Thursday, February 2, 2017

If You Have Knee Pain

“I am going to call there.”

The year 2016 was a hard year for Ellie and me and we are both looking forward to a better 2017. However, one element of the year has been an undeniable blessing, a God-send.

( This is not an advertisement; I am merely relating our experience with what I shall fictionally call the Universal Pain Clinic ( UPC ) staffed by fictitiously named people. )

Twenty-sixteen’s trouble included our having to re-learn to live with one another after Ellie lived at Loretta’s for a year, taking care of Loretta and taking care of her estate after Loretta died; her sister-in-law’s sudden death from a blood infection; her brother’s quick descent into the ravages of Alzheimer’s; her recovery from exhaustion; the sleep-deprivation / arthritic-pain cycle that kept her tired and not feeling like ever wanting to do very much. The arthritis problem included almost constant, though not uniformly intense, knee pain.

Do you have knee pain that your doctor doesn’t seem to know how to treat?” 

This TV commercial grabbed our attention. 

“If so, call the UPC, 800-800-8008 for a free consultation.” 

The text on the TV said, “Now accepting new patients.”

Ellie and I saw this many evenings in a row as we watched the news. “I am going to call there,” she said one night.

“A fine idea,” I replied. “I certainly support it. What can we lose with a free consult?”

“My knees are better,” she said the next morning. “I don’t think I need the help the UPC has to offer.”

Days later, her knees were ( again ) not better, and she again considered calling the UPC. “Do it,” I said. “I support that, for sure.”

Shortening a long story, this is what Dr B and the UPC did:

Knees: Far and away, the thing that bothered Ellie most was her knee pain. X-Rays showed her knees to be in good shape; not a candidate for surgery, no bone-on-bone issues, “just” some thinning of the cartilage. And cartilage dehydration, Dr B speculated, which comes about naturally with aging as our body produces less of a chemical that keeps the cartilage lubricated and working well. ( “WD-40, you might say,” he said. ) Over five weeks, UPC staff gave Ellie five injections in each knee and workout instructions to take to the physical therapist she was already seeing. While her knee pain is not a thing of the past, its level of discomfort has dramatically decreased.

Legs: Ellie has had varicose veins since high-school. Her mother had her own veins stripped many years ago and we considered having Ellie’s stripped a while back. Her memory of her mother’s discomfort, the difficult recovery process and the unclear pay-off for her caused us to postpone the procedure until ‘later.’ This even though her legs ached almost always and were a constant source of at least a little annoyance. UPC’s procedure is two revisions newer than the ( "barbaric," they called it ) vein-stripping we considered. After the procedure, done on each leg one week apart, she put her pants back on and we walked to the car to go home. “My right leg feels so much lighter than my other one,” Ellie said between procedures. “Wow.” Her generalized leg pain and aching are gone.

Generalized foot joint pain: UPC has a chiropractic clinic associated with it; Dr B suggested Ellie talk to the folks there about soft orthotics. She did, got measured and obtained a pair of soft orthotics made specifically for her feet. “Those hard orthotics,” the tech said, “keep your foot in good alignment, but, because they are hard, don’t allow the foot to move as it normally does when in motion. This results in other issues in various of the joints in your feet and body.” Ellie could relate; she’d had more than one set of hard ones, made specifically for her, but her foot problems and generalized joint pain remained. Her new soft orthotics are helping her enormously, and she's ordered a second pair - for her dress shoes.

Before UPC, Ellie’s joint pain and leg discomfort kept her inactive and inside very much of the time. She is now up and about, feeling and sleeping better. She's clearly turned a corner in her recovering from caring for Loretta. UPC has positively impacted her life. And mine.
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