Tough Decisions

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It’s so difficult making medical decisions even when you have all the information on hand. It’s even worse when the doctor either says “Well, the tests came out fine, but…” or “You could do this procedure but it may not improve your pain.” How do you decide what is best when it seems like none of the choices are all that great?

A relative was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer. The surgery went great. They removed the tumor. The lymph nodes are all negative–no abnormal cells. But, now they are worried about whether abnormal cells are on what they call “the highways”. They offered her radiation (5 1/2 intensive weeks) or the wait and see approach with CT scans every 3 months. What would you decide?

On a lesser scale, I faced something like this with my arthritis about 10 years ago. If you’ve been reading the blog and my website, you know that my feet are a mess. I’m bone on bone in many joints. Surgery came up several times. They would do bone fusion and insert pins in certain places. It had some God awful recovery period of 4-5 months (non-weight bearing, that is) The dilemma was they could not guarantee I would be out of pain or that I could walk any better afterward. I spoke to some folks who had similar surgery. It seemed once one joint was fused, it had a cascading affect. Each person had multiple surgeries.

The last doctor I talked to said he would not recommend it unless I couldn’t walk at all. Well, that was debatable. If you could call what I was doing walking, then it qualified! I decided to hold my breath and take my chances. I do muscle strengthening and range of motion exercises every day. I am still walking. In fact, I take two 10-15 minute walks a day with my dog.

I won’t say that I am perfect. I don’t have pain free days. There are days where my toes are buzzing and I have stabbing pain coming up through the bottom of my feet. But, I’m still moving. I can’t do alot of things. But I can get to the bathroom, enjoy a walk with my dog–as long as I am careful.

In my case, 10 years have passed and I am still moving around. I could not predict this outcome 10 years ago. Same with my relative. She is taking her chances either way. No matter what she decides there are risks involved and second guessing. It never gets any easier, does it?

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