The Knee Mystery

It’s cold enough here to see frozen grass in the morning.

Over the past eight years, I’ve grown used to being well. This was not a natural condition for me, especially considering my lengthy history of depression. There were spans of physical wellness during those years, but I felt like these times free of illness were just eyes in the hurricane of faltering health. Then I was well for long enough, both in body and mind, that I embraced an identity that was not tainted with fragile health.

Fast forward to summer 2016, and I could no longer deny odd sensations from my left leg. I’d have alternating periods of moderate pain broken by numbness in the knee joint. I had a diagnosis of a sprained knee, but I had no accident that precipitated that injury. I figured the problem was strain due to overuse, and I did a month of physical therapy for the problem. Last week I was back to the doctor to report that therapy had resolved my pain but not the numb feeling in the joint. There are also times when it feels hot or cold, but not to the touch. Sometimes it feels like blood is rushing back to it to wake it up.

I haven’t the slightest idea of what is going on, but I do know it is disconcerting to have almost constant waking awareness of my left leg. Why can’t it just cooperate like the right leg, useful and hardly noticed? My doctor ordered an MRI, which revealed a perfectly normal knee joint.

This causes me to doubt my perceptions. If there was something physically wrong with this leg, surely there would be some evidence of damage on an MRI. I’ve been referred to an orthopedist solely as precautionary measure, and the likely result will be nothing amiss. This investigation will be over, the odd parethesia part of a “new normal” for me.

I did sprain this knee twenty six years ago, yet the scan reveals no legacy of damage. Is it possible for the brain to resurrect memory of an injury even after healing is complete?

Maybe this is one of those things about growing older that is kept secret from the young. Your body may start feeling different in unexpected ways, and answers can be so hard to find that they seem hardly worth pursuing.

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