Month Nine

by wjw on June 11, 2020

Gray827It’s been nine months since my hip replacement surgery, and I haven’t done an update since November 25.  (Here’s the last one.)

I haven’t done an update because (1) it’s a depressing topic, and (2) nothing much has changed.  But it may serve as an illustration of medical services in the age of Covid, so here’s the latest.

(And to sum up ahead of time: I’m really thankful I don’t have any serious, life-threatening medical problems.  Because a lot of medical services haven’t been available these last few months, and people have been trying to look after themselves and sometimes dying, and those totals should really be added to the coronavirus toll, shouldn’t they?)

All right, and now the details, for them that’s interested.

On my last report, I mentioned that my artificial hip was doing rather well and giving me little trouble, but that my actual hip— or rather my pelvis— was acting up.  It had rotated in three dimensions so that the right hip pointed down and the left hip pointed up, which gave the effect of my left leg being shorter than my right.  So I limp, or at very least waddle like a penguin, unless I sort of bend both knees and walk like Groucho Marx.

In addition, my legs hurt.  More or less 24/7.  (But my replacement hip doesn’t hurt, possibly because it’s made of metal.)

Sometimes the pain keeps me from sleeping.

(On the positive side, I no longer need to walk with a cane.)

Just after my last post on the subject in November, I went to visit the doc to tell him of my progress and my success in pain management, and he looked at me and said, “At this stage you shouldn’t be having pain at all.”

Well.  Quite a revelation there.  Things were not going as well as I’d thought.

So, x-rays and CT scans.  Which failed to reveal the source of the problem, but which did reveal that, presumably as an attempt to keep my upper half upright when my pelvis was trying to pitch it off to the side, my spine was now in the form of an upside-down question mark.

In short, I now have scoliosis, yet another item I have in common with Richard III.  (I do so want to be King.  I think it would be a fine cap to my career.  To my credit I haven’t murdered any nephews, though possibly that’s because I don’t have any.  Put an annoying nephew in my path and we’ll see.)

I was put on a six-week program of physical therapy, which I’m continuing on my own and which helps mitigate the pain.  The surgeon sent me off to a spinal specialist, on the theory that my fucked-up spine was the cause of my leg pain.  He quite painfully injected my sacral nerves with anesthetic, on the grounds that if he couldn’t fix my spine, he could at least knock out the pain for three or four months.  Except that I was pain-free for only a day and a half.  He called for more scans, to see if there was some other problem, but nothing was found before lockdown happened.

Well ahead of lockdown I realized that modern medical science was helpless in the face of my tilted hip.  No treatment or therapy was suggested, and I received only vague assurances that the problem would solve itself in time (which, for the record, it hasn’t).   So I started fishing about in the murky world of alternative medicine.  Much of it is too woo-woo for me to take seriously.  I tried acupuncture but it didn’t help.  I started doing the Alexander Technique with a local teacher, who had used it to fix her own scoliosis, and who helped Kathy through her multiple joint replacements.

In January I decided on a multi-pronged assault, involving the Alexander Technique, physical therapy, daily exercise, and massage.  But then lockdown happened and my assault collapsed, and I was left with what I could do at home.

I know that it is possible to unwobble my pelvis, because occasionally it happens, albeit only for a short period of time.  How to lengthen that time?  No answer.

Surprisingly, given the curvature of my spine, I hadn’t been suffering from back pain, although the back pain started pretty much as lockdown went into effect.  I now have substantial lower back pain.  Sometimes it keeps me from sleeping.

Now lockdown has eased, and suddenly doctors want to talk to me!  Or their assistants do, because doctors don’t talk to anyone, mostly.

Whilst all this was going on, I was taking a couple of pain meds that I’d been given after my surgery.  One was for muscle aches, the other for nerve pain.  Neither were narcotics.  I had no idea whether they were doing any good, but they didn’t seem to be doing any harm.  I’d just kept renewing the prescriptions until just this week, when my surgeon, who is back on the job, refused to renew them until he saw me in person.  So I’m scheduled for an appointment next week, which I will attend masked like a bandit.  I’m tempted to bring a cane so I can bang it on the floor.

I did tell the assistant who informed me of this decision that I wasn’t supposed to simply stop the nerve pain medicine, because it was dangerous, it said right there in the instrucctions.  This did not get my prescription renewed, though I was told that my “care team,” whoever they are, would contact me.  (They haven’t.)  And now I’m suffering from dizziness and a sense that I might faint, and this morning I awoke with my back in spasm, which hasn’t happened before, ever.  (And let me tell you that when your back goes into spasm, your front does, too.  It’s a whole body spasm.  So today I just took aspirin and sat on a heating pad, and now feel somewhat improved.)

So that’s the status of my limbs: Unresolved.  Now on to the eye surgery.

Oh, I didn’t mention the eye surgery?  It’s to fix the previous eye surgery.

I’ve had cataract surgery in both eyes, but in one case I chose a surgeon who was, well, less than gifted.  As a result, the artificial lens has ruptured the “capsule” surrounding it, and is basically bumping around in my eye causing hemorrhages.  This results in a “rain of pepper,” basically hundreds of little black dots impeding my vision.  But in recent months the rain of pepper has turned into a full-blown hurricane, resulting every couple weeks in my eye being knocked out of action for, basically, a day or so.  (The weird thing is, when there’s no storm going on, I see better out of that eye than the other.)

Anyway, I was set up for surgery in mid-April with who I was told was the best man for the job in New Mexico.  It would be a 2.5-hour operation in which my eye would be sliced open, the old lens removed, a new one inserted, and then to prevent it bumping around it would be stitched into place with a wee strand of fishing line.

And then lockdown.  The surgery was canceled, and the best surgeon in New Mexico went into hiding, and has not come out because he’s in a high-risk category re Covid.  Occasional pepper storms continued to occur in my eye.  But now we’ve opened up, so I’ve been scheduled for the surgery at the end of the month, I hope at the hands of the second-best eye surgeon in New Mexico.

And meanwhile, Covid.  Stay safe, people.  It’s going to be a long summer.

Andrew J Price June 11, 2020 at 1:43 am

Hey WJ, sorry to hear about the travails. I have had good results from Chiropractors/Osteopaths, in my experience they have a very good working knowledge of muscular-skeletal mechanics, just don’t get into talking about subluxions. Andy.

pixlaw June 11, 2020 at 6:13 pm

Jesus, dude. I’m so saddened to hear about all of this. I’d like to write some life-affirming missive that will miraculously cause you to cheer up and look on the bright side of life.

But, well, you know.

Hang in there.

Clyde June 11, 2020 at 9:35 pm

Just damn. The hits just keep on coming, don’t they?
Hang tough and as the Bard says, “Keep on chooglin’.”

Robert M Roman June 13, 2020 at 5:45 pm


Etaoin Shrdlu June 14, 2020 at 12:25 pm

Sympathies, WJW, I hope the lens can be repaired and doesn’t result in any impairment. From your description (intermittency), it sounds like the “pepper” gets reabsorbed?

I’d suggest checking into surgeons in other states, if your insurance will cover that. Texas and Georgia have reopened, for example. I’d even suggest “other countries” except that most have slammed their borders shut, and the biggest medical tourism countries are among the worst hit right now. Ignore the “all is well” propaganda from Thailand — first they issued an order that all coronavirus news must be reported solely by a central government agency, and then that agency simply censored everything, as in ‘nothing to see here, all is well, these aren’t the viruses you’re looking for, move along, move along.” Ordinary Thais were complaining on social media about hospitals refusing to test even the most blatant of cases for the virus — if you don’t test, you can’t report on cases of it, you know, so there just aren’t any.)

> The surgery was canceled, and the best surgeon in New Mexico went into hiding, and has not come out

Yup. My mother broke her hip a couple of months ago, no one was allowed to visit her in the hospital or in the nursing home she had to go to after surgery, resulting in pretty severe depression, and then her primary care physician — who specifically told her she needed to come in for an in-person visit — disappeared for the rest of eternity behind a central-appointment-scheduling-center-idiots-induced wall of “we aren’t scheduling in-person appointments, oh the doctor is traveling until August, oh there are riots in Minneapolis and maybe they could spread here, oh the Martians are threatening to attack” until I started screaming at the central appointment center’s clerks. Then suddenly “the doctor will see you tomorrow morning at 10am, show up by 9:45 or else we’ll cancel your appointment.”

The nonsensical lockdowns are going to cost more lives — and eyeballs — than were saved by the lockdowns. And yet some people *cough* want to keep them in place (except for rioting and looting, of course, that’s protected political speech, unlike peaceful rallies opposing lockdowns of course) “until a vaccine is developed!” which is a minimum of a year away and may never happen — please note that there still isn’t a vaccine for the original 2003 SARS despite 17 years of research, nor for MERS, nor apparently a human vaccine for any other coronavirus even though researchers have been working on them for sixty-plus years. (Every “evil capitalism!!!” vaccine patent that the idiots on Eddit have screamed about has been for canine coronavirus vaccines — apparently it’s communistically immoral to research ways of making money off the bourgeoisie pet owners.)

wjw June 15, 2020 at 10:17 pm

Etaoin, there’s no way I’d go to Texas for surgery right now. Corona is spiking in Texas, Arizona, and Florida, all sunny states that opened early. So much for the “summer’s ultraviolet rays will kill the virus” theory.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post:

Contact Us | Terms of User | Trademarks | Privacy Statement

Copyright © 2010 WJW. All Rights Reserved.