Call me a pirate

Posted 5/2/24

I hadn’t planned on this and it’s a title that I’ll gladly give up.

But the latest experience has given me another neither intended nor sought insight to the world of medicine.

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Call me a pirate


I hadn’t planned on this and it’s a title that I’ll gladly give up.

But the latest experience has given me another neither intended nor sought insight to the world of medicine.

A brief overview to give context to my latest interaction with the medical community. In the wake of two back surgeries, I’m left with a swollen left leg, painful knee and impaired ability to walk or for that matter even get in and out of a car. It’s hard to know what’s the cause. I’ve had several falls even after taking up a cane, including one where I was accompanied by my wife Carol and a doctor’s assistant on my way to an appointment which triggered a flurry of excitement including an x-ray before my examination.

Banging my knee surely didn’t help things. Fortunately, nothing was broken, but my doc really wasn’t interested in my bulbous knee. He had seen the knee in an earlier visit and sent me down the hall to get a brace that I was wearing when I had the fall. Rather than the knee, he was reviewing the results and scans of three MRIs I’ve had since back problems cropped up more than a year ago. He was looking for an explanation to my extended pain and the diminishing function of my leg. He didn’t have an answer but he had a plan to send me to a neurologist for another set of tests to establish whether I had suffered nerve damage.

Carol has been with me on these medical visits – I couldn’t get there without her or my son, Ted, who has assisted thankfully - including those for multiple acupuncture sessions which resulted in some minor relief and which I probably will resume if not just to get out of the house (now the office) and spend an hour listening to soft music and learning about the art of triggering the interconnections of nerves.

With each visit come questions from what’s the big picture: what might I expect and how might I cope with the situation, to whether the medications prescribed by various physicians should be mixed, to sleeping positions.

To get to the pirate analogy, my frustration with all the professionals I’ve visited is the lack of any one of them taking command of the ship. I’ve sought advice and have gotten referrals or in some cases not as much as a response. One would imagine with today’s technology which provides apps providing connectivity with physicians and the opportunity to personally review test results that someone would take the helm if even for part of the journey. Might there be observations, instructions, inquiries or words of encouragement? But no.

I understand there’s a shortage of doctors and medical professionals. There’s not enough time and too many patients. The system has been designed to cope with the numbers rather than based on the outcomes. If you don’t take command, the outcome is left to chance which can be great if they have the answers.

But my role as pirate is more than figurative. I earned the title after my visit with my recent referral to a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who examined my knee. He reviewed the MRI of my knee and leg concluding I hadn’t torn any ligaments. Good news, but still not providing an answer to my condition. More frustration. He sent me off for yet another leg brace.

This one straps on above and below the knee. You might as well duct tape a two by four to your leg. As an associate custom fit the device, the question came to mind, how often do I wear this? The answer: “all the time.”

What about to bed?

 “All the time.”

Even in a shower?

“No, take it off for the shower,” was the answer in a tone indicating I had asked a stupid question.

Well, how am I going to get in and out of a car? I’m going to need a bus to get home.

The attendant left the room to get an answer.

 “You wear it all the time,” she reported back.

I made it home by triggering the feature enabling the leg to bend at the knee, although that wasn’t recommended.

“Peg leg,” Carol dubbed me when we got back.

Indeed, you need to be a pirate on your own behalf. Give me a parrot for my shoulder and an eye patch so they’ll know me when I come.

side up, pirate


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