western medicine

what i wish i’d known

I wish I’d known that the more surgery you have (on a single part of your body) the harder it is to fix issues that inevitably arise later. Sure, I got almost two largely pain-free years following my first two hip surgeries, but when I hear things from doctors like “We’re* really up against it with the four hip surgeries you’ve had” I can’t help but think I made the wrong choice. Needless to say, it’s not the surgeons who utter these words, just all the other doctors.

Surgery made so much sense, initially. If something is torn, you fix it. If there’s scar tissue building up, you clean it up. If there’s bone where there shouldn’t be bone, you get it out of there! So you do that once on each hip, have great results, and think you might have a similar experience if you do it again after that something re-tears, the scar tissue reemerges, the bone regrows, and you basically have a shitstorm of inflammation from your lower back/pelvis all the way down to your knees. I mean, that just makes sense, right???

So you have the next two surgeries because it’s the logical thing to do, yet things aren’t as great after. You can’t understand why you can barely notice a difference. But by that point, you’re so messed up from having four major surgeries on two very small parts of your body, and it doesn’t look like there’s any coming back.

I recently met a physician who explained why the treatments weren’t working (and I’m not just talking about surgery…I’m talking about everything from injections to physical therapy, even the supplements I take). His reasoning made complete sense (but yet, I felt this way before agreeing to each surgery so…), and I could see my mother’s thought on her face before she even said a thing. The doctor was saying, in so many words, that we messed up. We treated the symptoms instead of the cause, and that choice is making it harder, if not impossible, for me to correct the real problem now.

My mother asked if we could have known about the congenital condition I have before it was too late. His answer, not really, but I’ll be damned if my (unborn) children aren’t all tested before partaking in athletics. She eased up when she heard this, but the idea that we made bad choices over the years still looms out there. All the research, traveling around the state to see specialists, the money spent on getting each and everything that might make me feel better…it was really nothing more than time, effort, and resources we misused.

If we had visited this doctor first and fixed the cause of my issue before repairing the damage with a single surgery for each hip, would that have been it? Would just a couple years be labeled “that time my hips hurt” rather than a decade…or two, or three, or more? It is, of course, impossible to answer any of these questions, but that doesn’t keep me from asking them.

There are a lot of other things I wish I had known ahead of time:

  • School sports don’t matter; you will not be a professional athlete when you’re older.
  • Nothing good can come of making a phone call after midnight…unless you’re calling your best friend for a ride because you don’t have the cash for a cab and Uber wasn’t a thing when you were in undergrad.
  • There is no reason to spend $200+ on jeans…Gap jeans are great.
  • Going to the movies alone is amazing, not sad and/or scary.
  • Don’t eat after that girl you thought was your friend at cross country camp, because she has mono, and you will never speak to each other after you leave camp…and you will be sick for months.
  • Go to bed earlier (I think this every Monday through Friday morning).

For the sake of this blog, and keeping the chronic pain common thread, I figured I’d focus on the hip-thing instead of any of the above.

 


 

*Who is this we to which physicians refer? Is it just them and their team? Am I a part of the we?? Why don’t they just call and spade a spade and say YOU? I mean, it’s not like the doctor is living this life with me…please…

And while we’re at it, can people (physicians and patients alike) stop putting the article “the” in front of body parts. As in “I’m having a rough day because the knee is hurting me.” For everything else, we say “yours” or “my,” why is this different? Okay, my ramblings are done (for the day); I promise.

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