March 21, 2003

Farewell to Arms

Well, not the arms--yet. Mostly, the wrists and thumbs. I've passed through the 'ignore it and maybe it'll go away' phase, and have been in the 'work through the pain' period for many months. We've just entered the 'go get an estimate' portion of the rheumatological disorder timeline.

After putting it off as long as I possibly could (ignorance being bliss) I have an appointment with our GP next week. She'll do the blood test for rheumatoid factor, which of course, with a strong family history of RA, I hope very much that this comes back negative. I'll have X-rays, which will show some degenerative changes (osteoarthritis, most likely) in the joints, probably with some osteophyte formation (calcific changes) at the junction of the wrist and thumb.

She'll put me on some anti-inflammatory meds for the tendinitis component, which I will take only intermittently for a short course, and she will probably suggest physical therapy. (I was a therapist in a clinic adjoining her office a few years ago, and she knows I'll walk in having made my own diagnosis and with some very specific requests for referral, if needed).

PT heal thyself: A short course of iontophoresis with dexamethasone sodium phosphate to the right radiocarpal joint (minimum of five treatments) can be done to see if it produces symptomatic reduction at the worst point of pain. If not, the best medical advice I'll get is 'live with it' and 'that'll be $400 with a $20 co-pay'. All the interventions like joint protection, ergonomic changes (in keyboard use, etc) and task rotation ... been there, done that. Without this, my problem would be even worse.

There will be some significant lifestyle changes ahead. I know. I have sat with so many patients facing their own limitations and disabilities, pain and loss of significant life functions due to an injury or impairment. Now, I'm the patient. Now, I'm facing the possibility... the certainty, given enough time... that I'll have to seriously limit and then give up gardening; and cutting my own firewood... these will be major lifestyle losses, to be sure.

To everything there is a season. When the time comes, maybe I'll be ready to let it go.

Posted by fred1st at March 21, 2003 05:43 AM | TrackBack

Sorry to hear about your ailments Fred. I hope you find the greatest measure of comfort available.

For me, my struggle is knees. A Farewell to knees.

Posted by: Cody at March 21, 2003 10:05 AM

I feel with you, Fred, having started on this long road myself. I'm hoping for the best whilst preparing for the worst. Such is life.

Posted by: Alexandra at March 21, 2003 01:51 PM

Step away from the computer. Paraffin baths. Simple ROM exercises. Nerve gliding exercises.

Um....sorry. That's what I do.

Posted by: Da Goddess at March 22, 2003 04:08 AM

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