I am not much for going to the doctor's office. My husband has often mocked me for being the pioneer type, something he attributes to my childhood fixation with the Little House on the Prairie books. But pressure from blog readers and family members plus two days of physical pain finally sent me to the doctor's office today. I knew nothing in my leg was broken, but it wasn't just a bad bruise either – I am used to bad bruises – and I wanted someone to tell me just exactly what was wrong with my leg, why it hurt like crazy to walk up the stairs, what I needed to do to avoid long-term damage, and most importantly, when it would be okay for me to snowboard again.
When I called the doctor who does the school physicals for my kids, the cheery triage nurse said, "Oh, I can get you in to see Dr. Sports Injury."
Well, that made me feel important. No one has ever invited me to see Dr. Sports Injury before. I have to admit, I liked the novelty of having a sports injury. I mean, the phrase sports injury conjures up this image of a highly trained, super fit athlete. It made me want to go out and buy some spandex.
I tested the new phrase out on the phone with a friend earlier today. "I'm icing my knee," I said to her importantly, "I've got a sports injury."
There was a pause. Then she said, curiously, "You got an injury from belly dancing? I didn't realize it was a contact sport."
At least she resisted the urge to laugh when I told her that I got injured getting off the chair lift.
So this afternoon, I saw Dr. Sports Injury, a sadistic young man who kept twisting my leg into different positions saying, "Does this hurt? Okay, does it hurt now?" I am guessing he got his practice from torturing siblings; he must have been a fun little brother. Like most doctors I know, he kept hesitating to give me an absolute diagnosis. I swear, I know doctors who will look at a woman who is eight months pregnant and say, "Well, there's a 95 percent chance you are pregnant." Luckily, I find it very easy to be assertive with a doctor when he is younger than me, and I got the information I needed out of him.
He said that when I twisted my leg into that horrible position, I stretched a ligament (the medial collateral ligament, to be specific) and pinched the cartilage. He kept saying, "It could be much worse. Your knees are actually in great shape for someone your age." Someone your age? I wanted to slap him but then I remembered that he spends most of his time dealing with high school athletes, rather than their mothers, so I cut him some slack and decided to take the compliment.
He finally gave me a percentage; there's a seventy percent chance the injury will just heal on its own so long as I am careful to stay off it. The other thirty percent would involve physical therapy or surgery. I am of course assuming that I will be in that seventy percent category. My gut feeling is that my leg is going to be fine.
When he asked how I treated the injury immediately after it happened, I said, "Ice, elevation, and reiki."
"The ski patrol does reiki?" he asked, impressed.
I explained that the treatment consisted of me sitting in a snowbank and doing reiki on myself. "With mittens on because it was fucking cold out." I might have left out the part about me snowboarding down the mountain on the injured limb.
I kept badgering him to help me come up with a rule of thumb so that I would know when I could snowboard again. Finally, he said, "Okay, if you can run up and down a flight of stairs without pain, you are ready to snowboard again." That made sense to me. I've had injuries far more painful than this one, so I am confident it will heal pretty fast. I'd like to get back to the slopes while all this wonderful snow is still here.