CHESAPEAKE,Va. - You can see the toll rheumatoid arthritis has taken on GailOzmon just by looking at her crippled hands. Doctors have replacednearly every one of Ozmon's joints.
Ozmon says she's had both hips, both knees and both ankle jointsreplaced.
In the past, the only option to control pain after surgery wasnarcotics like morphine, which often makes patients nauseous, itchyand unable to urinate.
However, when Ozmon had her second ankle surgery in June, heranesthesiologist tried something new.
"Kind of like novocaine, when a dentist would inject your mouth,but your injecting into the peripheral nerves in the body andnumbing certain areas of the body,"said Dr. Dean Giacobbe.
Using a pump and a plastic tube, Dr. Giacobbe says he canprovide pain relief for up to five days after surgery.
"We just dial in a rate of how much we want to go in per hour,"added Dr. Giacobbe.
Soldiers were among the first to use this technique in Iraq. DrGiacobbe, a former Navy doctor says for the first time in this war,many soldiers survived attacks, but ended up with devastating limbinjuries.
They'd get morphine in Iraq then be put on long flights toGermany where they'd arrive in excruciating pain. Army generalsasked doctors to solve the problem and they came up with what'scalled "peripheral nerve block."
"Now several of us have gotten out and our group here atChesapeake Medical Center is all ex-Navy Anesthesiologists andwe've brought that technology here," said Dr. Giacobbe.
Ozmon says she had none of the side effects she suffered withmorphine and recovered faster. "I was even able to wiggle mytoes and not feel any pain," said Ozmon.
Now, she is actually looking forward to having her hands done,and holding her grandchildren.
There are not many published studies on the peripheral painblock technique but the risks appear to be that of infection andnerve damage. Doctors say the risk is actually going down with theuse of ultrasound machines, so they can see exactly where they'reinjecting the tubing.
A company has been hired to complete the repairs to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks, but how long those repairs will take remains unknown.
State officials say construction on a new Bonner Bridge has been delayed for years because of a legal battle with an environmental group.
Michelle Price with Newport News Public Schools told WAVY.com at least three city school buses ran substantially late Wednesday afternoon, delivering children home several hours after dismissal.