Mike Cope's blog

Thursday, November 11, 2004

arthritis For as long as I knew her, my Grandma Cope suffered terribly with arthritis. It attacked her whole body. She'd shuffle around because of the stiffness in her hips, knees, and ankles. Her fingers were almost rendered useless. And yet, she decided not to let it stop her. Her constant cooking and sewing just worked around those little inconveniences--like not being able to use her fingers. (Note: In one of the comments two days ago about dessert, someone darted in to leave an anonymous comment about the sugar cookies on Jefferson Street. That was Grandma Cope's address--the world's best sugar cookies.) My dad's arthritis hasn't been nearly as severe, thankfully. But several times he's gotten one of those good old cortisone shots in his ankle. Unless he's just teasing, they apparently hurt. Enough said. So yesterday, Dr. Butch, a friend from Highland and an orthopedic surgeon, is checking out my x-rays and preparing to tell me that I have a torn meniscus and should probably have orthroscopic surgery. But then he said, "And there seems to be some arthritis, too." For some reason, I can deal with the torn meniscus. I've been a pretty active person. Maybe it was one too many marathon . . . or throwing batting practice without stretching . . . or . . . well, who knows? (Actually, I'm afraid it happened last fall when I decided that I could unload a piece of furniture by myself. I couldn't wait the extra two minutes it would take to call Dickie next door.) But arthritis in my knee? Isn't that for old guys?

4 Comments:

  • You're not old. Haven't you heard? 48 is the new 38. (You baby boomers keep moving the mark!) By the time you're 58, 58 will be the new 45. You may never reach retirement age.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/11/2004 05:31:00 AM  

  • Enjoy this shot-of-cortisone story from Joey Cope (www. mediate.com/ccr/p53.cfm):

    Six months ago, I was feeling great. My workout time was really beginning to pay off. As I pulled into the parking lot at the gym that Friday morning, I remember thinking that this was the day to intensify my session. And, I was determined to push myself on some new shoulder exercises.

    Now before you begin imagining me as a svelte specimen of finely-honed muscle and grace, remember that I’m just a short, slow lump of clay that fell off that Great Potter’s wheel maybe a little before He was finished. When I use words like “intensify my session” I’m talking about doing about two minutes more work with just a few more pounds on the bar.

    The exercises went pretty well on that fateful morning. I felt a little soreness in my left shoulder on the way home, but nothing major. Through the day the pain deepened. By the next Monday, I knew that I had gone too far. But being the mental giant I am, I decided to “push through the pain.”

    Oddly, there was almost no pain during the subsequent workouts. The stabbing sensations most often hit when I was sitting quietly and then sleeping became a huge problem.

    After weeks of discomfort, I made an appointment with Dr. John. I explained my plight. He patiently pressed here and there, sent me down the hall for x-rays, and then sat me down for a straight talk.

    “Bursitis,” he said. “Not the worst thing that can happen to your shoulder, but it’s going to hurt until it stops.”

    I started to interrupt him to explain the inanity of his last statement and ask him a more important question, like “When is it going to stop?” Then, Dr. John’s faithful nurse, Tabatha, appeared with a very large needle and handed it over to the good doctor. For some reason, the sight of very large needles almost always inhibits my ability to speak – or even run, which is what I should have done.

    “We’re going to shoot a little cortisone into that joint to get you some relief.” Dr. John probed my shoulder with his fingers, then uttered that all-too-familiar, “Okay, big stick.”

    I’m pretty good at receiving shots and I handled the entry with great aplomb. Then Dr. John began moving the needle around and down into the joint.

    “Yowchhh!” I proclaimed intelligently. Dr. John looked at me over his glasses. I noticed through tear-blurred eyes that the needle was still in place. Almost immediately, he pushed the tip against the bone and continued to plunge the contents into my shoulder.

    “You know, that really hurts, Doc!”

    The plunging continued. “Yeah, that’s how I know I’m shooting the right place.” As stars danced around my head, I thought of how many right places I might stick that needle if I could wrestle it away from Dr. John.

    But suddenly it was over. Some of the pain continued, but the needle came sliding out. Nurse Tabatha handed me a tissue to dry my eyes. Dr. John handed over a sheet of exercises and explained what I would need to do to get well.

    The shot did help, although the bursitis got worse before it got better. Just three weeks ago, after several false starts, I got back into a regular exercise routine. The pain in my shoulder was only slight. So, this morning, I decided to “judiciously intensify my session.”

    Now, several hours later, I have doubts about my personal judgment. My mind is crowded with thoughts like: ice, ibuprofen, and amputation. And I would really complain . . .

    Except that I saw a story on television this morning about a five year old girl who has a much different problem. The story was crowded with pictures of her at various stages of her life with massive abrasions and third degree burns. The good news is that she never felt any pain from these injuries. The bad news is that she never felt any pain and thus didn’t know to avoid the various hazards that crop up from day to day. She has a rare disorder that robs her of all but tangential feeling – like some vibrations.

    While I’m griping about slight discomfort, this precious child is facing a world of tremendous danger because she is unaware of what can hurt her.

    My shallow nature still yearns for a life that’s free of trouble and conflict, yet deep down I’m beginning to understand that pain serves a purpose. Not just as a protective device, but as a reminder that we should be watchful for our own sakes and merciful to those around us who are hurting.

    Shine on!

    copyright 2004 Joe L. Cope

    By Blogger Mike, at 11/11/2004 08:37:00 AM  

  • For the record, although I have been known to throw the occasional barb at boomer narcisissm (though born in '64, I consider myself Gen-X through and through), I did NOT post that first comment.

    I have no room to talk.

    Next month, I hit the big 4-0. For about the last 20 years I thought it was going to be no big deal - just another birthday. However, I have to confess that the emotional impact as it looms on the horizon is really surprising me. I don't think I would handle one of those parties with black, "grim reaper" decorations very well.

    On top of that, I'm having problems healing from things. Blown calves and bruises take weeks to go away, instead of days or even hours. Soreness from longer and more intense workouts stays with me longer.

    Whats wrong with me? I wasn't ever supposed to become MIDDLE AGED. (ugh!)

    By Blogger Matt, at 11/11/2004 09:59:00 AM  

  • Mike-
    My wife is 23 years old. She suffers from RA and has suffered for 3 years or so. The summer before we were married she could barely walk. Through prayer, prayer and medication she has regained her strengh and is an awesome teacher now. She isn't one of those teachers that sits behind her desk. She is on her feet all day. She is an art teacher so no lecturing for her. They recently pulled her vioxx from the shelves, she is adjusting to her new medication. Please be in prayer for her as we pray for you. Thanks

    By Blogger Micheal, at 11/16/2004 08:45:00 AM  

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