Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Medical Decision Looms

Two weeks ago I took my wife for an appointment with an orthopedic doctor and the news we received was basically what we expected. She is only forty years old yet her right knee is the knee of an eighty year old. There is no cartilage in her knee at all and you cannot regrow cartilage. At some point in her life she will require a knee replacement. While it is very unusual for someone her age to have this procedure it also is very unusual for someone her age to have a knee this bad.

She has Rheumatoid Arthritis which has been getting progressively worse over the last few years and seemingly as each month has gone by during the last year. Her right knee has been severely swollen for the past few months now and she has been using crutches to help her get around. Pain is a constant foe for her and she cannot do a lot with our son that requires her to move around. As a matter of fact doing simple everyday things like washing dishes or cooking has constantly proven to be a painful problem for her to deal with.

She hasn't been able to work for some time now and before that only sporadically in a job that allowed her to sit most of the time. It stands to reason that it has taken quite a toll on our household economy which in turn affects our marriage and our health as well. Luckily we were able to refinance our house for a lower monthly payment last year that allowed us some breathing room. Basically put, she doesn't have much quality of life and depression is becoming a very real thing to her.

Her options are to get a steroid injection which the doctor would prefer not to do since she just had one in November and it should have lasted longer than it did. If she were to receive another shot it would be the last he would be willing to give her ever because while it can help in the short term it can also cause more problems in the long term. Then she would just have to live with the pain for as long as she could stand it.

The second option is to not have the steroid injection and to live with the pain as long as she is able to. Given the severity of the pain and lack of quality of life that I spoke of earlier that's not much of a choice at all. The third option would be to have the knee replacement surgery now with the knowledge that it will only last ten to fifteen years and will then need to be redone. She would recover within six to eight weeks and be able to regain much if not all of her mobility and be pain free. Perhaps she also could get back some sanity that has been dampened by the thought of having to live with pain (the way she is now) for the rest of her life.

Given these circumstances the decision ultimately was very easy for her to make. Better to have the surgery now and gain some peace of mind, to be able to enjoy her time with our son while he is young, and see what the future will hold when that time comes. With the way medicine and science is progressing it's very likely that when the new knee wears out they will be able to do something amazing that will negate the need for anything further to be done in her lifetime. At least we can hope for that. We go back to see the doctor on Monday to schedule the surgery. Wish her (and our family) luck.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

1 comment:

Samantha Bangayan said...

I'm so sorry to hear about her struggles, Don! What a strong reminder to never take our health for granted. I'm glad that there's hope for her to live a normal life and that you'll be going through with it, and I hope there'll be more smiles and laughs all around sooner rather than later! =)