A Good Doctor is Hard to Find

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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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