If I could run- that is exactly what I would have done to get away from the orthopedic doctor that we visited with on Monday. I can not recall a time when I have felt more belittled, squashed and just plain dismissed by a professional than what happened at this visit. This post is long, long, long winded—so if you make it to the end- bravo and thanks.
Let me preface this all to say that I took the quickest appointment with the myriad of orthopedic groups that I called last week so that I could get seen prior to heading on a 5 day girls trip to DC later this week. I got a ton of great recommendations from friends that have had similar knee surgeries or issues as me so I started by calling each one of those offices- many of them could not see me until Mid to late April- one could see me the evening before my flight and one could see me on Monday (but not the doctor that was recommended to me by friends- a different doc in the group.) So I took the Monday appointment because I just needed to get in somewhere and hopefully get a brace if nothing else and then when I get back I can seek further opinions if needed.
I am going to refrain from posting the name or the group on this blog-for now– if I get around to posting a yelp review I will link it, but I tend to be a lot more wordy on my blog so there is more room for emotion to show through here than on Yelp which can strain from the overall meat of a review. **Yelp review added- Check it out here For those asking- my bad experience was at The Orthopedic Clinic Association (TOCA) and with Dr. Zoltan.
I guess there were red flags from the beginning that I should have seen:
One- all other docs were booked up and this one had a quick opening
Two- when I checked in at 9:30am for my 9:45am appointment I was told there was one other patient ahead of me. I sat down and that patient was called back, but then an older gentleman walked in the door (the office staff all greeted him kindly as it seemed he must be a frequent flier at the office) and I hear the receptionist tell him that she does not have him down for an appointment for this day- but she would try to get him on the schedule. Next thing I know- he gets called back to go see my doctor at 9:40am. It was after 10 before I was taken back to an exam room for my 9:45 appointment (that I DID have)
When the Doc finally came in about 10 minutes later he was very too the point- asked me what I was in there for and as I began to tell him a very abbreviated version of what happened he cuts me off and says “how are you right now- what is going on right now- how do you feel?”
I was so caught off guard that I blabbered out “well to be honest, right now I feel pretty good- I have very little pain and I mostly have range of motion issues and problems with certain movements.” I had not even told him exactly what injury had occurred so all he had heard was I was on an obstacle course inflatable on Saturday March 28th and the inflatable had sunk under me- Jason pipes in- “Jess you do have pain- especially with certain twists and pivots.” Doc motions for me to climb up on the exam table ( via a large pull out step stool) and as I am struggling (I assume part of his dx of me was to watch me and see what I could and could not do) Jason finally stands up and offers to support me so I can hoist myself up. At this point I say “I do have an MRI disk that we gave to your office- it says I have a completely torn ACL and a 2nd grade MCL tear, at which point I lay down and stop talking because honestly it felt like he was not listening and or didn’t really want to hear me talking anyways.
He then proceeds to “scold” me for having an ace wrap on, telling me I will get blood clots and to not use it anymore” (I had been following the other doctors recommendation and it was providing some relief, support and peace of mind) He then tugged on my leg and knee and did a few massage probes- none of which was anything that sent me into my “pain” moments- he never turned my knee into the “pain” and at one point where he was massaging was “tender” so I said so but other then that really nothing else. He asked me “what kinds of sports did you enjoy prior to this injury?” and I said- “I have been doing water aerobics” and he says “good” then he walks towards the door and says “I am gonna go have a look at the images” and walks out the door total time that passed had to of been no more than 3 minutes- if that and most of that was because I was struggling to get up on the table.
I turned to Jas and said “you don’t like him do you?”- cause I was already feeling very underwhelmed by his demeanor personally-but I also know that sometimes the best doctors are not the most personable. Jason sort of shrugs and says “not for me to decide- as long as he is good and professional at what he does and makes you comfortable.” Doc comes back in and says he is just waiting for the imaging center to send over their report of the MRI reading and Jason reaches into our folder and hands him our copy- He disappears again and when he comes back he says:
“So I do not think you have an MCL tear- if you did you would be in pain- even today” (not because in reviewing the images of the MRI he sees no tear- but because I was not showing him the pain he felt I should have been showing) He then says “I also do not think your ACL is completely torn- it is torn- but it is likely that you had that tear long before this injury and have just been unaware of it” WHAT????– oooookay? I say “well I did hear and feel a pop when it happened” and he just goes “so?” and shrugs- then he proceeds with “So I am not recommending surgery right away- I am going to aggressively rehab you with physical therapy and we will see where you are in 2, 3, 6 months” I was still sort of stunned that his dx is so different then what 2 other medical professionals agreed was wrong. I already knew I was going to at minimum get another opinion (so technically a 4th opinion) but now having 2 saying one thing and 1 saying something different I may need several more opinions. It felt like he was wrapped up and heading out so I snapped out of my stunned daze and I said to him “I have a few questions- so he says “ok shoot”- I mention that I am going to DC and I want to be extra cautious- so if I can not use an ace wrap can I get a brace? ” he replies “Yup, next?” – I then ask, if it is possible to get a temporary parking permit mostly for use on my DC trip- again to be extra cautious- and he says “Sure- I don’t have any DC paperwork though” and he turns to walk out the door. I tell him DC recognizes Arizona’s permits so he says “sure- anything else?” At this point he is half way out the door- so I turn to Jason who is just about purple with fury and I say “You don’t have any other questions do you hun” Jason just shakes his head because he already recognizes this is all futile with the man so why waste anymore breath. Doc then points his fingers at Jas like a little gun, gives him a wink and turns down the hall.
And that was our experience with this Doc. Jason immediately says – “no.” and I knew exactly what he meant and agreed.
A PT comes in to fit me for a brace and a nurse comes in with paperwork for the physical therapy plan and some referral form saying that he was “referring us to such and such doc” Jason says “what and who is this? He never mentioned anything about any referral.” So she says- “hmmm let me go check” I get my brace on and nurse comes back and takes the referral saying “never-mind” and as the PT is about to leave he says “Any questions?” to which I exasperatedly sigh “not for YOU” Jason mutters- “so is that it? are we to just leave now? We really do not feel like we have been taken very well care of at all here today?” PT says “yup he just wants to see you again in four weeks” to which I say “THAT will NOT be happening- we will NOT be coming back here again.” PT sort of shrugs and walks away and we head towards the exit.
The office staff pipe up “do you need to make a follow up?” and I say “well Doc wants one- but we will NOT be doing that.” This of course sets them into “fix it mode” likely because we are within ear shot of the lobby just over their desk- they stand up and walk over saying “is everything ok” and Jason says- “not really.” I finally turn to her and then- everything I had been holding in comes out and I lose it. I start crying and blubbering about what an awful experience I had just endured- I felt rushed, not listened to, like I have more questions than answers like I was annoying the doctor and he had no time for me- especially to explain how he came to a different dx than what other professionals have told me etc. She asks if she can get her supervisor and I say “its not going to help- we are not coming back here ever again” She keeps on saying she hates to see me leave as upset as I was and I tell her “well it is what it is- this is how I feel about what just happened nothing is going to change that”- and we walk into the lobby. At this point the lobby was packed and almost everyone was staring at me- so I just grin and say- “Run- do NOT go here.” and we leave the building. From the moment the doc had walked in to the moment we were walking out was all of 23 minutes–(this included him reviewing the MRI, and the PT fitting me for the brace and my unloading on the office staff etc— I know because Jason had posted the picture of me on his facebook a few minutes before the doctor walked in and I texted my BFF about it while in the car driving home so there are time stamps.
I do feel a ton more confident walking with the brace on so at least something good came from the visit and the specialist co-pay.
In the end he could be absolutely right- maybe I am not as injured as the MRI imaging X-Ray tech who reads MRIs for a living said- or the Urgent care doctor that was the 2nd read of the images said- maybe that is why it hasn’t seemed to be as sever as what others have experienced- but what if I just have a different pain tolerance level or what if my fat is cushioning it all and providing support and lessening the pain, what if I also did nerve damage that makes the pain less then it “should be?” Even so- he did at least agree that I do have a tear of some sort on my ACL (but never said what degree he felt it was)- I wish he would have been a better doctor that would have sat and showed us what he was seeing or was not seeing on the MRI images so we could understand. I don’t think that is too much to ask.
So that is that- I will make a few additional appointments for when I get back from DC and we will go from there.
It is likely he is right- I am not as badly injured as the initial reports said- after all I am feeling really, really good and everyone is always so surprised how little pain I have been in- but after his rushed attitude and his demeanor- we have a hard time just trusting his 10 minute review of the situation.