I guess I should have been nervous as I made my way to the imaging center in Columbus Circle, but the truth is, I felt like a major badass.
It had all started a couple of weeks before when I felt a nagging pain in my left leg on a long run. I was halfway through my training plan for what would be my very first half marathon and feeling strong. An injury was definitely not on the schedule, so I did what any runner would do and pretended it didn't exist.
That worked until it didn't, and I finally convinced myself to go get it checked out.
I wasn't exactly jumping up and down at the thought of going to see an orthopedist, but I wanted to run in the race, so I got adult about it and called a doctor that came highly recommended.
A cheerful receptionist asked me to describe my problem, and when I told her it was a running injury she said, "Hon I think you would be better off with a sports medicine doctor who treats athletes like you," and rattled off a name and number.
Athletes like me? I'm an athlete?
And I started thinking that maybe this whole doctor thing wouldn't be so bad after all.
On the day of my appointment I sat in the waiting room of my brand new sports medicine doctor and looked around at all the lean, fit people, thrilled to be a part of such athletic company. When I got called back to the exam room and told the very young and very good looking doctor about the pain I had been feeling, he told me he thought it was probably shin splints and then spent 10 minutes talking to me about distance running and marathon training. It seems he was similarly obsessed, and similarly afflicted with shin splints.
"It happens to us runners. It's no big deal," he said.
I left the office with a prescription for an MRI to confirm his diagnosis and the distinct feeling that with this injury I had just joined a special club of runners.
I felt like I had arrived.
I was almost excited when I walked into the imaging center a couple of days later, expecting to once again be sitting among my fellow runners in the injury trenches.
Frozen in the doorway, I took in the other patients scattered around the room. The elderly woman in the wheelchair with an IV pole attached to her arm. The frail young man, head criss-crossed with scars. The boy with casts on all of his limbs. The cluster of somber faced women - some without hair - sitting by the doorway marked "breast imaging." A doctor in a lab coat murmuring something to a crying woman.
I took myself and my running injury to an empty chair in the very back corner of the room and sank into it as my leg gave a dull, pathetic throb.
I didn't feel so badass anymore.