Normally I wouldn’t write about this subject but it raises an interesting question in my mind that I don’t know how to answer. I guess I can categorize it under stewardship so it can be classified as something I typically discuss. It begins with an experience.
A few months ago my right elbow started causing me a great deal of pain when I had to use it for anything significant. As you probably know, I spent the majority of my life walking on crutches and now using a wheelchair since my legs have never worked properly. The consequence is that my arms and shoulders have endured more than their share of wear and tear. The elbow in question is the one I have used for years to help me stand up and to transfer from one seat to another. To say the least, it has endured a lot of use, so I was not surprised when it began to hurt.
For several years my father has had a painful knee and has gone through the typical pain shots and medications. Like many people with a worn out knee, he was told the only treatment left was a knee replacement. He was actually in the process of scheduling surgery when he stumbled upon an alternative. A clinic near his house advertised an option. He investigated and was told a series of shots into his knee would eliminate the pain. Having nothing to lose other than the six hundred dollars for the shots, he gave it a try.
By the way, the clinic even offered to refund his money if it did not work. Try to run that one past an orthopedic surgeon. The procedure is not covered by Medicare.
Within a week his knee began to feel better. By the time he had the second shot at the end of two weeks, the pain was almost gone. It has now been several months and he is pain free. I’ll be honest. When he told me on the phone that he was going to try the shots, I was skeptical. However, I know he was not eager to have knee replacement surgery (he only has one leg by the way) so I encouraged him to give it a try. The six hundred dollars was not going to cause him financial difficulties.
He called and suggested that I find a doctor nearby who could do the same thing for my elbow. Daddy even offered to pay for the treatments. Why not? Nothing to lose. So, I went online, did some basic research, and found a local doctor who offered the treatments. I scheduled an appointment in hopes I might experience the same thing.
The doctor examined my elbow, found the location of the pain and confidently proclaimed I was a good candidate to experience pain relief. He painlessly injected my elbow two times with a mixture of Lidocaine, concentrated Dextrose, Morrhuate, and Vitamin B12. Nothing magic here. Look it up – it is essentially fish oil and corn sugar.
He suggested I might have some discomfort in a few days. He gave me his cell phone number in case of a problem but assured me, very confidently, that I would not.
There was no soreness the first few days which caused me to wonder if it was going to do anything. However, within a week, my elbow was feeling better. It still hurt when I used it but noticeably less. From that point on, the pain has reduced every day. As I approach the time for a second series of injections I anticipate having the same experience as my father, pain free after the shots.
It’s a good news story, but it has caused me to wonder about the whole medical industry. Are there treatments and therapy for other conditions that are not promoted by doctors? Why does medical insurance not want to pay for less expensive treatments? The nearest I can tell, more than a half a million knee replacements are done in this country each year. If this new therapy worked on just half of these folks, imagine the cost savings as well as the pain and inconvenience that would be reduced.
I am not one who normally gravitates to alternative medicine but I stumbled onto something that seems to work. How come stuff like this is not tried more frequently? It seems like my insurance company would be willing to risk a few hundred dollars in an attempt to save the tens of thousands of dollars a joint replacement operation would cost.
Recently, a friend at church told us about a cancer doctor in Germany who is doing some amazing things that are not allowed in this country. We have all heard similar stories and I don’t know what it means. I am not naïve to the factors that have contributed to the hesitancy that exists in our medical industry. Lawsuits, huge profits for doctors and insurance companies, government regulations, and other factors make it difficult for new treatments and medicines to be utilized.
In the meantime, I plan to enjoy my pain free elbow while I commiserate over the news I received this week that my health insurance premiums will increase by more than ten percent next year. The increase would more than cover the cost of the treatment on my elbow. Has anyone ever thought about health care reform in this country?