Recently, I did something to my left foot that left me hobbling around like James Caan in “Misery“. Exactly what I did is a complete mystery, because I have no recollection at all of hurting my foot. I didn’t step on anything, or bang it into a wall, or kick something hard and immovable, or twist it the wrong way, or anything else that would cause this kind of pain. Yet it hurt anyway. Right below the joint where my second toe meets the foot itself, it felt as if I had a hard, sharp stone just below the surface of the skin with every step I took. This lasted for a few days, so, needless to say, it concerned me a good deal. I thought it would be a good idea to go to the doctor to get it checked out.
Actually, scratch that. I didn’t think it was a good idea. My wife thought it was a good idea. Another one of life’s little mysteries is that for any health issue that arises, women will always think a doctor visit is a good idea and men never will. It’s probably a macho thing, or something left over from sports. You’ll still hear the male healthcare maxim used on sports telecasts from time to time; “You’ve got to know the difference between injury and pain.” If you’re genuinely injured, then you need to go to the doctor, get it fixed, then rehab like crazy so you miss as little time working or playing as possible. Doing anything less than that is just selfish. But if you’re just in pain, suck it up and soldier on. I’m definitely a follower of that maxim, and typically won’t go to the doctor unless the pain is simply not bearable anymore, or the problem has lingered so long that it’s clear it won’t go away without some medical intervention.
My foot problem didn’t quite fit either catagory. It certainly hadn’t been hurting me long enough for me to consider a doctor visit, and the pain, while extreme, wasn’t so sharp and agonizing that I couldn’t stand it anymore. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have done anything other than pop some Advil, try to rest it, and shop for some padded insoles. In fact, I did all of those things and they worked. My foot started hurting less.
Still, these were not ordinary circumstances. A couple of intervening factors were involved. First, I really couldn’t stand my existing doctor. It’s one of those uber-practices with multiples locations and physicians, they always overbook and keep you waiting 30 minutes past your appointment time, and they never give you more than three minutes of actual face time with the doctor. On top of that, the guy I saw there decided to change locations and focus only on their urgent care patients, without bothering to send a notice to his existing patients about this change. That ticked me off, as did the last visit I had there, where I waited 40 minutes past my appointment time before seeing a guy I’d never met before for some lingering redness in one eye, only to have him ask me three questions, shine a light in my eye, and pronounce, “There’s nothing I can do for you”, before referring me to an ophthalmologist.
Total service rendered = none.
Total time spent with patient = 3 minutes.
Total payment from me and the insurance company = $74.38.
So I was looking for a new doctor anyway, and it seemed that maybe my foot problem was a good excuse to go to a different guy with a real problem instead of just a general physical. My wife really likes her doctor, so we called them up to see if he was still taking new patients. The answer we got was a bit mystifying. Essentially, no, he wasn’t taking new patients. Only, yes, he would take a new patient as long as he was related to an existing patient. This was good for me, because it meant I could switch to him as my doctor, but it still confuses the hell out of me. Either the guy has capacity to take new patients or he doesn’t. I don’t see how the fact that my wife is a patient there should really have any impact on that.
Anyway, since we had this additional intervening factor about whether or not the doctor would take a new patient, we threw in my foot problem as a means of hopefully getting them to take pity on me. “Hey, his foot really hurts, can’t you see him?” I don’t know if that helped or not, but they agreed I could switch to him, so I sort of felt obligated to go see him despite the fact that my home remedies were already making my foot feel better. We made an appointment, I showed up, filled out the expected reams of paperwork needed on all new patients, got right in, and got real attention, including an x-ray and a pair of possible diagnoses (either a stress fracture or an “I don’t know what it is”). Once the x-ray came back negative for any breaks, the treatment advice I got was…
Rest it, keep using the cushioned insoles since they were working, and take pain relievers as needed.
So the mystery of what exactly was wrong with my foot continues, unsolved. The mystery of how my new doctor is able to create more time on his calendar only if a new patient is related to old patient also continues. But we did at least solve one mystery during this episode, the one about why women always want to go to the doctor and men don’t. And the answer is….
Men are right.
Filed under: Family, General Interest | Tagged: Common Sense, foot pain, Health, Humor, Men, mysteries, new patients, People, stress fractures, visiting the doctor | 2 Comments »