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I Know It Gets Better, But When?

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OK, it's time for me to snivel again.

This whole blinking odyssey has been going on for what seems like forever. It was becoming increasingly painful to walk over the past several years. I had already given up backpacking and was becoming more and more sedentary because I couldn't get around. The doctors said it was arthritis. I had my left knee scoped a few years ago, and the doctor told me things looked "pretty crappy" in there. All of the joints in both feet are affected.

A year ago I had joints fused in my right foot, and you all helped me through that ordeal. 10 weeks in a cast, 6 weeks in a wheelchair, but we got through it together. Then last August I had my left knee replaced, and again you wonderful people helped me through it.

Well, I have finished rehab on the knee, and I still don't walk right. The right foot is still as messed up as it was a year ago. A second doctor has told me that the arthrodesis was "beautiful," has healed perfectly, and is not the cause of the pain. Physical therapy has not helped. My foot hurts, which causes me to walk wrong and make my knee hurt, and I am still using crutches on bad days, still cannot get through the day without serious doses of ibuprofen, and have now rotted out my insides from the NSAIDs.

PHOOEY!

To top things off, the pain is spreading to my hands, and in the morning I cannot bend several of my fingers, nor can I do small tasks like removing a twist off cap. As the day goes on, the pain lessens, but it is always there. Using my crutches is sometimes hard to do.

It all came to a head today when I went outside on a beautiful day to work in my garden, and physically couldn't. The inability to kneel, to use my hands or even navigate uneven terrain just overwhelmed me. After only a few minutes I couldn't use the shears to cut back the roses, or grasp the weeds to pull them. I kept wondering why I went through 2 orthopedic surgeries last year just to end up where I started.

Again, I feel like I am imposing by whining about all this. So many of you on this forum are heroes to me. Yet I also know that if anyone would understand, you guys are the ones.

Thanks for letting me write this down. I know it will be OK. I just wish it would happen soon.

Maryl

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Gosh Maryl,

Sorry to hear it's so tough.. I can't say when something like what you are going through will get better, I don't have a clue. The situations are so different....but then again, my pain level is quite high.. what most people are taking vicoden, oxycodone,etc for, I'm just ignoring.. If I can get my mind occupied most times, when my pain is bad, I can ignore a huge portion of. I do feel phantom pain, alot, and sometimes, even I just get tired of it.

I do have one suggestion, even if it is quite small.....

Have you tried the ergonomic hand grips for crutches? I have a pair that were sent for my crutches from Award Prosthetics and I really like them.. They are supposed to help with the wrist area (ie carpal tunnel syndrome).. Maybe some thing like that would help your hands a little...

My husband is fighting a lot of arthritis now, and it is going to mean a hip replacement.. He tries to keep active, without over doing it, but, on this small family farm, that's near impractical..It's small enough that it requires us both to work on it, but not big enough to use hired labor unless it is for doing something like stacking hay in the barn. I see through him, part of what you must be going through..

Keep you chin up.. I know it's hard, but please try.... Giving in, only makes the situation so much more dreadful..

We are all here if you need to lean....

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I feel for you ......have a hug.

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My heart goes out to you, Maryl. I hope things get better very soon. :)

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Maryl, no-one's going to think you're "sniveling!" Pain and lack of mobility -- no matter what the source -- takes a lot out of a person. You've been dealing with it for far too long to ever be considered a whiner.

I can sympathize, as the thing that started my whole cycle of foot problems (five years ago, now) was an injury to my right foot that required a massive amount of surgery to repair. Tendons were grafted together and repositioned in my foot, and my heel was literally sawed off and bolted back on in a new and interesting way. Three months non-weight-bearing, then another three months in a walking cast, followed by a third three months in a post-op shoe, finishing with orthopedic oxfords for the rest of my life.

The result of all that? A right foot that's not quite as good as it was before the cycle began... and a left foot that broke down from the strain of being my "sole may support." That was NOT repairable -- they tried it several times over -- and I ultimately lost it and my ankle.

My history might actually be somewhat helpful with your situation... at least I hope so. What I can say to someone in your position is that no-one prepares you for just how long healing can take... and that no-one, no matter their medical background, can tell you what you feel.

By the end of a year following the surger on my right foot, I was still stiff, achy, weak and sore. Then my left foot broke -- INSTANTLY, my right foot felt flexible, strong, and healthy. Of course it was not truly so... but in comparison to the other side, it felt so. On the other hand, I knew, after each of the repair attempts on the left foot, whether there was a chance of healing properly. I felt "healing" only once out of all those attempts... and I knew instantly when that attempt failed, even though by then I was in so much constant pain that a fracture repair coming apart was not really noticeable as "pain." I can also say that, although my amputation was a complete success and a tremendous improvement on what I'd been feeling, it's still a "work in progress" for me... many days are pain-free, but some days hurt... many days my endurance is good, some days not so much, and occasionally I feel like I could walk all day.

You got some good advice from Tammie... training your mind to think through the pain and focus on something pleasurable (or at least interesting) can help in dealing. So can finding any and all small adjustments/aids you can in order to do what you love. Can't kneel in the garden? Try a low stool. Can't weed by hand? Try using pliers to grip... some of them (like some scissors) may have spring-assisted handles to take the stress off squeezing and releasing. You get the idea.....

I'm not trying to make light of your situation... it sounds quite miserable. But the more ways you can figure out to do your favorite things, even if you look a little odd doing them, the less time you have to think about hurting.

(((((Maryl)))))

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Hi Maryl;

I'm so sorry to hear that the aches and pains have been catching up with you - they're so darned tiring, as well as being demoralising...

I'm on the brink of getting a wonderful new prosthesis, but my "good" knee is getting really painful - worryingly-so; and my tennis-elbow is flaring-up like mad - for no reason whatsoever - why??? I can't even carry a shopping basket at the moment - not that I needed an excuse to avoid domestic chores!

There are other anti-inflamatory drugs out there - I can't take Ibuprofen either, due to a sensitive digestive tract, but if things get bad, there's a drug in the UK called Arthrotec - it's like a buffered version of Voltarol (diclofenac sodium), which is an amazing anti-inflamatory. It's so good at settling down inflamed joints that it feels like you've taken a painkiller, and its effects can last quite a while. I'd ask my doctor for more advice if I were you, as there may be another biochemical reason for the flare-ups.

I also wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion of using crutches with ergonomic hand grips - they've saved my hands and wrists a lot of pain which conventional crutches caused, as well as seeking out any other ergonomic solutions to painful activities.

Hang in there! Things can indeed be better, but I've found that far from capitulating to the aches and pains, the right meds and a little rest can be wonderfully restorative!

Good vibes and healing to you, my friend.

Roz.

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OK, it's time for me to snivel again.

This whole blinking odyssey has been going on for what seems like forever. It was becoming increasingly painful to walk over the past several years. I had already given up backpacking and was becoming more and more sedentary because I couldn't get around. The doctors said it was arthritis. I had my left knee scoped a few years ago, and the doctor told me things looked "pretty crappy" in there. All of the joints in both feet are affected.

A year ago I had joints fused in my right foot, and you all helped me through that ordeal. 10 weeks in a cast, 6 weeks in a wheelchair, but we got through it together. Then last August I had my left knee replaced, and again you wonderful people helped me through it.

Well, I have finished rehab on the knee, and I still don't walk right. The right foot is still as messed up as it was a year ago. A second doctor has told me that the arthrodesis was "beautiful," has healed perfectly, and is not the cause of the pain. Physical therapy has not helped. My foot hurts, which causes me to walk wrong and make my knee hurt, and I am still using crutches on bad days, still cannot get through the day without serious doses of ibuprofen, and have now rotted out my insides from the NSAIDs.

PHOOEY!

To top things off, the pain is spreading to my hands, and in the morning I cannot bend several of my fingers, nor can I do small tasks like removing a twist off cap. As the day goes on, the pain lessens, but it is always there. Using my crutches is sometimes hard to do.

It all came to a head today when I went outside on a beautiful day to work in my garden, and physically couldn't. The inability to kneel, to use my hands or even navigate uneven terrain just overwhelmed me. After only a few minutes I couldn't use the shears to cut back the roses, or grasp the weeds to pull them. I kept wondering why I went through 2 orthopedic surgeries last year just to end up where I started.

Again, I feel like I am imposing by whining about all this. So many of you on this forum are heroes to me. Yet I also know that if anyone would understand, you guys are the ones.

Thanks for letting me write this down. I know it will be OK. I just wish it would happen soon.

Maryl

Maryl,

I am so sorry that you are having so much pain. Sometimes it helps just to B..ch. A ten minute to one hour private pity party and then you have to get on with life - what ever it brings.

I go along for a long time with little pain - I wear Duragesic pain patches - a very high dose. I get feeling cocky then a problem dev elops. I get the patches free - the cost about $1500.00 per month. The paperwork got messed up and myh grant hasn't been renewed promptly. At the mioment I have been using morphine in its place and that messes up my life. I won't drive if I take that and it creates a lot of pain up and downs.

Good luck and I hope your situation improves.

JudyH

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Very sorry to hear that you are having such a hard time. I'd like to share some thoughts, and I apologize in advance as these are mostly not amp related....

Here goes:

One, I had to get an orthotic for my left foot. I was having shooting pains in it and it was because I was walking improperly on it, overusing it, etc. My arch was falling and I was pronating. The orthotic has helped a lot.

I also need to see a chiropractor regularly to keep my poor overworked body functioning. Weight-another issue. Need to exercise to increase core strength, also. sheesh.

Anyway:

Other thoughts on arthritis.

Some say that arthritis is caused by an over acidic diet. Of course there are injury related issues, which are separate, but there is interesting research out there on diet and arthritis. If we are supposed to be more alkaline, then what happens if we are over acidic is that the calcium leaches out of our bones to help recreate the alkaline balance. Most foods other than fruits and veggies are acidic:

http://www.acidalkalinediet.com/Alkaline-Foods-Chart.htm

Additionally our Omega3/Omega 6 ratios are all out of wack in our generation - again diet related. If we eat animals, i.e. cows and chickens, etc. animals that are grain fed have totally different omega 3:omega 6 ratios than animals that are grass fed - that goes for the eggs you eat and the milk you drink, etc. Animals that are grass fed have much more omega 3 fatty acids in them and OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS can reduce inflammation in the body. How much grass fed meat is around? Not a lot here, and "free range" doesn't count usually. They are just animals in pens that eat grain. And even animals that are grass fed can be "finished" on grains. Plus the grain fed animals we eat are more flavorful, etc. anyway......

Glucosamine, Condroitin, MSM, etc. This stuff can help. I buy mine at my favorite store - Trader Joes. I also buy their Omega 3 product as I eat a bit of fish, but don't trust a lot of it. The best source of glucosamine is dietary cartilage - the stuff you get when you make chicken soup from the whole carcass. (which again, our generation, at least here in the US, don't really on the whole get a lot of it, eating mostly boneless, skinless breasts, etc.)

My husband and I are starting to juice greens more-he has a great organic garden, and are looking into eating more raw, sprouted food. Now only if I can lessen the coffee and the chocolate, and other goodies that I love......(sigh again)

Best of luck,

Susan

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