I had an early appointment with the specialist that performed my hip replacement surgery this morning, so I’m late getting back to you.
That’s not all I had going this am. I also stepped across the street from Moffitt Cancer Center’s main clinic building to visit the psych department. I’m serious about following-up and seeking therapy. I think it might help me take a step back, focus and relax a bit.
Let me back-up and start from the beginning. This was my three month post surgical check. OK, so it has only been ten weeks. I was anxious to meet with Dr. Cheong and get the go-ahead to resume unrestricted activities.
Dr. David Cheong isn’t your average surgeon. Working out of the Sarcoma Department at Moffitt, he is an orthopedic surgeon that specializes working with–and removing–tumors in bone and soft tissue. He’s the guy you go to if you need a rod inserted in your cancer-ravaged leg or arm. That’s why I turned to him. I knew whoever did my surgery was going to need to cut right through the middle of a golf ball sized hole, the result of a lesion that was destroyed by radiation two and a half years ago.
If something went wrong I knew he would be the guy to fix it. Fortunately, my bone was sound, didn’t shatter and everything turned-out OK. Better than OK. My new hip works great and so much of the pain I endured as part of my everyday life is gone.
Dr. Cheong was kind enough to visit with me between surgeries. He did cautiously say I could resume using normal activities, as long as I don’t flex, bend and twist the new joint all at the same time.
But that wasn’t his take away message. Because of my history as a stem cell transplant recipient–and the fact I still have a tendency to become immune compromised–Dr. Cheong stressed how important it was to be careful. Any cut or scrape could be an invitation for infection to sneak into my body and migrate up to my new hip. I didn’t realize what an infection risk artificial joints can be; especially for a multiple myeloma survivor like me.
Last week I strolled into the dentist office expecting to have my teeth cleaned. In less than five minutes the hygienist had booted my butt out of her chair and sent me on my way. “Come back in three months–and don’t forget to take 2000 mg amoxicillin an hour before your appointment.” She sternly reminded me.
I hadn’t even given it a second thought. Since dropping Revlimid from my treatment regimen six months ago, my blood counts have pretty much stayed in the normal range.
Dr. Cheong shared a few horror stories with me; tales of infected joints and multiple follow-up surgeries. He finished-up and I thanked him as he watched me walking limp free toward the waiting room, a big smile on his face.
I just kept walking, all the way across the street to the psych department. I had been there before. Moffitt requires all transplant patients pass a psychological exam prior to admission. I asked the receptionist, “How does a Moffitt (cancer) patient sign-up for counseling?” “You’ll need a referral from your doctor.” She replied.
“Which one?” I thought as I headed back to the main building. After all, I had now worked with Sarcoma, Cutaneous Oncology for my melanoma, BMT for my transplant and of course, Hematology.
The obvious choice is to get a referral from my myeloma specialist, Dr. Melissa Alsina. Here is a copy of the email I sent to Dr. Alsina after I returned home:
I just met with Dr. Cheong for a surgical follow-up. All is OK and my hip is doing great! But I have been struggling a bit emotionally lately. My father is in hospice and I have been splitting time between here and his home in Rockford, Illinois. The travel has left me tired and anxious. As you know, I help myeloma patients through my books, blogging, my Myeloma Beacon column and traveling to speak with support groups. I also answer dozens of emails from patients and caregivers daily. It can all be overwhelming–especially when I’m spending so much time away. This week Pattie pointed-out that I seemed more scattered and forgetful than normal. I have often wondered if therapy might help me. When I stopped over to see someone, they insisted I get a referral from you. Could you do that for me, please? Thanks much! Pat
Once they have my referral, my insurance clearances will be checked (I’m interested to learn what insurance will or will not pay for) and hopefully I can get started.
I’m feeling pretty good today; both emotionally and physically. Some days are better than others. I suspect most of you feel the same way. I’ll keep you updated.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat