Cat Scratched

With a renewed enthusiasm, I returned to the garage to spend some time working on the Cougar the past few days. Assisted by a power drill and an army of wire wheels I went to work on the surface of the engine compartment. I still had a considerable amount of surface rust, paint and 40 years of gunk to clean off before spraying with a rust inhibitor and hopefully a primer. I made some very good progress as well, pulling hoses and wiring harness out of the the engine compartment to allow more room to clean and prep.

Wednesday I went and purchase a new Mikita 4.5″ grinder. My neighbor had brought his over last week and the speed at which the grinder cleared away the gunk, rust and paint was amazing. I figured it was money well spent and most likely something I would need down the line. After my son and I got home from Home Depot I pulled the Cougar midway out of the garage and made a decision to work on the inside of the trunk. This area is worse than the engine compartment as it suffered from a fire years ago. Taking a closer look at the underside of the trunk, there is heavy rust, but nothing that will compromise the structure.

I plugged in my new toy, put on my safety goggles, gloves and ear protection and went to work with the grinder. I had hoped to clean most of the floor of the trunk while standing where the fuel tank sits. About 15 minutes into grinding, the grinder kicked and caught the tip of my left index finger. One look and I knew my day was done. The grinder (11,000 RPM) had gone right through the gloves I was wearing and I saw a pool of red start to spread. After a few expletives, I removed the gloves to look at the injury. While not pretty I have a gash in top of my finger and the amount of blood made the injury look worse than it was (I believe). After cleaning with water and wrapping a towel around the finger I cleaned up the garage and pushed the Cougar back into the garage. I was off to the urgent care facility.

My son and I spent the better part of an hour, as they cleaned and addressed the cut in the finger. The doctor gave me the two options, leave the wound to heal itself, which would heal funny and promote possible infection or sutures. We decided on sutures, which I was fine with then suddenly got hit with a cold sweat and suddenly lightheaded.

The nurses laid me down from a sitting position, gave my oxygen and put ice packs on my head and behind my neck. About 5 minutes later I was feeling better. They told me this was common in males for some reason. After 3 injections of Lidocaine, two at the base of the index finger and the third in or near the wound, she began to stitch the wound. A total of 4 stitches later and gauze dressing and I was ready to leave urgent care.

When I got home I relaxed and waited for the Lidocaine to wear off. Once it did the finger was throbbing and sore. Some how the bandage had fallen off and the finger looked terrible, but worse it was very tender and sore, as to be expected. I am to follow up with my family doctor on Monday, but could remove the gauze dressing after 24 hours for bandages.

I now look at this as a learning experience. Never take safety lightly. I thought I was okay with the protection I had in place, but will need to reevaluate that when I get past the injury and start working on the Cougar again. I had a pair of lightweight leather gloves on, but next time around it will be a heavier pair of work gloves when using the grinder. Thankfully the injury was not worse and this will serve as a reminder to me when working with power tools to exercise caution. Hard lesson to learn. Might have to take a picture as an ugly reminder later.

Physical Therapy Begins

Let the physical therapy begin! It’s a day shy of a month since I injured my left knee playing soccer…yeah I know dear, you told me so…today was day the start of another physical therapy session in order to resolve the pain and strengthen the muscles around the knee. Depending on the injury, as I am quite confident it’s NOT osteoarthritis in the knee, I might end up back at the orthopedics’s office inside of 10 days.

I passed on the story and timeline of the injury and the subsequent doctor visits and the fact that no one touched my knee for more than about 60 seconds in the three different office visits I had. Today, the therapist pushed, poked and prodded for a go 30 minutes and is convinced there IS a problem, but to what extent I will have to wait and see. Part of the problem is continued swelling on the knee. Ice, heat, elevation and an anti-inflammatory are the prescribed remedy for the swell, but that won’t account for the pain and discomfort I am still in.

As we talked during our session, I made mention that the orthopedic surgeon spent no more than 5 minutes with me, never touching me knee and based only on X-rays diagnosed me with osteoarthritis. She had a good laugh and disagreed with his diagnosis. I went into more detail about how this injury feels the same as my 2009 ACL injury in my right knee, but the orthopedic seems to be dismissing any pain or swelling. Then again I am quickly losing faith in our medical system IF this turns out to be something more severe.

After about 45 minutes I was given a list of exercises in order to strengthen muscles around the knee. Most of the exercises caused pain to the knee (interior portion), but she told me to do a few sets of ten, if possible. I will be returning on Friday for another session. I am already having my doubts, not about the therapy but about how this entire process is playing out. The therapist said she would have liked to see an MRI, but I told her none were requested by the orthopedic, which only called his opinion into further question.

While I wasn’t happy with the orthopedics’s diagnosis, I think the therapist is siding with me that there IS a problem and hopefully her notes and input will help me get the situation the sort of resolution I am looking for.

“Your doctor screwed up.”

Never thought I would hear another doctor say this about a referring doctor, but it happened today. This just furthers my case I have been building since 2009 and my ACL injury, followed by the statin and Vitamin D prescriptions to the latest in a series of follies that have me very frustrated…check that pissed off as it relates to my most recent injury, my left knee.

Let me quickly recall the folly as it has taken place to date. Sunday, March 4, I play soccer for the first time in about 9 months. In an “I told you so” moment, I hurt my left knee after falling on the outside of the knee. Later that evening I am working on my knees and I hear a pop, suddenly I have a shooting pain on the inside of my knee. The following day I get an appointment with the nurse practitioner since the doctor isn’t available.

After work I stop by the office for my appointment and after waiting 15 minutes I am admitted to a room to wait for the nurse practitioner. About 5 minutes pass and she walks in and asks some routine questions pertaining to what I thought and how I hurt my knee. She spends no more than 5 minutes with and says “it’s just sprained.” Followed by the standard, ice, heat, elevation and an anti-inflamatory medication, which she was too thrilled to prescribe. She also noted on my record physical therapy IF I wanted it. I declined, but the note stayed on my record, so I could call and they would send off the referral.

A week goes by and the knee doesn’t improve, it’s swollen, sore and honestly I am having a difficult time walking. I call and ask for a referral to my orthopedic surgeon. I am told I cannot have that because the nurse practitioner would need to see me for a follow up, but the doctor wouldn’t. Figure that out. So I take the physical therapy since it was the only referral I was granted. I call and make appointments, but the soonest they can see me April 3!

I give it a day and call back and tell them I am in excruciating pain and walking is becoming a difficult. I get an appointment for Tuesday and the nurse’s assistant has me strip to my shorts as I wait for the nurse practitioner to see me. She walks in and right away her demeanor is different. She can see something now with me knee, she obviously couldn’t feel in her 5 minutes with me the week prior. She pulls and yanks at my knee and says, “your meniscus is torn.” She then writes up another prescription and a referral to the orthopedic surgeon.

Today, some 2 weeks after my injury I finally get to the orthopedics’s office. As seems to be customary, I was on time, but waited about 40 minutes before I get into a room, in my skivvies waiting for the orthopedic surgeon. The first words out of his mouth after he greets me, “you know, your doctor screwed up.” I explain my frustration to him, why I don’t know but then he says, there is nothing I can do since the doctor did not request x-rays. Thankfully one of his assistants was nice enough to get me the referral to get x-rays done on my left knee. Unfortunately, he didn’t even ask about the injury and I had to reschedule my appointment for Wednesday.

So that 30 minute appointment turned into a 3 hour fiasco, but I did get the x-rays and I am just livid with my primary doctor’s office. I believe that was the final straw for me. Hell, I might not even go back to get his opinion on what his prescription of Vitamin D has done for my alleged deficiency after I get my blood test in about 2 weeks. I can’t believe I have had such a poor and frustrating experience. I am sure not all doctors are this bad or experiences this frustrating. Unfortunately for me I have just seem to draw the poor luck when it comes to doctors. While I am still looking for a new primary care physician, the list is quite long, some 300 doctors in our local area, all accepting new patients. To be honest it is somewhat mind boggling because outside of reading reviews on the Internet how does someone know if they are going to get a physician they like? So the search continues, but my journey has only just begun, much like resolving this left knee pain. More on Wednesday…

Coincidence?: Part V – The Referral

So it took two office visits, $30 and 8 days, but I finally got what I was after. Then again in my opinion I should of had that referral last Monday when I met with the nurse practitioner. Still the end result, which isn’t truly the end, more like the beginning because I will have to go through a similar process when I visit the orthopedic surgeon next Tuesday. This is the same doctor who operated on my right ACL nearly 3 years ago. Funny, but to this day the knee is still numb…

With the referral in my hand, I will have to give up going on vacation with my wife, son and mother-in-law. It was going to be my first visit to SoCal in 7 years! Hard to believe it’s been that long. I cannot put off the office visit with the orthopedic surgeon if indeed there is more to my knee injury. The nurse practitioner did seem pretty confident I had a torn meniscus, but still unsure as the severity of the injury to the MCL.

So today was a step in the right direction. We will see what happens next. I just find it really weird this playing out similar to what happened in 2009 when I tore the ACL. I am guessing the orthopedic surgeon will request an MRI, which will probably happen Tuesday of next week, followed by another office visit. Chances are IF surgery is required it will happen before the end of March. Fingers crossed we will see what he has to say next week

Coincidence?: Part IV – The Bullshit

My wife continues to tell me it’s due to insurance reasons, but I have my doubts. I called the physical therapy office today about 90 minutes later they returned my phone call, took some basic information and started the process to schedule some appointments. The first available appointment, April 3! That is three weeks away, what am I supposed to do in the meantime with a knee that continues to be a problem as described yesterday in Coincidence?: Part 3?

The moment after hanging up the phone with the PT office, I dialed the doctor’s office. I explained my situation and how the knee was doing. I explained that it would be next month before I could get in for physical therapy and if there was someone available to see me today. Unfortunately, maybe I should have pushed a bit more, the nurse practitioner, wasn’t available, but they would not have the doctor see me. Huh?

The reason was because the doctor was not the original physician to “treat” (which they didn’t) me last Monday. All I am trying to get out of this visit is an MRI and a referral to an orthopedic surgeon, someone who knows more about the true problem other than hearing “it’s a sprain, ice, heat and you’ll be fine in 6 weeks.” My body is telling me otherwise, yet nothing I have said or done seems to strike a chord with this doctor’s office.

I am set up with an unnecessary appointment (that will cost me $15) with the nurse practitioner, who will probably spend less than 5 minutes with me (again) and not provide me with additional information that I already don’t know. I would venture to guess they will be quick to prescribe medication. Way to go! Big Pharma to the rescue again. Pfft…not. Regardless of the outcome, I won’t get a definite answer on my knee until AFTER we get back from vacation (which starts Sunday). It includes a roadtrip to SoCal with stops at Disneyland and San Diego scheduled. That is one less week to recuperate IF surgery is needed to resolve the MCL issue. Unfortunately time on the books is not something I have a lot of. So the saga continues…