Unhelpful Advice

This past week was frustrating.  I’ve had knee issues for a very long time…long enough to have six knee surgeries (five on my left knee and the last three have been back to back).  Needless to say both my surgeon and I are running out of options.

The latest issue was my knee locking up from time to time.  There hasn’t been a pattern in regards to a cause…different shoes, different walking paces, walking straight, turning a corner.  It has been frustratingly random.

With a huge trip coming up (nine weeks) and a ton of booked activities like hiking, biking, swimming, etc.  The timing of this could not be worse.  An x-ray reveled a very small calcium deposit, but it was hard to tell if that was the cause or not.  As the symptoms got worse the surgeon got more and more concerned.

Last week he decided we needed to do a MRI.

I shared all of this with a few close friends.  One friend in particular was incredibly compassionate (ironically she’s a breast cancer and heart failure survivor).  The responses from a couple of other friends were shocking.

One friend texted and said “maybe you need to do strength training”.  Really…that’s the advice you want to give to someone whose surgeon is stumped?  Seriously, if simple strength training was the answer I would have been at the gym four hours a day.  As much as I don’t like the gym, it would be better than surgery after surgery after surgery.

Another friend thought I should drink joint juice and that maybe that would help.  Again, a highly trained surgeon is stumped (and I’ve had second opinions too).  If he thought supplements would help, he would have put me on them long ago.

And finally my mom…oh how I love thee.  She tries…she really does.  But her response when I texted “…this is depressing” was “I am sure it is”.

I spent the entire evening in tears.  What I really wanted was a hug (and I’m not a hugger normally).  Luckily I got a virtual hug, through text messages, from my first friend.

So, what were the results of the MRI?

The surgery sites (both the problem area and the donor area…bone had to be moved from a good part of my knee to the bad part) look fairly well healed.  Thank God.  But, it seems that I have something floating around in my knee.  Maybe a piece of bone or cartilage that broke off during the healing process.  And, this is likely getting caught in my joint from time to time.

My surgeon actually called from his cell phone to give me the news…actually he left a message asking me to call him back on his cell.  I was really worried at first because surgeons almost never give a patient their cell phone number, but he knew I was getting desperate to solve the problem before my trip.  When we finally connected, he said he could do a quick scope of my knee in two days.  Or, we could move forward with our existing plan of a cortisone shot and then follow-up in the spring.  I suspect the scope of my knee would be minor in contrast to all the other surgeries I’ve had, but we decided to do the cortisone shot.  He assured me that I wasn’t doing any more permanent damage but muscling through the pain.

The shot is scheduled for November 11th.  I leave on my trip November 23rd.  Here’s hoping I have the strength to “suck it up” and deal with the pain.  I don’t want to miss out on any activities while visiting Belize, New Zealand, and Australia.

Have your friends given you “unhelpful advice”?  How did you react to that advice.


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