Sunday, March 19, 2006

The lower middle-class health care experience: I was 16 before I ever saw a dentist. I was chewing on ice and bubble gum, and a tooth exploded. I'm on the second crown for that tooth, fortunately I actually have pretty good teeth. I've been told I should have had braces, but I was never sure that wasn't just a cosmetic thing designed to make orthodontists rich.
I hid a cat bite from my mom when I was about 4, and had to get pulled off a board when I stepped on a nail in it and got my foot impaled. This happened twice, I think. My parents always got so upset when I got hurt, and I never understood that it was about that basic empathy parents have for their kid. I always heard the part about the money it cost them, and thought that was where it hurt them most. I'm sure that wasn't true...
When I hurt my knee on a skiing trip with a boyfriend, one they didn't want me to go on, one that I begged for (rare for me) and took a bad fall on an over-ambitious run, I never told them. Later, when my knee hurt too much for me to keep playing soccer, I just quit. The pain would sometimes abate, but always lurked, should I get too much impact or turn the wrong way. When I started doing martial arts, I had to be very, very careful. When you have knees that don't kneel, Japanese martial arts become especially difficult.
I had to go and choose the thing I could not do.

After the whole Rolfing series twice, plus some wonderful advanced work, my body feels so good that the knee and the hip stick out like the proverbial "sore thumb" as they never did before in a background of constant pain and limitation.
I insisted that conservative treatment was not the answer, and the very nice military osteopath on post sent me to a German colleage, an orthopedic surgeon who is also an osteopath.
After a short interval of manipulation (woggle waggle, does that hurt? Ow!) he ordered a hip and a knee Xray.

Hey presto, I have a possible medial meniscus tear of the right knee, and hip dysplasia on the left side.
From what I've read, babies are supposed to be screened for dysplasia, and put in some kind of brace. Even with that, and surgery, if needed, they can develop osteoarthritis later. I also found that they most certainly get OA later, if they are undiagnosed. I was never diagnosed. I just walk a little funny, and tend to topple to the left if I am not paying attention, or am tired.
Even though I have complained about my hip all of my adult life, no one ever took an Xray, and if they did, they didn't say anything about the angles.
I have complained about the knee often as well, and been diagnosed with chondromalacia, patellofemoral syndrome, water on the knee, and jumper's or runner's knee. No one ever bothered to order an MRI.
Why? Is it because I don't fit the "profile" of ripped athlete in some modern popular sport? If I was playing soccer or softball, perhaps I would have been treated as an "athlete" and gotten more aggressive treatment.
I've never been exactly a couch potato, but I've never been naturally skinny. A person of normal metabolism and my activity level would probably be pretty skinny. Both my parents are diabetics, so I didn't exactly inherit a great metabolism. I don't eat sugar or much in the way of refined carbs any more, so I'm pretty lean (about 30% body fat) and I work out daily with cardio and/or weights(in addition to budo practice, walks, hiking, and a busy massage practice schedule). If I skip that, though, I go right up in a hurry.
Since when isn't the practice of martial arts an actual sport? If people don't understand something, does that mean it doesn't exist? If it can't be sponsored by Nike, does that mean it doesn't matter?
I'm not surprised about either diagnosis. As I have learned more as a Rolfer, I have had a pretty good idea of what is going on with my body. I'm happy to have some concrete answers. We tend to blame ourselves for our problems, especially with the dippy New Age influence of "how you think is what you are" which we carry to ridiculous extremes. Most times it's just an ordinary organic cause, not anything dramatic/traumatic at all.

I'm just finding myself sort of frustrated "after the fact" and wondering if, if I had really pushed, I could have gotten a decent diagnosis earlier. Yeah well.
Hindsight is often the art of seeing what an ass I have been.

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