Some of you may remember a couple of months ago I did a post about how I was going to blog more (and then didn’t blog for another two months – classic Collette!), and in this post I mentioned that I would have plenty to blog about as I was about to go see a surgeon about my right elbow.

Well, I didn’t quite go see the surgeon as soon as I was meant to. In fact, I had two appointments cancelled before I finally saw a surgical registrar on my third attempt, which was yesterday. I’m fairly sure the first one was cancelled because of the junior doctors’ strike, and the second was because the surgeon’s wife went into labour – both very valid reasons, so you will hear no complaints from me.

So, back to my right elbow. You know that saying, ‘like trying to scratch your ear with your elbow’? Well, right now that could be applied to just about anything I need to do with my right elbow. Carrying more than a pen in my right hand is like trying to scratch my ear with my elbow. Not getting pins and needles in my right hand while undertaking menial tasks is like trying to scratch my ear with my elbow. Moving my elbow without a horrible crunching feeling is like trying to scratch my ear with my elbow.

Finding good ‘elbow’ idioms and puns to use in this blog is like trying to scratch my ear with my elbow – also, my ‘arthritis humour’ is getting a bit niche.

Nothing has changed with my elbow, it’s just damage that is apparently normal following 23 years of inflammatory arthritis. I had a nerve conduction study on this arm towards the end of last year but was told the nerve entrapment in itself wasn’t significant enough for surgical intervention. At the actual appointment, they told me my little finger on my right hand was pretty much completely numb (let’s not go into the fact that I hadn’t actually noticed before!), which seems pretty significant to me, but I guess that’s because I’m not a rheumatology consultant!

Because I’ve just transferred my care from Keighley to Sheffield, I haven’t really had many opportunities to reveal myself as the crazy, crying banshee I truly am when faced with a difficult arthritis-related decision to my new consultant. This meant, when I was told that there was no further treatment for my right elbow – rheumatologically speaking – and that it would only get worse, so I should probably see a surgeon, I had to take the news with only the slightest of chin wobbles.

I was worried that I would have to get my elbow replaced. A bit of Google doctoring made me realise that I didn’t want this – a very sensible approach, according to my rather dishy surgeon. Because the elbow is the only joint in the body where the replacement is effectively pulled apart, as your arm mostly hangs down, they only last for about 10 years. And you can’t carry more than a cup of tea! Call me strange, but I’d rather not be half machine by the time I’m 45 – the more replacements of the replacement you have, the more of your arm they use up. Apparently they’ve done elbow replacements before which have stretched from shoulder to wrist because they have to take it further up the bone each time.

Mr H (for Handsome) the surgeon said there were alternatives, including removing the radial head from my elbow, doing the old nerve switcheroo I’ve had on my left arm, or removing the lining of the joint in a procedure called a synovectomy.

I have to go for an MRI scan for them to decide what they’re going to do – something which I am terrified of. I remember once having an MRI scan where halfway through they took me out to give me an injection – something which I’m certain now was them administering some kind of sedative. Why they think blaring Disney tunes over the clanking noises of a very scary-looking machine is an effective method of calming an eight-year-old child, I do not know.

I’ll keep you posted on the results when I go back to see Mr H, which I am very much looking forward to. He described me as “a delightful, 25-year-old copywriter” in his letter dictation, and then described me as “young, strong and fit” when he introduced me to a medical student. He also said I was “very interesting” – I think he meant medically, but wait until he sees me in recovery from general anaesthetic 😉

2 thoughts on “Elbowing through

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