Friday, July 27, 2012

He Plans to Live a Long Time -- in Pain

We visited the Ortho this morning -- and Hubby now has every right to look at me and mutter, "Nah, nah, nah-na, told you so."

His knees are terrible.  Really, really terrible.  Nothing can fix them except seriously major surgery and metal inserts and bone sawing. 

We hated the office -- I had to go complain that we had sat in the waiting room 30 minutes and then another 30 minutes in an exam room and nobody had seen us. The nurses and staff seemed much more interested in co-pay than in patients. But then, finally, doctor charisma walked in and we loved him. 

Dr. Richard Synder
First off, he only does knees and shoulders.  He looked at Hubby's knees before he looked at Hubby's x-rays.  He also looked at Hubby while he actually looked at Hubby's medical records and did a thorough questioning about the cranial aneurysm, the A-Fib, and the congestive heart failure.  Then he had Hubby lay out and he felt and bent and flexed the knees.  And he winched audibly.  "You hurt.  You are in a world of pain."  And he went to look at the x-rays.

On return, he sat down on his stool and addressed us both.  "No more injections.  They won't work on your knees."  Hubby had come in thinking he would have more gel injected into his knee caps -- anything not to have knee surgery which he has been adamantly against since the beginning, but both his internist and his wife were slowing wearing him down.  

"The only surgery we can suggest requires shaving off bone and inserting metal between the knee joints.  I am not recommending you do this.  Your heart condition, the aneurysm, the diabetes, all say you are really not a good candidate for this surgery."

Then he proceeded to tell us how it could be done and how the meds we currently take would have to be diminished and then replaced and what could happen when we did this.  He was very, very thorough in his explanations and he answered all our questions, patiently.  He wasn't defeatist.  If Hubby could not stand the pain, then he would perform the surgery.  But if Hubby really did not want the surgery, then he championed Hubby's decision, claiming it was the smart one if Hubby could stand the world of hurt he was currently experiencing.  

Here's the thing -- I, personally, could NOT stand the pain Hubby is in.  I would jeopardize my life to get the pain to stop -- and according to our surgeon, this would not ensure the pain would stop.  Or that infection would not set in.  Or that Hubby would not have a pulmonary embolism during the surgery. Or that Hubby would ever really be able to walk properly.  The odds that he could ease the pain were 95% in his favor -- but that 5% problem area remained -- just for the knees to heal properly.  The odds on the heart problems not getting worse were considerably less. 

I explained what Hubby was doing to try and improve his knees -- and the surgeon thought all of it was super fantastic.  "Keep up the good work."  Then he suggested water aerobics -- and gave Hubby the script for the wonderful Baptist pool where Hubby can work out daily. 

Finally the doc set up an appointment for the next month to see how things are going.  "If and when you decide this pain isn't worth it any more, then we can revisit knee surgery.  Until then I heartily recommend your current course of action.  We know how to go about this surgery -- but it is dangerous and it could threaten your life."

I had so hoped that Hubby would agree to the knee surgery before we meet with the surgeon.  Now, finally, I completely understand why this surgery is not currently in Hubby's best interest.  He is willing to endure the agony of his knees because having surgery on them could, in his condition, kill him.  And he wants to live.  I'm so glad we had this appointment -- for the first time in three years I feel at peace with Hubby's decision to not have knee replacement surgery.  And I know now how truly Hubby is convinced he wants to live -- if he can endure this pain to survive, his instincts are very, very strong.  Thank God! 


Margaret said...

That doctor's approach gave me chills; it was that perfect. And it left the choice up to Hubby, as it should be. I'm so relieved that you've found a person who truly understands the situation and can deal with it appropriately.

Anonymous said...

Thank God,indeed....for the doctors who have an understanding and real approach to their patients.