Saturday, October 21, 2017

My Crystal Ball is Still Hazy with a Chance of Repetition

My most recent meeting with my orthopedist didn't go as well as I hoped.  I've had it in the back of my mind that because he is a specialist, he must have a secret magic wand that he can wave over my leg to make it heal.  Instead I came away with that uneasy feeling that he's done everything he can for me, and I just have to resign myself to the fact that I will be crippled for a while... at least until I am old enough to have a hip replacement.

We reviewed the results of the steroid injection in my hip joint.  I told him that it allowed me to get a little more mileage out of my leg in that I could get a couple more chores done each day before the pain set in.  I also could lie on my sides for a few minutes before the pain struck.  But overall, I did not improve because new pains have been forming in new locations.  I still can't hike, mountain bike or ride my horses.

He asked if I've tried physical therapy.  Yes.  He asked if I've tried an anti-inflammatory.  Yes, I am currently on one twice a day.  He asked if it was the maximum dose allowed.  Yes, it is.  Then he said, "What do you suggest we do?"

I was stunned.  The doctor is asking me what to do?  I came to him because I needed help with my pain, and he's a pain management specialist.  I thought, "Maybe this is a test.  Maybe he wants to see if I'm a drug addict who is after pain pills."  Truth be told, I've never used pain pills beyond recovering from surgeries, and I prefer not to use them because of their addictive nature.

I said, "You previously talked about injecting steroids into each of my points of inflammation simultaneously.  I'm thinking that may be the way to go since I have so many different points of pain.  I'm worried that having one injection per month will just relieve only one point of pain at a time, and I'll never get enough relief to be able to hike, mountain bike, and ride my horses again.  So, let's try hitting every spot at the same time."

He looked at me kind of horrified, so I said, "Are you okay with that?"

He said he was, but he wanted to wait until December to do it, because that's the soonest he can inject my hip joint again.  You have to wait three months between treatments.  I explained that I need to know sooner if I can ride my horses or not, because if there's no hope, then I will have to find new homes for my horses.  It is just too painful for me to be feeding them and cleaning up after them every day in my current condition.  Two more months of intense chores is more than I can bear, so I asked if we could hit everything but my hip joint right now.  He said we could, so I have an appointment next week for multiple injections.

One will be in my hip muscle where it is torn, one will be in my hamstring where it is torn, one will be in my pubic bone, and one will be in my knee.  Nothing has technically shown up on imaging to suggest that there is a problem with my knee, but most of my pain has been there lately, so he's willing to treat it.  It will be about three months since the last orthopedist gave me a steroid shot in my knee, so it should be safe.  Hopefully, I won't turn into The Incredible Hulk.

I'm worried that even after we attack every point of inflammation we know of, there will still be more.  I feel like I've strained a few more muscles in my leg by overcompensating for the parts that don't want to move.  I probably should have just been on crutches this past month to avoid that.

The dogs are also a huge strain on my muscles with me having to get up and take them outside every few minutes, and then having them pull me in three different directions.  Feeding time for the dogs is also difficult.  It's like orchestrating a production.  Everything has to go like clockwork or a dog fight breaks out or someone eats the wrong prescription food or someone doesn't get his or her medication or someone pees on the carpet or someone poops in the closet...  I keep telling myself things will be easier and I won't have to suffer through as much physical pain once my two terminally ill dogs pass away, but that should have happened by now and somehow hasn't.  I wanted to see if I could handle all the barn chores better if my dog workload was lightened, but I haven't been getting breaks from any avenue.

Of course, there are solutions, such as hiring a ranch hand, but everything requires time, money, and more energy.  My past month has been spent dealing with repairmen, and a lot of our money went to them for their services.  Also, I don't have a good track record when it comes to getting people to successfully help me.  What I do is difficult.  It requires attention to detail, good timing, and an intricate knowledge of cause and effect, and of animal behavior.  I can't train someone to do what I do overnight. I'd probably spend more time teaching a person to help me than I would just doing it myself.  The horses are easier to care for than the dogs in general, but then the horses respect me and do what I say.  A new person would have to earn their respect before he or she would get their cooperation.  Everything is complicated.  There are no easy answers.  That's why I prefer that my doctor just wave his magic wand and fix my leg.

In other news, I ordered a new kitchen refrigerator, but it can't be delivered until a month from now, so it looks like I still have some waiting to do before that problem will be totally resolved.  My guess that I'd have a fridge by the beginning of November turned out to be an overly optimistic prediction.  Also, my Mule needs its first maintenance appointment, which was today, but when I called to tell them we were running late because our trailer was having electrical problems, they informed me that someone wrote my appointment down for next weekend, not this weekend.  That was kind of a fortunate mistake because it took the pressure off us to get the problem fixed, but now I have the same two appointments next weekend that I thought I was going to get taken care of this weekend.  I thought the doctor was just going to give me more injections yesterday, but all he did was talk to me and charge my insurance $200 for me to tell him what to do. 


TeresaA said...

I like that the doctor asked for your suggestions. It seems to me that he believes that you have some expertise since you live with it every day. I really really really hope that this works because it just sounds awful to me what you are going through.

Crystal said...

Why are you too young to have a hip replacement? Just not bad enough or what? I wish I had one of those magical doctor who could just fix you with a wand too but I have never found one but if I do I will send youhis info

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Crystal - Hip replacements only last ten years and then you have to get another one. Doctors don't like to perform too many surgeries in the same body part. If I started getting them now and lived to be 80-something, I'd go under the knife three times.

Linda said...

I sure wish there were easy solutions to everything. I way prefer easy over difficult. I actually prefer no doctors. Ever. But since I hit 50, that dream died. Tough decisions and every decision has draw backs.

Cheryl Ann said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your pain. After my fall from a friend's horse several years ago, I have permanent nerve damage and my feet tingle 24/7/365. I have NO relief. I also have sciatic nerve damage. I don't go riding anymore. Frankly, I cannot afford any more injuries. Gigondas stepped on my right foot about a month ago and wouldn't move off and it is swollen and black and blue. I FINALLY got her to move off rather reluctantly. Apparently my foot was very comfortable for her!

I went through physical therapy, numerous chiro treatments (at which time I would SCREAM loudly!), never took any meds for it. Frankly, for me, just walking helps. If I sit too long, the pain worsens. My own doctor won't even give me a handicapped sticker! Some days are better than others, but I really could use that, especially if I go to Whole Foods and have to park 10 cars away from the entrance. Oh, well...

I know how hard this can be...
~Cheryl Ann~