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Happy New Years! And May all Arthritis take a day off!

It is hard to believe another year has raced by but I guess all the fun we have had this year with our joints, hips, knees and shoulders and not to forget backs, has kept us totally occupied while the clock whizzed around!

I was surprised to count up tonight that I have had five years of “good clean fun” out of my hips and still going! May 2007 is when easy mobility went out the window and pain and praying for a wheel chair (when you had to walk between planes at large airports) became a daily nightmare!

I have lost track of how many times I have been in hospital, how many X-Rays, MRI’s, CAT Scans and blood tests I have had – while still working and providing for the family!

Sitting on the bed with the laptop, writing this, I am pleased to report that the revised hip, now all of 4 months old, is going well. The last X-Rays showed lots of great bone growth and everything doing the right thing!

One of the low-lights of the revision was the damage suffered to my peroneal nerve (one of the final branches of the sciatic nerve) which finds its way down the leg via the outside of the knee and all the way down to the big toe! The right foot is still numb – feels like about 1 cm beneath the flesh and back up to about 5 cm up the ankle. This is the weirdest feeling – numb fiery nerve pain which makes it hard to walk.

BUT – with the joys of the left hip now grinding away and demanding replacement, I have succumbed to the marvelous Voltaren again (50 mg morning and 50 mg night) and it has taken away much of the pain associated with the numbness (if that makes sense) and I am walking so much better!

Well, I would be if the left hip would leave me alone for five minutes! The Voltaren has taken away a lot of the pain I had in the left hip but it still feels like some nice person has driven a knitting needle through the top of my hip and out the bottom – not to mention the continual knee pain that goes with it. Just for fun my left heel seems to have decided to be numb too – maybe my lower back is out at present?

The Voltaren has taken away most of the lower back pain – for which I am thankful I must say!

Then there is always paracetamol and codeine!

But I have to say that while the synthetic opioids like Oxycontin, Endone and Hydrocodone work wonders post operation, they are evil drugs which sap your energy, make it hard to sleep and, for me, made me feel very morose and like giving up altogether – days and nights just melded together – and the withdrawal was absolutely painful. This surprised me as I had weaned myself down to one a day. So it is great to be off them now for about a month – and off sleeping pills too! I have to say how much better I feel to be off all of those drugs! But back on Votaren. Oh well, hips, knees, shoulders, backs and arthritis don’t seem to respect us and so whatever we can do, to keep functioning makes sense I guess?

Well, this is a funny way of saying Happy New Years, but if you are going through it, as many of you will be, like me, I am sure you will identify with much of what I have written, and totally wishing for a day off from the pain!

What will 2012 bring?

Good question – for many of us it will be more “character-building” as we work on increasing our pain tolerance (LOL) and still going about every day lives, trying not to be old before our time, keeping up with the wife and kids and grand children, meeting their expectations, while not falling off the perch ourselves! I hate it when my wife says “you are walking like an old man tonight” – hey, at least I am walking!

Many of us will face revisions of our hips or knees during 2012 – this will be painful and debilitating so soon after the original operations but unavoidable if the metal on metal device has failed us, for whatever reason. But the relief to get the poison out of our bodies will be great – was for me – and to see your bones growing and healthy again in the X-Rays is a real joy!

Many of us will have hip, knee, shoulder or back surgery and here is praying that the choice of the prosthesis and the skill of the surgeon produces the desired results. I hope not to have to have my left hip replaced in 2012 but let’s take one day at a time and if it is required then at least I will know what hip I want and I will know the drill when it comes to recovery – should be a cake walk compared to the revision with the two bone grafts which kept me on crutches for 2 months! I will be running a marathon in comparison!

Others of us will be fighting the system in the courts trying to get some redress for the pain, suffering and knock on effects of the early revisions – more revisions before we finally take all the metal in our bodies 6 feet under!

I see the greedy insurance companies are looking to recover costs from any settlements that patients receive from the orthopedic companies you sue – so next there will be lawsuits against the insurance companies for failing to acknowledge that the money is owed in full to the plaintiff to cover all the pain, suffering, lost enjoyment, lost income and ongoing medical costs and additional replacements in the future when they are no longer covered by the health insurers… (not thinking polite thoughts at present…). God help us – the greed of the insurance companies is second only to the greed of the orthopedic companies.

Others of us will be just thankful to be alive, despite the aches and pains – and I have to agree that every day above ground is a bonus – though I wasn’t thinking that way when I was on the pain killers – I was ready to die! BUT I am so thankful to have another year to look forward to, despite the fact that walking and sitting and sleeping will be a “proverbial pain in the arse” because it is another year to live, learn and grow in character and wisdom. Friedrich Nietzsche was right when he remarked that “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”! I used to think this was absolute crap but I am now convinced he was exactly right!

So – whatever the New Year brings for all of us, it will be way better than not having a New Year to celebrate!!!

It is up to us to take control of our circumstances, as best we can, and enjoy all we can and our families and friends around us – try to put aside the pain and suffering we endure daily and be more fun to be around (talking to myself here) and more adventurous.

Let’s all agree not to let our various ailments rob us of the joy of life!

All the very best for 2012,

Earl

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