I thought my relationship with Resurgens Orthopaedics would be more of an affair than a long-term thing. I was wrong.
You may remember the story of how it all started. Perhaps you read about the incident involving two dogs, one leash, a fire hydrant and Hailey, which I blogged about twice: after the fall, when I believed I was healing, and after my first visit with Dr. Dantuluri.
Throughout the fall and early winter of 2018, I practiced patience and humility as my left thumb remained immobilized for four weeks until it healed. When my students laughed at my barely legible notes on the white board, I laughed with them and called for volunteers to serve as stenographers. I doubled-down on this spiritual practice for another six weeks, as I slowly regained dexterity and strength through occupational therapy. When Elspeth squeezed my hand and told me I was finished with rehab, I was filled with gratitude.
I cried tears of joy and relief as I thought, I’ll never return to Resurgens.
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About six months ago, I found myself waiting to see Dr. Kao at Resurgens about the swelling in my left knee. I’d put off getting x-rays because I wasn’t in any pain and I already knew my diagnosis—Grandma’s knees, to match Grandma’s hands—and I didn’t want to hear the doctor’s diagnosis of osteoarthritis.
She recommended that I continue working out and start icing my knees twice daily. My right knee, which was knobby like the left but not swollen, would also benefit from this treatment. I scheduled a follow-up appointment and went home to ice my knees. Sitting on the couch, I remembered going to the beach with my Grandma, who claimed swimming in the ocean was the best thing for stiff and swollen joints.
Six weeks later, Dr. Kao was not terribly concerned when the swelling hadn’t abated:
If it gets worse, or you have any pain, come back to see me.
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Some time in the fall, I noticed my right thumb was swollen—its knuckle looked knobby—and I was reminded of my broken left thumb from four years earlier. It didn’t hurt at all when I bent it and I was pretty sure I hadn’t injured it. Still, my hand was swollen near the wrist and hurt when I tried to twist open the tightly sealed SodaStream bottles.
I knew I should see Dr. Dantuluri, but I waited until late December to request a referral from my primary care physician and call Resurgens to schedule an appointment for January 6th.
It appears the swelling has subsided some, and the x-rays and consultation went as expected. Dr. Dantuluri confirmed I have mild osteoarthritis and recommended a shot of cortisone. While explaining how he’d administer the shot and how I’d apply counterpressure to minimize discomfort, he broke the news gently:
You’re going to have to wear a splint for six weeks to keep your hand immobilized. Not 24-7, but as much as possible.
This afternoon I returned to Resurgens, so Elspeth could outfit me with a splint to stabilize my carpometacarpal (CMC) joint.
On the one hand, I feel relieved I don’t need medication or surgery, fortunate to have health insurance that covers this treatment and any therapy I may need after these next six weeks. I feel grateful for the excellent care I get at Resurgens.
On the other hand, I’m feeling ambivalent about my long-term relationship with osteoarthritis.