That’s been my thought for the past week or so. We’re all disintegrating, you know that right? We can fight it (and most humans do,) but its relentless. Time marches on, and bit by bit, our bodies crumble.
Geez, debby, I can hear you say. What got into you? We come to your blog for a bit of sunshine and some good recipes. Wellllll, its like this. In November, I had had it with my knee hurting all the time, not being able to bear weight on it when I step out of a car, losing sleep because it aches when I lay down. I was ready to give those gel shots a try. So I started trying to call my ortho doc and get an appointment. Many thanks to the insurance system, I had to jump through a couple of hoops to get to him, so I finally saw him in early December. He agreed with me on the gel shots, and put through the request to the insurance company that day. More insurance hoops and hoopla to jump through, yada yada yada, and I still had not had the gel shots by the beginning of February. In the meantime my ortho doc had given me a referral to the ortho KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY docs “just to get them acquainted with your case.” Okay. Once the doctors start referring me to other doctors, I am generally very compliant.
So a week ago I went to see these guys. I say “guys” because in the university system (which I am well aware of, since that’s where I worked) a resident comes in and sees you first, gives you the once over and gives you his professional opinion. And then the attending physician comes in and gives you his professional (and more experienced) opinion. And often, those two opinions are different.
So after sitting in the waiting room and seeing people with infinitely more serious problems than mine, and filling out a four page questionnaire (do you use one cane or two when rising from a chair?) I did start thinking that maybe my little knee pain was not that big a deal.
After taking multiple specialized x-rays of my knee, I was finally taken into the doctors exam room. Mr. Resident comes in (and really, I liked him.) He poked and prodded my knee “does it hurt here? here? does this mimic the pain?” Believe me, next time I am going in with a Sharpie pen marking the exact spots that it hurts. He reviewed the x-rays with me, and concluded that I did not need surgery at this point. He was very complimentary and said that I was doing the two most important things–taking NSAIDS and exercising correctly and regularly. I asked him “I notice you did not mention losing weight as something important to do.” And he just said, “well, of course losing weight always helps, but you had already told me…” (I had given him a brief overview of my weight loss/maintenance history.) I have to say, I know I am lucky, but I have not had a really bad experience with a doctor and weight loss issues. Even when I was “morbidly obese.”
Okay. so now the attending physician comes in. And he says, “well, up until I just now talked to my resident, I thought I was coming into a room to talk to someone who needed knee replacement surgery.” All I can think is that he read that questionnaire a little more thoroughly. I tried to give as much detailed information as I could in it. So the three of us chatted quite a bit more. Neither of them were huge fans of the gel shots. The attending physician said, in comparing the gel shots to steroid shots–either of them have varying results, from only working for a week, to sometimes working for several years.
Long story short, what I finally decided to do was to change from Ibuprofen to Aleve (which they recommended,) and to try a “medial unloading brace.” I didn’t want to try too many things at one time. I bought some Aleve on the way home, and I do think it is working better for me than the Ibuprofen, maybe just for the fact that I take it routinely twice a day instead of thinking (or not thinking) about taking the ibuprofen. I don’t have the brace yet. And I have a follow-up visit with these guys in March.
In the meantime, one thing I had started to think about was this. I got all gung-ho for the knee surgery because my carpal tunnel surgery was such a success. But then I remembered that they are two different things. One of them (carpal tunnel surgery) just fixed up a poorly working part of my body. The other one (knee replacement surgery) completely removes a poorly working part of my body and replaces it with an artificial part, which of course can never do the same thing as the real thing could do. I know quite a few people who have had knee replacement. I haven’t kept count, but I think the results would be just about 50/50 positive to negative outcomes.
So in talking all this over with my BF a few days later, I said, “I just have to work to come to terms with things disintegrating. When do you stop fighting it and learn to accept it?” And she said, “well judging from my parents…NEVER!” And that made me think about my own mom, and yeah, she has not stopped fighting the aging process either.
In one way, I think that is healthy. But in another way, for me, I do think that acceptance can lead to a more peaceful existence (and you all know peace is big with me.) For example, I have wanted to take a trip to the British Isles for a long time. I dreamed about walking the moors like, you know, James Herriot. Now I don’t want to walk anywhere. And that was bugging me. And I wanted to get fixed so I could walk those damn moors. But now I’m thinking, “just change your perspective. You can still travel to the British Isles. You just need to take a different kind of a tour. And if you’re honest with yourself, you didn’t even like walking the hills when you were a kid and your dad took you for a hike. You just like the idea of walking the moors.”
And for me, that’s where hope comes in. I know that people cannot live without hope. I know that from my years as a NICU nurse. No matter how grim the situation, parents would latch on to that one tiny bit of hope. Some nurses would get frustrated by that. I just said, “everyone has to have a little hope.”