About four and a half years ago I began to explore how to go about starting my own blog. Four years ago on June 13th I had the first surgery by my (current) surgeon, Dr. M, which involved the removal of ALL of the diseased bone in my left leg. At that time I had no way of knowing if this particular surgeon would actually be able to do what he claimed he could. See at that that point I had already had 6 surgeries on my left leg at two different doctors, seen over a dozen surgeons many at leading teaching hospitals, and spent well over a years worth of time IN the hospital in the two years since this problem (for lack of a better term) began.
The three previous surgeons who had operated on me had all said that they could “fix, solve, or cure” the problem, but none had. I was told that amputation was my only option. Only after inquiring was I given names of other specialty surgeons who might be able to help me. Dr. M was literally the very last surgeon I saw after the third operating surgeon told me that my only option for any sort of quality of life was an above the knee amputation. Of the list of about 12 surgeons that I saw that time around for a second opinion only TWO said that it might be possible to save my leg. I believe one advocated having my leg permanently fused straight which I had already decided was NOT a feasible option for me and that I would rather have an amputation than a fusion. Imagine trying to seat in the front seat, much less drive a car with your left leg permanently straight!
Both my pain management and infectious disease doctors thought that there MUST be a way to save my leg, but neither had any idea of where to go. It took a couple months to even get an appointment with Dr. M as I had been told he was moving to Palm Springs. I was ready to follow as I truly had NO where else to go in state. So finally at the beginning of December 2010 I met Dr. M. We heard so many great stories from his other patients while we waited in the excruciatingly TINY office. I’ve never before or since ever seen so many patients pleasantly chatting with each other exchanging “war” stories during the often multiple hours long wait Thankfully the wait time has been much improved from then when I had heard it wasn’t uncommon to wait 6-8 hours to see the doctor. It can still be quite a long wait at 2 or more hours, but I learned quickly how worth the wait it was.
Dr. M actually took the time to LISTEN to my history. He also took the time to explain to me how his approach differs from most orthopedic surgeons, the multiple surgical steps involved, and what options I had. I told him about my need for having a way out that would allow me to have the longest residual limb (stump) IF need the amputation arose. He explained how traditionally orthopedic would use a long rough (like sandpaper) textured stem that would run up the center of the femur nearly to the hip. He also said that when a stem like that has to be removed/replaced it there was a high risk of the femur shattering. I told him that, that was a fear of mine. He said that since he uses custom made internal prosthetic devices that he would recommend a short stem with a smooth texture. That way when (not if, as I am quite a bit younger than the typical age of his patients and would likely need 2-3 replacements as at most they only last a total of 15- 20 years with periodic maintenance surgeries) the upper portion needed replacing that it would protect the rest of the femur. Plus it gave me a way out which I desperately needed then.
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