Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Second Opinions

Mom's had a bum knee for a few years that's gotten progressively worse. It's to the point now where to walk comfortably she needs a cortisone shot. Total knee replacement is inevitable and she is now an excellent candidate for the surgery. She went to see a physician who was recommended to her by her doctor. With a near absence of customer service, he told her she'd be back to work in two weeks. And he could probably schedule her for surgery some time in the next few months.

Total knee replacement is an incredibly invasive procedure. It hurts. A lot. And the only way through the pain is to keep moving. Lots of physical therapy, before and immediately after. To say that someone could be back to work in two weeks is ludicrous according to my dear friend Ken who works in a physical therapy clinic. "8-12 weeks is more like it," he told me. "And those stairs in her house? She won't be able to use them for a few weeks either."

We went off to see a new surgeon today. I refused to let the first surgeon work on her. This second opinion was the right way to go - the doctor spent a lot of time with her, answered all her questions and concerns (and mine), and gave her the straight story about what she could and should expect. 8-12 weeks off from work and yes, she'd be best off to go to a nursing facility for a few weeks right after the surgery. Oh, and he can perform the surgery as early as May 18th. He recommended a class for her to go to at our local hospital's joint clinic run by a top-notch physical therapist who will answer all of her questions. She left actually looking forward to total knee replacement.

On the train home, I thought a lot about second opinions and the importance of getting them for so many situations in our lives. It's easy and less time consuming to snag the closest opinion and run with it. It's easier still to not seek out any opinions and just do whatever we want. The value of two or more opinions is that you get a few different views of the world from varying vantage points and levels of experience.

With these remarkably uncertain times we're living in right now, the value of second opinions can't be overstated. We need to take a 360 degree look at every challenge and decision we're facing and opinions from different, non-associated parties can help us do that. It's advice we can all use, whether we're considering a new knee, a new job, a new city, a new relationship. After all, "none of us is as smart as all of us."


Laura Cococcia said...

Christa - I love this post! It made me think about more than just "second opinions" in the tradition medicine sense, but how there are so many aspects of our lives that really need others' input, since we're so interconnected. Thanks for sharing this!

Christa said...

Thanks, Laura! So glad you liked the post. Every day I grow to appreciate the input of others more and more.