The (bad) Dream Team nails it

December 8, 2015 § 54 Comments

Who would have thought that a graphic artist, a retired soldier, a fitness trainer, and a real estate mogul who shuts down farmers’ markets in El Segundo would have better diagnostic capabilities than a modern emergency room? A few days ago they had accurately dx-ed my injury as a cracked pelvis rather than a strained ballsack, but just to be safe I went to the doctor yesterday.

I still remember Dr. Kim from the emergency room, after she had readjusted my ballsack wearing asbestos gloves, telling me my hip wasn’t broken. “Stand up,” she had ordered, with that quiet authoritative command more commonly found in a back room with leather straps, whips, muzzles, and handcuffs hanging on the wall.

“Do I have to?” I had asked. “It really fuggin’ hurts.”

“Of course it hurts, but if you can stand up there’s nothing broken. You can’t stand on a broken hip.”

Just before standing, my son Woodrow had placed his hand in mine for support. I struggled to my feet and crushed several bones in his hand. “This … really … hurts.”

“Of course it does but it’s not broken. The x-rays don’t show anything either. You can sit down.”

I collapsed.

Almost three weeks later I hobbled into the Torrance office of Dr. Peter Borden, Bone Dude, but not without incident. My wife was with me, having driven me there.

I was about to sit down when a woman jumped up from across the room. “Seth!” she hollered. The room, which was mostly full, turned to watch.

“Hi,” I said, uncertainly. Everyone looks different without their cycling clothes on, and if she were a reader of my blog I knew she might be armed and seeking revenge.

“What are you doing here?” the nice lady asked.

I pointed to the crutches. “Bit of a strain or perhaps a break.”

By now she had walked over, beaming and staring at my wife. The whole room was watching, still as a photograph. She had that look of a fan who has finally cornered Tom Cruise and is about to tell him that she too was beamed down by aliens.

“And I’m so happy to finally meet you, MRS. WANKER!!!”

The room erupted. Mrs. WM gritted her teeth and smiled politely. Oh, the price of fame.

Soon enough we were in the examining room. “These doctor calling me onna Mrs. Wanker you gonna need surgical other leg too,” she said.

There was a computer in the room where the nurse had downloaded the x-ray from Torrance Memorial Hospital, which was right across the street. Dr. Borden strode in, shook hands, and asked me what had happened. Before I got very far he glanced over at the computer monitor. “You can stop,” he said. “You have a cracked pelvis.”

“Really? The ER doc said the x-ray was fine.”

Dr. Borden pointed to a rather obvious place next to my lower trochanter, just above the pincus bone and off to the left of my zygomatic arch. “Right here, about a 1mm displacement.”

“Why didn’t the radiologist catch it? I can see how Dr. Kim was distracted by my ballsack, but … ”

Dr. Borden shrugged. “I don’t know. But that’s what it is. You’ll be fine in eight weeks. Four to heal, four to rehab.”

“She said if I could stand then I didn’t have a broken hip.”

“You don’t have a broken hip. You have a cracked pelvis.”

“Is this x-ray a really tricky read? Something that even a radiologist wouldn’t catch? I mean, you just glanced at the screen for one second, halfway across the room and you saw it.”

“ER’s patch people up. They don’t catch everything.”

“Is it patching someone up to tell them they don’t have a broken pelvis after taking conclusively diagnostic x-rays?”

I could tell the MD Bro Code was at work. “Well, I’m a specialist, and you’re going to heal up just fine. See you back here in four weeks. And lose the crutches as soon as you can.”

“Thanks, Doc. Guess I have to buy the Bad Dream Team a beer.”


“Nothing,” I said, and hobbled out.



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§ 54 Responses to The (bad) Dream Team nails it

  • Brian in VA says:

    I’m glad you have such a Dream Team! I also promise that, should we ever actually meet, I won’t call your bride Mrs. Wanker.

    The MD Bro Code – one of the reasons they call it “the practice of medicine” I suppose. Shouldn’t one be a little surer?

    Now that you have a solid diagnosis, may your healing begin in earnest, Seth.

  • dan martin says:

    When son #1 was tiny he decided it would be a great idea to climb up and leap off the couch. All went well untill the landing part when he pulled up crippled. The Mrs and I carted him off wailing to the ER. After much dx the ER doc deemed him good to go with nothing more than a bruised ego. A few days later we took the kid to Borden. We left with a kid in a cool purple full leg cast on his broken leg. Noted, all future ER visits will be run by the Bad Dream Team first.

    • fsethd says:

      Bad Dream Team over ER docs any day. The ER is just there to get you out and bill the insurance company. Who cares if you’re fixed? You’re someone else’s problem as soon as you get pushed out the door.

  • Minnesota Expat says:

    Daymmnnnn. I’m not an attorney, but I’d let it go and get on with recovery.

    I had a persistent sore throat a few years ago and went to a doctor. The doctor poked, prodded, and ordered x-rays. According to the doctor, the x-rays showed a large tumor where my sinus cavity enters the throat. The prognosis for that type of tumor is poor.

    So I scheduled an appointment at a large military medical center. The doctor (an actual ENT) took a “one-second glance” at the x-rays and determined there was no tumor. The x-rays were double exposed. 3-weeks thinking I was going to die. I hate modern American health care.

    The way I figure it, we’re going to get 8-weeks of dedicated and quality blogging. $2.99/month that keeps on giving and giving!

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks. Definitely focusing on recovery! No real harm was done, but it will be once the ER bill arrives … which I plan to dispute!

  • Worldchamp says:

    ER often gets it wrong. The list of similar stories I’ve heard is long (including Bobby’s big trip to the ICU for five days when they said he didn’t have a broken collar bone. Wrong! And not just a little wrong. It was smashed.) I suspect they are very busy and miss details. Also they know a little bit about A LOT of stuff. Not so good on depth and details.

    It does seem annoying the amount you pay to get bad information though. And if you or your kid gets hit in the head, don’t go to ER. They know nothing about concussions.

    • fsethd says:

      The one thing they never seem to miss is the billing. That always seems to get done with amazing speed and thoroughness.

  • darelldd says:

    As I prefer the “glass is half full” approach in situations like this where OTHER people are injured… may I suggest that we have a couple of months to catch up on Turner and the Prostitute?

    Or, after looking at yesterday’s search strings – you should probably work on a multi-part essay about the intricacies of cycling barefoot.

  • pvannuys says:

    ‘rode with a guy in the 80s who lapped wheels, hit hard and cracked his pelvis. I helped him into a samaritan’s car after the fall and saw his agony. Good news is he did heal completely and was riding again in about 3 months. Best Wishes, Seth

  • Paul Thober says:

    “MD Bro Code”; I think they call that “Professional Courtesy” in the lawyer business.

    Hope you heel quickly. I’m sure MRS. WANKER won’t have to yank very hard on your leash to make that happen.

    All snarky comments and lame humor aside, I wish you a speedy recovery.

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks! In the lawyer business when someone walks in with a case that’s been fucked up by a previously incompetent lawyer we call it “potential malpractice claim.”

  • dangerstu says:

    Glad you have found out the real issue, though it is not nearly as funny as the previous injury. My tip next time you are at the ER don’t treat it like a race and work through the pain, in fact do the opposite and be the the screeching wheel so they take a good look at you.

  • Joe C says:

    Glad you have a prognosis, and a timetable for healing. So, while you’re healing, tell us more about a “back room with leather straps, whips, muzzles, and handcuffs hanging on the wall”!

  • Gonyer says:

    7 weeks ago the ER said I had one broken rib and a minor separated shoulder. I told the ER doc that he should look again at the x-ray because it felt like more than one rib and the shoulder felt at least moderate! He said, “just wear a sling and you’ll be fine”. Next day I find out I have 5 broken ribs, a scapula with a crack, along with a moderate to severe shoulder separation. ER is just triage…always follow-up with a “real” doc or a least your friends! Heal up Seth.

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks! They’re sometimes not even triage, just pushing meat to keep the billing machine running.

  • becomingblue says:

    The misdiagnoses is an error for sure but likely did not set you back. They don’t do anything for a fractured pelvis other than send you home with drugs and a cane. Plus, as a non smoker, non drinker, you’ll heal quick and with this type of injury, you won’t have to deal with the “damn, my pelvis aches, weather change must be a comin’.” feeling.
    Lastly, my BS indicator is broken and at the shop so I don’t know if I should believe your denial of knowledge about the back room tools. Sorry!

  • LesB says:

    A better option than an emergency room might be a trauma center. They have specialists on the staff. Our nearest one here is County USC.

    I don’t know if this would be more expensive or if this really is a better option. Just seems. Maybe someone more knowledgeable in the topic can chime in.

    For sure, I would think a visit to a trusted Dr. after the soon emergency room would be a good measure.

  • Nick says:

    Similar situation here. Cracked pelvis after nasty crash in the Ontario crit back in July. Cat scan and x-ray and ER doc(Hoag NB) said he couldn’t see anything. After struggling not to faint from any lower body movement, I told him something’s definitely wrong. Waited for a different doc, low and behold, he found the crack above the femur. But pretty much right on for recovery, my stubborn ass was back on the road after 6 weeks after recommendations from dr. google, some PT, bone/joint supplements, and a lot of patience from the wife. Finally been feeling really good on the bike the last month or two, but ‘becomingblue’, I’m still feeling the weather changes… good luck on the recovery!

  • sibex9591 says:

    Well look at that Seth. We are broken pelvis brothers. As the doc said, you will be fine, and remember everything I said about my recovery. Stretch first then do their exercises.

  • A-Trav says:

    If there was something on that film that YOU could see but the ER missed, I believe an adjustment in charges is in order. Maybe you should call a lawyer.

  • A-Trav says:

    Or not. I just consulted with a radiologist on your behalf- a real one (my dad). He said chances are good that displacement wasn’t apparent in the ER- you may have spread that crack out running around and trying to walk. Got milk?

  • Liz says:

    You and Joseba Beloki have something in common. His crash was really rad though.
    He didn’t do the splits on a curve.
    Healings a bitch. It takes patience and team work. Good luck and I’ll bet your back on the bike in 3 weeks or less.

  • GT says:

    Now that you know its a cracked pelvis can I suggest you stop telling us that it was a bike crash that caused it and tell us the truth of what really happened in the back room that cracked your pelvis?

  • Todd says:

    Dude, I really hate it for you, truly. Rest up, heal up, soak up all the pity and sympathy you can now b/c when you’re back smashing it, you’ll get none!

    Very gently here, you and most of America have a grave (haha) misconception about the role of the ER. They are there to keep people alive –triaged — until a specialist or “their doctor” if they have an established relationship can see them and make the diagnosis. They don’t care if you walk away with the correct diagnosis and prognosis, and, and, and. They do very much care about you and all the other folks filling their waiting room, both insured and uninsured. They just care from a different angle than you or what you would hope from your doctor-patient relationship. Give them a break (I’m on a roll, sorry!). They are in the front lines of caring for EVERYONE that walks in. So when a dude in funny underpants complains that his pee-pee hurts, well, they know you’re going to make it and will successfully get to an Orthopod. The problem is that ER’s can be (not always) a cash cow, so you don’t see any public education or advertising saying the above.

    I’m sorry you had an understandably frustrating delay in figuring out what is injured! I get why you’re so p.o’d. Hang in there! You’ll feel better in no time.

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks, I already do! However, radiologists are trained to read film, and more importantly, they are paid to read it. By me. Unfortunately …

  • Mike Hancock says:

    Just get a deep tissue massage and you’ll be back on the bike in a week… or so.

  • scott says:

    Played AYSO soccer for a year with your doc back in the day. Sounds like he’s as solid a doctor as he was a center forward. Pretty sure his father was a podiatrist so it seems like the bone thing runs in the family. Glad you’re finally on the real road to recovery!

  • TomH says:

    E.R. = jack of all trades, master of none — except on TV shows 😉
    I wouldn’t go to a divorce attorney to get quality advice on estate planning.

    • fsethd says:

      A family attorney who advises you outside of his area of competence is committing malpractice. Reading a simple film that shows a clear break and telling the patient, “You’ve pulled a groin muscle,” is carelessness or incompetence or both.

      The ER doctor’s comments were also indicative of carelessness and incompetence: “If you can stand it’s not broken.”

      This is medically untrue.

      Also, there is nothing in the ER that says, “We won’t be catching the obvious stuff. We’ll only be providing care in a triage fashion and if you’re not grievously hurt we take no responsibility for a correct diagnosis or for correctly reading your x-ray.”

      To the contrary: this is a non-trauma center that handles exclusively minor injuries; anything serious goes to UCLA Harbor. The radiologist and treating physician sees countless broken bones, small and large and should have much greater expertise than a major trauma center for spotting small but obvious breaks.

      Finally, I’m paying them for a service. If they provide a faulty service, why do I still have to pay for it? If they completely misdiagnose my injury, why am I not offered a significant reduction?

      Answer: The purpose of this hospital is to complete the billing cycle; no one is held financially responsible for careless mistakes or for giving out patently false advice regarding injury and recuperation.

      I have a good friend who has practiced ER medicine for 40 years and he is a fine physician. He can read film and is versed in symptoms for more diseases than you can imagine. My friends consult with him for their cancer treatment as an informal second opinion. He still reads voraciously, has razor sharp skills, and is current on the latest ER medicine research and a host of other medical sub-specialties, especially orthopedics, which account for a large number of his patients’ visits.

      He is the exception, perhaps, but he’s still the model of what ER medicine should be, and the extra lengths that doctors should go to in order to get it right.

      My healthcare at Torrance Memorial was miserable, expensive, and medically unsound. There’s no need to excuse them for incompetence or carelessness.

      • GT says:

        Will you be pursuing this further, along legal lines? Or let dead dogs lie?

        • fsethd says:

          There’s nothing to pursue. I wasn’t harmed other than paying for services I didn’t receive. Although if the dead dog wiggles I might kick it.

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