After a hiatus of visiting various orthopedists (and a hiatus from blogging…life has been busier than usual) I will head to a new doctor next week and follow up that consultation with cocktails with my general orthopedist (one can only hope).
In a previous post, I discussed how I’ve seen foot and ankle specialists in several corners of the country. I also acknowledged that the ability to do so, while financially draining and emotionally exhausting, constitutes access that many people do not have. I expressed my gratitude for having the option to explore the medical terrain. And I do remain grateful.
However, I have come to realize the issues that arise when one has a quasi-unlimited number of doctors to visit. Where do you draw the line? When do you decide that you have a permanent impairment that will likely not be fixed by a nascent surgery? Is stopping the search “giving up” or is it a positive step towards accepting a physical — and consequently a social — reality?
I would gladly go to him for a visit.
I remain in a liminal place: the daily pain I experience and the extent to which this hurt and limited mobility restrict my life lead me to continue a no-holds-barred search to find the doctor that will cure me. Yet at the same time, a part of me is tired of this rat race and the perpetual process of getting hopes up, having them squashed, and blurting out obscenities about orthopedic surgeons during the car ride home.
In 4.5 years, I have come to control my wishes upon entering a doctor’s office. I acknowledge that the doctor will likely disappoint me; he (and a few she’s) will not have an answer.
This coping mechanism of sorts has recently turned into jadedness. I am jaded: “tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something” (Apple Dictionary).
I’ve had too many doctors. And not one of them is named McDreamy.
A mundane event occurred this past weekend during a family gathering, yet it left me pondering several questions that don’t seem so run of the mill.
On a pleasant spring day, my cousins and their children strolled to the neighborhood park. I love nice weather, parks, playing with kids, and I had nothing else to do aside from rest on the couch while intermittently checking my email on a smart phone with suboptimal 3G. I wanted to join the park group, especially because these family members live across the country and seeing them is a special treat, but I immediately thought, ‘it’s not an option.’ Already in pain from flying, I knew my foot would give out at the park, if not sooner.
But I’ve gone ahead and done things — shopping, navigating airports, traveling — that seemed physically infeasible. Sitting on the couch aimlessly scrolling through my Newsfeed, I realized the reasons why I had been quick to dismiss participating in the excursion: the only way I could comfortably join in was to use my wheelchair. While I was fortunate to have a devoted family member who would have been happy to push me, I was afraid of two things.
- Alarming my 2.5-year-old cousin by being in a wheelchair. Had she seen one? Would it upset her? She’s not quite old enough to understand, and I didn’t want to upset a cheerful trip to the park with an awkward, toddler-friendly description of disability (which surely does not exist).
- Attracting attention from the newer family members on the walk, who either didn’t know about my accident and subsequent disability, or didn’t realize that the accident led to a permanent condition.
Was it a huge deal to miss out on a trip to the park? Of course not. (And I even learned some interesting things on Facebook about my friend’s sister’s ex-boyfriend…and realized that Pitbull must work “dale” into every status update).
But all of the times I miss out on excursions like these accumulate.
It would be nice to just walk to the park without thinking twice about it. Or to use my wheelchair to get to the park without caring about other people’s judgments. Through continuous medical appointments and efforts such as this blog, I shoot for the former. But in the meantime, and perhaps for a lifetime, I need to figure out how to deal with the latter.
MRI. CT. PET. (X-ray).
Medical imaging has changed the face of medicine and undoubtedly helped numerous patients and physicians.
Have we found the magic bullet for seeing inside our web of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage? The answer depends on what you’re trying to find in these scans.
My personal experience and the complaints of several orthopedists lead me to believe that in ortholand, these scans are ‘ok’ at best. At least when it comes to feet, deciphering an MRI is more like understanding one of Monet’s later paintings than a Dorothea Lange photograph. My physicians have explicitly and implicitly revealed the murkiness of MRIs.
- Explicit: “These f’ing MRIs are useless. If only the technicians running them knew what they were doing, maybe they could get a decent picture. But I don’t know how much that would help because the process itself…leaves room for improvement.” [expletives omitted]
- Implicit: The same doctor looks at the same MRI three months apart and reads them differently, leading to different diagnoses and therefore prognoses. Six doctors read the same MRI and each gives his own diagnosis. One sees an extra body part that the other five do not see. He wants to put me under the table to remove it.
After having numerous (8?) MRIs, I’m looking into getting a CT scan to see if there is bone damage or something sneaky on my talus that is not showing up in MRIs and x-rays.
Let’s let the CT out of the bag.
An MRI of the Ankle