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PART III: Getting Treatment

How I Did It vs. How it Should Be Done

I injured my knee on the evening of December 26, 2014. I had surgery to repair the injury on January 16, 2015... exactly 3 weeks.

All the authoritative sources say you should 1) be taken to the emergency room; and 2) surgery should be performed as soon as is possible. The tendons and muscles begin atrophy almost immediately and the repair becomes more and more difficult, and less and less effective!

So... what happened?

First... I'm an idiot musician -- the show must go on. I felt that I need to play the show at Belly Up, regardless of the fact that my role was a bit part. In my nearly 55 years of playing gigs, I can count on one hand that shows that I've cancelled because of health issues. I played my Hall of Fame show in 2007 with a 104 degree fever and walking pneumonia!!! In a snow storm!!! In sub zero weather!!! Geez... you get the picture?

Second... as I mentioned, I have a history of pulled muscles. I sort of figured that's what it was... I'd do the RICE treatment, limp around for a couple of weeks, and that would be that.

Third... we were 1800 miles from home looking at a 3 hour plane trip. We delayed our trip for a day (which cost nearly $600 for ticket alteration, extra car rental, extra hotel, etc.) to allow a trip to the Urgent Care Center... by that time, because of the excruciating pain and my inability to extend my foot, I knew this was not a pulled muscle. So... we went to a recommended Urgent Care Clinic in Mission Viejo... more about this a bit later.

Fourth... it was Christmas holiday and orthopedic surgeons apparently are orthodox observers of this holiday. Though I tried to get an appointment with my primary care physician (PCP), as of Dec. 28, the first appointment available was not until January 2 -- that doctor was on holiday. My PCP referred me to an Orthopedic Surgeon... the first appointment I could get was January 6. At that appointment, they set me up for an MRI on January 8... and I could not get the results until January 12. At that time they said I needed surgery ASAP... well DUH!!! 

Ok... as many of you know, I quickly called about 100 people to find replacement geetar players, get the OK from bookers, etc. Everyone was, of course, very nice and I'm eternally grateful to my friends and colleagues who accommodated my sudden schedule change.

But... surgery finally occurred three weeks from the accident.

How it should be done -- GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM! This is a serious leg injury, one that if left untreated, can leave you permanently hobbled. I may not be young, but I tell you what -- I''m not ready for the now or EVER!!!

Now... I have to comment on the Oso Urgent Care Clinic, and in particular, Dr. Joy who examined my leg. I described my problem thus (reiterating much of what I've written on other pages.)
  1. I injured my knee when I missed a step;
  2. I heard a loud "pop" when my leg buckled;
  3. The incident was accompanied by intense pain in the patella;
  4. My knee was extremely swollen and discolored;
  5. I could not extend my foot.
If you do a search on Google for "Quadriceps Tendon Rupture", you'll get millions of hits. Each one with list, almost literally, the symptoms I've described. However, here's what Dr. Joy, in his medical wisdom, told me: "It's bursitis."

Once my head stopped spinning around on my neck, I inquired, incredulously, "Correct me if I'm wrong, Doctor... bursitis is a chronic inflammation of the bursa in the knee.. it would not suddenly be brought on by a slip on some stairs, would it? I was FINE before this incident... these symptoms began simultaneously with my slip on the stairs."

Dr. Joy was unshaken in his medical wisdom, even though his "diagnosis" was the equivalent of suggesting to a patient who had come in with a knife protruding from his chest, that he had acne. A little tetracycline would clear it right up.

As treatment, Dr. Joy wanted me to take a powerful steroid (methinks someone close to this situation might be taking a few too many of these, himself), and, thankfully, some Vicodin, to at least allow me to make the trip back to Austin.

Of course, what Dr. Joy SHOULD have said is, "Oh geez... you've ruptured your quadriceps tendon.... we need to get you to an emergency room, quick", or at least, "Oh geez... this looks serious and I don't really know what it is... let's get you to an emergency room."

Now... I realize I've named names, and left myself somewhat at risk. However, I have his written diagnosis and I have my wife as a witness. This is possibly the most irresponsible medical behavior I've ever personally experienced. Gawd forbid, my issue was not a stroke, or a heart attack... he might have diagnosed it as fatigue, or indigestion, depression, or who knows what. I have NEVER in my life levied blame against a doctor... what they do is difficult, and involves a certain amount of guess work. However, in this case, we have filed a formal complaint to the California Board of Medicine. Someone could die, next time -- my hope is taking the time to file the complaint my help prevent a needless death. No lawsuit, no damages... I just don't want this clearly incompetent "doctor" ruining someones life.

THERE... done with the vitriol. If you have a medical issue which requires "urgent care", I'm sure there are alternatives to the Oso Urgent Care Clinic.

One again, how it SHOULD be done -- GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM.

Next up... PART IV: Recovery


  1. Love your "I'll tuff it out attitude" but, Otis, ya got to're not quite as young as you used to be. Age doesn't mean we have to slow down but it does bring the right to take care of ourselves just a little bit better.

    Glad you filed the complaint against Dr Joy! :)


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