Friday, January 30, 2009

Growing old in the age of modern medicine

My mom (as well a lot of other people) used to say, "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself!) That has become my new refrain as I move toward 62.

I don't feel old, and I certainly don't think of myself as old (I do refrain from mini-skirts, however; I'm not blind yet!), and I know that my 61 is not my grandmother's 61. However...

Years of falling off my bike, jumping from moderately high places, working long hours on my feet, and a lifetime of weight gains and losses have taken a toll on my poor knees. Especially my left knee. The dreaded arthritis. It hurts my viscera just to see it in print.

The pain was awful, waking me up at night and then keeping me awake. Bringing tears to my eyes at times. Keeping me from running and jumping at the playground with Addison ("You knee hurt again, Gran?") In other words, knee pain was dramatically affecting my quality of life.

So, off I went to The Bone Doc, a nice young man, only a year older than my oldest son, which is another thing about getting older, but that's for another day! He took x-rays and then took the time to x-plain them. Both knees are arthritic, and there's really no difference in the degree. So why does my left knee hurt and my right knee feels fine? He doesn't know and neither do I.

As I sat there, expecting him to start discussing surgical options, he surprised me by saying, "There are several methods of treatment, and I want you to be comfortable with what we do. It's really your decision." Since I had really thought my only option would be knee replacement, this was nice to hear. As he began to discuss the options, I was intrigued by the idea of injections - not cortisone, not steroids, but of a medication derived from roosters' combs! Hyalgan, it's called, and I had heard about it from a family member just a few weeks before. It requires three injections, one week apart, into the joint. The results can be dramatic and can last for up to a year.

Sign me up!

To make a long story short, I actually had four injections, because of our December snow "event." It caused me to miss a week and I didn't want to take any chances, since the injections weren't the most pleasant medical care I've ever had! More uncomfortable than painful, but still.

The last injection was two weeks ago, and the results have bordered on miraculous! I no longer wake up with knee pain during the night. I can crawl around on the floor with Addison, run and jump, get up and down stairs easily. Oh, I'm still a bit stiff sometimes, but that's to be expected, given my age and level of activity. BUT I DON'T HURT!

And that, Dear Reader, is cause for celebration.


  1. HURRAH!! Yes, that is celebration news, and I am glad to hear your pain is relieved. While I don't always appreciate the fact that some of my health care professionals look young enough to have their mothers' drive them to work, I am fond of new procedures and medicines that make life relatively pain free.

    Here's to your pain free living and continued good living! Have a great weekend.

  2. Great news, Cheryle, congrats on finding and best of luck. My 86 yr old mother in law just avoided knee replacement surgery when we found a surgeon who prefers a method of "manipulation" that seems to be working for her. Her limp is gone and her pain has greatly diminished. New surgeon says 90% of knee replacements not necessary except to make surgeons richer.

  3. Congrats!!
    I know that when my hip stopped hurting all the time, it was truly a blessing. It's amazing what constant pain takes out of your life.

  4. I am so glad you're feeling better!!!