Thursday, September 11, 2008

Help, please...

OK. So I maybe am not the best at asking for help. Especially from what may be complete strangers, but most likely are folks that have known me for 20 years. (Scary thought, huh?!)

** warning - long post! grab coffee, take a pee break and prepare to be bored! **

If you tuned in a few months ago, you read this, this, or this. I had an osteophyte (bone spur) at the MCP Joint on my left thumb. In other words, a somewhat large, hard bump on my lower thumb joint that was causing quite a bit of pain not only in my hand, but up my arm as well. The decision was made that they would go in and shave off the protrusion. They did. They also found a pocket of "cream cheese looking" stuff that was sitting on a nerve bundle/artery. They removed that successfully and the path showed nothing remarkable. I've healed quite nicely from that surgery.

Unfortunately, in under two months, not only has that one started returning, I now have two additional spurs. One is on the back side of that same thumb, and the other is on the middle lower on the same hand, just to the right of the forefinger metacarpal, above the carpal. (image for those who need it - like me.) So, I'm now sitting here with three bone spurs. The original one was thought to have been caused by possible trauma. I noticed it shortly after Mother's death and I really don't remember that time very well. I since seen an orthopedic surgeon because I have the desire to know why. The original surgeon (a plastic surgeon with hand cert) wanted to just go ahead back into it and remove all three. I wanted more information. I want to know that when we go back in there I won't be facing this surgery again in another 2-3 months.

The new guy (ortho) has tested me for gout, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. He ordered an MRI. At my last appointment, I ended up feeling very sorry for him as he stood there and told me several times that he does not know what's causing this. He has not ever seen this or heard of this occurring in this short amount of time. We do feel very confident that it's not cancer. That it's not life or limb threatening. That is very reassuring.

So, it's come down to whether or not I continue on to see an actual hand specialist. Do I go ahead and spend the time and money now, before the pain is worse and more consistent, or do I wait until the pain is at a level that is equivalent to when the first surgery was scheduled? What are the chances that they will just dissolve away? Grow? More show?

I don't want to leave you with the impression that there are gigantic growths on my hand. They aren't. They are not to the size in the picture on the previous blog post. Of course, they've not had the 4 months to grow to that size yet either. And maybe they won't. They are large enough that if I move my hand in certain ways, they are visible. The thumb ones don't really need much movement, if any, to be visible.

I'm sorry to keep going on and on about this, but I'd love some input from unbiased people. From people that perhaps haven't heard my story about it and are coming at this from a fresh start. Because honestly, sometimes I feel like I'm paranoid and just need to leave it alone. Other times, I feel like rushing to the nearest surgeon just to get these things off my body.

Thanks for your time.

Take care - Me


Jennie said...

Well, this is a little out of my realm of practice, but I have a couple of thoughts to offer.

I don't think you necessarily have to panic and rush to get these things the hell off of your body. Especially if it is clear that what you are dealing with isn't life threatening. Surgery is a big deal, as you know, and there are always risks involved.

However, it is never reassuring that the doctor managing something has never seen it, has no idea what is causing it, etc.

I think it is worthwhile to at least consider seeing a hand specialist. Someone who has done an ortho residency with a hand fellowship.

As an alternative, I know someone at the U in Jackson who is faculty there in ortho. He literally was #1 in my class from the very first exam to the very end. He is one of the smartest and nicest people I know. He is ortho faculty but has not done hand but probably knows as much as anyone and if not will know just how to proceed. He did do a fellowship in something (sports, maybe?) because he knew that he wanted to be in academic medicine and will likely be up to date on the most cutting edge info.

If it were me, I might not be rushing to the OR but I would likely consider getting another person to take a look and make sure there isn't something else to consider.

It isn't paranoia.

Anonymous said...

I'm no expert but....
™I agree with Jennie, don't get on a rush to go surgery, especially if it's the cosmetic angle that's bothering you mostly.
™Get another opinion, see how it goes
™When getting that other opinion, keep in mind that it's from a surgeon, "cutters cut," It's what they do.
™See if you can get the guy in Jackson to take a look.

knitforknot said...

Thanks for the input!! :) I'm not planning on rushing into surgery. I have noticed that the pain is picking up and is becoming more steady. It's still nowhere near where it was when I had the first surgery. And that's the reason I had it the first time - pain and damaged nerves.

What promted this post was that the ortho I'm currently seeing mentioned to my husband that I didn't need to see him at the next appointment if everything was the same or if I wanted to be referred on. I was under the impression at my last appt. that he was planning/researching specialists. Apparently this is not the case.