Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Doctor Schmoctor

So, I'll admit it.  I kinda glossed over an important detail in my previous post- that I hadn't visited anyone with the letters M.D. after his/her name, or even visited someone who clocked in to an office with "Orthopaedics" on the door.  My stress fracture was diagnosed by the person who knows me better than anyone-me.  I'm really good at reading, you see, and I read a lot about stress fractures, patellofemoral syndrome, stress reactions, etc.  Also, I do all my work pro bono, which is the right price for a client like me.  The thing is, though, that I am also somewhat  of a stickler for rules.  Don't get me wrong, I'm really cool and chill and down for whatever, but... okay, that's not true.  I'm not cool, chill, or down for whatever.  I like doing the right things.  I like being held accountable.  I like paying for goods and services that I get.  I don't cheat at Solitaire or at any of the Scrabblish word games I play on my phone.  As John Goodman's character put it in "The Big Lebowski":

"This is not 'nam.  This is bowling.  There are RULES!"
I could only go for so long without following the rule that had been niggling at my brain since the pain in my leg got really bad.  When you're hurt, you go to the doctor.  I do believe that the chiropractor I saw was correct in her assessment and treatment of my injury.  I am certain that my hips were/are out of alignment, which caused extra strain on the muscles, tendons, and joints in my legs, which led to pain.  She also did this spasm relief thing which I haven't exactly been able to describe, yet.  It was weird and amazing and a little frightening, but in a good way.  I plan to visit her regularly once I hit the road again, hoping that adjustments will keep me in line (har har) to prevent further injury.  I knew she couldn't treat a stress fracture, though, so I canceled my latest appointment with her and started calling Orthopaedic clinics.

Call #1:
"_________ Orthopaedic."
"Hello!  I am a new patient and I would like to make an appointment, please."
Blah blah blah name address insurance nature of injury blah blah blah
"Okay, I'm going to put you with Dr. C____.  Next Monday at 12:45"
"Oh.  That won't work."
"Or you can come in as a walk-in.  We're here until 8."
"But I wouldn't see Dr. C____?  Do you think I need to?"
"Ma'am, all our nurse practitioners and physician's assistants are highly qualified.  And, if they think you need to see Dr. C____, then we can make an appointment for you at that time."
"We're here until 8."

Call #2:
"Thank you for calling _________ Orthopaedic __________.  We are unable to take your call at this time..."

Me to Husband: 
"Well, I guess I'll go to the walk-in clinic."
"What?  Right now?"
"Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Is that not okay"
"It's just, I was hoping to go for a run."
See, I've been in a pretty nasty mood, lately.  My amazingly supportive Husband was the one who insisted I go see a doctor, as he knows how much running and the marathon-to-be mean to me.  Let us pause then, for a moment, and admire my restraint. My undying love for my husband.  My ability to talk myself out of reacting with violence in certain situations.  My remarkable skill at NOT using sarcasm as a weapon.  He doesn't deserve those things.  But seeing strangers wearing running shoes makes me angry, these days, so Husband running when I can't is a little bit of a mental challenge to overcome.
"Oh.  Kay.  Please do that now, so I can still have time to make it to the doctor before you go to work."
"Do you think I have time to go?"
"Yeah, sure.  I mean, how long do you think it will take?  Not more than an hour and a half, right?"

Clinic Visit #1:
"Hi!  I'm here as a walk-in.  Could you tell me how long the wait is, please?"
"Hm.  About an hour and a half."
"Oh.  I guess I'll have to come back."
"Okay.  We're here until 8."

Call #3:
"Thank you for calling __________ Orthopaedic ___________.  We are unable to take your call at this time..."

Call #4:
"Thank you for calling __________ Orthopaedic _________.  We are unable to take your call at this time, but if you stay on the line, someone will be with you shortly."
8 minutes later...
"__________ Orthopaedic ___________."
"Hello, I'm a new patient and I would like to make an appointment, please."
"Slip and fall?  Auto accident?"
"No, I'm a runner and I believe I have a tibial stress fracture."
"Okay... I'm not going to be able to get you in for a while."
"What you should do is go to urgent care and get an x-ray."
"Yeah.  Just have them x-ray it."
"But a stress fracture doesn't show up on an x-ray."SourceSource. Source.
Heavy sigh. "A fracture is in your bone.  An x-ray looks at your bone.  So if there's a fracture of your bone they could see it on an x-ray.  Just go to urgent care and have them x-ray it for you.  'Cause I won't be able to get you an appointment until, like, next Wednesday."

Clinic Visit #2: 

I won't go through all the dialog, this time.  The receptionists were very pleasant, the wait was very short, the nurse was funny and kind and had just started running, the x-ray tech knew left from right, and the "doctor" (actually an A.R.N.P) was a good listener.  I actually like getting x-rayed.  I think the technology (although quite old, now) is amazing, and I like the way my bones look.  (I understand that insurance companies and doctors need to see the x-ray images, even if what they think they're looking for doesn't usually show up.  I also really hate being talked down to by strangers.) It turns out they don't take a person at their word when they come in with a self-diagnosis, and they like to run tests.  The "doc" and I took a look at the images, and yes, I desperately wanted to take a picture of my bones on the screen in order to share it here.  But, that's against the rules, I'm sure.  

I can't believe I've made it this far without sharing what the "doctor" concluded:  "YOU CAN RUN AGAIN IN A DAY OR TWO."  Not 4 weeks.  Not 90 days.  Not a stress fracture, he believes.  A tibial stress fracture typically occurs about 6 inches lower and 1/2 an inch to the left of where my swelling and pain are centered.  He diagnosed my problem as Pes Anserine Bursitis of the knee.  He preached for a good long while about the benefits of stretching 2x/day, even when I'm not running.  He first said I could resume running in a week, but when I asked him again, he said to just give it a couple of days.  He shot my sore spot with cortisone, and said the two words I most wanted to hear, "Don't despair!"  I do have a back burner kind of fear that he's wrong, but I should know in a week if that's the case.  If I'm still in pain then, I'm to come back.   "God bless" the "doctor" said as I left.  Not "good luck."  I knew it!

Post Clinic Visit

After the music to my ears and the needle to my knee, I knew it would be difficult to wipe the smile off my face.  However, after a few hours, the pain in my leg was increasing, not decreasing, and I was frowning.  Okay, grimacing.  My entire leg swelled, and I was relieved to remember the words I had heard so often during the past 36 hours- "We're here until 8."  At 4:30, I called.

"Thank you for calling ___________ Orthopaedic.  We are unable to take your call at this time, but if you'll leave a message, we will get back to you as soon as possible."

I left a message, politely detailing the problem of my giant leg that hurt much worse than it had hurt before.  They didn't call back.  Eventually, Husband and I figured out that it is likely a cortisone flare, which I keep thinking of as a solar flare, since it sounds so much more important.  It should clear up in a day or two, just in time for me to start running again!

Follow the rules.  It's advice that you've been given before, I'm sure, but that's because it's the good stuff.

Would you pay for someone to make unpleasant phone calls on your behalf?  I would.

Wanna guess what ink color I used to write out my back-to-running mileage plans?  Yeah, I said 'ink.'  Because I'm going to run again.  


  1. Oh, my heck! What a series of nightmares! Keep me posted on your injury. I will pray. xo

  2. I will guess green and blue, and expect I am wrong.

    This is fine by me. The only one I want NOT TO BE WRONG is "doctor."

    Also I totally understand the negative emotions on seeing strangers in running shoes. Let's hope those are over for both of us. :)

  3. Your pain, my laughs. BTW, your bog may get me fired someday. The posts keep appearing in my email during office hours, and I am not managing to wait until I get home to read them.

    1. blog, not bog. I suppose my last post was insensitive. I'm sorry you had to go through this but your rendering of it here was hilarious.

  4. Aaaaah, someone to make unpleasant phone calls for me, would that be a personal secretary? That would be wonderful.