On bended knee... not!

Our health is not somethign to take for granted, as gayle discovered when her knee suddenly let her down...

Most of us are serenely able to take the use of all four limbs for granted.

We expect to be able to get up in the morning and walk about, go downstairs, maybe drive the car. When something happens to throw a spanner in the works - even temporarily - it comes as a horrible shock.

Last week, one of my knees decided to protest in no uncertain terms against ill-use and high heels, swelling up, stiffening and giving me nasty jabs of pain if I tried to bend it or push off with it.

At times like these, you are suddenly made aware of all those little movements that you make with unconsidered ease every day. For example, getting into the bath or putting a sock on. Bringing my hands near to my feet became something of a challenge!

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It couldn't have come at a worse time, as I was faced with having to walk to work for a couple of days after a road closure threatened traffic congestion which would make driving an intolerable misery. (Well, intolerable to me, anyway. I'm not temperamentally suited to sitting in traffic jams without ending up chewing the steering wheel.)

Walking like Long John Silver with his wooden leg, a cross-town stroll didn't seem like a good idea at all.

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With a gammy knee, even the possibility of driving was thrown into doubt although, as it turned out, that was not too painful. Having the knee slightly flexed on the accelerator pedal was relatively comfortable. The problem was getting the leg into the car in the first place (lifting the knee up manually and placing foot on pedal).

Coincidentally, I read in the morning's papers about a man with no legs who led police on an 80mph car chase, driving with sticks taped to the accelerator and brake pedals, but I didn't think it would be a good idea to copy him. He ended up in jail, for one thing.

Wanting to get the problem sorted out quickly, I booked an appointment with a friendly physiotherapist who was able to identify the problem and offer treatment. For a start she told me I should drop the 'peg leg' gait and try to bend my knee as much as I could manage (not much, at that point).

The problem, apparently, was strain on the muscles holding the kneecap in place, and those muscles needed 'waking up'. I was given an ultrasound massage, a sheet of gentle exercises - and quite a lot of information about how knees work and why they swell up and twinge.

With her help and advice and a few doses of ibuprofen for the swelling I was back to normal functioning in no time, mercifully.

Now all I need is to carry on with the exercises to strengthen those knee muscles and I will be skipping around like a spring lamb in no time . . . well, maybe!

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