jennifer hanigan

a pinch of this and a dollop of that


On Being Fat and Having Knees

Knee, cropped

Like every fat person in the US, I’ve been pelted with concern for the state of my knees from every side.  From what I gather, they’re in imminent danger of disintegrating under the daily strain of helping to carry my fat ass around.

To be honest, this concern never made sense to me.  I mean, no one worries that, for instance, Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to lose the use of his knees, and he weighs more than I do–and regularly adds weight to the load!  Can knees somehow tell the difference between a body with plenty of fat and a body with plenty of muscle?  American Football players worry about their knees more than they worry about concussions, but I don’t hear anyone’s granny tut-tutting about the risk professional sports bring to knees.

Nevertheless, when my right knee started giving me fits, I had a moment of fat panic.  It was kind of similar to a moment in labor with my second baby when I thought, “They were all right, I should be in the hospital, with drugs, having surgery.”  I wasn’t quite in my right mind at that moment.  Birth will do that to you.  Not long afterward, I had a robustly healthy baby boy in my arms.  I digress.

My knees will not give me adorable babies, but they are near and dear to my heart.  I can’t bike without them, walk without them, I’m fairly certain I couldn’t hula-hoop without them.  I’ve knelt on them for hours helping a laboring mom, playing with small children, and even doing crafts.  I need my knees!  And for just that moment, I thought society had been right, and my refusal to listen meant I was going to end up in a wheelchair, and I really don’t think I could ride my bike from a wheelchair.

I found my chiropractor a few years back when I dislocated my pelvis.  I recommend against dislocating your pelvis, if you can help it.  I’ll spare you the backstory of how he changed my life and just say that my chiro is amazing, and one of the ways he’s amazing is his willingness to teach me about my body instead of just fixing it.  Also he is like 95% weight neutral, and that’s far and away better than any other medical professional I’ve seen.

Last night, I told him that the right knee was still hurting (he’d checked both a couple months ago, after I completed a 12K race), particularly when going up stairs, or riding my bike. He poked and prodded and bent and so on and the gist of it is that my knee is fine, it’s probably tendonitis.

Me:  So I should ice it?
Him:  I can’t hurt, but more importantly, do you stretch before you bike?
Me:  I can 100% guarantee you that I have never stretched before a bike ride.
Him:  Biking is one of those activities that you really need to stretch for!
Me:  I’ve been biking since I was like 4 years old.
Him:  Yeah, but you aren’t a kid anymore.
Me:  Oh.

Diagnosis:  I’m 41.  Dangit.

Even though the statistical rate of permanent weight loss is very near zero, there’s an even smaller chance of my getting younger.  But at least having a medical professional give me a diagnosis of old rather than a diagnosis of fat is infinitely more helpful.  I get the same advice a thin person with a tendency to forget their age and play a little too hard would get.
So I’ll use some ice, and take time to stretch (most of the time…) and take stairs one at a time at a walking pace, and count among my blessings a medical professional who isn’t blinded by my size.