unscheduled maintenance

I’m not a fan of hospitals. If I can help it, I try to step foot in a hospital at most once per year. As part of my health plan I get one free doctor visit per year, which I try to save for anything that ails me during the year. I don’t get sick all that often, so for most years I just go in once towards the end of the year as sort of a scheduled maintenance. I think this is the first year that I can remember that I’ve gone more than once in a year.

Earlier in the year I used up my one free visit because I had this one weird episode where my vision was blurred and I saw flashing lights. According to my doctor I had an ocular migraine, which apparently develops in some people when they hit their late 20s. My doctor prescribed some medicine for me to take if it happened again, but since then I haven’t had another migraine.

A few weeks ago I banged my knee pretty hard, but I’ve been able to walk without too much pain, so I didn’t think of going to the doctor. Since then I went on a 15 mile backpacking trip, a 5k run (although I probably only ran like 3k of it), a 35 mile round trip bike ride to Winters and back, and walked all day around our nation’s capital. Oddly enough, sitting on my butt all day in a airplane is what caused me to ultimately go to the doctor. On the plane ride back from DC I noticed that my knee was starting to swell up pretty badly. It felt really soft and mushy, as if there was a lot of liquid pooling underneath the skin.


After making me do various funky chicken walks and after poking and prodding at my knee for a bit, my doctor sent me to get an x-ray. The x-ray room is dominated by this one big futuristic looking torture table, which the x-ray tech made me sit on with my knee out in front of me. She aimed the x-ray gun at my knee (there’s a red laser beam that shows where it’s aimed– very cool). Since my knee was out in front of my body, that meant that after going through my knee the x-ray beam would hit the general area of my chest and crotch. She gave me this little lead apron that wasn’t big enough to protect both, which obviously posed a dilemma. What do you protect, the heart or the sensitive equipment down below? Not wanting any future Mikeys or Michelles to be mutated, I chose to skew the apron downwards to block off that sensitive area down below.

My doctor examined the x-rays and consulted with an orthopedic doctor. They referred me to get an MRI. Up until now, everything had been going really smoothly. I had scheduled an appointment with my doctor when I landed back in Davis, and saw my doctor just about 12 hours after landing. Since the x-ray was on site, I had the x-ray done and the results back in less than an hour. But since there was no MRI on site, I would have to go to Sacramento. Scheduling an appointment with them was a lot slower. It was almost a week before I finally got scheduled.


My appointment was at night, so the hospital was pretty empty. Wandering through the cold, sterile (sterile as in devoid of life, not sterile as in free from germs) hallways was pretty creepy, but I made it safely to the MRI waiting room around 30 minutes early. From the magazines available in the waiting room you would guess that MRI patients are all female. The only magazines available were House Beautiful, Better Homes and Gardens, and O (Oprah has a magazine?). I ended up reading Better Homes and Gardens, because it seemed the least emasculating, and also because, well,  I guess my home and/or garden could stand to be a little better.

I was called in about 15 minutes early, but by then I was settled in on my magazine (they had a surprisingly good article about grilling vegetables). The MRI itself actually took pretty long. There were like six or seven scans, each of which was about four minutes. Since I thought my knee was fractured, recently I had been drinking more milk. And since I was barely lactose tolerant enough for the amount of milk I had been drinking before, the additional milk was making me gassy. So as I lay in the MRI machine I really needed to cut one. I tried to hold it as best as I could, but in the end I failed. I wondered if my failure showed up on the MRI images, if one image was cloudier than the others.


Yesterday morning I received an email from my doctor with some good news. The ligaments and meniscus surrounding my knee were fine. There was some fluid in my knee, but it would most likely disappear on its own in time. There was no mention of any weird cloudiness in any of the MRI images.

Since my knee seemed okay, I signed up for a metric century bicycle ride, the Giro D Vino in Lodi. For the past couple of years I had ridden the Foxy’s Fall Classic in Davis and the Mercy Century in Sacramento, but this year I had missed both. I stupidly scheduled my DC trip the weekend of Foxy’s, and for some reason the Mercy century had rescheduled earlier in the year. So it’s been a while since I’ve done a long ride, I’m really looking forward to it. The Giro D’ Vino passes through several wineries, with tastings at each of them, so I guess if my knee doesn’t hold up it will still be worth it– I can just spend more time at the wineries and then ride the SAG wagon to the end.

2 thoughts on “unscheduled maintenance”

  1. funny thing.. fluid build up can be caused by a lot of different reasons. but one thing that could help is to increase your protein intake. HA good luck with that = ]

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