Saturday, April 26, 2008

Continuing saga - April 25

Some explanations are long overdue.

I am hard at work - I'll be transitioning to full-time Director of Development at Girls' LEAP. Grant season has kept me quite busy (not to mention my side project consulting for Melissa's brother-in-law's business). So, I have not managed to blog much.

Melissa is networking up a storm - trying to find her way into a good Social Work job after she finishes her degree this year. A congenial work environment, good clinical experience and a reasonable salary - not too much to ask.

Teacup (the brown dog) is exploring medical conditions - two UTI's and an abscess behind her eye (makes her look really grotesque). Fortunately, we have very good (though pricey) local veterinary care. Teacup came to us for free, but we've been paying for her ever since. On the other hand, Glory (the yellow dog) cost us $20 as a pup and has been largely issue-free. (She does eat poop, though)

Now for the x-ray.

The pictures here are from October. I was trying to get the recent ones, but the doc didn't send them in a file I could open. So, I'll try to explain, and you'll have to imagine. In October, you can see all the hardware. The big screws came out in my surgery in Dec. However, you can also see the clean-looking fracture. It looked about the same in December (clean = no bone growing). That was the big concern in December.

What we understood was that if the bone wasn't growing, I was going to need additional surgery. However, what we didn't understand was that the bone could be growing (which it is), but NOT fusing. (Here is where your imagination comes in) Imagine the bone at the fracture growing outward like a big old Ponderosa Pine. On my x-ray on Apr 9, the bone showed A LOT of growth. Most of the growth was outward, and the fracture only showed fusing on one side (lateral). It is not clear whether it will fuse without surgery, and my next x-ray is not until OCTOBER! Interestingly, my fibula (which has a much better blood supply) is completely healed.

So, here's what could happen:
1) the bone could fuse together on its own (I like this option)
2) the bone could fail to fuse, and I could get a bone graft (shave a piece of bone off my hip, grind it into a paste, insert it into the gap in my tibia, compress the fracture with a plate to concentrate the bone growth...) - not my favorite option
3) the rod could weaken (even crack) from use. I would probably notice increased pain. At this point, I would either need surgery right away, or the bone might be taking enough weight (and would be stimulated to grow more since the stability provided by the rod would be diminished) that I would not need surgery (I kind of like how dramatic this sounds)
4) I could heal through some other mind-body method like acupuncture, Tantric meditations or Dianetics.

Well, I AM trying acupuncture (which sounds better than option 2). My acupuncturist is doing something that seems a lot like the bone stimulator used by physical therapists. She wraps chains (and tin foil) around my injury and uses a sparker to produce some current. I don't know - it feels like it's doing something. I'm also getting regular massage - actually "structural integration." A lot like rolfing (very deep tissue work to break up scar tissue). This feels much more effective than the PT that I was getting, yet insurance doesn't pay for it. Still, it's worth it to me to try to get more range of motion back.

And today ... Melissa and I hiked for 3.5 hours. It's true. My leg hurt the whole time, but it didn't get worse over the course of the hike. I used trekking poles (but so did many of the other hikers out there). So - there's hope. Oh yes, I also bouldered on the retaining wall up the street (being careful not to fall off in an uncontrolled way).

This is a long haul. I get down sometimes. I think I understand why people give up, and I don't judge that. It's just plain hard. However, I also get stubborn. There's not much else to do except to keep on keepin' on. Giving up would only mean that I'd have to climb back out of that hole in order to move on - which seems like far more effort than doggedly staying on track. And so, the saga continues.


Nathan said...

Thanks for the update, Mark. A bone graft doesn't sound like the end of the world, especially since your bones have shown the capacity to grow on their own. But I understand the frustration (well, kind of). And I think you hit the nail on the head at the end: just keep on going, there's only one way out, and that's up.

kat said...