Oh, healthcare…

I have bad knees.

Seriously. I have for as long as I can remember.

If I hold them bent too long, they hurt. If I kneel in any position, they hurt. If I try to do a squat, they hurt. If I sit on my heels, they hurt. If I use an elliptical or bike for too long, they hurt. And if they don’t right away, they do later.

I never thought much of it. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember.

Then my OBGYN sent me to physical therapy for a problem she detected during my annual exam.

And in treating that problem, my physical therapist kept coming up against walls when I would inform her I couldn’t do half of the stretches she’d recommend because it hurt my knee too badly. Anything in a lunge or kneeling. Anything that involves a deep bend in the knee (quad stretch, anyone?). She finally declared that this was ridiculous, I was too young to have constant knee pain and be unable to do these basic stretches.

So she asked my OBGYN to allow her to also work on my knees.

Which my OBGYN approved, because their office is so busy they don’t even look at most of the paperwork. I picture Colonel Blake from MASH.

Time goes on and I am treated for both problems. The original problem gets better, and now I am only being seen for knees.

Three weeks ago I go in and tell my PT that my knees have been hurting bad that week. She looks surprised, and examines me. She keeps looking, but can’t find anything that could cause knee pain. Sure, my right knee is a little swollen. And sure, my left knee is a little tight. But nothing really out of the ordinary, certainly nothing I should be feeling.

So she orders x-rays.

Let me clarify. She is just a lowly PT. She can’t actually order x-rays. Even though she’s been seeing me for 6 months and is very well-respected in her field.

So she asks my referring doctor, the OBGYN to order x-rays.

The OBGYN is out of the office. And when she gets back…nothing. She doesn’t say she won’t. She just doesn’t do them.

Meanwhile, my knees still hurt. In fact, they have gotten worse. They used to be OK unless I pushed them, now they hurt pretty much all the time, and the pain intensifies when I use them. So standing up? Very painful. Sitting down? Quite painful. Crouching? Damn near impossible. Which is a problem, since my work involves either working with dogs (who you kind of have to get down and up to reach) or working with students (who are sitting, standing, moving, etc, and thus so am I).

This was my last scheduled appointment with the PT. She again looks at my knees, and says that based on what she can do in PT she sees nothing that should be causing pain. She is willing to keep working with me, maybe it has just been so long with the pain it will take longer for things to really settle in, but she wants x-rays first to make sure she’s not fighting a losing battle. And quite frankly, at this point, she’d rather I go see an orthopedist (joint specialist) first, before coming back to her, to confirm there’s nothing beyond what she can work on going on.

We decide not to ask my OBGYN again. The office ignored me last time, and was quite rude when I called to check in. And quite frankly, knees are a *wee* bit below their speciality area.

So she sends the request to my new primary care physician. A family practice doc.

Who I have seen twice.

Once to get the vaccines my OBGYN had told me I needed before getting pregnant.

Once to ask her to write a letter for life insurance saying that I didn’t need to be on the anti-depressants I had gone off of over a year ago since I was managing without them and had done other things to help (quit my job, gone to counseling, improved my diet, etc.) (Life insurance raised my rates ridiculously because I’d been on meds…not because I was diagnosed, but because I took meds. Yeah. That makes sense. But that’s another rant.) As a reminder, she had never seen me when I was on depression meds, or for anything related to my dysthymia. I had just become her patient a few weeks prior. But she came, listened to me, and did it.

And now, for the third time in the few months she has been my doctor, I am contacting her to do something that another professional had requested.

My PT sent her the request for x-rays and a referral to a joint specialist Tuesday.

I hear nothing.

Thursday I call and check in. A message is taken. That evening the assistant, who would be returning the call, calls me but I’m working, so she leaves a message telling me she’ll be gone the next day but to call in anyway. She says she has some questions.

Friday I call in, and get no one. Leave another message.

Saturday, someone (who I do not believe is the assistant of my doctor but I’m not sure because I was flustered and didn’t ask) calls me. She says they have no record of anything coming in on me and asks for the story. I give it, and she sounds doubtful. She says they’d probably need to see me if they were going to do that (understandable) so to just make an appointment. She forwards me to the scheduling desk…where no one picks up.

Frustrated, I give up. I call my PT and ask, if my insurance doesn’t require it, can I just go to a specialist that she recommends and have him order the x-rays? It seems to make more sense than scheduling a doctor’s appointment to get a referral for another appointment so I can get x-rays.

My PT has been out so I haven’t heard back. I’m hoping I do soon. She’s usually extremely good at returning calls. I’ll call again tomorrow if I haven’t heard by noon.

Oh, and have I mentioned I’m leaving town on Thursday? My husband goes and volunteers at a HS quiz tournament every year, and this year I’m accompanying him for the second time.

Last year, right before leaving I punctured my heel quite badly in my opinion (stepped on a grooming rake, three 1/16″ holes about 1/2″ deep right in the deepest part of my heel). I couldn’t put any weight on it, and this event involves a lot of walking across HUGE hotels and other buildings. That was fun. I used a cane.

This year my knees hurt so bad that, at this point, walking hurts. Things just keep deteriorating. And now, since I leave in three days, it looks like I won’t be getting in to see ANYONE until after I get back. So another year of being an invalid there. I think the event is cursed.

But regardless, this is ridiculous. It has been 3 solid weeks of me playing phone tag with doctors and professionals, and my PT doing the same, to try to get me out of being in chronic pain.

Do you really think I’m cheating the system, insurance and doctors? I mean, are there that many people out there who want x-rays for the rush of it? It’s not like I’m surfing for a prescription for vicodin (which, incidentally, I was handed without even asking for it in another situation when I didn’t want it).


I get why every individual person is acting the way they are. The PT can’t order them. The OBGYN is now out of her specialty. The family practice doc hasn’t seen me. The insurance wants to make sure the procedure is needed (OK, this one I get less, why the hell can’t the PT order the x-rays??). But it’s the way they all come together that is seriously screwed up.

I just want to stop living in pain. I want to be able to move through life without the burning ache.

Why is it so freaking hard to do that?

Maybe I should just go into a minor emergency clinic and say I fell down and think I broke both my knees. Then x-rays get ordered all the time…


Filed under Life

2 responses to “Oh, healthcare…

  1. Erica

    I was actually going to suggest going to an emergency clinic until I got to the bottom of your post. If you really want something done right now and can halfway justify it (aka I’m dying or in a terrible amount of pain) you can usually get it done at an emergency clinic if you are willing to pay for it later.

    And yea, I totally agree with questioning the entire dilemma. I hate playing phone tag between multiple doctors/caretakers/specialists to get something done. Usually takes forever. :-P

    I hope this works out soon. If not, I’ll just find someplace to rent/buy a wheelchair and drag your little butt all over the place. :D It’d be fun and I promise to not run you into walls or other obstacles (very much). :D

    • I love you :-D

      I’m not sure how the x-ray would need to be done, or I’d consider it. I think they want to see what’s going on *under* the kneecap, and typically, when looking for breaks, they’d probably look on *top* of the kneecap.

      I would bring a wheelchair, but I’m afraid I’d just end up pushing you around screaming, “Wheeeeeee!”

      Hehe. CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU!!!

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