Wednesday, February 22, 2006


After quite a bit of hassle with scheduling and trying to work with my doctor (who remains a dreadful moron) I managed to get an appointment for an MRI. Initially WRA (Washington Radiology Associates) had me scheduled for an MRI without contrast. Without contrast, as best I can ascertain, means that I don't have to have both ankles filmed and don't have to get a shot. So I was pretty jazzed about without contrast, and even better it is far more common so there are more slots available. Well, this was not to be. My doctor insisted on getting my MRI with contrast. He never explained why, but I thought, he does have a degree there is at least an outside chance that he knows what's wrong and how best to fix it. Yeah, that's simply wishful thinking.

Getting the MRI with contrast meant I had to wait an additional three weeks to get my ankle scoped, by which time they would actually be using Carbon-14 dating to figure out what was wrong with my ankle. Needless to say I wasn't excited about this, but I had little choice. My doctor wouldn't send me to an orthopedist until I had the MRI. So I waited. After less than three weeks a slot opened up and I was seen early. Hooray! I dutifully fasted before the MRI in preparation for the contrast procedure.

Here's the thing, contrast wasn't necessary. You know why? Because, according to the technician, you get contrast MRI when you suspect cancer or when there has been surgery in the area. See these are things that a doctor should know. It makes me wonder if presented with the option to prescribe a Super Duper MRI with a Half Twist if he'd do so. I half expect to be sent to get tested by the LHC. I'm sure there is some test they could perform on my ankle.

So since I don't have any reason to suspect cancer and haven't had surgery I was tested without contrast. The Tech, despite knowing something about contrast, was yet another thread in the fabric of medical ineptitude I've faced in DC. It's a garment of incredible itchiness, and bereft of use. It's like some kind of burlap do-rag. Something that pointless. This tech asked how I'd injured myself, and I said I was playing ultimate frisbee and sprained my ankle. He looked at me with pure uncensored condescencion. "Ultimate frisbee, are there professionals for that." No, I replied. But there are World Championships, which football doesn't have. Yeah, it's a pointless argument, but all the same, it's annoying to defend your injury. As I'm about to go into the tube he tells me, "Yours is the second worst injury I've ever seen. The worst was some guy who got hurt skateboarding. He was 35!!" Basic message is that getting hurt playing frisbee is preposterous. Not a pleasant fellow.

The procedure, for those who haven't had one, is about 45 minutes of laying down inside a giant tube/tunnel. Sometimes the tunnel makes a low humming sound, other times it sounds like a broken unoiled Transformer trying to convert into something else. It's loud. But I've found that I can fall asleep in nearly any position and at nearly any time, if I really want or need to. So I fell asleep during my MRI. As so many other things are, it's a badge of perverse honor.

So that was the process of getting an MRI. But wait, I still had to get my results. This required at least 4 phone calls to my doctor to find out if they received the report. Finally I was told that they had the report and that I had something wrong, "a tear maybe, I think it was something in your meniscus, though I'm not really sure. Can't remember." Now anyone who has had as many friends with knee injuries as I have knows the meniscus is located there and not for instance in ones ankle. It's only fitting that my doctor's office continues to confuse the knee and the ankle. It's not a new problem for them.

Not trusting my doctor I wanted to get my results on my own. I called WRA and eventually got my report.

As I'd long suspect I had a Grade II sprain. I tore my anteriorfibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament. After some time on WebMD I have a sense of where those are and what they do. Basically they are the ligaments that prevent inversion (or eversion, I think) of the ankle. They're the basic ligaments that you tear when you hurt your ankle. It's a pretty solid injury, nothing to poo-poo, but I didn't get all the way (thankfully) to Grade III.

My favorite part of the MRI report was this passage:

There is no evidence of plantar fasciitis. The extensor tendons are unremarkable. The surrounding musculature is also unremarkable, no mass identified.

Here's the thing. I have been trying to go to the gym, and I've been working on my calves. I KNOW they're unremarkable. They're sorta scrawny and best described as an empty roll of paper towels. But come on, do you really have to call them unremarkable, and without mass. Jerks.

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