The past two months have been rather hard for me. Since 2010 my right wrist has really bothered me. There have been times where it would swell so badly I would not be able to use it for a couple of weeks. I’ve mentioned this to my previous doctors, but nothing was ever done about it. I was simply told to let it rest.
Last year, five years later, the pain had progressed to the point where the entire arm would hurt, Using my camera and allowing it to simply rest was no longer an option or a real solution. There were times I was not able to hold a glass or even a pen to write with. By this time, I had a new doctor who actually listened and heard what I was saying and took into consideration the fact that photography is a source of income to support myself as well as a vital tool in my overall health and wellbeing.
Immediately (same day) Dr. Adams sent me for x-rays and within two weeks he referred me to an Orthopedic surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC. The slowdown was Medi-Cal, but eventually it was approved and I was able see Dr. Stevanovic who determined that I needed to have surgery to correct the damage to my hand.
After waiting about a month or so, Medi-Cal approved me for surgery and on February 11, 2016, six years after mentioning it several times to two different doctors who said nothing was wrong and that I should simply allow it to rest, I had orthopedic surgery on my right hand.
The surgery was successful and USC treated me very well. The first three weeks after surgery my arm was in a splint, but now it is in a full cast past my elbow. The pain after surgery was pretty mild, but I’m sure this is because I had a nerve block which I could control the drip for, plus some great pain meds. The party was over once the nerve block ran out. The Norco alone was fine, but it made me sleep all day.
It’s been a little over a week in the full cast and I go to get it changed tomorrow, but I have to be very honest and say this has not been easy for me and I’ve gained a whole new respect for people who only have one arm or leg. Even though I know this is temporary, I freaked out a bit before my surgery wondering what would go wrong.
As many of you know photography is how I support myself and it plays a huge role in my daily life, along with my dogs Daisy and Dodger. So not being able to hold or use my camera has been a major adjustment and has even ushered in some depression. I’ve had to heavily rely on close and loyal friends for help with meals, walking my dogs and bathing. Thank God for my small circle of friends because without them all I’d really have is a bunch of “likes” on Facebook which at the end of the day mean little. I’m so incredibly thankful for my actual friends who’ve been amazing.
More importantly, I’m so thankful to Dr. Adams for actually doing something and making sure my quality of life is great. I’ve been his patient for just over two years. I was ready to give up on care before changing my doctor and clinic and now because of his great care my hand will be just like new.
I guess the point I’m making is how very important it is for us living with HIV to remain proactive and vigilant about our overall health and wellbeing. That includes making certain our case managers, clinics, nurses and doctors fully understand that a completely healthy life goes far beyond swallowing a pill and showing up for blood draws. Our lives are far bigger than HIV and we deserve their full attention and care when it comes to our complete and whole health and wellbeing.
Now can a sexy, strong man with lots of muscles come walk my dogs, give me a long hot bubble bath, then run me down with hot oil?