Took my mom to the orthopedist this morning. We were instructed to come 30 minutes early so we could do the new patient dance and so they could get some x-rays. Now that things are digital and computerized, the doctor could show us the x-rays on a little flat-screen monitor he had set up in the exam room.
He showed us the x-ray of her hip, and she did have some osteoarthritis, but nothing massive and he doesn’t think that’s the problem. So that was a big sigh of relief! She doesn’t need a hip replacement.
But then he showed us the x-ray of her back. She has had a noticeable kyphosis of her upper (thoracic) spine for years, but talk about hit-you-over-the-head obvious! Her lower backbone has this huge “S” curve in it. She has severe degenerative scoliosis in her lumbar spine. This is not the kind that shows up in adolescence and the kid wears a back brace for humpteen years or has rods put in. This kind doesn’t start showing up until a person is in their 50’s. The disks and facet joints of the spine deteriorate over time and the vertebral column just kind of slumps. No wonder the woman hurts! I hurt just looking at the x-ray! Unfortunately, the treatment they’d offer a 50-year-old — putting rods in to straighten the spine — is not an option for 96-year-old. She has lost bone density as well, and screws can’t get a good “bite” in such brittle bone.
The orthopedist is going to do an injection into her hip joint to see how much that helps, but he has referred her to a spine specialist and/or pain management specialist for nerve root injections. (I don’t know if some kind of brace would help her, but I intend to ask.)
He very much approved of the rolling walker I got for her, too, as her fall risk has gotten very much higher because of all this. He wants her to use it all the time. (She can use it to pull herself up from sitting on the bed if she’d just remember to lock the wheels first — this is all so overwhelming to her and she’s having difficulty processing it all. Hopefully, she’ll adapt as time goes on.)
He also said to quit taking the pain pills (codeine and hydrocodone)(!) since the only thing they are doing for her is increasing her fall risk. He prescribed some muscle relaxants as he thinks the majority of her pain is due to muscle spasms from pinched spinal nerves as a result of her scoliosis.
He also prescribed her a lift chair (Hallelujah!) As it happens, she foresightfully added my signature to her checking account several years ago, so I was able to go rannygazooting way across town into deepest darkest yuppyville to the La-Z-Boy store and get a lift chair for her in a color that matched her couch — which is what she wanted. It will be delivered late tomorrow morning. I also picked up some prescriptions for her and got her the two items she forgot when I took her grocery shopping after she’d gotten her hair done at the beauty saloon last Friday, and then made a third trip to the pharmacy to get the prescriptions the orthopedist gave her– all of this in 95 F (35 C) heat, no less.
I pulled into the pharmacy parking lot and saw a parking spot right in front of the front door. That’s the Greyolla (mine) on the right. What are the odds?!
Needless to say, I didn’t get any knitting done today, but here directly, I’ll have me a bowl of tuna salad and put my feet up and relax.