Saturday, January 22, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

If the pain wanders, do not waste your time with doctors. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

The... patient should be made to understand that he or she must take charge of his own life. Don't take your body to the doctor as if he were a repair shop. ~Quentin Regestein

I received an email from the very sweet and thoughtful, Maria Zannini last night which reminded me that I haven't shared a recent decision with you about my knee surgery.

The short version is this: I've canceled it.

Now, the long story (if you're interested). Way back in the fall when the doc suggested surgery, I started heavily researching alternative treatments. I don't like surgery (who does, except those plastic surgery addicted people?) and wondered if there might be other options.

I made several lifestyle changes.

I went to a diet of about 70% raw foods, heavy on greens like spinach, and even now have a "green" smoothie for breakfast every day (it has cucumber, carrot, broccoli, apple, spinach, blueberries, ground flaxseed, soy yogurt and orange juice) and sometimes for dinner, too. Cucumber and flaxseed are good for cartilage and ligament strength, broccoli, blueberries and orange juice are high in anti-oxidants and spinach is just good for everything. If you ate nothing but spinach for the rest of your life, you'd probably stay healthy.

I (mostly) decaffeinated myself. I stopped drinking soda (there is evidence that the carbonation actually depletes calcium from our bones). I added high doses of glucosomine/chondrontin/MSM to my diet, as well as additional supplements of fish oil and vitamin C. I also take Yucca, which is an herbal anti-inflammatory (it's great for arthritis in people AND dogs, in case you wondered).

As my knee felt better (and it did!) I began exercising it. Walking more. Taking the stairs. I could kneel on it and squat! I added in some stretching (I've lost a little range of movement in both directions -- it takes an effort to straighten my knee all the way, though I can without pain, and bending it all the way is difficult). As a side effect to all of this, the joint pain I've had in my toe for ten years AND the joint pain I've had in my right thumb for three or four years disappeared almost completely. My toe, which was noticeably swollen, is not any more. And it doesn't hurt for me to write with a pencil or open cans (it's incredible how much we use our thumbs).

As I mentioned on my blog a couple weeks ago, in preparation for my surgery I was required to go off all my supplements. My knee was feeling about 95% well and I was already beginning to waffle on the need for surgery. Then... I started to hurt again. Not just my knee, which didn't "hurt" exactly but felt off a little, but my thumb joint as well.

It made me think. Could it be that the more major surgery he'd recommended -- the one where he would be drilling into my bone to stimulate cartilage growth (that may or may not work) wasn't necessary? Was it possible that my body was starting to heal itself? Could it be that most of my pain was due to arthritis (which he said I have in my knee)?

Was I being foolish to even think of canceling / postponing the surgery? I wanted some different opinions from the people who care about me the most and who would be vested in seeing me feel better. I talked to my husband and my mother.

My husband is an IT guy. He thinks with his head and isn't really into what he calls "the woo-woo stuff". But when I asked him his thoughts he surprised the heck out of my by saying, "Surgery is always a last option. I fully believe that there isn't much in our bodies that can't be healed by proper diet and exercise." And he reminded me that I could always reschedule the surgery if it became clear that my way wasn't working.

My mom, who is more into "the woo-woo stuff", and has successfully kept rheumatoid arthritis symptoms at bay for going on twenty years now without prescription medicine (something doctors never believe when she tells them, so they retest her every few years because they think she'd be crippled by now if she had it and wasn't treating it their way) said basically the same thing.

On Wednesday, the day before my pre-op appointment, I called in and canceled everything. And I restarted my supplements. It's been four days since that occurred, and as of this morning my knee is feeling almost back to where it was before. My thumb only aches a little and I'm able to use it at 100% again as well.

Some people would say it's all in my head. Maybe. But even if it is, if I feel better.... who cares? I think it's nutritional, though. And I have every confidence that over the next couple of months I'll be back at 100%.

And that's the rest of the story.


You Are Deep

You like to have fun, but you aren't a big fan of frivolity. You object to too much silliness.

You are quite intellectual and thoughtful. You get a lot of satisfaction from doing important work.

You are steady and consistent. You find it easy to commit to projects and people.

You don't let your emotions decide for you. You follow your head, not your heart.

Well, that's spot on. And again, that freaks me out a little...



Maria Zannini said...

Your hubby is right. Surgery should always be the last resort.

I didn't know cukes were good for cartilage and ligaments. I am definitely upping my cuke intake. If only I could swear off colas. :(

I hope your self care continues to work. Thanks for the update.

Dru said...

Thanks for the update and I'm glad your methods are working. Surgery should definitely be the last option.

I didn't know that about cucumbers.

You Are Down to Earth

You are a person of substance and depth. You can't stand superficiality in all its forms.

You like to be social when there's a reason for it, but otherwise, you enjoy spending your time alone.

You are direct and no-nonsense. It annoys you when anyone sugarcoats anything.

You aren't much of a joiner or a team player. You prefer to be independent and do things your way.

This is nearly perfect, except that I'd rather be in a team, not the leader.

Have a good Saturday.

Terri Tiffany said...

Amazing news! I am with you--do what you can to promote healing in your own body and then you can always decide later. Exercize and diet play a huge role in our health.

Brandy said...

I admit I was worried about your surgery. I, too, feel that surgery is a last resort. I'm so glad to hear you've found an alternative that works for you and that you're happy with.
Best wishes on the new healthy direction in your life!

(I also hope you have a terrific Saturday!)

Tori Lennox said...

That's great that it seems to be healing itself. And yeah surgery can be tricky.