I suffer from fairly significant pain in my right knee, and have for the past several years. Avoiding dealing with it has been a successful strategy, until recently. Over the past year the pain has increased significantly and I found myself unable to sleep.

The wife finally convinced me to see a local knee specialist. Knee Doctor came highly recommended, so I set an appointment. At the initial appointment Knee Doctor poked and prodded, asked a ton of questions, and ended up requesting an X-ray.

I went and got an X-ray. During the review of the x-ray, Knee Doctor had many “hmm” and “ohhh” moments. Finally, Knee Doctor tells me that there are “areas of concern” and proceeds to point out elements on the x-ray that are completely meaningless to me. We need a clearer picture, so I’m now sent to have an MRI done.

I went and got an MRI. I wish I could say that during the review of the MRI, Knee Doctor had many “hmm” and “ohhh” moments, but I’d be lying. Instead of another sit-down with Knee Doctor, I get a phone call from Knee Doctor’s helper who tells me that the MRI was clear. I complain about the pain and that there must be something causing it. Knee Doctor’s helper sends me to physical therapy with a diagnosis of chondromalacia patellae. Wikipedia says that chondromalacia patellae is inflammation of the underside of the patella and softening of the cartilage.

chondromalacia patellae

I make my appointment and start physical therapy. It was GREAT! The first two months were awesome. Each week I’d go and work with some great people, my knee started feeling stronger, pain was decreasing, I was able to walk around almost normally, WONDERFUL!

Then it went completely off the rails. Late one Saturday night a few weeks ago I wake up with extreme pain in my knee, worse than ever before. By the time I have my next PT appointment two days later the pain had not subsided at all. After doing one of the exercises my knee completely gives out and I collapse to the ground. My therapist has me stop and performs another examination of my knee. She finds that it doesn’t “catch” and that perhaps Knee Doctor was wrong about the MRI being clear.

My physical therapist calls Knee Doctor, they discuss the x-ray, MRI, recent developments in my therapy, the weather, who knows what. A few days later I hear back from Knee Doctor’s helper again. This time I’m supposed to go see an orthopedic surgeon for another opinion. Helper gives me a few recommendations and instructs me to set an appointment soon. To hell with that! Instead, I visit with my physical therapist, sharing Knee Doctor’s recommendations and my therapist says I’d be better off going to someone else. The PT recommends someone who is extremely skilled at mysterious situations like mine, where things aren’t matching up with expectations.

Okay, what do I do here? Do I go to the people Knee Doctor recommends? Or, do I go to the person my physical therapist recommends? What would you do?

I decide to follow my physical therapist’s recommendation because she sees patients from all of the doctors and will have a better idea of how they recover. Plus, my physical therapist has examined my knee about a dozen times already, compared to just one session with Knee Doctor.

Today I call the highly recommended orthopedic surgeon to schedule an initial exam. As I attempt to set the appointment I’m told that they don’t think Dr. Surgeon will see me because he’s only seeing certain diagnosis anymore. WHAT THE FUCK? His website doesn’t say anything about “select diagnosis.” Now I have to wait for Dr. Surgeon to contact Knee Doctor and my physical therapist to decide whether or not he’ll grant me access to the hallowed halls of his office for an initial exam.

I ask you, what the hell is this? Specializing in “the knee” isn’t enough? Apparently as an upstanding, regular-Joe working stiff, my wonky knee isn’t enough. Now I have to have some fancy knee problem to get any sort of relief. How is a normal person supposed to get help any more? I just want Dr. Surgeon to take a look at my MRI, move my knee around, and tell me what’s up. Is that so extremely difficult? Don’t answer that – apparently it is and I’m unreasonable for assuming a KNEE DOCTOR SHOULD LOOK AT MY FUCKING KNEE! Silly me!

I’ll be at a conference in Canada later this year. Maybe I’ll see if I can get treatment in the Great White North. Socialized medicine won’t turn me down, will it?

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