A Good Doctor is Hard to Find

There was a small, winged creature of some sort flitting around the bathroom ceiling. And there was a cat watching. Plotting to get up there somehow and catch the would-be victim.


Finally, the cat figured it out. Or thought she did. She jumped up, catching the top of the slightly ajar medicine cabinet door with her front paws, hind legs scrambling desperately to gain foot…er, paw-hold…to boost herself up. Finally successful, she made it to the top of the medicine cabinet where she placed two paws on top of the door and the other two on the framing. Ahhhh…she was set to pounce.

And then the door began to swing open.

Was I going to help by going over and plucking her from sure disaster? Heck, no! It was too much fun to watch her try to get herself out of that mess! (She jumped down to the vanity: She was fine.)

Perhaps I should be more compassionate. After all, I sometimes feel as if others are watching me head into disaster and could help. If only they would.

Right now, I’m trying to get through this painful leg “thing.” The back of my leg hurts from the heel to the calf. Sometimes it hurts all around. It hurts when I touch it. It hurts when I flex my foot. Walking is a real blast. (NOT!)

Not that I can flex my foot very far. Said foot is swollen to the point that I can barely get my shoe on. My ankle on that leg is so swollen I have trouble flexing my foot up and down. My lower leg is swollen. No amount of keeping my foot up and applying ice seems to help. Oh, the swelling goes down a little, but not nearly far enough.

I called my family practice doc’s office. He has an opening on Friday. I don’t have enough medical knowledge to know if what is happening is urgent or not. I don’t think the person answering the phone does, either: It wasn’t the regular person. Perhaps I should have asked for the nurse to call me, but I didn’t think about it.

Instead, I mentally went through the list of doctors I have for my various and sundry body parts and settled on my podiatrist. Hey, he does feet and ankles. If the pain goes into my heel, that’s part of his realm.

So I called him. At home. After I’d described my symptoms and told him what had been done already, he said he wanted me to have an MRI and come see him. “I have markers out to a couple of MRI places,” he said. “How’s tomorrow?”

Since my husband teaches a Tuesday–Thursday class, I deferred the visit to Wednesday.

Going beyond the immediate problem, he also asked, “How’s your sugar?”

“It’s fine,” I said. “Why?”

“Well, sometimes people with that problem have elevated blood sugar.”

“Oh. Well, I have a pump and a continuous glucose monitor,” I responded. “And I know what to do.”

Satisfied that I was OK on that situation, he ended the call by saying he would have his office make me an appointment with an MRI facility and with him, and give me a call.

How fortunate I am to have a doctor like that. Most of mine are like that, in fact, including my family practice doc. As I said, neither I nor the person answering the phone at his office knew enough to determine urgency.

Ironically, my leg hurts a bit less today. Whether it’s the old “the car made a funny noise until I took it to the mechanic” or because the doc “plucked me off the medicine cabinet” (so to speak) is unknown. I’m inclined to think the latter: Somebody listened to me and may even come up with a solution that will help.

Those kinds of health-care professionals don’t come easily. It took me a few years to put my team together. I became quite an expert at firing doctors until I found the ones who were right for me. And “right for me” means somebody who listens to me, explains things in ways I can understand, and treats me as an intelligent member of the team. I don’t get along well with the ones who speak in “medicalese” and dictate to me.

Sometimes I think that I need to go to medical school so I’ll know if the doctor is doing the right thing. Sometimes I am happy I have doctors I trust. Sort of. I’m still aware that, like all humans, they can make mistakes.

So far, however, they’ve managed to catch the bug without falling off the medicine cabinet.

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  • Rose

    I hope your leg is doing better today. I’m a bit of a hypocondriac but I would be worried with the swelling and pain that it might be a blood clot. That is probably why the doc wants a MRI. I had some uncomfortable swelling last summer and it turned out to be caused from one of my diabetic medications. Good luck with finding the source of your discomfort and a speedy solution to it!

  • Ephrenia

    Jan, I swear, sometimes you make me feel like I had a twin that was adopted out to a Jewish family (I look too much like my Dad to be the adopted one). I fired a lot of Drs too. i was determined to get a team of Drs that treated me as an intelligent part of the medical team.

    My primary Dr is great. She tells me all the treatment options with pros and cons and lets me choose a course of action. If she prefers one treatment or medication over another, she tells me why. When she refers me to specialists, she tends to find me like-minded physicians. The only one of my team that isn’t like that is my podiatrist. I haven’t found one in my area that isn’t too didactic yet. I’m still looking.

  • Jan Chait

    As it turns out, I have a torn Achilles tendon. I’ll be having surgery to repair it and will be in a cast and unable to put weight on that foot for awhile. Oh, joy!


  • abc123

    I am a Diabetic. Live in a small town. Claxton Ga. 30417 We don’t have a Diabetic Doctor in are area. Can you help me find a diabetic Dr. Thank you. Delores Wilkerson…[email protected]

  • Vicki


    I am glad you finally got an answer. Your treatment drives home what I have seen change during my 28 years as a Type 1 diabetic and as a diabetes educator. I observe diabetics being treated like patients who do not have diabetes. In your case pain as you described it and swelling in a diabetic should be considered “an emergency” and years ago would have been. One word of caution from my experience. Is the person on the other end of the phone have the level of training to make a clinical decision? Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials. For example LPN’s (licensed practice nurse) are not allow by law to make independent clinical judgement without a registered nurse’s approval.
    Yesterday I heard of a local endo whose “nurse” is not a trained nurse at all (and this happens quite often). I will not be referring to him again because of the danger to patients.

    I talk to diabetics in my classes about having to advocate for themselves and often “push the envelope”.

    Yesterday, I saw a patient in the hospital admitted with DKA. A nurse practitioner gave her an antibiotic for strep throat but did not do a culture to make sure the antibiotic would work on the specific germ. We all know the drill blood sugars continued to stink, patient continued to feel worse (patient knew from experience she usually felt better after starting an antibiotic but didn’t call) and then the fine line which diabetics face was crossed to DKA.

    Final words, our instincts can be used to push the envelope.

    Jan I hope you are the first patient on the surgery list your day of surgery. I will be having carpal tunnel surgery soon and my surgeon was smart enough know diabetics need to be scheduled first!! Yes, he will stay on my team.


  • mskitty4

    replying to ROSE:
    my father was a hyper-hypochrondriac. to counteract that, i leaned the other way, severly.
    As a type 1 diabetic, i have to fight the habit to “ignore” my hurts, pains & misc twinges. It’s not easy either way, but yes, i am paying attn to the “misc twinges” of my older years.

  • mag

    I’m fixing to fire my MD! If she looks at my BS log one more time and “twicks” my insulin one more unit I’m screaming at her! I thought I was all alone in this! She makes me feel invisible! Worse than the nurse(ie,PA,MA,LVN, MA tech, etc., etc)!Jan as a diabetic DO NOT IGNORE lower extremity pain, redness, or swelling! DANGEROUS! Take good care of your limbs-and they will serve you well for a lifetime! P.S. diabetic doctors are Endocrinoligists are listed in the yellow pages need referral in Texas, don’t know if you do in Georgia!

  • GODSANGEL41309

    I feel so relieved to know that I really am not going crazy. I have been told by family, doctors, etc. that I might be fabricating symptoms. These things only added to my already gloomy outlook. So thanks to everyones comments! Definitely reducing my stress levels. I do know what my body is telling me but I can’t seem to convince anyone else?