Wednesday, May 07, 2014

pain levels

Things started to get a wee bit painful toward the end of the day. I spent the day having taken only a single clutch of aspirin in the morning. Didn't need meds at all, and as of this writing, I still haven't taken any. I deem this a good thing; nevertheless, the body can take only so much, and by the end of the day, I was feeling the distance I had walked. According to my pedometer, that distance was over 10,000 steps, which met the daily goal I had set for myself last year, when I first started playing with the pedometer.

This week, I find that I can climb stairs much better, even when in slight pain, than I could last week. Because I taught my Korean class on the fourth floor of a different building (which has no elevator or handicap access), and because I routinely use the downstairs bathroom in our office building, I climbed several flights of stairs today, and with very little trouble. The walking stick that serves as my cane saw relatively little use: I tottered and limped my way across campus on two feet, delighted to be able to place my full weight on my left leg.

But it's obvious I'm not fully healed. Raising my left ankle to my right knee causes me pain, mainly because of how it makes my left femur rotate inside its joint. Trying to kick my left leg out in a taekwondo-style side-kick motion is inconceivable, and would doubtless be extremely painful. My left hip joint remains stiff, probably because I've gotten used to limping with it. I have a way to go before I'm out of the woods.

There's a real question as to whether this problem was, in fact, osteonecrosis. In my online research, I discovered that one of the therapies for osteonecrosis is electrostimulus, which is exactly the therapy I'd been getting from the clinic. Electrostimulus somehow has the effect of prompting dying bone to re-neovascularize, i.e., to produce new blood vessels again. I haven't been to the clinic (or used prescription meds) for the better part of a week, now; part of me wonders whether the electricity really had been producing an effect. If it had been, then I might be able to deduce that the bone was necrotic but is now on the mend. If the therapy were ineffective, that would mean that something other than osteonecrosis has been going on inside me. Maybe an alien laid an egg inside my hip joint.

I also have to wonder whether stopping therapy and meds has been a factor in my current upturn. The meds had quickly become ineffective; I had built up a tolerance to them, and they were no longer good for blunting the pain (which is why I turned back to aspirin). Purchasing prescription drugs at the local pharmacy had begun to feel like a waste of time, but until last week, I still took the meds faithfully. Could going cold turkey have been a causal factor in my improved condition?

Or could it be that some weird dynamic has been at work inside my body? Imagine: for some conditions, it's necessary for things to get worse before they get better. In my case, therapy and meds have had the two-pronged effect of both alleviating some symptoms and exacerbating my condition. While I took the meds and underwent the therapy, however, a beneficial layer of something was building up inside me, and could only be released by the cessation of therapy and meds. When I put this hypothesis into words, it sounds utterly crazy, but it's a given that the human body is one of the weirdest, most mysterious machines in the universe; we're only beginning to understand its myriad interconnections.

One thing that could silence all this speculation would be an MRI. With one glance of that baleful, piercing, inhuman eye, everything would be revealed, especially as regards my soft tissues. I'd like to know how my joint cartilage is doing, for example. I'd like to know whether the head of my femur shows any wear and tear. I'd like to see spots of inflammation and/or necrosis. Not knowing all this is frustrating. I'd especially like to hear from a doc as to why this pain came upon me so suddenly. The suddenness is a huge issue, and I think it rules out most of the possible items on the diagnostic menu. Arthritis isn't sudden, for example, and I'm pretty sure that osteonecrosis isn't sudden, either. As I think I mentioned before, one possibility that remains is injury: how else to explain the arrival of such pain in such a brief time frame? It could be that I slept funny in bed.

But all of this is academic. The reality on the ground, so to speak, is that my condition seems to be improving, and pain levels are at the lowest they've been in a month. There's a chance I might relapse, but the current improvement has obtained since this past weekend, which makes me hopeful that it indicates a trend. Suffering on the cross as he was, Jesus was apparently too preoccupied at Easter to do anything about my pain, but the Buddha seems to have worked a miracle on his birthday weekend.

Keep those fingers and tentacles crossed.


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1 comment:

brian dean said...

meditate your pain away, Kevin. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/inflammation-reduced-with-behavioral-training/

Um, I opened two Big Hominid windows and this comment window doesn't specify which post it belongs to. Sure hoping that this is one of the leg/hip pain ones.