13 August 2005

Doctor FeelNothing

Being an overweight, forty-seven year old desk jockey recently resulted in the inevitable -- a knee injury. Don't ask me what happened, it just started hurting like holy hell one day. Sure, there'd been twinges here and there for a year, and ever since moving into a two-story duplex I've been fascinated with the range of creaking and crunching sounds that my knees could produce climbing the stairs. But one fine spring morning I took my break, went for my usual six-block walk, and could barely crawl back up the stairs to work. There was no sudden snap, crackle or pop. It happened, as they say, not with a bang but with a whimper.

After enduring worsening pain, went to my doctor, x-rays showed nothing, so she referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. Of course the word "surgeon" sends up a huge warning flag; no surprise what comes next. He suspects a tear in the meniscal cartilage, recommends surgery and sends me in for an MRI. (Of course, when he gets the results he says they are "inconclusive" yet still wants to operate since it won't get better on its own. I say, slow down big boy, let's try some physical therapy, since it is getting much better on its own.)

That's not what really gripes me, though. This guy has no apparent personality. Very trim, forty-ish, average looking guy. Walks in, introduces himself, shakes my hand, then starts asking questions. There is absolutely no human connection. I might as well be typing responses to written questions. As I recall he did have me hop up on the table and he did briefly press different spots around my knee, but it didn't last more than 30 seconds (whereas the mere physical therapist examined every square millimeter of knee tissue for what seemed like 20 minutes). Then he prepares to leave, says his assistant will be in with some recommended exercises, shakes my hand again, leaves. Next visit, same thing. The handshake, the ten minute visit, another handshake, goodbye.

Of course I already have friends. I don't require this person to satisfy my need for human contact; indeed, my craving is for less human contact. What I need is to feel that I'm not just an old Buick with a bad wheelbearing. I'm a human and I really prefer to be around other semi-humans, not Dr. Android. And what do you think they're billing the insurance company? $200 per visit. At 10 minutes per visit, that computes to $1200 an hour. Or $100 per handshake.

Nice work if you can get it.


Cindy St. Onge said...

You got a handshake? Wow. What a down to earth regular guy your doctor is. Lucky.

the other half said...

And O. MY. GAWD. don't dare leave anything laying about on the floor; shoes, the cat, a stray twelve pack. She trips over anything or stubs a toe and screws up that finally healing knee
and if it's yours, (shoes or the cat),
prostrate yourself and pray you'll live.

Kidding ;^/ Glad you're healing,
Love you Sweetie!