Friday, January 4, 2008

Should your doc be an athlete?

Damn straight. I did my early am check of and they had posted an article on this topic from The New York Times. It's right beside the articles on the struggle to get the runners out of Eldoret, Kenya.

My favorite quote from the article is, "when it comes to a diagnosis, she regards doctors mainly as a source for a second opinion. The first opinion is her own." Ouch! It was like someone was writing about me. They could also have been writing about J, and a whole host of other smart athletes that I know. Fact is, most of us really know our bodies. Sometimes we don't listen very well, but our bodies are constantly telling us important stuff. As the one who is getting all the feedback, who cares, and has the time to put stuff together, yeah, I do tend to make my own diagnosis.

The other fact is, most docs have very limited time to see you, and they don't really have a vested interest in you performing to the best of your ability. How many times have we heard things like, "running causes arthritis." Or how about, "now that you are getting older, it may be time to start slowing down and taking so many risks. You aren't a kid anymore, you know. "

When I first moved to Richmond, I had a boss from hell. To relieve the pressure I started running massive amounts of miles, lost a whole lot of weight and ended up with the inevitable stress fracture. I went to see Ken Zaslov at Advanced Ortho and here is the difference between a doc who treats people, and one who cares about athletes. Ken looked at me and called for a casting tray. He told me that he KNEW me, and that I would tell him that I wouldn't run, but I would sneak runs in. And he told me that the fracture was in such a place to be career threatening. In fact, he told me if I had been one of his ballerinas that he treats, my career would have been done.

Then he held out his hand and gave me a key... it was the key to the therapy pool. He told me that if I swore on my Mother's life that I wouldn't run on the pavement, he would give me the key and I could run in the pool. He also guaranteed that when I was better, that my fitness level would be the same or better than it was at that point.

I took the key.

When J's knee went bad, she went to an ortho in town who told her that he wouldn't touch her. I sent her to Dr Zaslov, who not only did the surgery, but had her running faster than she ever has before.

When my hip was giving me all kinds of strange symptoms, my pcp told me that it was age. I switched docs, and went to cyclist Matt Marchal (Altius) who had a preliminary diagnosis for me by that afternoon.

Should athletes treat with docs who are athletes. You betcha.


Joshua said...

I fully agree Karen. My PCP is a marathon runner. Even my dentist is an athlete.

Liz Schleeper said...

I agree but I am not sure all HMO's do! I have had knee pain for years and it never bothered me while cycling--until recently. So to see a doc, of course I had to get a referral from my doc. I guess I should have done some homework and found the right knee person who is also an athlete and who also happens to be in my HMO, but I simply took what was thrown to me. My appt is in mid-Jan and I will sure keep in mind what you have said here!

THANKS for the thumbs up by the way!

Karen said...

Liz: If you have Anthem, Ken Zaslov is in the network... he did Julie's knee. We LOVE that whole practice. So much so that his partner Geoff Higgs did my hip and I went out of network to have it done with him. I had United Healthcare at the time and got zapped 4500.00. It was worth it.

Good luck on the knee...injuries suck!

Liz Schleeper said...

Tx for the name. I have Optima. I think the doc is Mark Bewley with Atlantic Ortho. If you have any insight, let me know.

Karen said...

Sorry Liz, Never heard of him!

Anonymous said...

I didnt think that Zaslov was an athlete? In my search there have been few sports docs in town that are. I did find one in town that I have an appt with for my hip, Dr. Teresa Stadler with Commonwealth Sports Medicine. Her web site is what convinced me to see her. I called her office an got her on the phone!! ill let you know how it goes.

Anonymous said...

hi Karen- I met Dr. Stadler, she is awesome. She only treats athletes. She has a slogan 'treatment for athletes, by athletes' pretty catchy huh. Seems to go well the article. Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Here, check out her sight, ans she is in Richmond.-bill