Mondays with Morie–Episode 42–Pain in the Rear?

For over a year now, my husband has been battling with back and hip pain. He started out last year with his primary care doctor, who referred him to a clinic for a pain shot. Over the course of last year, I think he had three or four pain shots in his back and hip, but nothing seemed to work for very long. Finally, his PC sent him to an orthopedic surgeon. The orthopedic surgeon said he didn’t do back repair and sent him to a neurosurgeon. The Neurosurgeon said before he would contemplate any type of surgery, Earl would have to get physical therapy and be referred to a Pain Management doctor. So, he did those things and had started with a series of pain injections with the pain management doctor when Covid stopped our world.  After the three month hiatus when people just had to suffer, the pain management doctor began seeing patients again and Earl went back for another pain shot in his back. The doctor said that if this worked, the next step would be the implantation of a device that would prevent the pain signals from the brain getting to the nerves. Earl and I had discussed earlier that he probably should ask to have an MRI of his hip to make sure the problem wasn’t his hip before he decided to have the surgery on his back.

And sure enough, the MRI revealed he has a partially torn gluteal tendon; a pain in his butt (sort of). The pain management doctor then referred Earl to another Orthopedic surgeon, whose office was right down the hall from his office. We were able to get an appointment relatively soon because, as some of us have found out, if the doctor makes the call for you, you generally don’t have to wait three to six weeks for an appointment. The day of his orthopedic appointment arrived and we met with the surgeon. We did not get off to a good start because the pain management doctor, who had the MRI and had made the referral, had not sent the MRI disc to the ortho’s office. And, of course, as these things go, no one in the pain management doctor’s office could find the MRI disc. The orthopedic doc decided to have an x-ray done on Earl’s hip. The x-ray only showed that he had arthritic changes as you would expect in a person seventy-five old (or as the orthopedic surgeon referred to him as “north of seventy”). This doctor who shushed me and patted my knee, decided he could do nothing for Earl except give him another shot since he did not have the MRI. It was one of those days where I did not handle things well and actually told the doctor when he patted my knee and said he hadn’t meant to upset me that I wasn’t upset, I was pissed off. I ended up leaving the appointment and sitting in the truck.

But the one good thing that came of it was that this surgeon, who said he doesn’t even do surgery on tendons and ligaments, referred Earl to a sports medicine doctor who specializes in soft tissue injuries. He did; however, caution Earl that this doctor generally did not take patients over 50. Oh Boy.

We waited three weeks for the appointment and luckily we loved the doctor and he agreed that Earl had only two options for his torn gluteal medius tendon; live with the pain or have it surgically repaired. That was no-brainer. So his surgery is scheduled for two weeks from today. Wow. He will be in a hip brace for six weeks and will have to use a walker because he will be prohibited from full weight bearing on that leg.

We rounded out our morning by having breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then driving the thirty miles to the VA Hospital so Earl could turn in his broken hearing aid. But continuing with the “pain in the rear” theme, once we got there we were told they aren’t taking any walk-ins. He would either have to make an appointment or he mail his hearing aid in for repair.

I’ll have at least one more Monday as we will be in Stafford, Virginia next week for my son’s wedding and will be touring some of the historic civil war battle sites. But after that, our Mondays with Morie excursions will likely come to an end, at least for the foreseeable future. The long list I had continued to compile for all the places around St. Louis that I wanted to visit, will have to wait. But I’m so thankful that relief for Earl’s pain is hopefully not far in the future. He’ll have a couple hard weeks ahead and as long as I can keep him from feeling bad that he can’t physically contribute to the upkeep of the house, things should be fine.  I’ll keep you updated on his progress which will probably be Mondays with Morie–Recovery 101.

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