Monday, February 21, 2011

My fear of AVN (confirmed)

A few months ago I wrote this...

My fear of AVN.

It's been a while since I wrote a blog. As I was struggling with ideas I came up with this one which indirectly relates to the title of my blog page - Dainty Bones. I was pretty obsessed with this condition after my hip injury. One of the first things I was told (in between morphine hits) was that I could qualify for this disease. It's called Avascular Necrosis. This is what it is:
Osteonecrosis is bone death caused by poor blood supply to the area. It is most common in the hip and shoulder.
Avascular necrosis; Osteonecrosis; Ischemic bone necrosis; AVN; Aseptic necrosis
Osteonecrosis occurs when part of the bone does not get blood and dies. After a while the bone can break off. If this condition is not treated, bone damage gets worse. Eventually, the affected part of the bone may collapse"

The doctor's assistant came in and drew me a little diagram on a sheet of paper. It's not a hard condition to understand. What I don't like about this is you don't know if you are out of the woods, or, safe from getting it until about 2 years after the injury. My two year mark will coming soon, in May of 2011. Thankfully I'm not feeling a lot of pain, but I am feeling something. This could be because of the cold whether - compression screws. Another positive is that my doctor, who did a swell job on my hip BTW (I'm close to the same flexibility), said I have a 75% chance of being alright.

But what if I'm not?

I get my hip replaced. That's a pretty serious deal. I read Bo Jackson (in his 30s), Prince and Eddie Van Halen had it done. My co-worker had it done. He's in his 60's. He's up and around and feeling great.

The thing that is scary is that they get rid of much of your upper femur and pound a fake artificial joint in there in the bone. That requires a big incision and blood thinner medication to stop clots (rat poison!). The recovery time is remarkably short though. I was laid up and in pain for almost 2 months. My co-worker said he was putting weight on it in 3 weeks.

Hopefully this won't be an issue but I'll probably blog about it if it is.
Well, here's an update:
First of, as a self-absorbed drama queen I feel it's quite necessary to tell you how my doctor's appointment went. I had one on Friday.
The good news.
I'm not in any great pain. Also, that thing between my thighs showed up really nice and fatty, bigger than the one hanging up in the kitchen. That felt good to see. And I was at least able to hang my head high as a man. A woman later that night told me I was "strong", but that's for a different blog somewhere down the road.
The bad news.
Turns out some minor flattening was occurring in the hip ball. Ever so small, yet ever so ominous. This of course means that I have AVN. I join some good company with some great alcoholics, though I'm not one myself (I've been blessed with a delicate stomach, but also cursed w/delicate bones, and my hip break is what caused it.). Eddie Van Halen, Prince, and Bo Jackson all have this. I'm not sure if Prince went through the replacement yet or not. He needs both replaced but he is a Jehovah's Witness and that's against his religion (blood transfusions).
(Read above if you want to know about AVN). This kind of ruined my day as I felt things were coming together nicely.
Another weird thing is that the screw that held my femoral neck together is close to poking out through the ball. When more, expected flattening occurs, it will come through. I asked the doctor about how that would feel. He gave me a smile, I think he wanted to laugh (why is excruciating pain so funny to doctors?), and said, "you'll know when this happens."
This means, in the near future those "pins" or screws will have to be removed hollowing out my femoral neck where they once were. This means about 6 weeks walking on crutches so it doesn't break again and until the bone grows back. I hope they don't put me on rat poison, I don't think they will.
All of this means I will most likely need a full replacement at my tender young age of thirty something. They may send me to a specialist to see if there are any alternatives. Hip resurfacing seemed like a nice option but my bone density will most likely not allow for it.
On the bright side, I will probably feel a lot pretty good after this whole bullshit is over with. I have gotten used to this nagging pain which is actually quite tolerable. I'm just not looking forward to getting cut open yet again. Morphine through the veins is always pleasant though.


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