I am sorry to hear that things are difficult for you right now. I understand where you are because I was also into all kinds of sports (football, rugby, basketball, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, etc). I grew up in Alberta, Canada, and had dreams of playing football for an American college (I was being scouted in my senior year). I started having knee problems during my last year of high school and spoke to my doctor about my prognosis if I kept playing football and/or rugby. He told me that if I continued to play, I would be on a cane by the time I was 40. I was trying to be forward thinking in terms of what my future family life would be like and decided that I would rather have many years of active living with my wife and kids than a few more years on the football field. So, in the interes of my future family I gave up football. This was a very difficult choice for me, because I was very dedicated to my training, and at age 18 was 6' 4" and 235 lbs with virtually no body fat. Most people would like at a guy my size and think that I could not jump, but I was just a few inches shy of hooking my elbow over the rim when I dunked the basketball. I am not trying to toot my own horn here, just to say that I was a tuned athlete and serious about an active lifestyle.
It's a rude awakening when you discover your mortal. I am now 40, living in Texas in a beautiful area, have five terrific kids (aged 5-14), and a wife that I am crazy about, each of which is a gifted athlete. But my dreams of being active with them have vaporized. Severe Chondromalacia Patellae has robbed me of my active lifestyle and I have been forced to give ALL of my sports. When I get up from a chair I walk like a 90 year old man until my knees loosen up again. Even a 15 minute family walk will leave my knees swollen and stiff. I have been told by an orthopedic surgeon that I will need knee replacement, but for now I have to make due because I am too you to be considered a candidate. I don't know what they expect me to do until they figure I'm old enough to get new knees.
The bottom line is that chronic pain sucks, and I have suffered with depression, sometimes severe, because of it. I would like to offer you a little advice as someone that truly knows how you are feeling.
- Find a pain management doctor. There are doctors that specialize in helping people with chronic pain. You do not need to endure pain when there are doctors that can help. You need to take control of your pain and remember that you have the pain, the pain does not have you. When you get with a good pain management doctor, be very open with him/her and make sure that you respect the program they put you on, i.e. don't abuse pain killers or they will cut you off in a heartbeat.
- Express who you are in alternative ways. If your body will not do everything you would like it to, find other ways to express yourself creatively. I work with wood, make handmade knives, coach one of my son's soccer teams, etc. If you keep yourself busy, the pain will move into the background and you will find happiness through other means.
- Do things that make you feel good. Read a book, watch the sun set, meditate, and if you feel inclined pray. Take time to notice the good things around you. Chronic pain can be a great distractor from the rest of the world, but if you focus on other things it will become far less of a distractor.
- Bring a few people into your circle of trust. I would advise not to tell everyone you know about your suffering because they will come to see you as a negative person. However, identify a few people that you explicitly trust and let them know what is happening with your health and ask them if you can lean on them in times of need. Ask them before you hit a low point with the depression so that you know you have a support system when you need it.
- Develop your inner spirituality. I am not going to suggest one religion or another, though I will suggest that you strive to develop your spiritual self in a way that seems appropriate to you. My hope for you is that you will come to understand that there is a purpose in all things and I would suggest that you try to gain an understanding of what it is you are supposed to get out of this situation. It could be that this will help you develop great compassion for someone else that may come to you with a similar situation.
- Learn to think positively. Your thoughts literally have a strong influence on your brain chemistry. If you learn to seek the positive in our situation and in the world around you, you will become a happier person.
I did not intend to right a book, but your comments said something to me and I wanted to share my experience with you with the hope that you will find happiness.