Saturday, October 02, 2010

killing people is wrong

And herein a serious post.

It's three AM. I've been up since two. One of my friends is up, and one of the writers whose recent accomplishments I most admire, and so, I believe, is that guy who wrote that book I really loved back in the eighties, but two of them are in Queensland and one is probably intoxicated, so to all intents and purposes I am alone.

The clock ticks. The cats purr. The cold air of the outside world comes in. The real world.

Today we went to see the orthopod. When I went through, orthopaedic surgeons were reputed to be particularly difficult people to deal with. I doubt that was ever true, every time we have seen one they have listened courteously and compassionately and answered every question that we've had. Today, he ran an hour and something late, for reasons I will now explain.

Two years ago, my wife became a cyborg. She has an aggressive and inadequately explained form of arthritis, along with an actual one in a million auto-immune disease. Because of this, she required surgery on both hips, to resurface the head of the femur (the thigh bone) so it moved freely and smoothly in the socket (the hip bone).

This was huge surgery. Even thinking about what went on at that time it is frightening, so I am putting it off. But it required vast amounts of blood, and pain, and courage on her part.

A few months ago I was reading in the New York Times and I read that the prosthesis (sometimes it's called the "implant") has been recalled by the manufacturer because of an unacceptably high failure rate.

I rang up. The hospital had just heard as well. We got the first available appointment, which was a month away.

In the mean time we read more. We were originally told that the implant could last decades without any trouble at all. The web was full of stories of people who had had this major orthopaedic surgery and gone on to full, astonishingly active lives - people who ran in marathons, climbed mountains, the like. I understand there was a fifth dan Shotokan in there.

It turned out that by "decades" they meant for many people, a very few years, and by "without any trouble at all", they meant something entirely different again. My wife has increasing pain and decreasing mobility. She has pain at rest which she did not have six months ago. The pain, the sleeplessness, the inability to do the things she loves, is seeping through everything. Things are as bad now as they were a year before the surgery.

That may not be all. The steel which covers her femoral head and her acetabulum is high in chromium and cobalt. In a number of cases, the metal ions are released into the surrounding tissue, into muscle, bone and fat. They cause pain and inflammation, in extreme cases they cause symptoms of themselves, they may cause difficulties with further surgery.

As an aside, I have always thought that if I was ever angry enough to want to kill someone, I should tell someone about it. That way, even if the "killing people is wrong" part of my brain didn't kick in, the "you'll get caught because you already confessed and explained exactly what you wanted to do and how you would do it" part would. Be informed, therefore, that if this goes much wronger, if, for example, something were to go wrong with the subsequent surgery, or it were to have been made impossible because of ion deposition from the current prosthetic,I feel like going to America, looking up the names of the people responsible for deciding to keep this on the market after the facts became apparent, and removing them from this earth. Without descending into hubris, I reckon I could get a couple before I went. I am smart and rich and could probably get back into shape enough to drag most people's bodies. And there would be none of this "left for dead but managed to crawl to a nearby farm" bullshit. I have called time of death enough times to know what is required.

Obviously, that's the anger talking. And the fact I have said this means I can't do it, and I haven't even been in a fight for twenty years, and yadda yadda yadda. But this anger is a difficult thing to articulate.

Anyhow. We wait on bloods, and on the ultrasound, and we go back. We see what can be done. It may be something else is going wrong. The orthopod said he could not imagine what it could be, but maybe he was having an unimaginative day. It may heal, somehow.

It may not.

Anyhow, it's nearly four. I must retire. Tomorrow I clean the chook cage, and spread compost on the fruit trees, and we set up another quail house. I will hit and gouge the punching bag, and maybe break my resolution and finish a book. And I write again soon.

Thanks for listening,


Blogger Foilwoman said...

So sorry you and TduCN are going through this. Justifiable homicide is just that. Here, we felt kind of the way you do when my not-so-little-older-sister had to have her FOURTH spinal surgery involving going in through the stomach and the back to have a spinal fusion and repair. We were not pleased with the prior three surgeries. Threats may have been made to the orthopedic surgeons who had promised no further pain or surgery.

I hope there is some good resolution (reduced pain, increased mobility) for TduCN. I'm thinking of her and you.

2:44 PM  
Blogger faj9778 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

4:03 PM  
Blogger Bronze John said...

Hail FW,
Thanks for that. The whole spinal fusion thing sounds hideous. The thing that always struck me about spinal surgery is that it's not very successful - not in the same way that, say, whipping out an inflamed appendix is successful. It's horrible surgery, and there is often a need for repeat surgery, and it does go wrong.
But there are cases where it's the least bad solution to a terrible problem.
Hope all goes well.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Foilwoman said...

Oh, the fusion surgeries (multiple) were gruesome beyond belief. And she ended up in so much pain (although now has some relief). How much pain she was in after the first three failed was brought home when, THE DAY AFTER the fourth surgery she commented on how she wasn't in pain, meaning that her immediate post-operative pain after front and back entry spinal surgery was substantially less than the pain she'd been feeling the day before that.

I felt like a miserable prat for having whinged about pain after a simple (okay 2 simple and one not-so-simple-but-nothing-like-spinal-surgery) hernia repair.

8:31 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home