Cliff-Hanger Resolution: Gout by any other name…

26 Aug

Remember that awesome bushwalk I did with friends in Manly? Well… I woke up the next day barely able to walk. My hamstrings felt like guitar strings, wound more tightly (by about four inches) while I slept. I could barely straighten my legs.

It struck me as odd, since I routinely walk longer distances than what I’d done the day before. But I had been somewhat sedentary since arriving in Australia, I reasoned, so maybe my body was simply revolting.

In any case, I decided to take it easy and stay in bed reading for six hours (from 3am to 9am – hello, jet lag!) before finally rallying to take a long bath and head to Bondi Beach.

Bondi Beach is arguably the most famous beach in the world, so I felt obligated to see it while I was here. My sore legs must have influenced my outlook, because when I fell off the bus and got my first glimpse of the waves, my thought was, “Seriously? This is it?”

It looked like California.

Ho hum.

But then I commenced the walk to Coogee (unfortunately pronounced like “coochie”) and realized what all the hype was about: the views were stunning. It looked like the coastline I hiked in Cinque Terre (Italy) eight years ago.

My favorite site was the Bondi Icebergs, a swimming club with a pool built into the ocean. This isn’t uncommon (I saw similar pools in Manly and Bronte) but the ocean was rough that day, so the swimmers were having their asses handed to them. Even as someone who routinely swims a few miles each week, I thought they were a bit crazy to attempt laps under those conditions.

Speaking of crazy… as I continued the hike to Coogee, my knees felt increasingly awful. The path along the ocean rose and fell significantly, and on the downhill pushes my knees felt like they were tearing. If I had started the walk limping, by the time I got to Clovelly, I was hobbling on the verge of crawling.

There’s a bocce ball club at the top of Clovelly, and as I passed it, I realized I was more hunched over than the octogenarians bowling. Moments after that realization, I spotted a bus stop and felt the Universe was trying to send me a message. Loosely translated, that message was, “Screw this. Stop walking. Go get a pint somewhere.”

So I did.

When I got back to my hotel room, I did a few yoga stretches to see if I could limber up my legs, and in the course of folding over and wrapping my arms around my legs, I realized something odd: the back of each knee felt like a it had a plum under the surface.

I slept with water bottles on the lumps, hoping they would go away. They diminished a bit, but didn’t disappear. Since I was schedule to fly on Wednesday (and since my doctor has me freaked out about potential blood clots in my legs), I figured I should have these lumps examined.

So that’s how I found myself sitting in a doctor’s office in Sydney, learning that I had developed something called Baker’s Cysts on the back of my legs. Apparently a Baker’s Cyst is formed when you knee is damaged, causing joint fluid (which normally keeps your knee lubricated) to leak out of your joint and into some kind of nasty sack behind your knee.  HOTNESS!

Gone are the days when overseas travel meant partying until 3am and flinging myself off the side of a mountain without repercussions. Now I go to Australia – the land of athletic outdoor living – and come home with a condition that sounds like something that should only afflict retirees.

Time to repackage that tale. From here on out, if anyone asks, I’m going to tell them I blew my knees out at Manly and leave it at that. With any luck, they’ll just assume it was a Hang Ten gone bad.


9 Responses to “Cliff-Hanger Resolution: Gout by any other name…”

  1. travelingmad August 26, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    Good idea to tell people. Sorry to hear about your condition. At least you did get to see some amazing views. I would love to see that coast line in person. It’s beautiful!
    Good luck and feel better.

  2. Barbara August 26, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    ouch that sounds really painful. Is it something that will resolve on its own though? Or is this going to be a reoccurring problem? Do you think your knees were damaged when you got hit by that car earlier this year?

    • pithypants August 26, 2011 at 7:40 am #

      Um. Wish I could blame the car accident for my knees. Sadly, I think at least one of them traces back to a shotgun wedding I attended in college, during which I wiped out in a puddle of beer while dancing and cracked my patella.

  3. melissasharples August 26, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    That’s a crap way to end your trip! I hope you’re getting around easier and things have settled down a bit. Feel better!

  4. Lorna's Voice August 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    I’ve gotten used to my body being a traitor and having to make up inspiring stories about my various wounds or ailments. Join the club, Sista! It’s not for the faint of heart, but consider the alternative…

    Beautiful pics, BTW!

  5. thesinglecell August 26, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    OMG! How did you not think you had contracted some bizarro Walkabout Bushwacker disease? I say that – I probably would have done the same thing as you and been like, “Whatevs. Ibuprofen.” So… ew. Is it chronic? Will you continue to have this uber-sexy phenomenon happen in exotic locales?

    • pithypants August 29, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

      Well, I haven’t rulled out malaria. But it would take a pretty coordinated set of mosquitos to strike both knees simultaneously. And I will always taunt the locals with my sexy gimp-like stride. No worries.

  6. skippingstones August 27, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Well I hope your knees will be alright. For once, I’m not jealous of something you did in Australia. But you can’t deny that it was a pretty eventful trip, right up until the bitter end.

    • pithypants August 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

      Thanks. I actually did that just so you’d stop envying my trip. Glad it worked!

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