Medical Miracles

Me in Ojai 1999

I bought my first digital camera, a Kodak, in 1999. Although I had severe osteoarthritis in my left hip and did not dare walk without a cane, I was still pretty active, working full-time at a busy Westwood accounting firm, traveling, and even hiking on weekends. It was not without pain, however, which was to get worse until 2002, when I visited my orthopedist who asked me, while looking at my X-Ray, “Tell me, Mr. Paris, how is it you are able to walk at all?” At that point, my left leg was 1½ inches shorter than my right; and I had a few bad falls.

Within a few months, I had a hip replacement, during which my left leg was somehow lengthened to be even with my right. After my release from Cedars-Sinai and several visits to a physical therapist, I was able to walk without cane and without pain.

The surgery was nothing less than a miracle—and not even the first one in my life. Back in September 1966, I was hospitalized at Cleveland’s Fairview Park Hospital with a chromophobe adenoma, a pituitary tumor that had given me over ten years of severe frontal headaches on most days. With considerable pain, I managed to get a four-year education at an Ivy League college thinking I was just just being a coward about pain. My headaches were due to migraines, a “lazy eye,” hay fever—you name it! It was only when I got the mother of all headaches, one that segued into a coma, that my doctors figured out there was something else happening. In those days,it was not easy to look inside the body except via X-Rays, and X-Rays did not show tumors.

Fortunately, my family doctor just happened to be an endocrinologist who managed to guess I had a pituitary tumor. The surgery was one which typically killed the patient, turned him into a paralytic or a blind man. I was the first person ever to have my pituitary accessed through the brain without dying or becoming totally disabled. And the headaches are totally gone, except for an occasional small one that responds well to aspirin.

 

 

Pain for the Holidays

Looks Like I Did It Again

What is it with me and broken bones? I broke each of my shoulders once, the first time in Tierra Del Fuego, the second time right in front of my apartment. Now it appears I fractured my rib(s) when I tripped on an uneven sidewalk in Westwood on Tuesday. It doesn’t hurt at all, unless I cough, sneeze, hiccup, stand up, sit down, reach for something on or near the ground, reach for something high up, burp, yawn , fart … and so on ad infinitum.  When I do any of those things, there is a sharp stab of pain on my right side.

My guess is that it’ll take six or more weeks for the pain to subside. For this sort of thing, there is no treatment except to tolerate the pain as best as possible. I am wearing something called a “Rib Belt,” which is a stretchy velcro affair that I wrap tight around the affected area. It seems to help some. Also, I take occasional aspirins (acetominophen doesn’t do anything for me), hot compresses (after the first 48 hours), cold compresses, and Martine’s tender loving care, while it is still available to me.

Wish me luck! My Kwanzaa bids fair to be ruined for this year.

 

Just Icing My Shoulders

My Blogs Will Be Back Soon

My Blogs Will Be Back Soon

With luck, my home computer will be back online tomorrow. As for tonight, I’ll just ice my shoulders, thank you! I’m not having much of a pain problem with my fracture—except when I’m trying to sleep. Then it throbs and various pains emerge along my arms and legs. Not at all pleasant! A week from today, the orthopedist will see me again and rule on my progress, if any.

The Traveling Cripple

In 2001, I Traveled with a Cane—In Considerable Pain

In 2001, I Traveled with a Cane—In Considerable Pain

When I went to Iceland in 2001 (and yes, this will be the last you will hear about my 2001 trip), I was in considerable pain from a severe case of osteoarthritis in my left femoral head. I had hobbled around with that arthritis ever since 1967, the year after I had my brain surgery. Once my pituitary gland was removed and I started taking hormones, I began to grow again. Unfortunately, my left hip joint did not take too kindly to the changes taking place to my body.

By the year 1997 or 1998, I was using a cane. People would constantly ask me why I was standing up when there was a nearby chair. I would answer them by saying because the pain of getting up was far worse than the mere inconvenience of standing. (I can still stand still for long periods of time without discomfort)

Things got worse when I landed in Iceland in August 2001. Of course, pain or no pain, it didn’t stop me from being active. The only effect was, on the two days of touring with my guide Illugi, I had to avoid climbing a particular hill and taking a trail around lava formations near Dettifoss. Otherwise, I was still pretty game.

Pain is one of those things which I can tolerate in fairly high doses. Not that I want to, but it is usually better than the alternative. Now that Martine is in pain from fibromyalgia (or something that looks and behaves very much like fibromyalgia), I tried to explain this to her; but she wasn’t buying it. Every person has his or her own acceptable threshold of pain, and mine just happens to be higher. Is it because I have been in fairly acute physical pain ever since my childhood—first from a pituitary tumor pressing on my optic nerve, and then from osteoarthritis? Only in the last ten years or so have I been as free of pain as I was when I was ten.

The photo above shows Lake Mÿvatn from my window at the Ferðaþjónustan Bjarg. (Don’t try to pronounce this without a Icelander present … or I should say don’t try to pronounce this with an Icelander present.) Notice the tents between the guesthouse and the lake’s edge.

Many campers don’t like the Bjarg and regard the management as unfriendly. I gained points when registering for one of the two rooms in the guesthouse by asking, “Wasn’t the name of Grettir Asmundarsson’s family home in West Iceland called Bjarg?” Not only was the owner shocked that an American knew this, but I quickly found that he was a big time fan of Grettir’s Saga and named his son Illugi (my guide) after Grettir’s youngest brother.

I loved the Bjarg Guesthouse. It had only two bedrooms, but a big kitchen, where I sat eating harðfiskur with fresh Icelandic butter spread on it. There was also a nice living room which I had to myself when I stayed there.