Monday, June 28, 2010

A Visit with Baby Doc (Richmond, VA)

I am miserable. I can't walk comfortably, which means I can't salsa or zumba. The ball of my foot is aching, so I find an orthopedist (orthopod?) who specializes in problems of the foot and ankle.

If you're like me, you never saw the TV show "Doogie Howser"(sp?), but you might be familiar with the premise (or perhaps I'm making it up): a 15-year-old is a brilliant medical practitioner.

Well, my foot doctor looks like that guy's younger brother.

Doogie, Jr. lopes into the examining room and, without niceties or preamble (such as: "Hello, how are you?" or "What brings you here today?"), asks: "How old are you?"

The response I want to give is: "How old are YOU?" but I refrain and tell him, instead, my age.

"Diabetes?" he asks.

I barely resist the urge to reply, "Cancer?"

My back is up. Of course, now that I'm in his office, my foot doesn't even hurt, but I'm upset about wasting my time and my co-payment on a young whippersnapper who lacks any discernible bedside -- or even roadside -- manner.

X-rays reveal no broken bones (even as a result of the stiletto-ing I received from somebody's heel a couple of months ago). Junior starts pressing different areas of my foot. When he jabs his finger so far into the top of my foot that I fear it will emerge through my very soul, I yelp.

"Your toe is swollen," he says.

"And you're the one who swolled it!" I want to shout. I resist both making the accusation and using the incorrect verb conjugation. The ball of my foot doesn't hurt a bit; the toe throbs.

"You need a splint," he says. "If that doesn't work, come back next week for a cortisone shot."

I am not into needles and don't want them into me. "If the splint doesn't work, what are my alternatives?" I ask.

He picks up one of my shoes and bends it until it almost breaks in half. "You need a shoe with a stiff sole. Buy one from us or go through your closet."

Little Doogie has, obviously, never gone through my closet, and I don't have all year to search for a hard-soled shoe, so I ask to view his collection. He leaves, leaving me to ponder whether the styles will resemble running shoes or comfortable but hideous, old-lady shoes.

His assistant returns with something that you'd wear after a major skiing accident.

"This will not work for me in Mexico," I think. "What's another option?" I ask the mock doc when he returns.

"A metal plate you put in your shoe," he says. "If that doesn't work, come back next week for the cortisone shot."

Baby Doc's obviously stuck in an eager-to-inject mindset. I'm in escape mode.

I go straight-away to the pharmacy where Doctini said I'd find the splint. He wrote down the name of the item, but when I reach the store, I can't find the note.

"I'm looking for a something for my toe. A bindi splint? (Some kind of henna-painting device?) A Burundi splint? A banana splint?"

The guy behind the counter looks at me as if I were crazier than I am. Whatever it is that I want, he doesn't have it -- or a clue.

I approach another employee. She Googles and identifies what I'm searching for: a budin splint. We both scan the shelves and locate something by another name.

When I go out the next day, I wear the booty splint for about an hour. My digit is red, swollen, throbbing -- in such pain that I tear the thing off (the splint, not the toe) and ditch it. Wow! I feel better!

A little while later, the original pain returns. What am I to do?

The cortisone shot's a no-brainer; I'm not going to get it for my toe, either.

Forget about the metal plate. Trying to explain that it's not a weapon, as I am forced out of the boarding line on the way to my airplane to Mexico, is about as appealing as trying to get through Customs with a thousand condoms. (See my first blog entry.)

I'm going to try the rest-and-hope-for-the-best method. Hopefully, it'll work, and I'll dance my way through Mexico.

And if I'm still in pain when I get back to the States, I'm going to find a grown-up, mature, professional doctor who'll greet me before he suggests splints, metal plates, cortisone shots, or amputation. A nice "hello" and a smile always make me feel better...

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