Is Surrender and Acceptance the Same?

Seems that in this so-called midlife I’ve been fighting surrender on a lot of fronts.

But lately, I’ve been at the losing end.

Ouch. And ouch.

Ouch. And ouch.

For instance, I have a bum left knee. I first realized something was wrong a little over ten years ago, while visiting Paris. It was my first European trip and I was determined not to let anything ruin it. Not the torrential rain we had. Not the record cold temperatures. Nothing. Not even the fact that we went to the Louvre on the one day it was closed.

A few days into the trip, my knee gave me a sudden, sharp jolt midway down a steep set of subway steps. And it continued to ache throughout the remainder of my trip, but I managed to mostly ignore it, instead choosing to concentrate on the buttery croissants and bottles of sumptuous red wine.

By the time I got home, croissants and resveratrol behind me, the knee screamed out to be front and center. No longer able to ignore it, I made an appointment with a specialist, who, after reading the x-ray, told me that I had “worn cartilage.”

I thought back to my days on the front lines of aerobic and step classes, questioning my judgment. But then again, when you’re young and agile, you think your body parts will last forever.
“If you were 10 years older, I’d call it arthritis,” he solemnly uttered.

At the time, I didn’t see the sense in that…but now that more than 10 years have passed I realize that he was trying to placate me. Why upset me with the bitter truth before my time? And secretly, I can’t deny feeling a bit relieved – his euphemistic choice of words managed to soothe me.

When people looked at me questionably if I limped when my knee acted up (I could go a good long time in between flare-ups), I’d simply shrug it off and say, “Oh, just some worn cartilage,” and I’d nonchalantly limp away carry on.

But now that 10 years have passed, and my knee acts up more than it behaves, I’m trying to come to grips with certain truths about aging. Like, maybe it’s time to surrender and stop with all the euphemisms. Maybe it’s time to stop living in denial and accept what is.

And yet. I refuse to abandon exercise because if I don’t move my body – even if it hurts to move it sometimes – I will go out of my mind. I’m the kind of person who needs to be in motion; in fact, I probably would do much better on a treadmill desk than squirming in my chair all day while trying to concentrate on my writing and ignore my sore butt at the same time.

Now when I exercise I wear a stretchy knee brace (that is, when I remember to put it on). And when you live in an apartment building you can’t hide much. Recently, we’ve had a few warmER days and I’ve been going out to the gym dressed in shorts rather than long pants (foolish, perhaps, but hey, it’s been a very long winter and a girl can dream, can’t she?). And wouldn’t you know it – I’ve been spotted. Suddenly, neighbors are all coming out of the woodwork.

“What happened to you?” 15C exclaimed yesterday. “What’s wrong with your knee?

Skiing accident?” the new tenant who just moved into 8A asked.

If only.

“Oh, just an old pesky injury,” I answered.

And then I nonchalantly carried on, limped on, just like in Paris.

Only this time I could no longer indulge in buttery croissants and gulp gallons of red wine without thinking about the consequences.

I guess, after all is said and done, part of me is not living in denial any longer.

But surrender? Acceptance?

Whatever they’re called, the answer is no.


  1. You have a strong will, Sheryl, and I applaud you. Pain, I say, is the greatest leveler. Two summers ago I had gallstones and kidney stones at the same time. Pain, yes, is a GREAT leveler.

    But it’s also telling you something. Giving in doesn’t mean giving up, so perhaps a 2nd opinion?

    Whatever you decide, I know what a wonderfully strong person you are with what you’ve had to deal with in the past. Good for you, girlfriend. An inspiration to all.
    Cathy Chester recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Cats Get The “Crazies”My Profile

    • Ouch, Cathy – you had to go for gallstones AND kidney stones all at once? You don’t waste time, do you?
      Thanks for your comments – much appreciated!

  2. I wouldn’t call it surrender OR acceptance. I’d simply call it life… which sometimes gives us bum knees, other times we get red wine and buttery croissants.

    I feel for your pain and hope you find an easy solution that doesn’t require giving in or giving up. You’re a fighter — fight the good fight!
    Lisa @ Grandma’s Briefs recently posted..Eating frogs and other edificationMy Profile

  3. I’d stick with the ski accident story if I were you :-)
    Irene S. Levine recently posted..The Maid of Honor in my wedding pictures who is no longer my friendMy Profile

  4. Sounds like you have in a way surrendered to accept where your body is at the moment …and adapted.

  5. At 56, I have just started to embrace those things that happen as we age. But I’m still in denial on most days.
    Connie McLeod recently posted..Savor the MomentMy Profile

  6. I’ve got a bum knee too and I’ll have to deal with it one of these days. No more skiing or running for me, which is just fine. I’d rather walk and smell the roses :)
    Carpool Goddess recently posted..Books I Read Over The HolidaysMy Profile

    • Walking and smelling the roses sounds really good right about now – wish we had some roses to sniff! The winter will be over soon…repeat after me.

  7. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I’m in denial, too, Sheryl. The aches and pains that used to come and go are now a daily visitor, pretty much. But I can’t accept that they are getting the better of me. Not yet, at least. I’m not giving up!

  8. Rosalba Gordon says:

    Humm, bum knee… that’s how it’s call this little pain and craking noise that go with me everywhere, good to know! I’m 63 and I not giving up until I fell in pieces.

  9. Ouch! I’m so sorry to hear about your knee. I’m beginning to think that aging is mostly the process of collecting various aches / pains … like we don’t really get “old,” we just sort of ache all over. I hope the brace, exercise, and maybe some supplements keep things somewhat in check.
    Roxanne recently posted..1-Question Poll – Canine Memorial Fundraising OptionsMy Profile

  10. For me, it’s not the knee. It’s the hip. Somehow I cannot quite come to grips with the idea of my hip failing me, so I totally understand your reaction about your knee. I agree that it would be better to stop pretending in middle age that we are superwomen. The body does break down.
    Alexandra recently posted..FrontpageMy Profile

  11. Sheryl,
    I’ve got a knee that at times reminds me of injuries when I was younger – a fall while hiking, for one — and a shoulder/wrist that does the same. So far, living with both with minor adjustments — we will see what time unfolds. I think you have a great approach. Thanks for sharing you thoughts on the matter.
    Kerry Dexter recently posted..Julie Fowlis: Every StoryMy Profile

  12. Sheryl,
    I’m sorry you are suffering from your knee. When I see you in person you exude vigor and vitality so at least there’s that. Here’s to hoping that you feel better soon. As for me, I won’t surrender either–and try to stay as fit as I can.
    Estelle Sobel Erasmus recently posted..The Case for the Pregnancy MumuMy Profile

  13. I’m fascinated by similar struggles in my own life. It all seems to boil down to the serenity prayer and the wisdom to know the difference. We just never knew it would be this hard.
    ruth pennebaker recently posted..Don’t Smile When You Call Me ThatMy Profile

    • That’s why “they” say that old age is not for sissies. It can get hard…but may this be the hardest thing I have to deal with (please?)

join the conversation


CommentLuv badge