Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Well, At Least the Verdict Wasn't "You Need to Exercise More."

I wrote yesterday about my Rocky-esque preparations for my appointment with Dr. SecondOpinion. Well, it's a good thing I went all "Eye of the Tiger" making lists of questions and symptoms, debating what demeanor to adopt, and generally rallying my mental troops, because I have just finished running (limping) a medical marathon. Somebody put a medal over my neck and get my ass some gatorade because I am spent. After 4.5 hours inside the Diamond Pavilion at VGH, (which is new and fancy, by the way!), I can officially say that I have received enough attention from the medical community to counteract the months of silence from Dr. ___.

Going to see a well-respected, cream-of-the-crop surgeon often resembles being stuck in some role-playing video game where you have to conquer a series of obstacles/riddles/tests of physical and mental prowess in order to pass the level and be granted audience with the king. I don't mind this one bit. If Dr. SecondOpinion decided that walking over burning coals would provide an adequate assessment of my gait pattern, you can bet your burn salve that I would do it blindfolded.

I therefore happily put up with another hip X-ray, even though I have had 8.3 million hip X-rays (next stop: glowing babies!) and even though it was the X-ray tech's first time and there was a boss X-ray tech standing over her and saying, "Are you sure you want to put your label there? Are you sure you want her foot like that?" I was such a shining beacon of patience and good-humour that the boss X-ray tech even remarked that I was the ideal patient to teach someone on both because of my attitude and the fact that I'm "so skinny you can feel every single bony structure on [my] body." Flattery will get you nowhere, Boss X-ray tech! I only let people feel my bony structures after dinner and a movie.

Next stop: Dr. SecondOpinion's office, where I filled out an elaborate three-page form that I suspect no one looked at. (Which is fine, because understanding my medical history is kind of like reading "Ulysses" in that most of it is bizarre, it takes far too long to get through, and you come out more confused than when you went in, though unlike "Ulysses" my medical history does not rely heavily on scatalogical references). The problem is that there are 5 million question marks in my medical history: "so...I'm a carrier for pseudochlorinestinaese deficiency and had a really freaky locked-in thing after my second surgery, but I didn't require breathing assistance so it could have been a bad reaction to the muscle relaxant they gave me..." "Yeah, I had this excruciatingly painful back problem but was too stupid/ suspicious of doctors to go to the hospital even though my mom and a personal trainer had to load me lying down into the back of my mom's PT Cruiser as if I was a piece of plywood and when I finally got an X-ray weeks later it showed I had multiple bilateral fractures on L4 L5 but that's not typical for a 20-something and an MRI didn't show much..." It's best to not even go there.

After 40 minutes in the first waiting room, I chilled out in a fancy hospital gown for another 40 minutes when in walked Dr. SecondOpinion Lite: Dr. SecondOpinion's intern, who was responsible for doing the grunt work of listening to my complaints and preparing a primilinary diagnosis. It's a tough gig being an intern and many of them are testy and sleep-deprived and trying so hard to project an aura of doctorly arrogance that they sometimes go a little overboard. Dr. SecondOpinion Lite's expert verdict: I was fine, shit would work itself out, and the problem was clearly that I had not tried hard enough and should (and I quote) "do more exercise." Wrong answer, Dr. SecondOpinion Lite! You just got a big, old F on a pop quiz named Arley.

Just when I was thinking I was going to have to start unleashing five months of pent-up rage and frustration on poor Dr. SecondOpinion Lite, he disappeared and Dr. SecondOpinion showed up to save the day. Dr. SecondOpinion sort of has this shimmery aura of brilliance with a general's air of efficiency. The man has hip replacements down. You could wake him up in the middle of the night and say, "Quick! Name me the muscles around the hip from back to front!" and he'd be like, "You want them in alphabetical order and do you want me to throw in the nerve pathways while I'm at it?" Homeboy is good. Doesn't have much time for questions, but he's good.

And the verdict: the torn gluteus medius is indeed wreaking havoc. When he pressed on my greater trochanter, (where the medius is attached), I indeed experienced what all of the medical reports I had been reading described as "exquisite tenderness." (Translation: stop-touching-me-there-right-now-I-will-kill-you-dead-I'm-dead-serious). After examining me, Dr. SecondOpinion noted that I walk "like I have polio," which is literally exactly what I have been saying. We're simile twins!

Unfortunately, he also suspects that my hip replacement has come loose because he could see some line around the prothesis and when he cranked my leg to the side I felt pain deep in the socket. (Not "exquisite tenderness," since when Dr. SecondOpinion Lite did the same motion on my leg, the pain was not so bad and since he didn't ask if it hurt, I didn't mention it). If the prothesis is loosened, that would explain the clunking and clicking I've been feeling.

Anyhow, Dr. SecondOpinion was really thorough and really patient with the fact that I really have to concentrate when someone asks me to move a particular muscle. The theory is that I spent so many years trying to disconnect myself from my lower body because I was in pain, I now have a hard time naturally making connections. In essence, I'm body stupid. But, Dr. Second Opinion was very patient and was good at isolating particular muscles and showing me how to make the connections.

So, what is Dr. SecondOpinion going to do? Alas, he says I need to be patient while they run some tests: a blood test to rule out infection, a spinal X-ray to see if my hip flexor problem is caused by my back, some freaky-ass test where they're going to jab a needle filled with anesthetic into my hip and see what goes on (spoiler alert: I will yelp), and possibly a bone scan. Problem: all this will take time. The end result is that I will probably need surgery, but it's unlikely that I'll get it before 2010. Sigh!

At the end of the day, the good news is that someone is finally giving a flying fuck about the fact that I walk like a heroin-addled zombie. Tests will be performed! Results will be achieved! The bad news is that I have gotten served another buffet-sized helping of BePatientAndWait pie. I thanked Dr. Second Opinion and got ready to go get some blood tests and some spine X-rays. After Dr. SecondOpinion left, Dr. SecondOpinion Lite (who had been chastized when he expressed his view that I should just do more exercise, much to my smirky delight) popped his head in the door. "You didn't tell me you had pain!" he said. I noted that a) actually, I had told about the pain around my ass and scar and b) he didn't ask if it hurt me when he twisted my leg and it wasn't wince-worthy.

So, yes, I wandered off to get some blood tests and pay another friendly visit to my good buddies at the X-ray department to get my spine examined and Dr. SecondOpinion Lite sulked off, pissed that I had gotten him in trouble with his boss. Maybe if he just tried harder and did some exercise....


  1. This sounds good, despite the the clouds of BS that surround all medical stuff. Yay for Dr. SO for having some answers and giving you attention! I can't wait to lose to you again in the edible book contest =)

  2. Homeboy?? I am going to make you start referring to me as Homegirl in real life!

    Also, question: Is Body Stupid similar to Girl Stupid?

    Loves, Steph

  3. Hah, yes I am both Body Stupid and Girl Stupid...homegirl.

    And, Karo, we will both rock the edible book competition.

    - Arley

  4. Hahhhhh now that I've actually met and consulted Dr. SecondOpinion/Dr. Complex, this post made me (pardon the mention) laugh my ass off.

    The "shine like a general" and "homeboy's got this shit down" are ON. THE. MARK. I'm just glad I didn't have to suffer through a Dr. SecondOpinionLite. I paid my dues with the intern AND resident of Dr. Weenie (Dr. SecondOpinion's clinic-mate), I'm just glad that Dr. SecondOpinion (I guess in my case that'd be Dr. FifthOpinion) spent the time. He doesn't tarry long on topics he feels he's learned enough about, but it was refreshing to have him actually give DETAILS! and DESCRIPTIONS! Imagine.

    And I'm not sure I could have tolerated the pushing, pulling and jolting that he did if he hadn't had the beatific shine and apologetic patience that he did.

    And holy cow, who thought it was a smart thing to put hip replacement candidates through such a marathon just to get on the wait list? I was exhausted after spending the whole freaking day in the Diamond Pavillion - which while shiny and new, is incredibly busy, huge and confusing. My hip packed it in halfway through the afternoon, leaving me aching to curl up in the wait-list sofa until they woke me up for my ECG.