Friday, July 18, 2008

Doctor Visit...

Dr. L came into the room and looked at me.

'So, what's the problem?' [I laugh a bit, he has read my notes from Occupational Therapy and he knows what is going on, but I understand that for his notes, he needs the patient to *tell* him exactly why they are there]

I indicate my elbow which is pretty painful at the moment. 'The darned elbow from last year that hasn't gotten any better.'

He scoots his chair closer and does and orthopedic exam. He moves my hand and presses against the 'funny bone'. I keep jumping as he makes movement with my forearm. I know he has to do it.

He leans back and seems to contemplate things.
'Well we have three choices here.'
He ticks them off on his hand.
'One: Do nothing
Two: Cortisone shot, but that didn't work last time, so I don't believe it'll do anything now.
Three: Surgical release of the tendon.'

He sits back, 'What would you like to do?'
I smile and say, 'Well Doc, that is why I came to see you!'
[I know the patient has to tell him]

He goes on to tell me the risks which are minimal. He sighs, and says, 'The recovery time after surgery is the worst part. You will have a 3 month time where you cannot lift anything with your right hand and arm. By this I mean water buckets, hay bales, and things like that. You will be able to dress yourself and write, but no lifting.'

Not exactly what I wanted to hear.

'You will be wearing a 90 degree brace immediately after surgery. What I do is make a small incision into your elbow and take a small triangle out of the extensor tendon, this should relieve the pain you are having. The biggest risk to the surgery is that it may not totally take the pain away. But that risk is very small, I've had great success with it. Infection risk is very small less than 1%, I've never had any infections in the procedures I've done.'

He looks into my eyes.
'You look pretty miserable.' A statement not a question. And he is right, I am pretty miserable. During OT my loss of strength from left to right was measured. 50lbs of squeeze in my left hand and 8 lbs in the right.
I can't turn a doorknob without pain, I cannot type for more than a minute or two without pain...brushing my teeth has become a new and interesting experience.

We agree, surgery is the option.
There is another experimental procedure called Prolotherapy, but of course experimental procedures are NOT paid for by most insurances.

3 months of NOT lifting.
Dang. August 22nd through November 22nd.

This could get interesting.

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