Saturday, July 19, 2008

2. Overview

Information and its sources
Nowadays patients have to inform themselves about every aspect of their condition, starting with the basics – p.e., that arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. Sources of information abound: many TV programs have health segments, every health clinic has a website with specific topics, bookstores, health food stores. I especially recommend the extensive, just launched "" website, aimed at educating us about our health issues; finally asking doctors themselves. For the most part doctors appreciate patients taking an active part in their health and procedures, because involved patients heal better.

Early symptoms and prevention of arthritis
The earliest sign of arthritis is the joint swelling. Few months back I had developed a “trigger thumb”, i.e. I could not straighten it in a smooth motion without a jerk; the thumb joint to the hand was slightly swollen and sensitive to pressure. I asked an orthopedist for a cortisone injection; indeed two of them cured the swelling and the “trigger effect”.

Another preventive measure at an early stage, I discovered, is a “yucca” supplement. Knowing that arthritis is an inflammation, and that acids in the body promote it, yucca works by neutralizing the acids through its alkaloid property. In 1992 I have managed to stop a rampant spread of swelling in my fingers by taking yucca* capsules.

Intake of glucosamine with condroitin is also widely advertised as a joint health guardian. I cannot attest to that, because I am allergic to glucosamine. Another supplement for strengthening bones is coral calcium. These are all effective, preventive agents.

Intuition & listening to the body

In my own case intuition and my heeding its messages played a decisive role in the foremost and crucial aspect of the surgery:

Choice of the procedure and the surgeon
Even after scheduling my less invasive TKR surgery, I was still ambivalent about it. On the assistant’s advice I canceled, until I was fully ready. Three months later the voice to have a surgery came to me clear from within. Now the process accelerated. Instead of waiting another eight weeks, I jumped in on someone else’s cancellation and went into surgery on a four days’ notice.

The SURGERY passed without a hitch, or a hint of pain. Strangely, as it may sound, it was a pleasant experience: from the pre-op stay in the “holding area” – my next post – to the two-day hospital stay afterwards. Into my quiet room, a stream of staff flowed at frequent intervals, attending to the attachments on my body, feeding me "cocktails" of pills as my epidural was wound down and disengaged, the wound drained, catheter removed. Through it all I stayed unperturbed, feeling safe and coddled in the staff's care, sleeping and resting peacefully. I would have gladly stayed longer in that supportive environment.

*Yucca is a native plant known to native American tribes. The root is used in cooking. In a form of
"Nature's Way" (brand) capsules, it is a supplement available in health food stores.

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