Monday, October 16, 2006

Aegrescit Medendo

The remedy is worse than the disease.

Friday afternoon was spent at the doctor for a follow up appointment for inflamed kidneys. We've spent months visiting her general, a urologist, endocrinologist, urine tests, blood tests, sonograms, CAT scan, and a trip to the emergency room to figure out what was causing the severe pain in her side and back. Was it an infection? Nope, no sign of that. Was it kidney stones? There were traces of stones, but why were both kidneys inflamed at the same time and no evidence of a big stone?

As it turns out, it appears that the kidneys were inflamed as a side effect of Aleve (OTC Naproxen) and a higher dosage of Naproxen prescribed to alleviate the pain and swelling she'd been experiencing in her knee.

The knee pain and swelling was eventually diagnosed as a result of Lyme Disease. That, of course, was only discovered after multiple trips to her general and an orthopedic specialist spanning many months. The specialist drained the knee and put in cortisone for some relief which was very effective. She went from barely able to walk to climbing up the stairs with minimal effort when we got home. The procedure, however, was very painful.

The Lyme diagnosis came when the orthopedist decided to order blood tests for gout etc. and included the test for Lyme. Lo and behold, that was it! I guess Lyme settles in the joints as it progresses after a couple of months. Lyme usually starts with a noticable red ring around the original tick bite, but not always, so it went unnoticed and untreated. A high dose of antibiotics was prescribed to eliminate the Lyme.

BTW, we know several people who have come down with Lyme and I am always pulling ticks off our cats despite putting anti-tick and flea Advantix on them. Be aware that you may be exposed to Lyme if you have outdoor pets even if you yourself never go tromping through fields.

Okay, back to Friday's doctor visit. The doctor decides to drain the knee and put in cortisone while we're there. (I bet now he's thinking "Let no good deed go unpunished.") As I mentioned, for my mother, this is a painful procedure even though they apply a topical freezing spray before they put the needle into the center of the knee. And this time was much worse than the previous times. This doctor went into the knee from the inside of the leg, the specialist went in from the outside, which may have been the difference.

This time she screamed, hollered, and cried. She jerked her leg while the needle was in it which only made things worse. I had to hold her down on the examining table to keep her from doing any more damage. I whispered "Almost done" and "It'll be okay" in her ear but she was in no place to be consoled. It hurt, and we all knew her pain was real. The whole process only took about 10 seconds but it seemed like a lifetime. Even the doctor and nurse were all shook up!

She looked at me, betrayal in her eyes — I am supposed to be her protector and I had let her down. I had let these people hurt her with "the most excruciating pain I have ever felt." She declared she didn't trust any of us. The whole event then brought about a state of confusion where she didn't know where she was, who the doctor was, and why we were hurting her. She wanted to go home but was so weak and trembling she couldn't even stand. After a calming down period and a couple sips of water, we made our way home safe and sound.

So I will have a tough decision to make in the future. After this, she said she'd rather not walk than go through that again. But the knee is now better. Do I put her through the pain again should it be required? Surely she will forget this episode by then and complain that no one is doing anything to help with her knee.

It's a Catch-22. Yes, sometimes the remedy is worse than the disease. And I'm in the unfortunate position, with the advice of her doctors, to make that decision.

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