I had my appointment with the orthopaedist. I’ll get to what he said later. First, I need to give an impression of his office.
On the wall was a list of all the doctors who participated in the practice itself. There must have been at least a dozen, all etched in a glass wall plaque that measured a good 18″ x 36″– good to see where my co-pays are going. They also had three —3!– receptionists working the front desk receiving patients as they arrived for their appointments. There was seating for at least 50 in the waiting room, which explains this next part: pagers. You know the kind, too; the kind you get when your favorite restaurant is busy and “buzz” you when your table is ready.
I get buzzed and a minute later a medical assistant takes me back to get x-rayed. After I’m excused from the x-ray room I’m left on my own to find my way back to where I started from. The hallways aren’t marked, and it’s a labyrinth. I wander past another administrative work station with at least 6 staff milling about, chatting. (More co-pays at work, I see.) I end up back in the waiting room, but at the opposite end from where I had originally found a chair. I have no idea how I managed this. At least this end wasn’t as crowded, and I was relieved to not have to sit directly next to anyone else. We’re a curious lot, we humans, and I didn’t want to get caught staring blankly into space and have someone think I was staring at them. Worse, I didn’t want anyone staring at me. “She’s too young to have joint problems…If she lost some weight, maybe that would help…Poor thing, she’s here all alone…”
Okay, so maybe no one was going to judge me and why I was there, but I just hate the thought of the possiblity. Ladies, I know you know what I’m talking about here, because we’re all guilty to some degree. Gents, if you think I’m over reacting, then you really won’t understand.
I am called back in to an exam room– I think–the place is so big I can hardly hear my name. I’m usually the only one with my first name, but the place is still packed, and now I’m not so sure about that, as the waiting room is filled with people older than myself, all born in a era when my name was more popular. Again, I can see the need for pagers, as impersonal as they are. But they don’t use them for this part of my visit. I wish they had. Thinking to myself, if it weren’t for all the privacy rules, wouldn’t it just be easier to send someone through the office with the patient’s name on a placard, like the limo drivers at the airport. Wouldn’t you feel more special to have someone come searching for you, eager to escort you to your next stop in your day as opposed to have your name called out anonymously from a doorway?
I meet with the doctor, who flips a switch on a digital monitor, and there are my knees on the screen. (More co-pays at work; what happened to the lighted wall board?). We talk about my problem, he touches my kneecaps, has me do some extensions to feel for himself what’s going on inside. I tell him I’m training for a marathon, and he looks at me like I’m nuts. (More time to think I’m being judged, o joy.) He tells me running would not be good for my knees– this I already figured out, that’s why I came; now tell me ‘why’. He says it would be helpful if he could have seen the kind of shoes I was training in. TA DA! I produce two pair from a back pack, and now he’s no longer judgemental, and is slightly impressed. (Yeah, uh huh, I got you on that one!) Bigger surprise, they are the kind I should be wearing for the kind of ankle structure I have (Double boo-yeah!)
Chondromalacia patellae It’s a big fancy word for bad kneecaps, they are getting pitted on the back side where the joint itself rubs against it. It doesn’t hurt-yet- but I expect it will some day. It is a form of arthritis, and there is no ‘cure’ and I asked about possible kneecap replacement. Not possible without doing the whole knee. So I have to live with it, which is what I’ve been doing for a while now.
And so I walk. I’ll still be doing the marathon in October. I’ll just finish about three-and-a-half hours after the winning runner. That’s okay with me, finishing is what I’m after, and that is a WIN for me.