Friday, August 30, 2013

Knee Deep

So, my knee clicks.  That's the word written on the medical report.  In reality, it's like a sharp snap that pulls my kneecap out and a bit to the right.  It happens every time I straighten or bend my knee, which is a lot.  Every once in a while, it locks and sends an intense jolt of pain through my leg that takes my breath away.  It's especially great when this happens while I'm sleeping.  The best part is that it's obvious and noticeable.  What I mean is, you can touch my leg and feel it happen, and if it's quiet enough, you can even hear it.  So, what the heck?  After having half a dozen or so medical professionals play around with my leg, I might as well let everyone else in on the weirdness, too.

To figure out what exactly was going on in there, I got to see an orthopedic surgeon and then get an MRI.  This doctor specializes in knees, particularly the left one.  (Had I known back in pre-med that I could have established a career as the "Left Ear Lobe Specialist," I might have stuck it out.)  The surgeon moved my knee around every which way, looked up at me, and said, "Well, you've got a neat party trick here."  Party trick.  Really.  I mean, I'm about as socially awkward as a person can be, but even I know that busting this thing out at a shindig is no way to get down.

After my MRI (see previous post), I knew what to expect from the doctor and waited for the explanation of all that was to come.  Unsurprisingly, he started out by asking me how my "party trick" was doing.

Me:  Well, it's actually a lot cooler than I knew.
Doctor:  How so?
Me:  You know how some people have joints that predict weather patterns?  Like, 'My elbow aches, so it's definitely going to snow today.'
Doctor:  Yeah, I guess...
Me:  Well, my knee can tell you where Jimmy Hoffa is, which is a hell of party trick if you ask me.  Who needs to know the weather in Austin?  Hot.  Every day.  I'd say the location of a notorious criminal is much more relevant.

Sadly, Hoffa's fat pad edema is in fact named after some boring doctor who isn't even related to Jimmy Hoffa (allegedly).  It's much the same as the Baker's Cyst, which has nothing to do with baking, even though that would have made total sense to me because I spend most of my free time doing stuff like this:

So, that was two major let-downs on the knee injury.  He asked if I had any other questions before he went into detail about my options.  Of course I did.

Me:  Well, the PA said that I have extra high-riding kneecaps and extended mobility.  Is that like a super power or something?  Like, maybe I can end world hunger with the extra knee work?
Doctor:'s not really a good thing.  I mean, it's not...the worst thing.  It's just not what we typically see in the average patient.
Me:  So what are you saying?  I belong in a freak show?  "Come see the girl with High-Riding Kneecaps! She's not normal!"
Doctor:  Okay, well, I wouldn't go that far.  It's just that there's a range of normal, and you're at the very high end of normal or perhaps even the low end of abnormal.
Me:  I don't believe anyone has ever described me so aptly in one sentence before.

Abby Normal.  I'm almost sure that was the name.
As we went over the options, he discussed the pros and cons of each choice.  Basically, the bottom line is that this clicking and aching is going to stay with me for the rest of my life, and there isn't really any good procedure for a permanent cure.  The doctor noted my frustration and said, "Hey, it isn't cancer, and you aren't going to die from it."  Well, those were two outcomes I never worried about.  Thanks for making me feel like a jerk for complaining.  I know it isn't cancer.  It isn't a lot of things, like starvation, or EF-5 tornadoes, or even the Zombie Apocalypse, but it is my knee.  And it is also quite unpleasant.

So I now have a non-life-threatening, "it's not cancer," snap crackle pop in my knee, and it can't even tell you where Jimmy Hoffa is.  This is the worst party trick EVER.  Thanks a lot, Suburban, thou lump of foul deformity!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

That Time My Knee Solved a Mystery

This week, the orthopedic surgeon's office called to tell me the results of my knee MRI had come in, and I needed to be seen as soon as possible.  I explained to the woman that my dog was having an emergency surgery and everything was kind of up in the air, so I had no idea when I'd be able to make the appointment.  Instead of the understanding reply I expected, the extremely huffy response I received was something along the lines of, "Well, I guess I can tell the doctor that, but you still have to come in if you want to get your results.  This is very serious."

I wanted to tell her that I was so overwhelmed I hadn't been very good at doing anything useful in the last week, including things like sleeping or eating regularly.  What I have been good at is crying, worrying, feeling insanely guilty, and cleaning obsessively.  (Obsessive cleaning means nit-picking my way through cabinets and drawers, item by item, for hours, when dishes may be left un-washed next to the sink.  It's less useful and more of a cleaning obfuscation.)  I couldn't explain any of this, though, because I knew she didn't have any compassion and because I was so far past my stress threshold that I was afraid anything I said would come out in a strangled half-sob, half-maniacal guffaw worthy of a Batman villain.

Actually, now that I think about it, if Ben Affleck can play Batman, I think I could make a pretty good villain.  So if any big, important movie casting directors are reading this, have your people contact my people.  I'd make a pretty good PenGwyn, seeing as I can bring my own personal flair to the name.  But, I probably can't be Catwoman because I'm allergic to cats.  Bummer, right?  Well, I'm sure we could still work something out.

And now, back to my point.

The next day, I got another phone call from the same woman.  She started out with, "Okay, so the doctor said I can read the report to you, but you're going to have to make an appointment if you want it explained."  Okay.  I get it.  I need to make an appointment. 

As soon as she said there were four points on the report, I knew I was going to have to write it all down.  This may seem less than helpful until you recall that Google's most important feature is allowing all of us to ensure we are actually dying of the worst possible diseases before we even step foot into a doctor's office.  Your knee hurts because of a car wreck?  Actually, no.  You have cancer AND ebola.  That's some pretty crap luck. (Obviously, I had a fun evening planned.)

To be extra considerate, the woman on the phone was spelling certain words for me to be sure I got them all down correctly, except I began to notice that she was spelling out normal words like l-a-t-e-r-a-l and skipping the medical terms, as if she thought I was some kind of idiot savant.  So you're going to spell out joint, but you're leaving popliteal up to me?  Gee.  Thanks.

And then she got to the part I couldn't understand at all.

Lady:  Number four is *mumbles* fat pad edema....
Me:  I didn't catch that word in front of fat pad.  Did you say Hoss, like Bonanza?
Lady:  No, *mumbles*
Me:  Okay, can we spell it out?  Hostas?
Lady:  Not essssessss, effffffs.
Me:  Oh, so Hoffa's fat pad?
Lady:  Yes.
Me:  I didn't know my knee had a fat pad.
Lady:  Well, I don't know what it means, either, so you're going to have to see the doctor.
Me:  It would be nice to know the hows and whys of the gangster's abode in my knee.  Who would have thought Jimmy Hoffa was in there all this time?
Lady:  That's why you're going to have to come in.

Clearly, she was done listening to me at that point.

And then I got some messages from my dad.

Dad:  What did the doctor's office say?
Me:  Well, there was some stuff about MCLs and cysts and unimportant stuff like that.  Oh, and I have a phat pad in my knee, and Jimmy Hoffa lives there.
Dad:  In other words, you didn't understand what they told you.
Me:  No, I wrote it all down.  Hoffa's fat pad edema.  I think it makes perfect sense.  Edema means swelling.  If you had a supposed-dead teamster hiding out in your fat pad, it would be swollen.  See?  I don't even need a doctor.  What I need is the FBI.
Dad:  Or maybe some sleep...?

I guess my dad could be right, but whenever I do get to go to the doctor, it would be nice if they could explain how a mob boss got into a fat pad when he died more than a decade before I was born.  Maybe Jimmy Hoffa is a Time Lord.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hold on to Your Potatoes!

Paper is a hot commodity at my house.  It just doesn't exist.  Well, of course, there are books.  I have books on every wall, on the floor, in my bed, on every horizontal surface... If I could stack books on the ceiling just to fit more of them in, I would.  But writing paper is so scarce that any time I chance upon a notebook, it's like finding the lost city of El Dorado.  

Except, I seem to have some sort of dementia when it comes to notebooks.  They're all filled up, by me, but I have no memory of the things I've written.  I'm talking NO memory.  Like, there are plenty of inside jokes that I don't even understand, and they were *my* jokes.

I'm the girl who hates lists and couldn't write one to save my own life (or make grocery shopping easier), yet I have scores of notebooks filled with lists and words and doodles I don't even remember making.  And, they're all ridiculous.  Things I Would Teach a Parrot to Say, Inappropriate Songs to Sing at My Funeral, numerous bucket lists, books to read, old words that should make a comeback, the countries of the world in alphabetical order....and it goes on and on.  (People who have sat next to me at meetings sometimes must have wondered why I have Azerbaijan in my notes, because they must have missed something.)

Today I found a notebook I don't even remember seeing, let alone writing in, but I found a list of things I should do with my life.  At the top of the list, I wrote "Know All the Things!"  and then crossed it out and wrote, "Damnit, Google." next to it.  At the bottom of the page was a list of pros and cons for becoming an archaeologist.

In case it's too hard to read, the pros say *My name is already Jones *I could find a good man, and *I hate Nazis.  The cons are *I don't have enough Asian friends *Maybe he wouldn't be a Time Lord, and *Sometimes it is snakes.  Apparently I decided the cons outweighed the pros in this case.

My favorite part is the fact that I believed having a kid that looks like Data from the Goonies follow me around yelling "Doctah Jones!" was more of a pro than finding Biblical artifacts.  

Okay, so it is a pretty good pro.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

If the Shoe Fits...

I was at what was to be my last appointment at the chiropractor when a woman walked in who commanded all the attention in the room.  Her heels clacked on the hard floor, and she talked on her cell phone, loudly, about what a horrible day she'd had.  And even though she was late for her appointment, she would go before me.

When she sat down, I snapped a quick picture at her unbelievable shoes.

Her shoes weren't the only unbelievable part of her get-up, though.  She was wearing an outfit of clothes that were a couple of sizes too small so as to accentuate her features.  I have to give it to her - the overall effect on her was much better than it would have been on me.  If I wore clothes like that, it would be less "Hey, look at my curves!" and more "Hey, it's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man!"  But I digress.

She went into her room, and the chiropractor attempted to tell her that she had significant spine and hip rotations that would need to be worked on.  And then he mentioned the shoes.

Doctor:  I'm not saying the shoes caused all of the problems, but they will add to it. 
Lady:  Yeah, but, my feet don't hurt.

This was the part where I wished he would have broken into a rendition of Dem Bones so that she could understand how her foot bone eventually connected to her hip bone and made it unhappy somehow.  Every sentence she said from that point on started with "Yeah, but..." and got louder and louder as she tried to defend her shoes and her lifestyle.

The rest of us just sat and waited, getting to hear it all.  As the door opened, the conversation had not ended.  Maybe I was feeling brave because this was my last appointment to see the chiropractor or any of these people, or maybe my eye-rolling muscles were feeling tired and over-worked. 

Doctor:  Whenever you wear heels, your body is tilted forward.  In heels this high, you walk like...
Me:  A Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Doctor:  I was going to say you walk like you're tilted on a ski slope.  All of your muscles are tight and eventually going to be damaged beyond repair.  Walking like a dinosaur isn't far off.

The girl shot me a prissy, murderous look, but I didn't care.  Everyone in the room felt the same way about her.  I just wanted to have my appointment and then go home forever.  I wouldn't be back, so I wouldn't have to worry about seeing anyone here again.  

But then...after my appointment, the doctor said he needed to see me again next week.  That figures.