I wait for Dr. E in exam room #5. I press my thumbs hard into the pain area on my hip and do some deep breathing. Deep breathing is shit now my thumbs hurt now too. I splash water on my face and peer in the mirror. Puffy. And a new furrow. No, two new furrows. I feel nausea rising in my stomach. Did I eat? Did I have coffee? I suck on a mint and
resolve to stop the muscle relaxer that Dr. E prescribed. It kills my brain, but not the pain.
I hand Dr. L the paper work. “Sorry I’m late,” she says. She extends her hand. I don’t tell her that she’s the third orthopedic doctor I’ve consulted so I knew she’d be late.
“Take a seat Mrs.Teller.” She gestures to a chair and sits at the key board.
She glances through the paperwork. She asks about my life style and work.
I remove my glasses and rub my eyes. “I’m in pain N-O-W doctor,” I say.
“Oh,” she says. Can you quantify that for me?
“You mean put a number on it?”
I begin in a calm tone. “At night laying down is unbearable, reading impossible. I wander from room to room, a burning, uncontrollable pain in my hip. Medication has no effect. Opioids nauseate me. I’m afraid that I’ll always be in pain.”
I wipe my eyes.
I continue. “o, was it a 6 last night? Or 6×6? And now, is it a 6.6 or a 7 or an 8? Is it more or is it less? How can I quantify pain doctor, how can I stop this pain?” I bang my fist on my hip and close my eyes. I feel nausea rising and I move to lean over the sink. I hear the chair scrape against the floor and feel her hand on my back.
“Walk back and forth across the room please Mrs. Teller.”
“Lay down,” she says.
“Give me your weight” she says. “Let go,” she says.
The pain moves through my hip and down my knee. She begins to bounce and sway, moving my leg up and down, up and down. The pain retreats a bit with each bounce, again and again.
She removes herself from under my leg. I wipe my eyes and sit up.
“You walk fine, and your X-rays and MRI look great,” she says. “You don’t need a new hip or any surgery. It’s a soft tissue problem, hard to diagnose and harder to solve.” She smiles and offers her hand. I hold it and slide off the table.
“But first, I need information Mrs. Teller. Just a few more questions, ok?”she asks.
“OK,” I say.
“Your coaching work, tell me more.”
My coaching. “Why?”
“I’m interested in coaching.”
“I’m a life coach. Like when you want to make changes in your life, I can help. My pain is about a 4 right now doctor. Can we get it any lower?”
She looks at me. She pats the folds of her skirt.
“You must be a good at your work,” she says.
“Thank you. I’m better when I’m not in pain. Do you have any recommendations for me doctor?”
“Mrs Teller, may I call you Lauren? “She leans towards me. “You seem like a person who accepts people. Are you?” she asks. Her eyebrows draw togehter.
“Pardon me, what? My pain is increasing, n-o-w’” I tell her.
“I understand you’re in physical pain, and it’s hard to find the full understanding you need, isn’t it Lauren?” She whispers. “But you are a person who experiences pain and understands it. We have to stop the pain, right? That’s our job. Yes?” she asks.
“And I need someone to talk to, about my pain,” she says. “I need help” She nods her head, and leans back.
I hear my heart pound in my ears. “Are you in pain doctor?”I ask.
“Yes,I’m in terrible pain, the worst kind.”
“Well, you must have a good support system. A doctor like you, with such a big practice,”I whisper.
“No,” she says. “The people who should support me, I can’t tell them the truth….that he’s really a psychopath, a lier.”
“Who are we talking about?” I ask
“My husband, my husband.” She squeezes her hands together.
I lean back and rub my eyes. She looks directly at me.
“Do you have children ?”I ask, wondering where this is going.
“See, you understand already,” she says. Her eyebrows relax. She sighs. “We have a 4 year old daughter. She’s with me now, because she knows too much about what her father’s genitals look like,” she says.
I gasp. Her eyes fill with tears.
“And the problem is that she will only tell me, because she knows it’s wrong. So I don’t have a good support system all.”
I lean forward and touch her arm. “I am so sorry, so very sorry,” I tell her.
“I need to build my support system, and that’s where you come in,” she says. Her eyes are deep brown with black lashes. She raises her eyebrows. “Yes?” she asks.
“Is it hot in here?” I ask and crack open the door. Stale air from the hallway seeps in. I pull off my scarf. I feel a weight on my chest. I have to say just the right thing. I need her.
“Thank you for your confidence.” I say. “But right now,I’m not sure, I have a lot of pain, and I’m not doing well”…my voice trails off. I’m fucking this up I think, what else should I say?
She pull back her hand and clicks closed my file in front of her.
I say, “Thank you so much for helping me. Should I make another appointment?”
She stand up, turns, and then she’s gone.