Saturday, October 25, 2014

Surgical Intervention

Dale Matson

There are numerous types of interventions for physical problems including but not limited to chemicals, lifestyle changes (including diet and exercise), reduced stress, acupuncture, radiation, meditation and prayer and blood infusion.

There are some physical problems however that require surgery. This may be a repair of tendons, ligaments or bones. Now joint replacement is becoming more common. Sometimes it is the removal of a tumor or even organs like tonsils or an appendix.

Surgery is something I have tended to put off as long as possible. I am eventually driven to surgical intervention by increasing pain. I had a bad experience with general anesthesia when I was 11 years old. I needed a tonsillectomy because of chronic tonsillitis and frequent sore throats. The surgeon used ether and I can say that it was a terrible experience with the medical staff holding me down on the operating table. In those days they didn't have a name for my experience but it would be called posttraumatic stress disorder today. From that time on, I refused any surgery that would require general anesthesia.

I developed a couple of hernias after age 50 and pretty much ignored them for years since I didn’t experience pain. I used a truss when I lifted weights. One day I was removing a stubborn bicycle tire from a rim to repair a flat and felt a pain in my right lower groin. This one really hurt and required a truss for everyday-all day use. Hernias do not repair themselves. After consulting with a surgeon who assured me he could repair the hernia without putting me to sleep, I had it repaired. After a few days of pain from the surgery, I noticed there was no more pain from the hernia. It was repaired.

Like most men my age, I have an enlarged prostate (BPH). Since the prostate surrounds the urethra, as it enlarges it constricts the urethra and the bladder compensates by pushing harder. The result is difficulty when starting to urinate and incomplete emptying of the bladder. This means more frequent trips to the bathroom and getting up frequently at night. This problem really diminishes the quality of life of an older man. pills to help relax the bladder helped at first but eventually the body adapts and I found myself getting up 6 and 7 times a night. This is no longer sleeping. It is serial napping that was diminishing my health. While there are several options, I had what is called the “gold standard” the T.U.R.P. I was too far-gone for the less invasive microwave procedure. My process is also nicknamed the ‘roto-rooter’. It took months to recover a good urine stream and I had prolonged bleeding but I would go through it all again. I probably do better now than when I was 50 years old.

My most recent surgery was for carpal tunnel syndrome. I was a heavy equipment operator for 17 years and it caused the compartment that my median nerve runs through to compress the nerve. I have had pain and numbness in my thumb and first two fingers plus problems in the palm of my hand for many years. It has been really difficult riding my bike and working on the computer. My most recent nerve conduction study indicated that things were deteriorating even more. After the procedure, I had pain from my surgery but no more numbness in my hand.

There are simply some things that can only be addressed by surgery. If you are putting it off, please don't be like me and wait beyond the optimal time for surgical intervention. In many cases things will only get worse and you may not regain all of the function even after the surgery. I hope things work out for you.


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