Knee Pain, Writing Again, Yucky Carpet, Arizona, And Other Things

My knee hurts. Part of it is arthritis, both outside and inside the kneecap (thanks mom!). Most of it is an injury that I didn’t even realize I had.

About two months ago I pulled up the carpet in most of our house. It was full of dog fur and who knows what else. Last summer, we started the summer off with just one window AC and it got hot and humid early in the season. This resulted in temperatures in the mid 80’s inside the house plus humidity. We bought an inside, free standing AC and ran both of them constantly, but it took a good three weeks to cool off. The humidity never completely went away.

The humidity caused the carpets to become damp and they never really did completely dry out in places. Considering my wife and I both have pretty bad allergies, this spring we decided to pull up the carpet and put down tile. Fortunately for us, there was tile under the carpet in the living room and dining room. Sadly, not in the bedroom. But tiling that didn’t seem like too big a deal. Until, that is, my knee starting hurting.

It started about three weeks after pulling up the carpet. At first I just ignored it, taking Ibuprofen to help with the pain. After a couple of weeks, the pain was getting worse.

I work as a Unix Systems Administrator. My hours are Wednesday – Friday/Saturday, 7:30pm to 7:30am. It’s a shift I love. A decade or so ago, I work four tens on the night shift at Sun Microsystems for four years. I loved the flexibility the shift gives me in time off in the daytimes. Also, my wife has always been a night owl so now we are on the same shift. The 12% shift differential doesn’t hurt either.

A downside of working 12 hour shifts is sitting in a desk chair for 12 hours. Yes, I get up every 45 minutes or so and walk around a bit, but still, knee mobility is limited in that situation. The biggest issue is that I can never completely stretch my knee out for any length of time. Keeping it bent was causing agonizing pain.

Finally I had to admit that my knee was getting worse. I’m not one to shy away from doctor visits. I have a long and storied history with doctors, having been born severely premature and a lot of the health issues that go along with that, many that have plagued me my whole life. Still, I don’t see going to the doctor for aches and pains in my joints when I knew I likely have arthritis since my mom had it. I also know that at 57, aches and pains in the joints are starting to be more common that I care to think about, so I have tried to avoid doctor visits for things that probably can be treated with over the counter medications. Now, however, I was in serious pain. Sitting for hours like I was at work was starting to affect my ability to concentrate at work and my mobility was being affected as well. While walking and stretching had once helped the pain, they now made it worse.

So, long story short, my kneecap is pretty off-centered and there is some issue with my ligament on the right side of my knee. My doctor prescribed physical therapy, which I’ve been undergoing for about two weeks now. I haven’t seen too much improvement, but I have four more weeks to go and so hopefully it will help. Otherwise it’s off to the orthopedic surgeon and that treatment will not be fun.

One of the good things to come out of this is that I am able to work from home while I’m dealing with this. We have a very nice leather sofa and love seat set that both recline so I can keep my leg up and knee straight. I can also do most of my PT exercises sitting in this position and it makes icing the knee easy. Another benefit of working from home is that I get to spend time with my wife, stepson, and our chihuahua herd.

One other unforeseen benefit is that my wife bought me this nifty portable laptop table that I can use while sitting on the couch when I work.
Laptop Table
The unforeseen benefit in this is that I now have easy access to my beloved MacBook which I haven’t been using much at all since getting an iPad Pro a year or so ago.

While the iPad Pro is awesome (I have the 12″ one), it isn’t very conducive to typing long text entries, even with the Apple iPad keyboard I bought to go with it. That keyboard is too thin and the keys don’t have much give to them so that I don’t get much feedback as I type. I’m a pretty fast typist and I seldom need to look at the keyboard. This is a great benefit for a writer, but if you aren’t getting a good tactile response from your keyboard, it really slows down typing speed and accuracy, making typing difficult and frustrating. There is nothing worse for a writer than being frustrated with your tools. This, by the way, is another reason I stopped blogging.

Sure, I could have kept using my MacBook, but the iPad was so much more conveint when sitting on the couch or in bed. No power cords to run. Also, since my touchpad on my MacBook got messed up after a spillage, I can’t left-click and hold to select text or drag and drop, and right clicking is now a quick double-tap at just the right place on my touchpad so that means I need to use a mouse, which gets cumbersome when not at a desk.

Now, with the gift from my wife, I have a writing setup that is comfortable and easy. No more technical impediments to writing lengthy blog posts or whatever else I feel like writing.

So now I have access again to my favorite writing tools like Mars Edit for blogging, Scrivener for fiction or articles requiring research, BibDeck for citations, MS Word for final formatting, Photoshop for photo editing, and some other apps I’m probably forgetting. Writing and blogging just got much easier!

Returning to the tiling of the bedroom, this probably isn’t going to happen. We are planning to move to Arizona where my company has an office outside of Phoenix. We are have money stashed away so we are in the prefect position to find a nice house in the Mesa area, put down a nice down payment, and have moving expenses. Given our allergies and being fed up with the cold winters, this is something we are really excited about. Soon we are flying down there to find a house. My wife has been looking online for months now and we have a really good idea of what we want and what’s available.

Can’t wait!