Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Health update

I don't usually use this blog for things like this, but I rarely follow any rules anyway, so here goes.

A few months ago I began feeling aches in my left leg, which I thought I had stopped feeling. Most prominently, I've been having trouble ascending stairs, and after a long day any kind of walking became painful and extremely tiring.

When I was in Israel over the summer, I had x-rays done and a local "senior orthopaedic surgeon" said my femur looked fully healed, but perhaps I had some soft tissue damage in my knee.

When I returned to the States, I decided to seek a real specialist. When I went to Penn Surgery for a follow up on my hernia repair, I asked the surgeons there to recommend an orthopaedic surgeon. Luckily, there was an intern there who had worked with some of the ortho surgeons and he gave me a list of specialists in orthopaedic trauma.

To cut to the chase, I had a CT scan of my leg done and an MRI of my knee. They revealed that the fracture in my femur has not healed and that I have some cartilage damage in my knee. Blood work shows that I have a minor deficiency in vitamin D. Another test I did in Israel indicates that I have the bone density of a 70 year-old woman. 

What is the now the likely scenario is as follows:

1. On Friday I'm seeing a doctor in the metabolic bone clinic. He'll probably have me take vitamin D and perhaps other supplements, at least for a few weeks.

2. In 2 months I'm going back to see the new ortho guy. He says that in some 10% of the cases like mine, nutritional supplements alone promote bone healing. In the rest of the cases, surgical intervention is needed. Assuming the latter:

3. There is probably a bacterial infection in the bone. I will have to undergo surgery to remove the metal rod currently implanted in my leg, as it only attracts more bacteria. In its lieu, a temporary antibiotic rod will be placed in my leg for 6 weeks.

4. Six weeks later, I'll need more surgery, this time to remove the antibiotic rod and have some other form of internal fixation.

All in all, I'll probably be unable to walk independently for about 12 weeks in December-January. I'm not sure I'll be able to work. I sent an e-mail to my supervisors at F&M today asking that we think of a contingency plan in case that happens.

I'm glad I finally have a better idea what's wrong with me. It's inconvenient that I won't know whether I'll need surgery before the end of November, but it's better than being completely in the dark or being told that I'm okay, and the pain will just go away sometime in the future.

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