And Now, The Rest of the Story

I think I’ve been writing food blogs to avoid writing about the other big issue in my life right now.  My joints hurt.  Actually, after the g—– fiasco, I was kind of afraid to follow up “I eat grains occasionally” with ” my joints hurt.”  LOL.  So I decided to wait until after my ortho appointment to write about it.

Something weird happened while I was in Sisters.  My hips started hurting so bad that I had a hard time sleeping.  I was hopeful it was the bed or the chair that I sat in, and hoped it would go away when I got home.  It was even worse when I got home.  As in “so this is why people sit down in a wheelchair and never get up.”  Now its pretty much gone.  So my conclusion is that it was probably the long drive in the car.  The ortho doc did not have an answer for that.  And besides, he was more focused on my knee, which is what the original appointment was for.

Arthritis.  That’s pretty much what is wrong with me.  The arthritis in the right knee has probably caused some other damage, like to the meniscus, but not the kind that can be repaired by surgery (yay?)

He recommended a treatment/shot called Synvisc One.  It is some kind of gel (found in rooster combs) that they inject into the knee, and even though it doesn’t stay, it somehow stimulates your own cartilage to work better.  I already found out it costs almost $1000, so my part is $200.  What a ridiculous price for rooster combs.  I should grow my own.  You can get 50 baby roosters for about $10.  (Shelley’s comment to this:  “I know you can grow your own roosters, but pretty sure it would be hard to, you know, OFF THEM for their combs. 😉 )

I gave them my history, and told them how important exercise was to me.  I listed the kinds of exercise I am doing now:  weight lifting, swimming, and walking up and down hills.  He said he wants me to stay active, and basically I can do any exercise, concentrating on non-weight bearing. He was big on biking!   Even gave me his recommendation for the best bike trainers.  He also mentioned rowing a couple of times.  Which, at first I thought, I’m not getting out in a boat on a lake.  And then I remembered there were rowing machines at the gym… Plus he gave me a physical therapy referral.  That helped so much with my back, so I am looking forward to going to that.

And basically, the goal is to ‘keep me going’ until I hit 65 and can get a knee replacement….

Oh, and we also talked about weight.  I gave him my weight history, my interest in food and nutrition.  And he said a good goal weight for me would be 140.  You know, that sounds like a dream come true in some ways.  I just don’t know if I can get there, much less maintain that.  I am glad he brought it up.  I know that there is a lot of personal testimony out there about the difference that weight can make on joint pain (including my own experience!)  But I wanted to hear an orthopedic doctor say that it could make a difference.

And I asked about grains.  “There is no evidence that any one food has any negative or positive affect on your joints.  Only as it applies to weight reduction.”

So.  What am I going to do?  For today, I am going to go to the gym and work out on the weights (which I have been avoiding until I went to the ortho doc) and then I’m going to hit the rowing machine and the bikes.  I’m still in the thinking stage about the weight loss.  Lots of disconnected thoughts running around in my mind.  I’ll keep that for a separate post.  Hopefully after the thoughts connect a bit more.



13 thoughts on “And Now, The Rest of the Story

  1. Well I’ve had arthritis since I was 22 and I have to say that sugar and eating fried foods definitely triggers my arthritis. My Dr. said it’s not surprising.
    I do find that moving really does help. Over doing things doesn’t because I pay for it the next day. But definitely don’t stop doing things.

  2. Biking – yay!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, sorry about digression.

    You have worked in the health care field, so you know how docs are trained and what they are trained in and how little in some cases.
    When I do my GP dictations and the patient is overweight or diabetic (whatever it is) and most doctors prescribe the same exact diet to every.single.person. Period. Doctors are given very little training in nutrition. Sometimes I want to scream at the computer and I have made a personal list of which doctors I do not want to go because of how every patient is treated the same. There was one doc that actually suggested the paleo diet to someone and if I was not in my chair, I would have fallen over. Oddly enough, this is a doctor whose dictations I enjoy because he seems to really care about his patients. Coincidence? I think not.

    Asking an ortho doc about grains is like asking me about quilting. I can say “you can use cloth and a sewing machine to make a quilt”. Stating the obvious, but having no clue about the rest.
    Who knows if grains really are the issue for you. Only you can figure it out and also, only you can decide that if they *are* a problem if is worth it to *you* to not eat them. I know that whole ‘nothing tastes as good as thin feels (or joints feel)’ – but I disagree 😀

    I really apologize for the length of this comment.

    And yay for biking recommendations again!! 😀

  3. Soooooo, I’ll try not to write a novel here but my best friend at work is a (now) 50 year old woman who took herself from a size 16-18 to a size 2. (For reference she’s 5′ 2″ and has rebounded a bit up to a size 4/5, but still that’s small and she’s maintained it for about 4 years now!) It was not fast and she didn’t diet per se, just began to be active and cut back on her food intake – a lot. What motivated her was a (previous) diagnosis of MS and brand new diagnosis of severe arthritis in her knees. While the weight loss and improved fitness have helped her tremendously, she finally had to give up and get the Synvisc injections. She says they work well enough that she’ll get them until they don’t.

    Glad you have the beginnings of an answer. Because a beginning is a place to start, right? I honestly believe the weight loss, while super hard, is surely possible. On the other hand I have to think also about how practical it is, and how worth it. I am sure your disconnected thoughts are thinking all those things and I am also sure you’ll sort it all out.

  4. I would still really love for you to be able to see a Rheumatologist. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and an ortho doctor probably knows/understands about five of them, if that. Most forms of arthritis begin with flares that come and go with increasing frequency and level of pain. Added to your knee pain, the hip could be a sign that another joint has become affected and it’s likely, the pain will return. If you have a diagnosed, lab indicated form of arthritis, eating or not eating a certain food will not change that and will not make much difference in how you feel. If you make any decision with respect to the “g” food group, make it because you feel that’s the right thing for to do with respect to your weight maintenance or loss, not because you think it will help you fight the pain of arthritis. Email me or call if I can help. Unfortunately, this is one subject with which I have 28 years experience!

  5. I was glad to read Helen’s comment that the Synvisc worked for her friend – it would be nice to not be in pain while you continue to do more research regarding this whole diagnosis. And it sounds like there are so many ways to go with it…how do you know what will work for you? And how much time do you give a certain option before you move on to something else? Argh, frustrating.

  6. Just curious, why do you have to wait until 65 to have knee surgery?

    My mom always wanted those synvisc injections too, but eventually had to have knee surgery – now she wishes she’d had it done ten years ago. It does seem expensive for those shots, but wouldn’t it be worth it if it worked? (that’s what the hubs told me when I cried about the cost of my rosacea cream).

    • You don’t HAVE to wait. That’s just an optimal age. Because what they don’t always tell you is: the replacement only lasts 15 years. And there is a lifetime limit of 2 replacements. So you might have to have it done a second time at 80. I guess if you’re still around at 95, they’re okay with you staying in the chair!

  7. Hi Deb

    Just a thought here………ii would think that less weight on your joints while you are trying to do these active things would be a good thing…..??I know you’ll figure out whats best for you! Hugs! deb

  8. I don’t know what to say, so I’ll just offer this virtual {{{hug}}} and remind you that I’m an email or a phone call away if I can offer any help. Or even just for comic relief. 🙂

  9. Good luck and I hope you can find what works best for you. Great suggestions already. I second the lab testing to zero in on the type of arthritis. It may give you more of a focus , faster?? Hope so. Take care. Karen P

  10. Here’s two more cents. long one..

    the synovisc rooster remedy is what my ortho calls the last resort before surgery. When things get really bad I get steroid shots and then I’m good for up to year. Results are atypical on the steroid shots.

    total knee surgery –there comes a point when the knee gets so bad that you can’t walk , can’t sleep, whatever and the shots/remedies are not working anymore. People in their 30’s and up have the surgery. just depends on when you have no other choice…

    . Hip pain -mine comes and goes. I also have finger / joint pain that comes and goes. since I journal so much I have notes that tell me periods of time when my pain was worse so I can look back at triggers. I finally pin point the triggers–I get generally ‘out of alignment ‘ at times and the knees, back , hip all hurt. when that happens less impactful exercise, hot baths in epsom, heating pad everymorning on the hip, and stretching. Motrin..etc.It usually rights itself…Doing Zumba without supportive underwear/ workout clothes and having my belly apron flop around was one culprit of the hip issue. right now hip is great. regular yoga helps. Did zumba last night and today no problem.

    Ultimately..the suggestions 1. keep a pain journal..just brief, how/what/when/where–what was going on that may have been a trigger-long drive ?, no stretching?, too many hills?, going too long without exercise? not stretching? and I do think that for me, too much starchy/sugary foods in a short time. 2. I agree orthos are not gonna know nutrition stuff ,but then I think there are extremes all over the place about good / bad food and we really just need balance tapered to what feels best for us. 3. I’ve had the basic labs for rheumatoid arthritis done and they are neg..what I have is plain o arthritis wear and tear… overweight all my life, I’ve over used my hands with nursing work/computer work/falling and injuring myself….4. Maybe a rheumatoid doc will give you a broader viewpoint.

    • Always glad for a little ‘nursey’ talk, especially from someone with personal experience!

      !. Interesting that he offered me the rooster remedy without mentioning steroid shots. Does that mean he thought my knee was too far gone for the steroids, or just that he’s not a fan of steroids.

      2. Exactly my thoughts about the surgery. That is why it took me so long to get to the doctor. The pain was somewhat intermittent. And at least 70% of the time I would think, its not bad enough that I would even consider surgery. The other 30% of the time I would think, I don’t want to live the rest of my life like this. So I definitely think I’ll know when I need to have the surgery. I’m glad I had this good experience with my hands, because it makes me a lot more open to the knee thing.

      3. Some good suggestions, most of which I’ve used. Love the epsom salts baths. I really used them for when I ached after a weights workout, but good any old time.

      4. I started keeping a pain journal, but got distracted. Will try again. Yes, I think I have the plain ol’ arthritis wear and tear too. I had so many bad bad falls during the years I wouldn’t go to the doctor–so, undiagnosed. But probably adding to the long term effect.

      Thanks again for all the info/advice!

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