Friday, November 20, 2009

Carpal tunnel surgery upcoming

Well, I finally got the results from the EMG test done on my right arm. I do have carpal tunnel, the nerve is pinched in my wrist and the neuroligist recommends surgery to fix it before any damage is done to the nerve. At least the numbness is just in my hand now, and isn't in my arm, shoulder, neck, and head anymore. I am wearing a wrist brace at night, and it seems to help some, but the numbness in my hand doesn't ever go completely away. Unfortunately, I can't have the surgery done right away as DH is scheduled on Dec 14th for a complete knee replacement (his left knee is bone-on-bone and he's in a lot of pain that ibuprofen and extra strength tylenol combined don't even touch). So I'll probably get that done in February, after DH is mostly healed, but before he goes back to work (so he can take care of me, since I'm right-handed and won't be able to use that hand much for a couple of weeks).
His doctor at the VA says that, at 53 (almost 54), he's really too young for a knee replacement, but the orthopedic surgeon we saw yesterday said that since the cortisone shots and SynVisc shots didn't work, and pain meds don't help, that replacement is the only thing left to do in order to lessen the pain. Evidently, replacement doesn't always totally get rid of the pain, but most of the time, it does. DH is willing to go for it, he says anything is better than what he's dealing with right now.
The surgery isn't going to be done at the VA, they aren't doing any new surgeries because they are so far behind, so we had to find a civilian hospital to do it. Luckily, there's one in Alexandria (only 25 miles away) and the surgeon who will be doing the knee replacement trained at the VA in Minneapolis (small
Looks like DH will be off work for about 8 weeks. He has some pre-surgery exercises to do to strengthen the muscles around the knee, and then he'll probably have to go to the VA at St Cloud a couple of times a week for physical therapy after the replacement. We have a meeting about knee replacements to attend next week, an informational type thing, where they tell us what to expect in more detail, and what medications he needs to stop taking and how long before the surgery he needs to stop taking them.
We may end up paying for a couple of his visits to the surgeon, since the VA says they're only paying for one visit before surgery, the surgery itself, and one visit afterward. According to the scheduling nurse, after the surgery, there will be a visit to remove the staples (two weeks post-op), then a visit 4 weeks post-op, and another one 12 weeks post-op (and another one after a year has passed). I don't think the VA is going to want to pay for those last 3 visits, but I don't see how a PA or an ortho doc at the VA is going to be able to do the follow-up when they aren't ones who did the surgery. But, like DH says, if we have to pay for the visits, so be it, we'll find the money somewhere (probably will come out of the money we're saving on the house payment since we finally got the loan modification on the house, which is a whole 'nother post).

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