After last week’s column about my broken ankle, I was pleased to receive a genuine outpouring of sympathy from my readers.
I only wish the outpouring extended to my doctor.
Now, when I say “my” “doctor,” I’ll remind you that I’m an American, so I don’t have a doctor; I have a thick book from my insurance company dictating the doctors I’m permitted to see.
I called about 20 orthopedic specialists and only one would give me an appointment.
Thus, he became my doctor.
On Friday, he replaced my temporary, emergency-room cast with a real Fiberglas model, the kind of cast you can stick into a closing elevator door with impunity.
But two days after my appointment, my foot started hurting. I called and left a message with his service that I was “experiencing considerable pain.”
I’m still waiting for a callback.
Now, when I used to call recent ex-girlfriends and leave messages saying that I was “experiencing considerable pain,” I’m man enough to admit that the women were justified in blowing off the call.
But I tend to like a little more, how you say?, concern from the medical profession. Perhaps in the future, I should reconsider my method of picking doctors. Throwing a dart at the insurance company handbook isn’t working.
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What’s with these orthopedic specialists anyway? Do they think they’re bone gods or something?
After setting my ankle originally, the ER nurse at New York Methodist Hospital had instructed me to call the hospital’s “physician referral service” to get a recommended orthopedist for the requisite follow-up. That made sense — except when I called the hotline, I was given only three names, all of them beginning with the letters “ME.” I wondered: is this a referral service or a random doctor name generator?
I called all three specialists, but didn’t get an appointment.
“I don’t do ankles anymore,” one told me.
Don’t do ankles? Since when is the ankle a second-class citizen? I may be sitting in the back of the bus (to protect my broken joint, I assure you), but the ankle takes a backseat to no bag of bones — especially if I’m going to experience such considerable pain.
• • •
Favorite moment of the week: Guy sees me huffing up Eighth Avenue on my crutches. It’s about 15 degrees out, but sweat is pouring off my forehead like I’ve just played three sets with Borg, and he sidles up to commiserate.
“Man, that’s rough,” he said, suggesting that I stop and talk.
Frankly, I was happy to stop and talk, mostly because stopping and talking allowed me to stop, which meant I could catch my breath. And as I discovered in the first installment of what I hope will only be a four-week series on life with a broken (in two places!) ankle, people say the darnedest things.
But what he said was more than darnedest. It was close to the dumbest.
“Here’s what you have to do,” he said. “When it happened to me, I took the next six weeks off, sat on a beach and didn’t work. That’s the only way to beat this thing.”
Excuse me, I said. Got any other bright ideas? Actually, he did.
“Get a chauffeur,” he said. “It’s worth it. Best $100 a day you’ll ever spend.”
Make that the only $100 a day I’ll ever spend — because once I spend the $100 a day, I won’t have anything left.
Kuntzman’s ankle is expected to be in a cast for four more weeks. Will he be free of this Fiberglas hell in time to collect his Editor of the Year award in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on Feb. 21? Watch for updates. In the meantime, sympathy cards and fruit baskets can be sent to The Brooklyn Paper.