Body Talk

Oh lord, these bodies! Am I right?

I’ve been seeing lots of doctors to try to start dealing with some of my weird health issues that I have been half-assedly confronting for several years. I spent a ton of money on those stupid tests that always come back normal, so then since I’d reached my deductible or however you say it, we realized I should go ahead and max out on the tests and specialists before July 1 when I am switching to new insurance. Is not this earthly life an unending delight? What a wonderful world we have made for ourselves and our doomed children.

When you have lots of doctors appointments all in a row you start to sort of go crazy because of how many times you reiterate the same information. At every visit you fill out the same paperwork listing your medical history, your allergies, and what you’d like to talk to the doctor about today. Then the technician takes you into the room and asks you all those questions again. Then the doctor comes in and asks them all again. Then at your next appointment it happens again. Imagine the vast acres of storage space necessary to contain the billions of pieces of paper on which the same person has circle “no” under “family history of heart disease” over and over and over again. Good luck kids!

Anyway so I went to an endocrinologist who told me my weird ailment is a crazy mystery and she can’t explain it but lets run a bunch of additional tests. I got so much blood drawn the phlebotomist goes “Whoa, look at all this blood!” Then I got a pelvic exam. Then I went to the coffee shop and read a bunch of horrible shit about capitalism.

Yesterday I went to the orthopedist to deal with my hip dysplasia, which of course I know can’t be “dealt with” in any real sense of the term but I just wanted to establish some facts and life goals with a doctor in my new town. I LOVED THIS DOCTOR SO MUCH. Not only did he describe me as “young and healthy” (“marry me!”) but he was just so straightforward and showed me a way to conceptualize my issues such that they might no longer feel like a big deal to me. The first orthopedist who diagnosed me gave it to me really seriously and empathetically, all “I know this is shocking” and “you’ll never run again” and “if you want, we can do the most intense surgery that it is possible to do on a human body where we chop your pelvis into pieces and then fit it back together and it takes a year before you can walk again and you have to buy a medical toilet that your husband will empty each day,” and anyway I left the appointment feeling totally shaken. This new doc was totally no bullshit and acted like, oh well, this is life, there are worse things, go on about your business, which is undoubtedly true. He said that crazy pelvic surgery is only for people who are bedridden from pain and there is no way he would do it to me, which was a relief, as my mom keeps suggesting I get it done, saying that she’ll come live in our house for a year to take care of me while I recover, like any of that is even vaguely realistic. Can you even get a year of medical leave? Good lord.

Just a quick sidenote: there was a full human skeleton wearing a hospital gown and a bandana in the examination room and I had to wait for the doctor for so long that I read an entire issue of Health magazine, after which I just stared at the skeleton and slowly became certain that it was looking at me with compassion. In turn, I started feeling warm and tender toward the skeleton, so exposed in its sad little bandana. What did you die of, skeleton, and why are you doomed to hang in this room having people post pictures of you on instagram? Which I did. I also learned that the readers of Health magazine apparently devote literally 100% of their conscious thought to obsessively hating themselves for eating food. And then there’s one article about how to blow his mind in bed with these 7 sex tricks you’ve “Definitely not read anywhere else.” One of them was that if you’re tired but he initiates sex you should just let it happen. I am fairly certain I have encountered this injunction before, e.g. in most of my sexual relationships with men. Hey-yo!

Anyway the doctor swept in, asked me what my deal was, and then said “Man, you’re falling apart!” when I told him. He explained hip dysplasia to me, told me there’s no cure and nothing to be done for it, then asked if I had questions. I asked “So is the situation that I am definitely going to have hip replacements in my life?” He said “Yes.” I said “when?” He said “I don’t know!” I said “Well what’s my goal?” and he looked annoyed and said “the goal is to live your life!” I was like “but I can’t run, right?” And again he got annoyed and he goes “Look. Should you run all the time? Probably not. But you know, whatever, if you want to run a 5k for charity or something, do it! And it’ll hurt like hell, and you’ll be in pain for the next couple days, but whatever, you take Advil. Live your life.” Then I said “so just to be clear: what’s going to happen is that the pain will slowly get worse and worse over time, and I’ll slowly stop being able to go for walks, do certain yoga poses, climb stairs, etc., and then when the pain gets really bad, I’ll get hip replacements?” He said “Yep.”

This conversation weirdly made me feel great. Up to this point I’d been stressed out, feeling like I needed to conserve my cartilage, that I shouldn’t go for walks, that I should be super careful about exercise, that every time it hurt it meant I had ruined another chunk of cartilage forevermore, blah blah, and it just felt depressing. I loved his real-world fearless take. Just do whatever you want, knowing that it will hurt, but oh well that’s life, shit hurts. And then when it gets so bad you can’t put on your shoes (this is the rubric they use), get the surgery. I suddenly realized that it is very lucky to have an incurable medical condition that actually does have a surgery that sort of fixes it, eventually. There are so many worse things in this world. So many.

So that’s where I’m at. I think he was annoyed with me because he mainly deals with old people who are barely ambulatory and I was in there all whining about how “it hurts when I do crow pose!!” This made me feel empowered. Who cares if it hurts when I do crow pose? NO PAIN NO GAIN BABY <---what they say in yoga Back to reading about capitalism. Ultimate "no pain no gain" situation.

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3 Responses to Body Talk

  1. Ericka says:

    I love this orthopedist. He and I are clearly fellow travelers. I will send all my ortho referrals to him!

  2. Eva says:

    Lifelong vegetarian here, making jello from grass-fed organic gelatin, hoping to avoid the knee replacement inevitability in my genes. Try it, the gelatin helps build cartilage.

  3. Tenor Bradman says:

    Swimming is available to you. And save up for a couple of hip replacements :-( But that will make you more comfortable, so it probably will be worth it.

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