Here’s how it goes. You wake up. Something aches. Something continues to ache. That same thing aches for a few weeks. You curtail your jogging. You avoid high heels. Finally, you go on the Internet in a quest for answers. Google shows you a spider web of meridians traveling up and down your body. At 2 a.m. you’re wondering: Is it arthritis? Maybe a tumor? Perhaps you’re getting ready to have a stroke. Or is it menopause? The possibilities are endless.
Diagnosing an ailment is like going on a scavenger hunt. You try and try, and if you’re lucky, you finally find what you’re looking for. Usually, a doctor gives you six minutes before you’re ushered out of the office with a prescription in your hand. You feel grateful that it’s only $350 for one month.
I’ve had an ache in my hip for 2-3 months. It’s now becoming a good friend of mine, following me wherever I go. Actually I’m getting quite fond of it. A day without this ache is a lonely one, so to speak.
I’ve tried cutting down on swimming. I’ve abandoned golf. Tennis anyone? I don’t think so! My thighs are getting as wide as the 405 freeway. For those who are athletically inclined, maybe this is the penance we pay for years of pounding ourselves into the ground. We look great at 30, and when we’re official AARP members, we creak like rusty pipes.
So it’s onward, in the quest for relief. Most schools of thought suggest going to a specialist. Doctors spend years in medical school trying to find answers to our ailments. But since they are in “practice” I think they are simply making an educated guess as to what’s wrong with you. And we have to pay them anyway.
What if we simply paid doctors based on whether they properly diagnosed our problems? It would be an incentive plan. Hey, it works for salespeople. Maybe doctors would be better at getting to the root of an ailment if we paid them for results, not for simply making an educated guess.
To date, I have seen three doctors regarding my hip pain. My first visit, an orthopedic doctor, turned into a discussion of golf, cycling and swimming. Nice guy. Very handsome. Probably travels a lot. He gave me a cortisone shot in my elbow, as that was bothering me more, and completely ignored my hip. I guess they can only treat one part of the body at a time. That way, you can always come back again for subsequent ailments, and of course an additional charge.
I then went to a chiropractor. He had just eaten a banana before he adjusted me. I thought I was in Costa Rica with the primates as he leaned over, and coaxed me into exhaling while he snapped every vertebra in my spine. I felt pretty good for a while until they asked me for $250. Apparently they wanted to get as much of the deductible from my insurance company before I left their office. Turns out they were unable to communicate with my provider which only required a $15 co-pay for my initial visit. No more snap-crackle-pop for me.
I then went to an acupuncturist. After being turned into a pincushion, several electrodes were put on various parts of my body, grinding into my butt, spine and lower back like a rotor tiller. Maybe she was practicing contour farming, who knows? The experience was relaxing, especially the part where I got the free massage, but a day later, the hip discomfort returned. Goodbye wave music and incense.
I now understand that this is perhaps part of getting older. Ailments of various denominations come and go for no apparent reason. I have one more appointment scheduled with a prominent doctor at UCLA but he seems to cancel every time I make an appointment. I’ll keep you posted.
Mary McGrath is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including:Chicken Soup for the Soul (Jan. 2019), Newsweek, Wall St. Journal, Betterafter50.com, Purpleclover.com, LANG Newspaper Group, and Good Housekeeping, Please find her work at www.marymcgrathphotography.com