The cab I took to work this morning drove down through Central Park. It was a crystalline cold morning, with sunlight falling like watercolors through the lacy branches of trees, the snow still covering the rolling lawns and fields, ice floes still drifting in the steel gray water of the rowing lake. Along the cleared paths, men and women with toned bodies and furrowed concentrated faces ran with long easy strides. I couldn't help watching them, marveling at the precision with which they moved their bodies, at the way their limbs seemed to follow effortlessly their mental commands.
My body no longer does that. I can no longer run. My right knee joint has now deteriorated to the point that I am limping, in constant jeopardy of falling. It feels like bone against bone, as if the cartilage is all gone, the ligaments like loose elastic, no longer holding the connection firm. I have to set my foot down just so when I walk, so that the knee doesn't buckle under me, so that it doesn't send me sprawling or draw me up short with a flash of pain. I try to disguise it, because even though I know this ruined knee is not the result of my excess weight, but the result of an injury and arthritis and the hyper-extension of my knee joints that I inherited from my mother, I still know that people will silently tsk, if they notice me limping, and think disapprovingly, Well, why doesn't she just lose the weight?
Yes, losing the weight would certainly help. But if it were a matter of "just" losing it, of course I would have done that long ago. My mother has been slender all her life, and still her knees did what my right knee is doing, from her forties on. She eventually had both knees replaced with prosthetics, which I actually consider doing, except I am far too young for prosthetics, and besides, I couldn't afford to take the time off from my job that would be required for such surgery and recovery.
But I have to do something. I can't put off investigating the pain any longer. I wonder if doctors realize that fat people don't make appointments to see them because we are embarrassed, ashamed to take off our clothes, tired of being told to "just" lose the weight. No matter. Tomorrow I will make an appointment with my internist, and go from there.
I'm too young to stop running.