Quite by happenstance, I got a referral for a hip doctor. Never one to turn down a chance to solve the mystery that is my right hip pain, I immediately made an appointment for a consultation.
Anyone who knows me knows my entire being changes when I enter a doctor’s examination room. If I dare say myself (since my husband wasn’t there to judge me), my mood was fairly receptive during this particular experience. Read: Nkenge-like and dry but generally open.
“I’ve seen patients like you who have been trying to figure out what’s causing their pain for years and I understand how frustrating that must be…”Dr. H
Dr. Heinrich had all the qualities I like in a doctor: 1) Engaged, 2) Empathetic/Sympathetic, 3) Honest and 4) Informative.
1 It’s hard to explain what engaged means in the context of healthcare but I’ll give it go. Dr. H actually looked over the documentation from my other MRIs, X-rays and EMG test. I can’t actually think of a single instance where a doctor did that. They ask you to bring in all your previous documentation and they NEVER seem to read it. That he had taken the time to scan those documents was refreshing.
2 Dr. H was empathic/sympathetic in the sense that he actually articulated my frustration for me without my having to say anything. He looked at my five years of medical history and was able to say, “I’ve seen patients like you who have been trying to figure out what’s causing their pain for years and I understand how frustrating that must be. Sometimes I can help them, sometimes I can’t. If this pain is caused by your hip, I may be able to help you.”
3 This bleeds into his honesty. He was honest about his area of expertise and his ability to get to the bottom of things. And I get it. I use to think doctors can work medical miracles but after five years I understand that generalists are generalists and specialists are specialists. His specialist is the hip joint and if my pain isn’t coming from the hip joint, then that’s outside his wheelhouse and that’s OK.
4 Have you ever been to the doctor and they take your blood pressure and they note it in the chart but NEVER TELL YOU WHAT YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE IS? Dr. H is the opposite of that. Not only was I able to get an x-ray within his practice without having to schedule a separate appointment and come back God knows when for a follow up on that, but he actually explained the results of my x-ray. Revolutionary!
Turns out I have deep set hip joints. This on its own means nothing regarding my pain, but it adds to the diagnostic. I found this web page that goes into detail extensively about the different types of hip joints. He explained how and why that happens and actually pointed to the various structures on the x-ray as he spoke about them. I also learned that within my joint there’s a slight decrease in the cartilage around the between the femur and the pelvis. Again, this means nothing on its own but adds to the diagnostic.
One of the biggest mysteries about my hip pain is that I’m not quite sure what triggers it. I only know that I really fucking hate sitting in chairs. I came into the consultation at a pain level of 3-ish. As he articulated my leg I didn’t necessarily feel any pain. Afterward though, it started to ache and smart at a pain level of 5-ish. As it happens that’s a good thing. In order to clarify that the root of the pain was the actual hip joint, he recommended an injection of anesthetic into the hip. If I could somehow irritate my hip enough prior to the injection then it’d be easier to tell whether the anesthetic had actually decreased the pain.
So there you have it, I actually met a doctor I liked. I’ll let you know how that hip injection goes.