Medical update

Like just about every doctor visit I’ve had for the past couple of months, my trip to the oral surgeon today brought good news and bad news.

The good news was that the bone grafts are healing as expected. The bad news is that I might need another … or even two. By nature, bone grafts are inefficient. A large portion of the bone added during a graft simply doesn’t latch on. Over time, as a graft heals, the new bone structure tends to get smaller.

The problem with that, in this case, is that the graft was necessary to replace jawbone that I lost when four of my front teeth were torn from my mouth (and two were dislodged enough that they had to be extracted). Until that minimum amount is reached, implants can’t be properly anchored. It would be like building a house on a half-completed foundation; it just wouldn’t turn out well.

Any graft involves a significant amount of swelling, so a couple of months have to pass before a graft can be judged accurately. I had the upper jaw done April 22, which was about seven weeks ago. Now, the gums have healed a bit. In two weeks, I’ll go back up the highway (about 50 miles) to have another CT scan; that will determine whether I need another graft on the top. The doctor says the odds are about 50-50.

As of this week, I’ve begun electrical stimulation therapy on my right hand, specifically for my right middle finger, where a fracture hasn’t healed correctly. The therapy involves wearing a small padded coil on my hand that is hooked to a rechargeable battery pack. The wearable part wraps around my whole hand, which effectively prohibits me from doing just about anything while wearing it. The goal is to use it for three hours a day, though the company literature says the real goal is 10 hours a day. Ten hours a day seems realistic only if I could wear it while I sleep, which is all but impossible for a light sleeper like me.

There’s also a big question as to how effective this type of therapy is. Doctors don’t agree on everything, and they definitely don’t agree on this. My hand doctor, a leader in his field, doesn’t put any faith in it but prescribed it anyway because, hey, why the hell not? Another doctor who looked at my X-rays is in favor of the therapy (though I didn’t get to meet him in person). And I talked to my oral surgeon today about it, too; he said he’s had two cases over his many decades in medicine that involved electrical stimulation therapy, and it was effective in healing the bone in both cases.

Court update: After two lengthy delays, the perpetrator was finally formally arraigned in Baltimore Circuit Court about two weeks ago. The trial is scheduled for July 29.

I need to say again what I tell everyone nowadays: If you don’t carry some sort of self-defense device with you, especially if you are out and about at night, start doing so today. Pepper spray gives you the most for your money (~$10). And if it’s legal, a stun gun pairs nicely with that. Pepper spray is legal in all 50 states, and it’s very effective. In the hands of a quick-thinking student at Seattle Pacific University last week, it stopped a gunman who’d shot four people, killing one. Stun guns aren’t legal everywhere, though — they’re banned in Baltimore and a couple of the surrounding counties, as well as Philadelphia and Washington, and eight states have fully outlawed them.

On that note, isn’t it ironic that stun guns would be banned in a few cities where everyday citizens would need them the most? Outlawing a nonlethal self-defense device just isn’t a good way promote safety. I suppose that part of the logic is to keep them out of the hands of criminals who would use them against the police, but if a criminal wants a stun gun (or any other device) badly enough, he’ll find a way to get his hands on it.

I’ve heard more than a few times the platitude “Bad things can happen anywhere,” and it’s true, but there is a counterpoint: Preparation can happen anywhere. And that preparation could very well be the only thing that cancels out a bad thing from happening.

 

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  1. The graft and the gift | Jon's Story - October 22, 2014

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