Saturday, January 9, 2010

A New Lease on Life

I have done quite a bit of complaining lately about the condition of my ankle and the fact that the doctors I had seen were disinterested in doing anything about it.  If I'm going to subject you who read my blog to whining when things go wrong in my life, I think it's only fair to let you know when things go right once in a while too. 

Other than the fact that I'm starting to fall apart physically, the root of this problem is that my insurance is an HMO.  Unfortunately, they are very prone to watching their bottom line when making determinations for 'appropriate' medical care.  Buying me a $2500 brace every five years for the rest of my life was much more economical than footing the bill for a $20,000 ankle surgery that might have to be redone a second time before I leave this earth.  Had I been willing to accept their decision without argument, my life as I now know it would have been pretty much over.  I could not do many of the things I enjoy and be the helpmate Yeoldfurt needs in maintaining this property.  He's already had to do 95 percent of the work for the past four months because I've been in the moonboot.  The thought of having my activities restricted like that on a permanent basis was devastating to me.

It took some persuasive argument on my part to get my primary physician to refer me to a new surgeon for another opinion.  But because I have an HMO, I had to have a referral.  I finally convinced my primary and saw the new surgeon on January 5th.  I am so glad I argued.  The new surgeon does not concur with the diagnosis of the other surgeon that I have necrosis.  He sees osteo-arthritis in the foot and ankle and thinks that physical therapy to strengthen the muscles of the ankle will help.  I saw the physical therapist the next day and was just as pleased with his attitude.  The physical therapist measured my range of motion in both feet and determined that I have lost about 20 percent on the bad foot.  He feels that I can regain back at least half of what I've lost over the next six weeks.   I'm so encouraged.  I go to PT every week for the next five weeks and have flexing exercises to do at home as well.  I'm doing the exercise with both feet because stronger is better and maybe I can forestall a similar problem with the other ankle.  I was able to wear matching footwear to work on Friday for the first time in four months.  It felt so good to walk level! 

I've learned a lot from this experience.  I've learned to be proactive with the doctors.  It's MY life and who better to be my advocate than me, myself?  I've learned to appreciate the little things walking and doing chores.  Having spent four frustrating months just 'watching life' from the sidelines and then spending nearly two weeks believing my active life was over forever, I am so eager to get back into the fray.  I feel like I have a new lease on life.  I'm motivated with my PT exercises and optimistic about the final outcome.  I am realistic though.  My feet hurt when I'm on them too much and that will likely get worse as I age.  There will come a time ...maybe when I'm 80 or 90 years old ... that I can't walk around anymore.  But, until then, pain or no pain, I'm so very grateful for every step I take.  


  1. I am happy for you HB :D

    The path you have ahead may have a few rocks on it, but I know you can kick them aside and continue on smoothly.

    Hugs~n~Love to you and Furt

  2. I have used cherry extract for joint pain for about four years now and find it quite helpful. My problem is not arthritis, it is gout, but the anti inflammatory properties of cherries are well documented and a 90 day supply runs about $20.00.

    Google cherry extract and read up on it, although no cure, it could very well be a comfort.

    Concerning the water, hang a drop light in the hole next to the water main, close to the house supply line, and it will provide enough heat to thaw the pipe without damage.

  3. Thanks, Fel. Now that I can wear the same footwear on both feet, it will be easier kicking those rocks out of the way!

    AKA ...I will check on the cherry extract, thanks. Good idea about the drop light but not sure we would have enough extension cords. We have a LONG driveway. As of a few minutes ago, we have water again. Investigation determined the water froze at the top of the intake to the house. The top six inches is exposed to the air (thanks to our dog) and we'll remedy that little problem before the sun goes down tonight. All is well except that now I have to do laundry. Shucks!

  4. Glad the water worked out, good luck with the ankle bone.

  5. so glad the second opinion was a good one

  6. Thanks, Kim. I think things will be looking up for us this year. Hopefully!

  7. My former busted right ankle sympathizes with ya. It has maybe 60% the range of motion of my good ankle, due to being held together by nuts, bolts, washers, and the left front fender of a '55 Buick. Cold weather makes it stiff and sore, and makes me hobble first thing in the morning until it loosens up...

  8. Mayb, that Buick fender must really weigh you down! lol

    Aches and pains are a part of growing older. As long as I can still do what I want to do, I don't mind so much.

  9. Good for you in standing up to the DR and HMO! We forget we are the consumer and therefore hold the key to the system not them! I used to do hospital billing and was amazed how forceful the insurance industry tried to be at the expense of their customers.
    I have broken both ankles in the past and know the pain of healing. Both are fine now due to my focus on healing. You Go Girl!

  10. Thanks, Abby. It's been a rough year to the point I had pretty much quit bucking ...about anything. But when they tried to relegate me to a brace and a cane for the rest of my life, essentially destroying my lifestyle, I got my back up again. I've learned a lot from this experience... most of all to appreciate the life I have. I'm on the mend and working hard at PT. I am determined to make THIS YEAR as good as last year was bad.