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Awaiting the next magic cure.

August 28, 2013

Who among us has not wished to be suddenly freed from bothersome (or life-threatening) symptoms?  It is natural for people to want to feel good.  But what if there is not much that can be done to change your situation?  What if today is likely to be as good as it gets?  That’s not the case for all of us coping with chronic conditions, but it is for many.  Even those of us who can still improve our situation through medications or lifestyle changes want something to happen to make it easier.

For the last year and a half, I have known that viscosupplementation for my moderate to severe knee arthritis could make a significant difference in my pain and day to day functioning.  Viscosupplementation is the practice of injecting hyaluronic acid preparations into the knee joint to lubricate and possibly relieve inflammation of osteoarthritis.  Common brand names include Synvisc, Orthovisc, Hyalgan, etc.  Back when I had insurance and money, these injections had helped me quite a bit by reducing my knee pain, allowing me to walk more without precipitating a flare.  Last year when I started going to the poor people’s clinic for care I requested referral to ortho in anticipation of inevitable flares of my arthritis.  It took 5 months to convince them to refer me and another 10 months to get an orthopedic clinic appointment.  In the mean time, my usual winter flare was worse than ever before and by January this year I had started using a cane whenever I went out and a knee brace on my worse knee.  I have used a cane before and it didn’t bother me, but this time it started looking like a permanent addition to my wardrobe.  That was a tough pill to swallow and contributed to increasing depression during the winter months.  When I injured my left knee ten years ago (hit by a car while crossing the street – I don’t recommend it!), I knew it would never be the same and that I would develop early arthritis.  I knew I’d need a knee replacement by the time I was in my 50’s.  I had long since accepted that fate.  But knowing there was treatment I was not getting because of the scarcity of resources to treat the low income uninsured made it much worse.  I clung to my hope for getting this treatment through the months of waiting for my appointment.  Finally I was able to get the injections for both my knees at the beginning of August.  Now, almost a month later, I’ve had to accept that while the treatment has helped, I have to keep using my cane and my brace.  Despite having extensive medical knowledge and a fairly realistic expectation of the outcome of treatment, I still was holding on to the hope for magic.  To find the magic doesn’t exist is disappointing, but I suppose not unexpected.

I’ve seen friends have similar experiences with other treatments such as surgery, medical devices, new medications.  It’s hard to watch, knowing there will come the inevitable flare to destroy dreams of a symptom free future.  I think these dreams are one of the ways we maintain hope and cope with the reality of permanent, chronic health problems.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lynda permalink
    August 28, 2013 4:52 pm

    So glad to see you’re still blogging. It’s not good that the treatment has ‘lost it’s magic’ for you, but perhaps you will chance upon something else which provides some relief. Sometimes being poor causes us to seek different solutions with good results. I recently found much more relief by using grapeseed oil on the lipodermatosclerosis on my lower legs, rather than the expensive creams I’d been using. 🙂
    Thank you for writing on such well considered and thought provoking issues. I always enjoy reading your posts.

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