Doctor Shopping

While I enjoy shopping when I need to, it’s not something I want to do every day.  I don’t have the bank account for it nor do I need much to make me happy these days.  So imagine my surprise when I realized I was going to need a black belt in shopping in order to find an orthopedic surgeon to replace my hip.

I began by writing down what I was looking for in a surgeon.  Someone with the moral strength and character of Moses, the patience of Job, the wisdom of King Solomon, and  the kindness of Jesus.  Someone who will use their education and God-given gifts with precision and skill to do a simple routine hip replacement.  Is that so hard to ask for?

I began the usual way: asking friends, family, colleagues and medical professionals about possible candidates.  I checked out the doctor’s training, hospital affiliations, asked about insurance coverages, and checked credentials.

One surgeon came highly recommended from several friends.  But when I called to make an appointment, it turned out he only did knees.  And although my knees can’t get me back up from a squatted position, they still work and I am not ready to trade them in yet.

A friend of mine who has worked in many areas of the hospital told me emphatically that Dr So-and-so is the best with hips.  But, he has been known to have alcohol on his breath.  No worries, she said, he can do the procedure with his eyes closed and the nurse practitioner follows you after surgery anyway.  Really!?!

Another surgeon does hips as well as other procedures but not as often as the surgeon with alcohol on his mind, I mean breath.  Sorry Doc, I’m a little too old for a test drive.

Then there was one who was good but only treated what concerned their area of expertise and not the whole person.  During one such case, the surgeon wanted the patient discharged despite the concerns from the nurse that the patient was in distress.  The doctor was adamant that the patient was fit for discharge – until the patient had a heart attack.  Next doctor candidate, please!

I got two names from my physical therapist and checked out their credentials and websites.  Both appeared equally impressive.  One does many athletes and 95% of the time uses a newer method called the Anterior Hip Replacement.  He touts its ease of healing, less invasive, and shorter time in the hospital. That sounded great!

The other no longer uses the anterior method and made a strong case against its use (limited types of prosthetic devices, can leave residual numbness, etc).  The Posterior Hip Replacement is tried and true and has evolved to a point of optimum success.

Can I see the surgeon behind “door number 3”, please?

If there is ever a time I wish I hadn’t lifted and moved heavy furniture, toted 70 lb. canisters of oxygen (I worked for an oxygen company for four years), worked like a mule in the yard, in my home, and generally thought my body could do anything my mind set out to do – this was the time.

By the time I find a suitable surgeon, I will probably need to have both hips done and will have earned a black belt in doctor shopping.


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