Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just another date in the calendar

When does surgery become routine that it is just another appointment in the calendar? When it is so commonplace that there is no more fanfare, anxiety, special preparations or lost sleep? When you almost dread telling anyone about the surgery as you are exhausted more from the re-telling and outpouring of sympathy almost than from the pain of the disease?

I think I’ve reached that spot. I’m heading into surgery #7, #6 on my right side and #4 for the past year. These are terrible stats, and they are going downhill.

At my recent appointment with my shoulder surgeon I didn’t happily sign off on surgery that might have brought some closure on the shoulder saga. Oh, no. I found out the results from my shoulder biopsy in August weren’t entirely conclusive. The majority of the results showed the same staph infection from this past Spring, and the minority came back negative. I’m also primarily asymptomatic – no fever, no chills, no pain. Well, about that last one. I have some pain, not the same level as last Spring, but it seems to be creeping back in. This is not good.
I cannot have my proper shoulder hardware re-installed until I’ve been completely cleared of infection. The  shoulder biopsy completed by drawing tissue and cell samples with needles couldn’t definitively determine if I have an infection. This can all be solved with another surgery, of course. Which is scheduled for October 6th. Don’t celebrate just yet, this in no way replaces the next “big” surgery, I’m adding to the surgical list, not substituting or reducing. This surgery will get deeper tissue samples as I’ll be knocked out and they are going in arthroscopically. Hopefully better samples equal a definitive infection decision.

After they cook up the samples in the lab, there is complicated decision tree that follows. If I have an infection, how are we treating it? If there is no infection, where did the positive results come from?
And the question I really want answered – when the hell do I get off the merry-go-round and get my hardware back and be done with all of this?

I went to the appointment myself, I wasn’t expecting this conversation and turn of events. When I suspect bad news is forthcoming, John comes for support, but I walked in unaware. I was expecting to sign up and get my hardware back and to be done.  In the end, I did sign up for a surgery, but not the one I intended to. I don’t even cry at these appointments anymore. I’ve either become much better at handling all of this, or I’ve become hardened and immune to the cavalcade of bad news that seems to wait for me at Orthopaedic Clinic at the Ottawa Hospital.
I’m listening to “Where does the good go” by Tegan and Sara. Long before they sold out with “Everything is Awesome” and the Lego movie, they were an indie-folky Canadian band with beautiful harmonies. I’ve been asking myself where does the good go? How many more times can I go through surgery and keep my chin up? At least one more, I guess.