Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My pending surgery

This is the story about the pending surgery on my right leg.  Since my mid-20's I have experienced pain in my right hip, and later in my knees, but the right knee has always been worse than the left knee.  However, I was able, for the most part, to remain active.

In my mid-30's I began to find a need to curtail my activity due to the pain.  I was not happy about it.  It got worse as I got older and I found myself continually reducing the amount of activity I engaged in, with continuing unhappiness about it.

Over the years, I saw various doctors about this -- chiropractors, rheumatologists, orthopedists -- with no real positive results. I was told it was "growing pains", "hip bursitis" and even that it was "probably arthritis" -- even though no arthritis showed up in the x-rays of my hips!

Then, in 2010 I went to an orthopedic surgeon at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Dr. Janet Conway.  She did a thorough examination and ordered x-rays.   She then diagnosed me with an externally rotated tibia.  It was the first time I had a diagnosis that actually fit and that I felt was correct.

She suggested surgery to correct it but also suggested I try PT first.  I did the PT for three months, and was very good about doing the exercises at home as well.  It was to no avail.  I did not do the surgery with her, because by the time it would have been scheduled I would already be in Israel, as per my aliyah plans.  So, I decided to shelve the surgery until after I was settled in Israel and to pursue it there.   Besides, in the States I was paying $500 per month for health insurance that would not have covered even most of the cost of the surgery -- I doubt I could have afforded it there!

After being in Israel for several months I put out requests for recommendations for orthopedic surgeons.  The first one I saw told me that surgery could not fix my problems.  The second one I saw told me I was "too old" to fix this problem!  Finally, I was in touch with Professor Liebergall. He heads up the orthopedic surgery dept. at Hadassah hospital.  He told me to see Dr. Vladimir Goldman - he heads up the deformities and limb lengthening unit of the Orthopedic surgery department.

I made an appt. with Dr. Goldman and on my first visit with him I was very impressed. Like Dr. Conway, he was very thorough, and even came with me and provided oversight for the x-rays he ordered.  Then he ordered a CT scan.  

After I had the results of the CT scan, I went back to see Dr. Goldman, and this time with Prof. Liebergall as well.  They showed me the pictures from the CT scan and I was so amazed. So detailed!   Anyway, it showed a definite rotational deformity of the tibia as well as a minute bowing out of my leg.  Additionally, due to the arthritis in my knee, caused by the rotation of the tibia, my right leg is definitely shorter than my left one.

Dr. Goldman suggested surgery.  He told me it will require two cuts to the tibial bones, one lateral and one vertical. Then screws will be inserted and I will wear a halo type thing on my right leg, around the upper shin bones.  I will wear it for three months, during which time I will have to make "adjustments" to the frame myself.  I will be mobile, it allows for weight bearing, and I can walk -- but I will be unable to drive.

So, it is really happening.  Dr. Goldman wrote the letter and the hafnaya (referral/prescription).  Now, I wait for a date - he said likely to be after January.  Once I get the date, I go to my kupah and request a hitchayvut, which is like a combo isshur (permission) and havtacha (promise (to pay)).   I may have to fight for it but I am not worried about that right now.  I will deal with it as it happens.

I am nervous -- not so much about the surgery itself as much as about the pain involved.  I am scared of that.   I hope I will not be too much of a bitch during my recovery...

1 comment:

  1. Pain also makes me nervous. Can you speak to them before surgery about pain management, what is available, what is recommended, what your choices are? I think knowing in advance what some of your resources are can help. Also, support. Once you have a date, think with your friends about what will help you and how to have an "on call" system in place.
    Good for you for all the research and investigating.

    I want to see you dancing again... pain free!