After nearly three months of pain, I finally took the plunge this morning and visited a sports medicine doc to find out what’s wrong with my hip.
As I sat in the waiting room at Temple Sports Medicine, I had flashbacks to June of 1999, when one of their orthopedists shot my left rotator cuff full of cortisone and told me that my shoulder would be good as new. I spent the next week on the couch after a bad reaction to the medicine, and the next year on painkillers until a different orthopedist went in arthroscopically to clean up both the right and the left rotator cuff. No more butterfly for me.
I was hoping that this experience would be better.
No such luck.
After escorting me to an examining room, the nurse handed me a pair of disposable shorts (which came down to the middle of my calves and probably could have fit three of me inside them) and told me to wait a minute or two. Nearly an hour later, a 75-year-old man, hard-of-hearing and with a distinct twitch in his right eye (I actually think he was just winking at me, but since he did it every five minutes, it began to seem like some sort of compulsion), walked in and asked what seemed to be the problem,
I got out ten words: “Well, I did an ironman in September and my hip –“
The doctor interrupted me curtly, made a stupid joke about why ‘this ironman thing’ wasn’t called an ‘ironwoman,’ and said that it was probably a stress fracture. I should have an x-ray and a bone scan, he decided, and come back to see him in a week. If nothing showed up on the films, he’d just “pump me full of cortisone and I’d be good as new.”
Not only didn’t this doctor let me tell him what was wrong; he barely even examined me! He had me lie on my back and raise my leg, and then said into his little recorder, “Forward motion okay, no muscle spasms.”
I attempted to offer up some details of my own. “The pain is in a really localized area,” I told him. “It’s not debilitating, but it’s sore a lot of the time and gets worse when I run.”
“Ah,” he nodded as he closed my file. “I’ll see you next week.”
“Well, what shouldn’t I do in the meantime?” I asked him.
“I wouldn’t run, if I were you.”
I left the office near tears, called my doctor, and asked for a referral to a different specialist, the same one who’d performed my shoulder surgery nearly a decade ago.
These kinds of experiences are so demoralizing. Without batting an eye, that doctor made me feel completely impotent. I could have contributed to the conversation. Sure, I wasn’t going to diagnose myself, but I could have at least shared with him the symptoms, told him where the pain was and what it felt like. Instead, I walked out onto North Broad Street feeling 100% disempowered, cursing myself for waiting so long to deal with this and wondering whether I would ever make any progress toward figuring out what’s wrong.
So, I have an appointment for next Wednesday with the second orthopedist, and a bone scan scheduled as well. Tomorrow, I’m calling Temple back to cancel my follow-up. This is too important to me to leave up to an old-school pseudo-misogynist who can’t even hear when his patients are talking to him.
And for now, it’s back to the elliptical…