Ankle explorations

We finally got to see the ankle surgeon, or the one who used to be an ankle surgeon. It was an appointment that required a waiting time of 3 months. It was the 3rd opinion visit and we now need a fourth opinion. Getting 4 opinions thus takes about one year.

I had some misplaced fantasy that this visit would resolve things. Of course it didn’t. It helped the orthopedic practice pay for their two X-ray machines and the doctor for something of import to him says the cynic in me. Despite the fact that I came armed with recent arthroscopy pictures, a recent post-op X-ray and an MRI less than 6 months old, the physician’s assistant ordered another X-ray, from a different angle, because the doctor would surely want it.

I sensed the memories of a previous dialogue with his boss that went something like this: “why didn’t you order [this or that specific] X-ray? How can I do my job if you don’t provide me with all the diagnostic tools I need? You are wasting my very precious time!!!” On the other hand, this may simply be a practice policy – every physician has a target number of MRIs and X-Rays a months to pay for the darn things.

Of course I hadn’t come for a diagnosis – I already knew it – but for an opinion about ankle replacement. At least I got that. The doctor no longer does this because there is only one category of people that does usually well with this sort of surgery (light framed older females). I fit the bill only partially, not quite being of a ‘light frame.’ But the alternative, fusion, also isn’t quite right for me, as two doctors have now testified. Fusion is for ankles that are stiff and painful. After the fusion they will still be stiff but no longer painful. It would be a setback for me. But then again, now I am flexible and painful and the flexibility doesn’t serve me well at all.

I do have a better understanding of what either intervention consists of and the recovery time. Neither is appealing, including full casts, crutches and a long time to recover from, with outcomes that are not entirely predictable.

And so the decision is once more postponed until I get that fourth opinion from an ankle doctor in Boston whose 13 reviews on a random website range from ‘a one star BUTCHER (in caps) to a gushing five star ‘I have my life back again because I can walk!’ I will hobble along for another 3 or 4 months until I secure his attention.

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May 2013
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