Saturday, September 3, 2011

Orthopediatic Outlook - Stormy Skies Ahead

I am still processing the results of my latest orthopedic appointment emotionally but mentally know what has to happen. The little kid inside me, however, swings back and forth between, "this needs to happen," and, "NO!" I'm about to send my emotional self to her room to finish out the tantrum.

The latest appointment was to go over the findings of a series of x-rays. There is a little osteoarthritis setting into my shoulder; not surprised. My short leg is 14mm shorter than my long leg; hasn't changed. My spine has become unstable. WHAT?!? Yes, unstable. After over 2 decades of stability it is collapsing. Gravity is no longer my friend. I am an adult staring into the abyss of corrective spinal surgery. I hated hearing the words Harrington Rods spoken aloud after so many years of believing I escaped their cold surgical steel clutches.

But. mentally, I knew this was coming. I could feel it in the increasing pain and unidentified anxiety. The strange "you are too young for this" diagnosis of bursitis just 3 weeks ago that prompted me to demand a new spinal evaluation. The knowledge that gravity works and it was only a matter of time before the curves increased. The nurse who laughingly refused to remeasure my height last year when it was 1/2 inch shorter than I knew it should be. I knew. But I refused to accept.

Now, I have no choice. My curvatures are each over 60 degrees. This is no longer a case of avoiding surgery but needing to embrace it before my spine kills me. Some of my internal organs are in danger of being damaged. There is a potential I will break a rib on my hip bone - good thing I have strong bones! Straightening my spine will also eliminate pain, correct problems with my hips and shoulder, and on the petty side I'll be MUCH taller (at least 3 inches) and no longer be 5 pounds overweight for my height. Hey, I have to find a ray of sunshine in this somewhere :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pain Management Program

This spring, at my specialist's recommendation, I enrolled in a pain management program through my local hospital's wellness center. My requirements were that it would be non-invasive and limited pharmaceuticals - I admit I was very surprised to find that at a traditional hospital!

The program was supposed to start with an informational meeting, but due to time constraints and because I want to keep working and not threaten my employment status with frequent absenteeism I started with an orthopedic evaluation and physical therapy. The evaluation found bursitis in one hip which was causing a new onset of pain and weakness and, when my shoulder was moved the way he wanted, limited mobility in my previously "worked on" shoulder. Of course, if allowed to move the shoulder "my" way it has hypermobility. PT has focused on these two and not, as I wanted, all-over body strengthening to help manage the constant discomfort.

I still haven't had the informational meeting with the head of the program, but found out last week that was due to a hiking disaster she experienced and the program is slowly changing hands. Thus, I am fighting for my needs with the feeling of little support other than my family.

I pushed and was sent to a second orthopedist who is re-evaluating my short leg and scoliosis. If these have changed at all (which is likely, it has been about a decade since last evaluated but at that point both had been stable for about 15 years) then they could be the cause of the bursitis, limited shoulder mobility, and possibly other areas of pain. Won't know more about this until early September.

My goal with all of this is to reduce the amount of daily pain and numerous subluxations/dislocations I experience. I want to be able to keep on top of it and not be constantly surprised by new problems. I love my career, but know EDS is slowly making it difficult to work everyday and be effective at what I do. My hope was for the pain management program to help me organize it all and figure out who and what would help the best, but so far it is, yet again, me figuring it all out with almost no knowledgeable help from the medical community. This is extremely frustrating and I sometimes want to just give up, but I am still too stuburn to admit I am disabled.