I am so honored to be named as this year’s Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Adult Honoree. The Arthritis Foundation has asked me to share my story about arthritis.
Now…my story. My knee always hurt as a child and would give out or lock up. We discovered that I was born with a rare condition with mis-shaped cartilage in my knee. In my first surgery, at age 13, all of the lateral meniscus cartilage was removed. Then I was told to exercise as tolerated by pain.
I was a competitive track and cross-country runner in high school and college. Running shaped my life…until my second surgery where I received the crushing news that…read more here, at age 24, I had severe osteoarthritis in my left knee. I was told that if I continued to run, I probably wouldn’t be able to walk at age 30 and I needed to stop all impact sports immediately. In a flash, my life had changed. A part of me was lost that day.
I certainly couldn’t stop everything and do nothing. “NO” is not a solution to me, so I switched to bicycling and found an entirely new joy in life. I had no idea what a profoundly positive impact bicycling would have in my life and in the life of so many others.
Fast forward thirty years, six more surgeries (two on my right “good knee” and four more on my left including one leg reconstruction), and over 50,000 miles on my bike with commuting, training, road racing (Washington State Best All-Around Road Racer 1st place Masters B 2008, 2nd place 2009), mountain bike riding and racing (2011 Leadville 100), coaching indoor and outdoor cyclists, a round-the world 10 month epic bicycle adventure, and….riding just because it’s fun and helps my knees.
My orthopedic surgeon told me that if it weren’t for cycling and staying light weight, I would have had my knees replaced at least 10 years ago. His sentiment inspired me to write a book called “Healthy Knees Cycling” to share all of the very important lessons I learned about taking care of your knees and specifically how to do it through cycling.
I am humbled and honored to be the 2016 Jingle Bell Honoree and to join the Arthritis Foundation on a mission to give hope to those who suffer from knee pain and a way to reduce pain, renew good health, and live an active lifestyle.
I wish you good knee health!