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The Joy of HMO
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Orthopedic Specialist

Last week I took half a day off from work and got my ankle and knee x-rayed. The pain has been incredible and my ankle is swollen all the time. I figured it was time to get some professional help, so I saw my primary physician, who sent me off for x-rays and referred me to an orthopedist.

I got the rays and saw the specialist. The specialist came in, glanced once at each of the 4 x-rays as he pulled them out of the envelope I handed him, pulled a crumpled prescription (already filled out) from his pocket, put my name on the appropriate line and told me I had early arthritis and losing weight would help. This, plus the initial greeting and the good-bye totalled 10 minutes (I’m being generous). I’m not even sure I saw a real, live doctor, since he had no badge, no white coat and the prescription was already filled out and signed. Maybe he was the building custodian, substituting for the first string.

My husband has received such top-notch care, that I am used to having physicians stop, ask questions, palpate the site, listen to the innards, whatever. I was completely put off by a doctor who never even looked at my knee or ankle, diagnosed me by a first glance at an x-ray and handed me a pre-set prescription. I know that an expert can run on ESP, but I don’t feel comfortable with that.

I wanted him to see my swollen ankle, listen to the click and grind as I move my knee, ask me when it hurt and when it didn’t, something at least so I could have some confidence that my concerns were addressed. I wanted him to know I was born with a hip problem, which probably has contributed to the knee/ankle and may need to be involved in the solution.

The bum’s rush left me dizzy, with a crumpled prescription in one hand and my x-rays in the other. On the way out the receptionist handed me a copy of some exercises, no indication of course on which would help my particular situation and how many reps were recommended.

Needless to say, I won’t be back. Put heat on it he said. Sure, if you want rebound swelling worse than before. Take NSAIDs, he said. Well, I had that figured out for myself. Exercise and lose weight. And how many hundreds of dollars did my insurance pay him for him to tell me the obvious and never even look at my complaint?

It didn’t help that he comes from an ethnic/religious group that traditionally treats women poorly—if at all. He had the name (first clue) and he spoke the language (second clue) and he refused to touch me (third clue). Oh, dear, my prejudices are showing. Must return to my cave and try to clear my soul of unworthy thoughts….

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