that pops out of alignment. They don't know what it's like to deal with the swelling and the type of pain or especially the mental part of accepting new limitations and such. Sometimes I get mad and I tell them just that, that they don't understand and if they can't talk to me about it without just being supportive, then I don't need to hear their comments. But I can say things like that to them without them getting mad at me for it, lol. Just depends who you are talking to, I guess. But remember their comments come from not understanding. Not from a place of judgement or wanting to irritate you. They just don't know.

Offline rnm37

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Re: "You're lucky, it could've been worse!"
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2013, 03:54:54 PM »
Totally agree with the poster above. Obviously if you compare knee pain to people starving in developing countries then yes you are lucky, however that doesnt mean its not an issue. After i tore my acl it almost seemed like having a partially flat tire in your car - yes you can just about function but nothing ever feels quite right does it? Everything you do has to be conditional on your knee being up to the task and its frustrating, life shouldnt be like that. If you have constant pain then it is even worse.

I think its difficult to explain to someone with good joints how debilitating it is to have chronic knee, ankle etc problems, unfortunately people just dont seem to realise how fantastic your body is until things start to go wrong with it!
June 2012 - ACL rupture and lateral meniscus tear

December 2012 - ACL recon (hamstring autograft) and meniscus trim

October 2013 - Retore ACL and tore medial meniscus :(!

January 2014 - Revision ACL recon (hamstring)

Offline Hiker girl

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Re: "You're lucky, it could've been worse!"
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 03:48:31 PM »
Keep it simple!

I have a knee injury that is debilating!(spelling error)  If they have an opinion you don't have to agree that you are lucky.  I don't think any of us feel lucky at the moment.  Yes we can count our blessings but people without knee issues have no idea how much the knee does in daily life. 

If you can find people who support and encourage you rather than discourage you.

Hang in there this is a mental battle as well as physical.
Rt. knee pain while hiking 08/10
Saw GP 04/11
PT 05/11  failed
MRI  clean 06/11
1st OS, nothing wrong, fired him.
2nd OS, cortisone shot 12/11 
Scope 05/12, fat pad impingement, cleaned and reshaped.
3rd and 4th OS think nerve problem
Nerve study June 2012, Femoral nerve damage

Offline margret

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Re: "You're lucky, it could've been worse!"
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2013, 10:53:30 PM »
Thanks so much for all three of these responses...I hesitated to post, worried I'd get flak for "whining" even here, so it means a lot that you all took the time to give me a little backup! I hope you're all coming along as well as you can.

Offline MaryPrankster

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Re: "You're lucky, it could've been worse!"
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2013, 03:44:20 AM »
Wow! Im only 3 weeks post ACL reconstruction and it annoys me when people say this, I cannot imagine 4 years of it! I don't know you but I'm sorry your frustrated with people. I agree that saying something like "No your the lucky one because you have normal knees" is appropriate. It lets them know in a non confontational way that, hey maybe that wasn't the nicest thing to say because it downplays all the pain and trouble this has caused in your life, and hopefully in the future they will think twice about the persons feelings before making this kind of comment.
I will ski again, I will ski again, I will ski again.....

Offline Mistyd

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Re: "You're lucky, it could've been worse!"
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2013, 04:32:08 PM »
Hi Margret,

First, I am so sorry for how long you have been suffering with your knee issues.  The pain, psychological, emotional, mental fatigue (and guilt sometimes) can become overwhelming over the long duration.

People can be well meaning and yet course and insensitive.  Most are on the well meaning side, trying to bolster your spirits by giving you a 'worse case scenario' you avoided.  They aren't realizing that they are belittling the suffering you have and are still going through.  You might help them understand by saying something like:  "I never really realized how important a knee can be in life.  You use them for everything! Sitting, standing, kneeling, walking, even sleeping comfortably.  To have just one injured body part seems so trivial, but it is so like the rudder of a ship; you don't realize how important it is until it is broken." Say it smiling, but also with the intensity of the truth of emotion you are feeling.  Finding an analogy that people can relate to to help them understand what importance a 'single joint' can be can often help them understand your situation better. 

Another way to do it is to acknowledge that you are lucky: "You know, I've had other people say the same thing - and yes, while things could have been worse and I am blessed that they weren't.  I cannot imagine how someone would be able to handle a worse situation ((smiling)).  This has so changed how I deal with daily living.  BUT, it has given me greater sympathy and empathy for anyone in pain or chronic pain."   Use your words and thoughts, but helping someone to understand that they are being unsympathetic or callus will ultimately keep you from resenting them, and maybe help them not continue in that way.  ;)

Hang in there!!  Believe me when I say I understand and am very sorry you are still going through such a difficult time.

God Bless,

Living for the Audience of ONE: Jesus Christ

'95 -knee injury
5-'04 -knee scope cleaned up grade III tears
12-'12-knee scope cleaned up tears
2-'13-harvested cartilage for upcoming ACI
...awaiting ACI

Offline Rothera

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Re: "You're lucky, it could've been worse!"
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2013, 11:16:36 PM »
For what it's worth.....I think you set your own goals and mark your progress by them. If where you are is good enough for you, then defend it and tell people very straight how far you've come. If, when people comment, you know you can do better, then go for better.
2011 big knee blow out! ACL rupture, lat meniscus rupture, MCL rupture 3rd degree. ACLr June plus meniscus repair. All Failed Sept 2011. Attempted ACLr and MCL Oct. bone cavitation = bone grafting. March 2012ACLr plus MCL graft with allograft. June LOAR. Clot. Wash out.
March 2013 skiing

Offline Chester57

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Re: "You're lucky, it could've been worse!"
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2013, 06:30:19 PM »
I have been dealing with a miserable knee for the past 30 years and I know exactly how you feel.  I got so sick of people asking me "why are you limping, why can't you bend your knee, why are you using crutches," "are you sure it's not all in your head" and then also hearing them say "well, you don't look like you are in pain", "you can still get around", "it could always be worse".  I appreciate that they are well meaning, curious, etc., but until they've "walked" and I use that term loosely, a day on our legs they will never come close to understanding.  I've spent countless hours crying from the pain, spent countless sleepless nights, and yet am still here dealing with it. I wish you well and can only say that I have reached the point that I just smile, shake my head so they think I agree with them and go about my business.
1980 LK open total synovectomy to remove AVM--Undiag AF Begins--MUA-AF & Instability--Debridement-AF--LOA, Synovectomy, Menisectomy, Chondroplasty, M/L Ret Release-AF, Instability & Sublux--MCL, POL, MPFL Allo Recons-AF--LOA, LR, Synovectomy-AF--LOA, M/L Ret Release, Synovectomy-AF