Garden Variety Arthritis

Saw the orthopedic guy today. I liked him, but he won’t be the surgeon who works on me. He went over my X-ray with me, and I had diagnosed myself exactly right a month ago when I got the X-ray and saw it. It’s not “awful” but it won’t improve.

Health care in the wilds of rural America is different. So is religion, actually. Just as the ministers visit several churches of a Sunday, many specialists travel from bigger places to see people at my little hospital.

The upshot is I have “garden variety arthritis” in my hip. If I were 85 he’d tell me to live with it. I always find that kind of medical pragmatism bizarre, but I get it.

Soooo…at some point I’ll drive 1 1/2 hours to the town where the hospital is and get a cortisone shot and come back. Then, sometime in the summer, I’ll get a hip replacement.

All for Bear πŸ˜‰

14 thoughts on “Garden Variety Arthritis

  1. We really don’t need these Damocles swords hanging over our heads. Everything is centralized today to save costs, although in your case you are living way off the beaten track. I hope you eventually find a good solution.

    • No, we don’t need those swords. Now, for me, it’s just a matter of getting through the winter as pain-free as possible and surgery as early next summer as possible. πŸ™‚ I’m OK with it.

  2. Sometimes, you really DO just have to live with it because the amount of damage the surgery can do is more serious than the disease. It isn’t just age. It’s also condition of your bones. And elderly people are made sicker just by being stuck in a hospital for a long time — and they do not recover well. PT doesn’t work so well on people whose muscles are no longer strong. It’s not just pragmatism. They used to operate on everyone as if we were all the same. In recent years, they have come to realize there are other considerations including how we are to recover from surgery. A cortisone shot sometimes makes a really big difference. At least for a while.

  3. Appreciate the info Marilyn. Makes sense. I’m putting it all off for now! Invasive they say, who needs invasive that takes months to heal from? uuuum weeelll not me at the moment.

  4. I hope the winter isn’t excruciating for you, Martha. Last winter was for me but so far, able to manage. I’m hoping for the best! πŸ™‚ Heart goes out to you. You are far braver than me.

    • ❀

      I will be having minimally invasive hip replacement which involves an incision in front, 2 – 4 inches long vs. 12 for the other kind of surgery. Rehab is much shorter, on average 2 weeks to drive vs a month to six weeks, for example. No muscles are cut. It's less of an ordeal that the surgery I already had on the other hip 10 years ago.

      What I meant by pragmatic is simply if a procedure is likely to help a person it's pragmatic to do it. There are a lot of variables like what a person needs, what a person wants to do every day of their life, how long that life is likely to be (given the odds), the overall health and condition of a person (anyone with osteopenia or osteoporosis won't have the option to have a joint replacement, for example).

      This is not life or death in the sense of cancer or heart failure. BUT for me it's important to remain as mobile as possible as long as possible. I have a large, 2 year old dog I like to spend time with and want to keep. I live in a beautiful place I like being out in. I am alone — I have to be able to rely on myself. There's no one here to help me.

      Anyway, I hope the cortisone shot works. I'm glad I have a high pain threshold. It's just one day at a time and some days are good, most days not too bad and then the really awful ones. If I could take NSAIDS it would be helpful, but Tylenol is better than nothing. I'm glad to know what it is because that tells me what to do now and that I can prepare for it, so I will.

      I'm not so brave. I spent a little time the other day with a new acquaintance who essentially had her back replaced. I saw her X-rays and I couldn't believe it. But she's gone from going around at a 90 degree angle to standing straight up. She's currently in a turtle-shell thing and walking with a walker. I think she's brave, but when I said that, she said, "If I hadn't done this, I would be in a wheelchair." It's kind of the same with me. Basically, though, I just want to walk Bear. πŸ™‚

      • Awe! Thank you for explaining. I understand the need even desperation to keep going. I want to walk I want to be able to wander the mall or walk in the park with my grandkids. But he explained this type of back surgery is exceedingly invasive and involves 4 or more verts. I can’t imagine not being able to walk for months until it heals enough. I died 30 years ago during surgery. I can’t imagine what will happen this time.

      • It’s scary. My friend’s surgery was three surgeries and really I don’t know if I could have done what she did. She has had — essentially — a spine replacement. It’s really hard to know how and what motivates other people. I didn’t even know what motivated me until I did some soul searching. But, I had to find my own motivation because — as you know — I just didn’t want to go through this again. But I’m going to and, hopefully, it all works out. I wish there were magic wands for all of us. ❀

      • I have been — speaking of ironic — saved from more surgery because the arthritis in my spine — which is largely the RESULT of the original spinal surgery done in 1967 — formed a calcified tube around my spine. It hurts, but it protects my spine. I would have to have a serious accident — a major car accident or a terrible fall — to break that calcification. Other than it being hard for me to move — and having a lot of hip pain that isn’t hips, but is my spine — it isn’t going to kill me. It has slowed me down. And — I’ve already been surged. That’s the thing about surgeons. They always want to surge.

        Sometimes, whether a surgery is going to really make a problem better or not is a good question. It isn’t always as obvious as the surgeon makes it sound. Surgery doesn’t always go according to plan. Recovery isn’t always a given. Surgery can go terribly wrong and I have been there.

        Be careful. Make sure the surgeon is not just convivial, but also a really good surgeon. Check references. Check resumes. If you think I’m being paranoid, I’m not. I would like to see you come out of this is better shape than you went in.

      • I am not in a dire situation like that, Marilyn, and I’ve been through this hip surgery thing before with the other hip. The surgeon who will be doing the work isn’t even the man I met today. The man I met today is the director of orthopedics at the hospital where I will be going. The surgeon himself is one of the best in the United States, but I might not like him. We’ll see.

        This operation is commonly done. The techniques have improved dramatically since back in 2007 when I had surgery on my other hip. I’m not stupid or impulsive in this area (it’s not dog adoption, it’s my life). When I had surgery on the other side, I spent years researching it, I met several doctors, and chose a very excellent surgeon who had experience doing the surgery I wanted at the time which was hip resurfacing. You can look it up, but it’s functionally similar to a hip replacement, but the femur is not cut. It has held up beautifully and I know this because I’ve seen X-rays of it, just today, in fact. The work was praised by the doctor I met today. He just said, “That’s beautiful. We hardly ever see them like that. We’re always revising those to replacements.” I explained I found an experienced surgeon to do it, I was in excellent physical condition and had very strong bones.

        Covert Novelist — and you — have serious situations compared to mine and surgery might not be her best bet. It is my best bet. It is my shot at remaining ambulatory for the foreseeable future and that means a lot to me. I’m not OK with not being able to walk my dogs, not being able to go on small hikes with my friends or ride my bicycle, particularly when there is a solution to this problem that is within my reach. Maybe down the road, probably down the road, I won’t be able to do those things, and then I will accept that. But right now there is help at hand and I’m going to take it.

  5. I look at Bear and that is the perfect reason to have the surgery. I hope the cortisone works and the pain is kept to a minimum until the summer.

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