Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In pursuit of pain-free activity...

I have something called "external tibial torsion" in my right leg. That means the tibia of my right leg is rotated externally.  In my 20's it was noticed and pointed out to me that my gait was with my right foot pointing rather noticeably to the right rather than in front of me.  I became self conscious of it and self corrected my gait.  Over time it became natural.

However, it has had another effect:  it has put stress on the muscles in my right hip, causing me pain. The pain only occurs DURING activity: walking for more than 15 or 20 minutes, dancing, hiking, biking.  When I stop the activity, the pain also stops.  The pain started occurring when I was in my mid 30's -- but periods of rest seemed to help.  Then I hit my 40's -- periods of rest did not help.

I tried analgesics, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, even strong pain killers -- to no avail.  No doctor had yet diagnosed me correctly.  I was told I had "hip bursitis", or "probably arthritis" -- even though no arthritis showed up in any x-rays!  

In December 2010 I found a doctor in Baltimore who diagnosed it correctly. She told me that before we consider surgery as an option I should try physical therapy.  I spent three months, three days a week, plus exercising at home, doing physical therapy. Some of it was painful.  It did not help.   Surgery appeared to be what I needed. BUT... even with the health insurance I had (for which I was paying $500 per month!), I would not be able to afford it.  Additionally,  if I were to undertake to have the surgery, I would have had to postpone my aliyah yet another year. That last was most definitely unpalatable to me.

I decided to make aliyah, and place my bets on being able to get the surgery in Israel, and also to have it covered by the very good health care system here.

Today, I had my first meeting with an orthopedist.  It was a dismal disappointment.  He was discouraging me:  he intimated that I should "live with it".  He suggested that surgery would not help me.  He suggested I take drugs to manage the pain.   I was really dismayed. But, I insisted that I am ONLY 52, that I wish to remain active - to go hiking, to dance, to do many of the things I had always done.  I am too young to spend the rest of my life sitting!!

He finally conceded and gave me a hafnaya (referral) to an orthopedic surgeon.  Let's hope this doctor is more optimistic for me.

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