It only matters what works for you.

Archive for December, 2016

Good news and bad news.

The good news is, I reacted beautifully to the cortisone shot. I’m moving better than I have in probably 3 years. I genuinely had no idea how much my knee hurt. Being pain free on one side is amazing.

The bad news is, it doesn’t actually fix anything. And they wear off. And there is a limit to how many you can get in a year. And it doesn’t fix anything.

At my next appointment I’m having a shot in the other knee. I want to see what that feels like. I also have a long list of questions about which OTC pain relievers are recommended for long term. There is a joint lubricant they can inject and I want to get that set up and try it. I need to know when and how they can overlap.

I’m going to ask if they know an actually China trained doctor of Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is supposed to do really well for arthritis and I’ve had good results from it before.

I saw a podiatrist. Unfortunately my insurance doesn’t cover custom orthotics  Pity, because even just the commercial ones he gave me have helped some.

Plans are building. Things are happening. We shall see.

 

Irreverence for the win!

Last week I went to see yet another new doctor. This one was a pain specialist.

This summer, before things went crazy, I went to the Orthopedist and said “my left fibula won’t stay put.” So he took some xrays and turns out I have severe osteoarthritis in both knees. Not terribly unexpected at my weight and with my other issues. My question was “Why does only the left one hurt.” He didn’t have a good answer for that, and sent me off to physical therapy.

Looking back, I seem to have failed to mention physical therapy. Oh well. It went ok. I did it in between moving. It helped me get back some basic mobility, but nothing major. I expect it would have helped more if I hadn’t had to do it around moving when I was already exhausted all the time. Anyway, it got me to the point where I could manage the pool, and that’s what I’m doing now.

Back to the orthopedist. I went back this week to ask about a brace. Someone is supposed to call me, but at my weight, and with the shape of my leg, he’s not sure what a brace can do for me. And he once again referred me to the pain specialists. Because they are in charge of non-surgical management of severe arthritis.

She is fantastic. We chatted and I gave her my history so we were building a rapport while someone tracked down the files I’d had sent over from the orthopedist. And when she finally saw my pictures she said “Holy crap, your knees look like shit.” Which made me laugh and laugh. And I knew then that we’d have a long and healthy relationship. Because they are really terrible.

And then we talked briefly about options and I got a cortisone shot in my left knee. Right now it’s sort of numb. We’ll see how it goes.

What an amazing thing

I’m sorry that I didn’t find time to write this post immediately after my second appointment with my new doctor. Because it was a completely new experience and I was so excited in the moment.

My new primary care doctor is amazing. An annual physical is not something anyone gets excited about, but I think it may have been the best medical experience of my life.

When I went in for my appointment, the first thing I said was “The most important thing for you to know about my health today is that yesterday my husband failed his angiogram and he needs to have bypass surgery.” And for a miracle, she agreed that was very important, and she spent a significant amount of time talking me through my side of the experience and helping me dial down my stress. Who does that any more?

Then she took the time to discuss and or address all the things on my relatively long list. It was only our second visit after all and I have a number of active health issues.

It is both horrible and wonderful to realize that for the first time I really felt listened to, and yet also supported. She didn’t dismiss anything I offered, but she didn’t hesitate to correct me when I had a misconception or suggest alternate ideas for me.

Finally, I don’t feel like I’m on this health journey alone without a map.

The importance of routine maintenance

We just had an up close and personal experience with why you should see your doctor regularly, and why it would be good if we had some kind of aggregate database for our medical records.

My last post was about my great new doctor that my husband and I really like.

We like her even more now. Because she didn’t say ‘lets see how this goes’, she said, you should go have a cardiac stress test, here’s your referral to the cardiologist.

My husband is in his mid 50s, works a sedentary job, but otherwise has never had any particular health issues. Which is good, I have enough for both of us. His cholesterol has always been slightly elevated, but more at the ‘we should watch this’ level than at the ‘why aren’t you dead’ level. But his visit to our new primary care doc was only his third visit to a doctor in 5 years, and one of those was urgent care for strep. So ‘watch this’ wasn’t very helpful, because no one was watching. Including us.

Last year when he was overly winded pushing the trash can around our row of townhomes and up a fairly steep incline, we just thought ‘fat and sedentary, of course he’s out of shape.’ And when he had much less energy than he used to when we were moving, well, we’re all older, and still fat and sedentary, so what do you expect? Fortunately, when he started having just a little tingling and tightness in his chest when walking to work in the mornings, that was new and different and he was actually my impetuous to get right on finding a new primary care doctor as soon as the move was over.

It’s a very good thing I did.

The referral to a cardiologist resulted in my husband failing his very first test ever, his cardiac stress test. And then he failed his heart catheterization. And then we were referred to a surgeon. It all happened very fast and was very shocking. All the usual indications were missing. He didn’t have a bad diet, high blood pressure, super high cholesterol, diabetes… If he were the sort to blow off health issues, he might have been part of a very nasty statistic.

According to the wall at the cardiologists, there are 600,000 heart attacks in the US every year.

50% of all first heart attacks are fatal.

Definitely a group we have no interest in being part of.

I will say that every part of our medical support team did an amazing job, and everything moved very fast. He saw the primary care doc in mid-October. His quadrupal bypass surgery was the first week in November. Election day, to be precise.

The care he got was amazing. We are very fortunate to live near a top cardiac hospital, and to have excellent insurance and a supportive work environment. Our story has a very happy ending.

But it makes very clear to me that routine maintenance for our health is critically important. So, when was your last tune up?