Tuesday, August 13, 2013

So...this sucks...

I'm starting this post with some pictures of my kiddos.  I love these funny little people.  They are my favorite people in the world...even on days when I want to dropkick them all out the window.

So, here they are...my reasons for living.  I just adore my 5 sweet babies.

And now...a new blog post.

Well, if you're my Facebook friend, you've probably seen my posts about my knees.  For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, I'll do a quick recap and bring you up to speed. 

Basically, my knees have been bugging me off and on for a long time.  With the multiple pregnancies/bedrest/weight gain of the past three years, I kind of thought (hoped) that my knee problems were due to hormones/inactivity/stress of additional weight, and thought (hoped) the pain would go away once the babies were born and I could be active again.  However, Sofia is now almost 10 months old, and as I've tried to be more active, I've noticed that the more I try to get back into shape, the harder it is, and the more my knees hurt just doing basic everyday kinds of tasks.  I can't kneel on the bathroom floor when I give my babies baths, or get up and down to play with them easily.  Walking is usually ok, but trying to do anything that requires me to twist or turn quickly sends these horrid shooting pains from my knees down my legs.  I tried exercise classes, but quickly realized that "pushing through the pain" only brought more pain, and it made me FINALLY give in and go to the doctor.

So, a couple of weeks ago I went to see an orthopedist.  Upon arrival, they took some x-rays of my knees, then sent me to my little room to wait for the results.  While I waited, one of the doctor's assistants came in and chatted with me, asked about what was going on, and basically told me that since I couldn't recall an exact moment of injury, I should probably just do the whole "RICE" (rest, ice, compression, elevation) treatment and hope for the best, and if that didn't work, I should come in and see them in a couple of months. 

I almost cried.  I told him that I had been around high level competitive athletics my entire life, that I knew the difference between being "hurt" and being "injured", and that this was not something I could just "RICE" away, or I wouldn't be sitting there talking to him.  I think he was still kind of skeptical (and probably thought I was a raving lunatic since I was seriously on the brink of tears), so he said he'd let the doctor make any decisions, but that he didn't really see a need to do any further testing until after I tried the RICE business.

So, I sat there trying to stay composed and wondering what the heck I could possibly say to get them to take me seriously, and in came the doctor.  Thank goodness for him...he was AWESOME.  He listened -- like, REALLY listened -- to what I had to say, and then he went to check on the results of my x-rays.  When he came back, he told me that I had "significant degenerative arthritis inconsistent with my age" and that this was likely causing meniscal tears.  Which, apparently, means that my knees are super old compared to how much my body should have aged.  So, yeah...there ya go.  Fun stuff.

Anywhooo...I was given some cortisone injections and a prescription to go for rehab for a few weeks.  And, that, my friends, brings us to today, and the reason for the title of this post, "So...this sucks..."

Let me start by putting it out there that today I'm feeling super sad and sorry for myself.  This might be a bummer of a post, so if you're prone to fits of depression, maybe stop reading here.  I'll try to throw a joke or something in at the end to lighten the mood, but I'm just saying...I'm feeling rather melancholy, so who knows what's going to come out.  But, I digress. 

I went to rehab today and got a chance to chat with the physical therapist for a bit.  While he was very encouraging and kind, what he had to say really brought home the serious and permanent nature of my condition.  "Condition."  He emphasized that word.  He particularly wanted me to understand that unlike an injury, which can often be rehabbed until it heals and you can resume similar activities to what you did before you were injured, the "condition" of arthritis cannot be healed, but, rather, must be managed.  It's a seemingly small difference that has monumental consequences.  In a nutshell, he told me outright that my volleyball playing days are over.  Losing weight, strengthening my knee, stretching...all of these things will likely delay the speed with which my knees degenerate, and may improve the symptoms temporarily, but this pain is my new lifelong buddy, and "pushing through" the pain will not fix the problem this time.  Rather, it will just cause additional pain.  Bummer.

As I mulled over what this prognosis meant for me, something that kept popping up in my mind was the millions of little memories I have of playing volleyball and being active with my dad.  From the time I was tiny, my dad took me with him to his volleyball games.  We would pepper on the sidelines, race each other in the hallways at church where we played into the wee hours of the morning, he showed me how to jump, and taught me by example how to hit and block and not be afraid of hitting the floor. 

And, in an instant today, I realized that my girls will never have these memories with me.  It took my breath away, and, admittedly, I cried.  Ok, I bawled like a little baby in my car as I drove home from rehab.  The pain in my knees is real and it really hurts, and I'm sad that I'll most likely never be able to do lots of the things I love anymore. But as sad as that seems, and as physically painful as this is, that pain is nothing compared to the realization of how much I am actually losing by not being able to play with my kids.  I'm heartbroken.

So, I guess I don't really know what the purpose of this post is, other than maybe to vent and get this out because up to this point it has been sitting, heavy and sour, in the pit of my stomach.  Seriously, guys, I'm so, SO sad.  What do I do?  I know that I can't dwell on this or I'll just be bitter and angry about it.  I've been really working on putting my trust in God and trying not to force things to happen how I want them to, and instead focusing on stepping back and letting things unfold the way that my Heavenly Father wants them to, but, seriously, I'm kinda pissed.  Throughout all of the rough times I've experienced in the past several years, I can honestly say that I've never thought "why me?"  Admittedly, sometimes I've thought, "why the hell is this taking so long to resolve when I'm doing everything I know how to do to make things better for myself and my kids?" or "what more can I do to speed this trial along so that I can get through it and be grateful for it?"  But, I never questioned why I had to go through the things I've been through...until today.  WHY ME?  WHY CAN'T I PLAY WITH MY KIDS?  I don't even care about not being able to do things for my own pleasure anymore, but I just can't wrap my head around the idea that I won't be able to do the things with my babies that I loved to do with my parents.  It just seems so unfair -- to me AND to them. 

So...this sucks...


Niki said...

Kalani, I love you!!! ......I am a little jealous that you even WANT to play with your kids......I struggle almost daily with my calling to be a mom.....I sincerely HATE it. I've always admired how you've dealt with your overload of little kids and how you are able to find the good in your situation...and now this.....I'm so sorry.....my heart is breaking for you....I want so bad to make it better.......I'm not the sporty type, but I am more than willing to go with you and play with your kids with you in what ever capacity I can. Besides it will give you a good laugh to watch me attempt to do anything! Love you girl!!!

POD said...

Let me start by telling you how much I love you as your dad. I have failed in many things but the one thing I have always been good at was being a dad. One of the things that I treasure most about our relationship is that we have always been honest with our words and expressions. It is the reason I was able to effectively coach you and Sunny. That being said, what you remember was the best I could do for you to prepare you for what was going to happen to you in life. What you remember isn't so much that i played with you but that I spent time with you. It wasn't that I physically taught you how to do things but that I was patient in letting you learn through trial and error and that you were always told that you can do anything and be anything you want if you want to put in the work. See if this phrase sounds familiar...Do not let one person decide for you if you can or can't do something. That decision is yours and yours alone. Remember when they questioned your height if you would be able to be effective as a middle in the WAC? How did that work out for you? I can go on and on with examples of your heart and will to accomplish anything your heart desired.
So here are my thoughts. 1. You are not a victim, never have been never will be. You are way too strong and stubborn to be one. Remember when the coach from Georgia came to recruit you and said...Kalani I notice that you are not as tall as a normal MB and you dont seem to jump very high but you seem to touch every ball and you were irritated and said...Uh I was taught to jump as hight as the ball. He just shook his head and said to me...She knows her shit.
2. The knowledge you have accumulated through sports is yours to reach as you have done so effectively. So your ability to share your knowledge with your kids will not be defined by your physical ability to play. Granted the fun times I hd playing with you guys are unforgettable memories. ok i may have have screwed up that point but I tried.
3. Well im kinda tired of writing and someone just called and offered me a job so I'll finish this later. But just put on your big girl pants and get on with it cause thats what we Tongas do. Love you Kalani.

F-A-N-G-U-P-O said...

I love love love love love what your dad wrote. And he's 100% right! I'm so sorry that you have to face this challenge, but you are such a strong person and you can get through it! I like how your dad said that it was the time spent with you that mattered....that's what will matter with your kids. Ova was diagnosed with the exact same thing as you. I'm sure you've read our struggles with it. (among other things) They told him his joints (hips, knees, ankles) are aging way faster than they should and just like you it is causing meniscule tears. His 'condition' gets to the point when he can't even walk or move for months. He struggles with the same thing that you are. I somewhat feel like I can relate because of what he's going through, although I don't feel the actual pain. My heart aches for you......I've seen him struggle with accepting the fact that he won't be able to play football or teach our kids rugby, but we're making it work. I know you will too! I'm all the way in Utah, but here for you if you need to talk or anything! You're an awesome mother and you're doing and amazing job raising your 5 beautiful babies on your own! Your condition isn't going to make you any less of a wonderful mother than you already are....just don't let it!! Love you Kalani!

steve specht said...

Kalani - I have not spoken with you in a LOOOONNG time ...way too long .However ,I do see some posts on here and see your wonderful family growing and have ALWAYS been amazed by your strength.I read this blog ,and the other responses ( have always respected ,admired and loved your dad and mom ) ...so i felt moved to add my 2 cents .Your kids are SO FORTUNATE to have you as a model as they grow .Playing is but a very small part of that process.I empathize with your pain -I ,too have struggled with knee issues since 1994 ,but have learned to manage .(Perhaps you can play water volleyball with them -less stress on your joints /) Anyway ....if I ever coached ANYONE who will battle through this setback and re-frame it -IT IS YOU .I have so many fond memories of your work ethic,your teamship,and your wisdom ,(Yes wisdom at a young age ) ....But the TWO BIG memories I have of you (and Sunny ) were when you two insisted on washing the dishes at our house after the pancake breakfast ,and of climbing on the bus after playing in the volleyball playoffs to join your team for basketball. Your strength and selflessness are things you will pass to your children ."Volleyball and sports are what you do -not who you are." You are an incredibly strong and independent lady and you needed to hear that from an old coach . Hope to stay in touch better . YOU CAN DO THIS !! All the best and love to all.

Kalani said...

Thank you so much everyone. Niki...I freaking love you. You crack me up, and I so appreciate your love and your friendship. And I am taking you up on the sporty business because, let's face it, we could both use a good laugh, and you're right...that would totally crack both of us up.

POD...thank you for this and for being my dad and my biggest cheerleader. I know you're right...I'm not a victim, and I'm not helpless in this. I will draw on my stubborn nature and my strength and put my big girl pants on and move forward because that's what we do. I love you.

Monica...I've seen some of your posts about Ova's knees, but I had no idea that it was arthritis. Or, maybe I did, but I had no reason to remember the specifics until I had the same problem. Haha. It's so funny how you and I have wound up sharing so many parallel experiences, don't you think? Love you tons, and I hope Ova's knees feel better. ;)

COACH SPECHT!!! Thank you so, SO much for taking the time to write to me. It means so much, and you're right...I did need to hear those things coming from an old coach. Thank you for reminding me who I am and for your kindness and guidance. You're a true educator, and I appreciate everything you taught me.

Again, thank you to everyone who commented. I love and appreciate you guys.