First, let me address the regret: A little over a week ago I shared what was going on with my left femur, and what the probable outcome would be. Shortly after I posted that blog, I called my dad to fill him in on the latest developments, and during the call I had a few minutes of raw human emotion. Some would call it a “breakdown”. I shared with him my frustration over having been waiting for so long to get this fixed, only to find out that I’m likely to be denied again because I’m now too old to have the surgery safely. I regret this call for one reason – my dad decided that this was the perfect opportunity to try to get me to return to Christianity. He’s been calling every couple of days ever since, either to check on if I’ve talked to anyone he recommended (all Christian ministers) or to recommend another pastor. He just can’t accept that, with my recall of past-life memories combined with the absolute betrayal of a minister I’m related to, I can’t see any way that going back to that would work.
But, on to other notions. About 4 years ago I blogged about planting a tree in our front yard, and then 2 years ago I blogged about the city putting in a new sidewalk that nearly required moving the tree. Well, they didn’t move the tree, and this morning I went out and used a pair of long-handle pruning shears to trim low-hanging branches so that people could continue to use the sidewalk without having to duck or leave the walkway. It is one of the largest of the trees I’ve planted on this property since we moved here 9 years ago.
This is a post of updates . . . .
Yesterday was my trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to the VA Hospital for the MRI to see if I qualify for the femor replacement surgery yet. It was a day of trials on every level.
First, because there were storms throughout the surrounding area, from 7am Thursday until we left for Fayetteville I only got about 2.5 hours of sleep. I was already uncomfortable, and it was only going to get worse. Just after we passed through Joplin, MO, we drove into a torrential downpour that we continued to drive through the rest of the way to Fayetteville. However, by slowing down and driving carefully, we made good time overall and got there safely.
When the MRI was started, the machine they wanted to use wouldn’t work – something about the coil for the magnets. So, they had to use a different machine that was slower and far less comfortable. The first machine would have been able to do the 4 images they wanted in about 2 hours – the one they had to use took about 45 minutes for each image. That may not seem like much of a difference, but it’s huge when you’re already in pain, and the area that hurts is the area you absolutely can’t move if the images are going to be useful. I got through the first image alright, but after starting the second, I had to take a break for a bathroom trip, and that ruined what we already had of the second image. By the time we finally got the second image finished, I was in such pain I couldn’t repeat them with the contrast media. The technician was polite and understanding, but I felt like I had totally failed. Still, there wasn’t any way to change the outcome.
Fortunately, we had good driving conditions for the trip home, and concluded our day eating supper in our own home with our cats happy to have us back. I did a little bit of more searching on the internet, and discovered an article on PubMed summarizing recent research into Total Femur Replacement (TFR) surgery (it was published in 2015) which indicated very strongly that I’m almost certain not to get the surgery. There are significant risks of life-threatening infections post op for patients over the age of 50, and I turn 57 next month. Combine that with my history of a bone tumor and already compromised immune system, and I’m simply not a viable candidate.
I sort of wish I’d known that a month ago. I wouldn’t have wasted the time and resources.
I am currently trying, once again, to deal with the Veteran’s Administration (VA), to get my left femur replaced. At this point in time, I have been trying for 38 years to get this problem fixed.
In all of that time, the standard response of the VA has been “the problem is not yet severe enough for us to justify the expense or risk of performing the procedure.” What that means is, because the procedure would probably need to be repeated in 20 years, they are unwilling to do the corrective surgery before I am old enough to only qualify for it one time.
So, because I became disabled so young (aged 18), I have spent 38 years waiting for the chance to resume anything even remotely resembling a normal life – even though it would only require ONE surgery to deliver that option to me.
My new primary care doctor, at the VA Health clinic in Joplin, was willing to order a new MRI to evaluate the situation, and that has been scheduled for later this month. However, based on the report of the preliminary X-rays before the MRI, I am not expecting them to agree to the procedure at this time.
IMHO, this is a completely upside down evaluation. The VA is looking at how many times the procedure may need to be done throughout my lifetime – and what I am concerned about is my quality of life for however long I have left. The last 38 years have been what should have been some of the most productive years of my life – and of them I’ve spent 28 years doing minimum wage labor, and the last 10 years I’ve been unemployable. All of this despite the undeniable fact that nobody knows for sure when I will die – whether by an accident, illness, or natural causes. Let’s not forget, it all started with a bone tumor, and that caused a permanent impairment to my immune system.
If the VA tells me later this month that they are still not willing to replace my femur, my wife is considering adding me to her medical insurance, just to attempt to get the surgery done. I think that is still a long shot, but we’ll look at it. If it isn’t viable, I’m considering whether it is time to consider a new body. Continuing the downward spiral is certainly not going to be viable for very long, and since I do believe in a form of reincarnation, it is worth thinking about.
I just want to wish my dear wife a happy anniversary. We’ve now been married 19 years.
Honey – thanks for continuing to put up with me. IMHO, you’re definitely the better half of us.