Thursday, September 13, 2012

Knees and Needles

In Albuquerque, a few years ago, I went to an orthopedic surgeon about my gimpy and painful knees. At one point he injected cortisone into the worst knee, and it worked wonders for almost six months! But he discouraged me from doing that over and over, and said when I was ready he'd be happy to do a total knee replacement, since the left knee was bone-on-bone and the right knee was not far behind that.

I never went back to him. I didn't feel ready for such drastic measures. I told myself that once I got settled in Temple I'd visit a doctor here, at Scott and White, and get a second opinion. I had heard such good things about S&W, and was looking forward to being near such a top-notch healthcare facility.

I have been waiting to get into a doctor for several weeks. I had a get-acquainted appointment scheduled for Oct. 1. But this week my "good knee," the right one, totally failed me! It was so painful that I even had trouble just walking around the house, without hanging on to furniture or walls. So I called the doctor's office yesterday morning, the one I had an October appointment with, and asked if I could possibly get in that same day to see my doctor, since I was in pain. "Of course!" I was told. Wow! That's a different response than I was used to from Albuquerque.

So around 11:00 a.m. I was sitting in Dr. N's examining room. She is a young, smart and competent physician. (Dan has already been seeing her.) We talked about my history. She told me that based on that history, she'd forgo taking x-rays that day, because it was clear what my problem was. She asked me if I'd ever had cortisone injections, and I told her about my one-time experience. She was pleased to hear that it had been so effective for a fairly long time.

She suggested that we treat both knees, once again, with cortisone and see how they do. She said that as long as I can get by without pain, with no more than three injections per knee per year, it might be best to put off surgery - though, of course, it would be my choice. Her reasons sounded logical: Every year sees an advance in artificial joint research and development and, therefore, better products become available; and, since there is a predicted life-span for the artificial joints, the longer I wait, the better chance there is that I would not need a re-do on them at sometime down the road.

If you know me at all you know I have a terrible needle phobia, but I agreed to the treatment. That must tell you how badly my right knee was hurting. Dr. N was very skilled, and the injections didn't really hurt too much, but, due to my phobia, I was light-headed afterward. I was glad that Dan was with me so he could drive me home.

Dr. N told me the cycle I should expect. Yesterday I would feel some relief, only because there was some numbing medicine included in the injection. Today and tomorrow I would probably be hurting again, since the steroid wouldn't yet be fully effective. But by Friday or Saturday both knees should feel good. It's only the next day, and already I'm feeling much, much better. I'm actually back to my brand of "normal", which isn't great, but which is what I'm used to dealing with. So I think my prospects of getting even more relief over the next few days is very good.

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