Life after 40: Body Betrayal (or Becoming Your Own Worst Enemy)

40 SignAfter seven weeks of pain, I finally got an answer today on what exactly was wrong with my left ankle. I injured it on June 6, while dancing to Hava Nagila at my son’s Bar Mitzvah. I was having a blast and thinking about how much fun I was having. Then I kicked my leg out, bent my knee and went to put my foot on the ground and felt something “go.” I quickly extricated myself from the dance and then the dance floor.

We seldom take the time to celebrate in life, and we had paid dearly to have our family and friends with us to celebrate this joyous day, so there was no way that I was letting any injury take away from our celebration. Instead, I hobbled around and did what needed to be done, thinking that I’d feel better the next day. Or perhaps the next day. Or the day after.

I’m ashamed now to admit it, but it took me a full month to finally go to the doctor. As I tried to explain to people who asked (and yes, I do realize how stupid it sounds now), as a former athlete (very former – we’re talking high school and that’s a time not getting any closer as the years go on) I was used to just giving my body time to heal without seeing a doctor for every little injury. I’ve sprained, strained, and jammed countless appendages, though I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve also sprained, strained, and jammed countless appendages of those I played against, I’m both proud and ashamed to say.

I knew I hadn’t broken or sprained my ankle, so I didn’t see the point of going to the doctor. Yeah, I’m like a guy in that respect I suppose. I should have gone sooner, and though I’m admitting it now, there’s a little cynical mini-Me (a redundant phrase, to be sure) in my head, smirking because it knows I’ll likely do the same thing the next time (and it’s waiting to say “I told you so”).

So, the rounds: primary doctor, x-rays, orthopedist, MRIs, orthopedist. Turns out I tore the deltoid ligament in my left ankle and the tendon on the other side. No wonder it’s been hurting worse and not better as the weeks went by. I’ve had to cut short my dog walks and cut out my walks in the morning with my daughter. Obviously, I’m gaining weight because of this and because I haven’t wired my jaw shut in the interim.

I know any older readers are just shaking their heads and thinking, “Just you wait, dearie.”

Yes, I feel old. When I looked up posterior tibial tendonitis, the site mentioned it being more common in women over the age of 40. Just a few months back I had to deal with costochondritis. If you’ve never heard of it, welcome to the club. You only ever hear of it once you’re dealing with it (sort of like those diseases you never heard of until you had kids–Fifth disease? Foot-and-mouth disease? Was somebody making this shit up?).

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that joins your rib to your sternum. It’s basically harmless, but it feels like you’ve broken a rib. I developed it from coughing too hard during a typical winter cold. Seriously. Guess who typically suffers from costochondritis? Repeat after me: Women over 40!

I had x-rays to make sure I hadn’t fractured a rib first before the doctor ruled that it was what I’ve been referring to as the other “c” word. Then, x-rays again for the ankle. Ted at the imaging place and I are beginning to get real chummy. See? We’re already on a first-name basis.

Last year I had a hysterectomy. And then a breast biopsy. Before all of this, I was pretty damn healthy, save for the fact that I get migraines pretty often and have since my early 20s. I never even had so much as a UTI. I’m a former athlete, dammit! I know any older readers are just shaking their heads and thinking, “Just you wait, dearie.”

And, yes, I know it could always be worse, so I’m thankful that it’s nothing overly serious. For now, I just have to find a physical therapist and get some arch support orthotics, and try hard as hell not to feel old.

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6 thoughts on “Life after 40: Body Betrayal (or Becoming Your Own Worst Enemy)

  1. We women just keep going as long as we can because there always seem to be more pressing things to deal with than our ‘niggles’. I put all of my little oddities down to my impending middle age as I approached forty, then discovered in my hospital bed that they might be explained by MS which is most commonly diagnosed in ‘young women, aged 20-40’. At 39, I had got in there just in time! But a friend with MS had that c-rib thing and another had the ‘Big C’ on top of their MS too. And it’s still often any physical sprains, breaks and tendons that hurt the most. Try to rest up? We are mothers, wives, homemakers – regardless of our age, illnesses or infirmity. So we bite our lips, bury our heads in the sand and get on with life while we can!
    You might not have that Scottish blood in you but I reckon it’s rubbed off. Carry on, Braveheart, but allow yourself to rest up now and again!

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    • It’s true: We are women and we carry on. But it doesn’t mean we’re not angry, frustrated, and confused in varying degrees at varying times. I guess like any relationship, the one we have with our own body changes and shifts over time and we have to make allowances for eventual breakdowns, as we would for any old friend. ❤

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  2. It is tough when another year brings another physical challenge, while taking a little from the mental bank. Thank you for sharing, but I also noted that you didn’t mention that your husband, calmly and gently suggested visiting the doctor. There should also be a notice about the calm and gentle suggestion part, if the tables were turned, the suggestion would be more in line with demanding. Which is why men never mention their aches and pains, we would hear about it many times and each demand would be a wee bit more hostile until we finally visit a doctor.

    Also personal note, you make 43 look sexy.

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  3. Pingback: Frustration: A Pity Party for One | challaandhaggis

  4. Pingback: My Life at 45 | challaandhaggis

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