In my next life I want to come back as a Sports Medicine Doctor. As far as I can tell it's an easy way to riches, minor fame and a life of ease. Hell, I'm not even sure I'd have to go to medical school.** I would buy a nice white coat, some running shoes and a bunch of sports posters and magazines. I'd run some races and put my finishing photos on the walls in my exam rooms. I'd make it known that I was the doctor to see for runners, triathletes and other weekend warriors. Then I'd wait for the suckers to come streaming in.
In the exam room I'd even ask them what's going on. I'd have them stand in front of me, then they'd lay down and I'd feel around their affected joint. Maybe I'd even bend their leg or arm and "test" its mobility. But I wouldn't really need to listen to the silly patient.*** I already know what's wrong - they've overtrained and their biomechanics are a mess; they have tendinitis in their ___________ and/or inflammation in their ___________. I'd tell them that and let them know that if they follow my instructions they'll be out running or swimming or whatever again soon. If they don't though, I'll make it clear that they might as well donate their running shoes to Shoes4Africa.****
I'd then send them to my in-house custom orthotic builder ($$) and to my buddy the physical therapist ($$) and finally convince them to buy some other goodies that aren't covered by insurance - and that I just so happen to carry! And at some point, once I got really good, I wouldn't even take insurance. F U if it's not that important to start running again.
On Tuesday, my appointment went exactly as described above (except for the no insurance bit, I'm not that desperate). This was a doctor I'd seen before - around 2003, when I had achilles tendinitis. Back then he prescribed prescription NSAIDs, custom orthotics and physical therapy. I did it without question. I did get better, but not completely better until I tossed the orthotics. On Tuesday, I swear he wasn't looking at me when he said I need custom orthotics (and "Go see Joe, conveniently right around the corner, he'll get you fitted."). It didn't matter that I told him I'd tried them before (from him) and didn't like them. And he ignored me when I repeatedly said that I thought these problems were originating in my hips/trunk. All he heard was "knee" pain. At various times in this journey to heal myself, different doctors have just heard "hip" pain or just heard "back" pain. They don't think about the bigger picture. And, as long as nothing's broken, does it really matter anyway, isn't the diagnosis always the same?
At this point, I really feel like I've seen most of what NYC has to offer in terms of "top" sports medicine docs and I'm done with them. Barring some new injury that is completely obvious (like a compound fracture), I'm not going back to any of them. They don't listen. While I get it that financially there's very little to be gained by doing anything other than send a patient off to PT, I would think they might want to actually help me get back training and racing.***** I hate going to the doctor and only do it when I'm desperate. And I'm f@cking desperate. I go because I trust doctors and believe they can heal. I will follow their instructions and listen to their advice - at least that's what I've done every other time, but not this time. I'm done with these guys, they have nothing for me.
And frankly, there have been days recently when I've thought about being done with it altogether. I decided as a final effort to see one more doctor. He is now on the banned list.
But there is potential good news in this rant. After my disappointing doctor's appointment on Tuesday, I went to a new physical therapist on Wednesday. And just from that initial consult, I like him. For one thing, he actually friggin' listened to me. Is that so hard? I know I don't have medical or PT training, but it is my body and by now, I know it pretty damn well. He tested my flexibility and watched me stand and squat and balance on one leg. He tested the strength in each of my legs and hips. He asked me what I thought was going on and then he said the magic words - "This seems to be originating from your hips and pelvic area." He looked beyond my knees and hip joints and checked strange things like my psoas and piriformis. Aha, finally. He's going to help me work out whatever is blocking my range of motion and hopefully (I believe) that will help me avoid future hip and knee problems. He also told me that he doesn't generally believe in orthotics, and I shouldn't need to get them. He is optimistic and so am I. It might not work, but at least he listened to me and seems to want to work with me. Hallelujah!
Strength & Elliptical - November 6
Strength & Elliptical - November 8
* The following is written with sincere apologies to Assaf, my Dad (who is not a sports med doctor) and any other doctors out there who don't fit this description.
**I understand that most "sports med docs" do orthopedic surgery and that definitely does require med school, but I don't really like blood and would just pass on the surgery bit.
***Wow, with more apologies to most doctors out there, this feels damn good!
****Actually a really good place for your used shoes. In NYC, you can drop shoes at Jackrabbit Sports.
*****I think they should want to see more patients like me.