A few short weeks ago, I endured the surgery for a total knee replacement. If I am counting correctly, this was my ninth joint replacement surgery. No, I'm not bragging, this is simply a statement of the facts! I KNEW that I'd gone through many surgeries due to OA, but it was somewhat disconcerting when many of the operating room nurses recognized me from other operations. (In fact, they now call me a Frequent Flyer at that hospital - wonder how I could cash in some of the mileage credits?)
Prior to surgery this time, I began to have severe cramping that I assumed was due to muscles knotting up in my low back due to my "impaired" walking. Although I'm definitely not a doctor, I assumed that when the knee was replaced, the hip problem would disappear. Much to my dismay, the cramping problem seemed to be far worse after the surgery. Neither my surgeon nor my internist could come up with suggestions to remedy this problem other than putting me on more pain pills, which didn't seem like a "solution" to me - it was just an attempt to mask whatever was going on. Although the new knee was healing very well and my mobility was improving, I would lay in bed every morning for at least 20 minutes trying to get the nerve to stand up knowing that I would be "greeted" by the excruciating pain in my hip. Because of the cramping, it was very difficult to limp into the bathroom and attempt to sit on the elevated toilet seat - and afterwards, to again TRY to stand up.
I happen to live in a split-foyer house, so I can walk through my kitchen and directly onto my elevated deck. One morning, it suddenly occurred to me that my entire backyard was very heavily wooded, and that I wouldn't be observed if I was on my deck. Out of sheer pain and desperation, I limped onto my deck to try to urinate in a standing position and avoid the cramping. As I finished my job, I glanced up and noticed that the strange man next door was in his yard sorting his waste barrels and appeared to observe my creativity. I cheerfully gave him my best smile and returned to my house. I'm not entirely sure that he saw what I'd done, but if so, I probably made his day and solved my own problem at the same time!
Out of desperation with my continuing hip pain, I asked a knowledgeable friend if he had any ideas other than the pain pill regimen. He suggested that I may have been having sciatica problems instead of hip muscle cramping. He suggested I try a regimen of B6, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C - using the same dosage his doctor friend had recommended. I have been on this program for three weeks now, and my challenge seems to have disappeared. I have an appointment for a checkup with my surgeon this week, and I will be interested in his reaction!
In spite of all of the orthopedic surgeries I've had, there have never been any problems with any of the drugs used - until this surgery. About an hour after surgery (I'd had general anesthesia), this time, I had a bad reaction to the drugs. I became very violent, yanked out my lines, catheter and drains, and was totally out of control for awhile, and was very frightened. I had never heard of this sort of thing happening, and one of my doctors later said that I should have received a mild sedative to help me through this. After I calmed down, the whole experience was extremely embarrassing for me. Although I realize now that it was a reaction to the drugs (yes, my doctor had me get a written report of the drugs used to carry with me as I travel) to avoid it being used on me again - this was very traumatic.
The good news now is that my incision is healed, and my walking has vastly improved. I'm able to go up and down stairs fairly easily and am gradually regaining my strength. In SPITE of the trauma with the anesthesia, I am VERY greatful that America has surgeons with the necessary skills, tools, and medical knowledge that they can replace
joints. I spend a great deal of time working in Africa, and my friends there from all over the world are amazed at the kinds of surgeries our doctors are able to do.
I continue to refuse to let OA totally rule my life - there really are alternatives!
Published On: June 16, 2010