A bone healing machine. The prescription I received for the injury that ended my half marathon training is a machine that stimulates bone growth. I have a stress fracture and the doctor prescribed electronic voodoo.
He’s the second doctor I’ve seen. The first took me even less seriously. She just told me not to run. So, after 12 weeks of medically-prescribed rest and CVS-provided-anti-inflammatories, I got a referral to an Ortho.
Dr. Womack is a consultant to an NCAA Division 1 football program. He’s young and could easily be harboring ambitions of an NFL team doc job. He is tall and reminds me of my OBGYN, except he doesn’t know me and I don’t know him.
Twelve weeks I haven’t been running, or swimming, or going to spin class. A runner friend said, “rest is part of training.” Take that, voice of dissension.
But it’s not just a need to run. Every day I have to rest is another day where a love of cheese makes my pants fit more snugly. Another day where the promise of wine, not my morning workout, gets me through eight hours at my job.
Another day that I’m not me. I’m usually more fit than fat. I’m usually more devotee than dissident. I believe there are 24 usable hours in every day and I abhor wasting time.
“How will I know it worked?” I asked the doctor.
He used that same calm, confident voice suggestive of routine and a certain level of boredom. I didn’t bother to hide my skepticism.
“It will feel like crazy, voodoo magic,” he admitted, after pressing his thumb hard against the fracture and forcing a yelp from me. “Come back in two months and we’ll take another x-ray and you’ll see it worked.”
Give it time
“I will be living in Columbia in two months.” Another eight weeks in which I’ll stay up past 11 p.m. because I can sleep past 5 a.m.
“I know a guy,” he said. Reaching across the counter he pulled a paper towel from the dispenser and pressed it against the exam table.
“What I do is so specialized,” he said, “that only, like, a handful of people in the area do it. So, pretty much anywhere you move, I know a guy.”
Tracing the letters twice, scratching the first line a couple of times to be sure the blue ink showed, he wrote the name of another Ortho on the paper towel with a ball point pen. Then he handed the towel to me, smiling. A referral.
I said, “you get this is just a step up from a bar napkin, right?”
Since my first doctor’s rest-and-pills strategy hadn’t worked, I was in a hurry to see some results. Every day I have to wait is another day I flip sadly through my Runner’s World magazine and wish I could be those strong, smiling women in the pictures.
He said, “it isn’t a match book.”
“You’re used to people trusting you, aren’t you?”
He grinned, pulled the lapel of his jacket across his chest and the embroidered “M.D.” showed plainly. “Does that help?” he asked.