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Snap, Crackle, Pop

Consistent with my stance on taking pain medication, I avoid doctor visits until I'm experiencing pain or discomfort beyond what I can will myself to ignore. I think most of the time the body has the resources it needs to repair damage, and if that happy truth allows me to stay off of exam tables and avoid wrangling with insurance companies over precisely how much I'll be ripped off for wasting my time in drafty waiting rooms and being handed pain medication samples that I throw into the trash can on my way out, then so be it.

I have a pretty high pain tolerance, as I discovered a few years ago when I finally went to the doctor for a suspected ear infection and she jumped back and said, "OW!" after looking in my ears. In fact, the only time I've suspected my pain tolerance of trying to play games with me was during my first c-section recovery: Pain pills? Oh, alright. Yeah. Yeah, actually. Bring more. Now. DO YOU HEAR WHAT I'M SAYING MAN? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MY ABDOMEN HAS BEEN RIPPED OPEN AND SLOPPILY STITCHED BACK TOGETHER. BRING. THE. PAIN. PILLS. Other than that, though, I avoid doctor's offices unless the appointments are scheduled a year in advance and fall under the category of some arbitrarily designed "routine check-up" that happens to be consistent with my anal, structured tendencies. Someone with a high pain tolerance could avoid mentioning knee pain to their doctor for a long, long time. Like, say, five or seven years.

My trainer is apparently schooled in the art of will power voodoo, because he is the only person in the known universe who can quite literally make me do anything. The phrase, "If I say jump, you say 'how high?'" always made me livid with indignation over the idea that someone in any position could or would wield that sort of authority over another human: "Disgusting!" I would mutter under my breath. And yet I find myself in just such a relationship, one I would characterize as dysfunctional under any other circumstances. (In fact, we actually have conversations that very closely resemble, "JUMP!" "Alright, how high?") In this particular case, it happens to be improving my health, and so I'm letting it slide. Plus, his scary I can kill you with a few lunges, a side plank, and two minutes on the incline machine so don't defy me, you pathetic little weakling demeanor is the only thing that has been able to force me to ask a doctor why my knee makes a funny Rice Krispies sound when I go up and down stairs, and also why (thanks to my two months in workout boot camp) I can now perform any physical feat as long as I don't have to bend my left knee past a 90-degree angle while upright.

I don't know how it happened against my will, but I ended up at my office building's on-site clinic with an energetic and talkative nurse practitioner telling me all about her own terrible knees and her knowledge that she will inevitably need knee replacements, isn't it great, ha ha ha!! I sat there and tried to engage in the conversation but all I could envision was a botched surgery and my picture in the record books, Knee Replacement Surgery Goes Awry on Otherwise Healthy 30-Year-Old. "Wheelchair for life," says surgeon. Then, also against my will, I nodded my head when the nurse practitioner said "MRI" because "an x-ray really won't do any good; it's your knee cushion, anyway, not the bone." When the administrative assistant called to scheduled the MRI, she asked, for the MRI facility, "Are you claustrophobic?" and something made me say calmly and with no screaming, "Yes. But I'll be fine," while I was thinking, JUST "YES! YES YOU ARE CLAUSTROPHOBIC!"

Luckily my insurance company wants no part of the MRI until they've loaded me with as much radiation and wasted as much of my time and various doctors' time as humanly possible, so it's a mere "useless" X-ray for me. The nice people at Radiology didn't threaten to sedate me for claustrophobia and didn't make me wear one of those pesky, heavy lead capes to "protect" me from the "dangerous" or "cancer causing" radiation. I was wondering if I should be concerned about that, and so I spent the time standing vulnerably against the cell-mutating machine holding my knee at unnaturally painful angles thinking, "the next time he says 'jump' I'm going to have to find a new response."