Based on a true story (II)

The story continues.

Time went by and Nathália and me went on holidays/conference in the USA -one of our best trips as a couple :)-, and soon the wedding of my friends Arturo & Neus arrived. We flew to Barcelona on a Thursday evening and Friday morning we attended the civil marriage ceremony. We were honored as groomsman and bridesmaid, but since we had forgotten our ID cards at home, we could only take pictures :p

In the afternoon, the ceremony was awesome and maybe was one of the last good and unforgettable memories I keep with friends. We had a great time together and laughed thanks to the unreal anecdotes that indeed only happen to me. We spent Saturday with our family because on Sunday, very early in the morning, we were taking a plane to go back to the Swiss Confederation. We got up even earlier than we do usually, at around 5:00, and right after leaning on my leg, the almost forgotten pain broke my soul once again. My mother, who likes to be awake when we fly, was so astonished that couldn’t react, just like Nathália on the first time this happened to me. However, I managed to lie back in the sofa and minimally relax. Pain, as usual, disappeared after 15 minutes and we managed to catch the plane. It was September 11: pure chance?

The next day -Monday again-, the intense pain in the ass appeared and, due to the fact that I wasn’t training since Thursday, I retracted from the promise I made to myself several months before and visited the general doctor.

The consultation was, let’s call it somehow peculiar: a kind of brainstorming of senseless diagnosis. From a possible tendinitis to a lumbar cyst, going through… thalassemia. Yes, of course I had never heard that name before the doctor asked me if I was Italian. Despite many people think it in Switzerland, I’m afraid I’m not. Anyway, the doctor told me that it is not important: thalassemia is the Mediterranean anemia. You can guess again how I left the medical center: my ears were smoking. After that waste of time I talked to my coach, Luciano, who had recently had some problems in his back, and I ask him about his sports doctor. Finally it is Nelson, the owner of the sports academy, who provides me the contact details of their doctor. Dr. Blanc is not settled in Neuchâtel, so I have to move to Crissier, close to Lausanne, in order to have a consultation. I managed to find a free gap on Friday that week, because he has a very busy agenda.

The day of the consultation arrived and, obviously, there was no track of pain. Murphy’s law. The doctor thought about different hypotheses, slightly more based but still not convincing: a knee’s cyst pressing the sciatic nerve, iliotibial band syndrome -or runner’s knee-, a spinal disc herniation, or a tendinitis at the insertion of the hamstring. As pain didn’t exist at that precise moment, he suggested me to train harder and go visit him as soon as I reproduce the same pain, in order to point him the injured area with more accuracy.

No sooner said than done! I talked to Luciano and we met for training on Sunday. I also attended the workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday. All these trainings had a common factor: legs. After Wednesday’s training I could barely walk, sit down or sleep without taking anti-inflammatory pills. I managed to see the doctor and now his speech was focused on the bottom area, without discarding the herniation. Nevertheless, he proposed to start with some physiotherapy and prescribed me a new drug. I started the osteopathy and the following week I complemented it with suction pads. Between these two sessions I flew to Berlin for a conference that was planned many months in advance. Instead of 5 days, I could only attend 3, but only changing the routine scenario, meeting new people and focusing on work perfectly acted as a escape valve.

The palpitating pain spread out from the bottom to the knee and was momentarily unbearable. I tried my best to grit my teeth, abdominal breathing -ibuki-, and I even screamed of anger, but I didn’t get rid of it. It was so violent that woke me up during nights if I had forgotten to take the pills. Eventually, after putting pressure on the doctor I managed to have an MRI for October 6. Namely, 8 months after my first seizure I got my the first diagnostic test. God bless Swiss healthcare system and long live Dr. Blanc! The MRI was made in Yverdon-les-Bains, as well as the X-rays and a CT scan. The radiologist talked to me when the tests finished and showed some interest about the type of sport I practiced. I told him I was training CrossFit about 5 days a week and he replies that, even though it wasn’t 100% sure, it seemed a bone inflammation, a bursitis or a fatigue fracture because of a sport overload. In any case, he also added he would think a little bit more about my case before sending the report to my doctor.

On Monday, October 10, I went to Crissier for Dr. Blanc’s consultation. Nathália had left to Barcelona for a week of holidays at her parents’ place. My appointment was at 18:30 but since there are not many trains from Neuchâtel -just a couple every hour-, I arrived there 20 minutes earlier. The secretary told me that the doctor was late: I’d have to wait 1 hour… what a novelty! 40 minutes later, the secretary comes into the waiting room and very timidly asked me if I had brought the CD including my MRI images, because apparently they hadn’t received the radiologist’s report and when they had called the radiology center, it was already closed – they close at 18:00-. What a professionalism! In other words: if I hadn’t brought the CD, I would have waited 1 hour, plus 2 hours of the trip back and forth, and the gigantic exasperation. However, it was not like this: it was worse. I entered Dr. Blanc’s consultation room and when I asked him whether every doctor is able to interpret these images, he replied firmly: “Not every doctor, but I can”. Then, he turned the screen towards me and when the images were loaded in the software he said:

-Oops, it looks like your bone is rotten.
-¿Excuse me? -I replied almost speechless.
-Yes, look here. ¿Do you see it? The bone is necrotic, it looks spotted in the images.

I stayed calm when he said that, and also when he talked about a possible infection or bone tuberculosis. He stated that in any way, he would wait for the radiologist’s report and would call me the day after to confirm the diagnosis. It was when I left the consultation and called Nathália to tell her everything, the moment I realized that the rotten bone in the images belonged to me and I broke out in tears. I also did it when I talked to mum, when I accidentally met Greg, my office mate, in the train back to Neuchâtel, and finally alone in the bed. What a pitiful night…

The following day more tears ran down my face when I told my colleagues about the fantastic and unique evening in Crissier. And I was so nervous… For the call that never happened. The report from the radiologist arrived, though, and didn’t mention anything about what the doctor had told me. When I decided to call him, at 17:30, I got an automatic answer. Rage invaded me in just one second. And time passed: 18, 19, 20, 21… What a professional he is! I sent him a respectful email complaining of his lack of consideration towards patients and went straight to bed. I didn’t say half of what I wanted to say. Another night rolling in the bed. Our wedding anniversary had been an awful day.

On Wednesday October 12 I was at EMPA, in Thun, when I finally could talk to Dr. Blanc. He told me there was nothing to worry about, as the radiologist report stated, it was simply some stress microfractures and that the only possible treatment was to avoid making gestures or movements that could cause pain. Lol’. The only thing I could thank him for is that he sent he images to a radiologist he trusted: Professor Theumann.

That weekend I flew again to Barcelona and seized the opportunity to have an appointment with a sports traumatologist. I trusted him when he told me that I might need to go through more tests. Nonetheless, he discarded a cancer because there wasn’t lysis on the bone -or fractures on its surface-. On Monday 17, already back in Switzerland, I wrote again to Dr. Blanc to see if he had news from his colleague. I had decided  not call him anymore y: I didn’t get anything from his secretary repeating how busy he was and that he would call me around the end of the day, exactly as he never did. Although I checked my inbox twice, I didn’t get any mail from him…


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