Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tenacious Tip Tuesday - Nobody Cares Like You Do

A non-gardening tip this week, folks, and a bit of a rant. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I've been receiving cortisone shots for lower back pain. I have also been getting these shots for my left knee. The knee requires a little explanation so bear with me.

Long, long ago, when I was a little blondie of 4 years old, the doctors discovered a cyst on the back of my knee that was bad enough to require surgery. You can imagine the fun and excitement enduring knee surgery was for a four-year-old. Or for my poor mother who was a single working parent at the time, bless her. I had a grudge against doctors and a fear of needles for years.

So. These things happen. I got over it, but my knee was never right. (Yeah, I know, it was LEFT, yuk, yuk, yuk.) Other doctors said it was early on-set arthritis, take these anti-inflammatories, go easy on it, blah,blah, blah. So I did what any young person would do. Ignored it completely and played volleyball, racket ball and rock climbed. You know, ran about with tail aflame like any normal young person.

Fast forward to not very long ago. Gardening, as we all can attest, is not easy on your knees, any more than playing sports and more so in some ways. My left knee held up for a while, then went into complete revolt. About 2 years ago, a new doctor ordered x-rays and confirms, yes, your knee is very arthritic and I think you would benefit from cortisone therapy. Hence the shots. Based on x-rays as the only diagnostic - remember that.

The cortisone shots helped for a while but over this summer started wearing off after only 5 or 6 weeks, instead of 10 to 12. The doctor tells me there is not much else to be done as the shots can only be given every 3 months or they will start to damage the joint even further. Knee replacement at my relatively young age (I'm only 40-mumble) is a last resort.

I mentioned it to a co-worker recently and we start comparing knee pain. She has the exact same pain in the exact same place on the exact same knee. Huh, how strange. So what, I ask, is wrong with your knee? A torn meniscus, she says.

No shit.

Now, I'm emphatically NOT one of those people who constantly second-guesses their doctors. I trust that their training and experience are sufficiently greater than mine that any guess of mine will be just that, a guess. It occurred to me, though, upon hearing my co-worker's reply, that she has just had an MRI on her knee, a test that was never performed on mine. Well, I think, why the hell not and tell my doctor I want one.

Today I got the results of that test I insisted on. Guess what? In addition to arthritis, I have a torn meniscus, a chronically sprained ligament and no cartilage left in the joint. Oh, and another cyst. And other stuff I didn't understand and couldn't pronounce. There were 2 PAGES of results.

All of a sudden, it's not just arthritis. I realized if it had been discovered sooner, there might have been therapies that could have helped. It's so bad at this point, my doctor offered to refer me to a surgeon to make an assessment for replacement immediately.

So we come to my tip for the day. My apologies for shouting, but I'm a bit riled up at the moment.


There are a million reasons why the MRI wasn't ordered till I asked for it. I'm not interested in discussing those in this forum, but allow me to say I don't entirely blame my doctor. He could have been more thorough, true. When it comes down to it, though, I could have been a more aggressive advocate for myself and made sure all avenues were explored.

I've seen this time and again when relatives have been in the hospital. My late father-in-law was over-medicated once when he had a stroke and we only discovered it when we insisted something was wrong to the nurses. They went over his chart more carefully and, sure enough, 2 meds were prescribed that interacted and caused his symptoms.

Nobody cares like you do. Take charge of your own care if you feel your doctors are not paying enough attention.

Author's Note: I am not looking for sympathy with this post. While the news was bad, I've lived with a bad knee all my life and this was truly no more than I expected. I only hope someone out there is inspired to take charge of their own care sooner that I did and has a better result. Be good to yourselves.


The Sage Butterfly said...

I agree...our own health is in our hands. The doctors are very knowledgeable, but we know our bodies better than anyone. I hope your knee pain is somehow alleviated.

Sharie said...

Thanks, Michelle. They want to try a different kind of injection before moving on to the surgery. I'll know in a month or so if these new injections work.