Living in the moment and loving it! I write to reflect on the issues that inspire us to be more, the topics we need to address with passion and people that deserve special recognition. I write to simply write, because I love to and I believe we should live out our dreams.
And Amen, I found him! But boy, it took my long enough to
get the nerve to call! I was trying everything to avoid
going for that darn ingrown nail on my big toe. Asking family, friends for
suggestions wasn't working; goggling on Google (my new best friend!) didn't help either, even doing minor surgery on myself. So I broke down and called, after getting a referral from my GP’s
office. This new doctor wasMichael R. Baker, DPM, FACFAS.
Well, as luck would have it, or un-luck, his office got me in pretty
quickly. I did not have enough time to chicken out. Believe me, it would not have taken much to do so! Given my past history with podiatry, I was dreading this.
The last time I had visited a podiatrist, my son was in second
grade and he is now 33 years old. I will never forget the first thing he asked me was how I learned of his name. I told him I had found it in the yellow pages of the phone book. He told me Rule Number One, never pick a doctor straight out of the phone book. Boy, was he ever right!
That year, I was coaching my son's boys basketball team. What was supposed to be an easy procedure was a nightmare. The podiatrist convinced
me my infected ingrown toe nail needed to be permanently removed that day, or
rather the side of the nail from the root of the nail bed.Furthermore, he
foresaw,with his magic crystal ball, that my other toe was going to need
this same surgery. He
CLAIMED it would be so much easier on me to have them both done at the same
time. My head must have read 'gullible' with opacity ink.
That year, Erlanger, Kentucky had a rather unusual basketball
coach a young boys team, that would be moi. I was limping around most of the
rest of the season on ugly medical platform shoes laced on both feet, wincing
in pain and begging the boys not to step on my feet. My feet are so large than
they hung over the edge. (You get the picture?) In-between quarters and
half times, the boys would gather around me so I could prop my feet up on
chairs to reduce swelling and pain. Thank God I had played
basketball in school and started the season with these kids so their parents
and the boys knew I had played the game and been on the court showing my skill.
I had already won everyone’s faith in my coaching and basketball skills
ability. Unlike my foot doctor who had lost my faith and quickly became
know as the doctor from from hell or more precisely, Wicked Witch of Toes.
Both toes got horribly infected, bled unbelievably, oozed,
and had plenty of complications. I was a regular at his office for weeks on
end. I am sure, if you get PTSD from toe nail surgery, I have it.
To this day, I refuse to get hypnotized to remember the entire
trauma. I am not willing to get treated for the psychological
damage done to me, toe anxiety. Many told me I should file a law suit at
the time but I was afraid of recanting the tale and having ore nightmares. It
was horrific to go through. Do you know how hard it is to sleep, weeks on end,
with both of your feet on a pillow? To this day, when I get a
massage, I refuse to let anyone touch my feet? I go bonkers if
anyone goes anywhere near my feet. I swear that damn doctor gave me a foot
phobia! Those months were a living hell!
Flash forward to present day. I walk in to this new office near
my home in Spring Hill fearing this podiatrist in as I would a dentist, only
much worse. I think of him as the devil reincarnated. I think the
first words out of my mouth, after he greets me and I check him out from head
to toe were "I am not anxious to be here. "(Translation: I hate
you, do your job and let me get the hell out of here!) He looked okay to
me in person but looks can be deceiving so I was not won over, and
He kept his distance from me, which was kind, taking my comment
with a slight smile and wanted to know why I felt that way but he seemed
fine non-verbally with my bluntness. I then told him how he ranked
in my line of favorite people to visit. (Okay, I can be real honest, sometimes
blatantly!) Plus I wanted reassurance he was not going to repeat my past.
I said my fear was as strong as the dentist but letting him in on the
fact my dentist was my son. He said he was grateful to hear that!
I begun to see his softness and empathy in his face and easy
going nature so I opened up about my fear. I could tell he sensed it and was
not rushing me. I explained why I was reluctant to be there in his presence. The
tone of the visit began to change and my walls started to erode. He
listened intently and with compassion and assured me that that experience was
not going to be mine ever again, not at his hands. I believed him, the
look in his face was a strong commitment and something I knew he was
standing his reputation behind.
Dr. Baker's personality was not what I expected from a doctor
obsessed with toes, feet and ankles. He was normal. He was humorous, relate-able,
understandable and empathic. Dr. Baker could be a character at times too,
when the mood needed to be lightened, when I needed it less intense. I
enjoy doctors who are very competent, thorough and yet are sharp witted and
make you feel human when you are there and not like a guinea pig or just a
number. He has good intuition for people and seems to read patients well
and know how to make them feel more comfortable in the room when performing a
procedure to keep the mood light. Health care providers have a way of
making you feel like just a victim instead of a patient. Doctors seldom have
patience for patients. This
doctor had the attitude of both.
I learned that we both originated from NYC. He
attended the NY College of Podiatric Medicine. This makes him a good
combination of northern roots but he has the joy of living and loving southern
hospitality. This is an interesting mix that allows him to relate to a diverse
client mix. I also quickly learned, after questioning him about
everything under the sun, he actually has never had a foot fetish. I
assumed all podiatrists did. When he married, he did find his step
son had foot problems. Ah, so there is one draw to the field!
I love to hear of doctors that took the time to serve our
country. Dr. Baker served in the United States Army as an active officer; two years at Fort Bragg North Carolina completing a Podiatric Surgical Residency. He went on to become an interim faculty member there and an ankle and foot surgeon. Next, he served at Fort Campbell Kentucky as Chief of Podiatry. Military service is always to be commended! It is a choice. And let's be frank here, foot service matters
people. Our military are no good without their foot and ankle problems addressed,
He gave me options on how best to precede with my toe letting me
make the ultimate decision. I think some of his disciplined approach in
treating patients fairly may have come from treating service
personnel. I love being given all the facts in layman’s terms and
being allowed to determine what is best for me, the best course of
treatment. I was also given the time to make the decision, with no
My procedure, cutting out a toe nail from its base, was a
relatively simple procedure for him, as opposed to my previous experience years
before. He had been informed by me, quite early on in this visit,
of the nightmare experience of the past. He actually listened intently
but told me there would be no repeat drama at his hands. This was a basic
procedure for him and the story was unreal to hear.
Dr. Baker’s passion is reconstruction and trauma, surgery, ankle
and foot problems.
I wrote this blog to share my experience about Dr. Baker
and to show the sharp contrast to another podiatrist. Seldom am I
compelled to write about a health care provider. However, when I meet one and use one that I find
engaging, thorough and would highly recommend, it certainly warrants the time
to promote the doctor. This expert is definitely in that class!
This guy is really cool, awesome skill sets, and very personable. I would
highly recommend him so please pass this around. How the heck do you get
the name of good foot doctors anyways?
During my procedure, he quickly caught on, I am sharp witted and
can be somewhat abrasive with my humor, as many New Yorkers can be. Not meaning
any harm at all, it is actually a form of giving flattery. This is when I
asked him if he was born with a foot fetish or developed it later. I also
wondered if he preferred Chinese restaurants where he could sit and see
everyone’s feet. He matched my demeanor, keeping the mood light so I was at
ease throughout the procedure. He knew I was intrigued by the procedure
but did not want to watch it (Blah!) so instead he relayed the steps.
Naturally, he added some humorous comments along the way. I must say, I
certainly never expected to laugh at my toe procedure!
As I left, fully expecting to have days of discomfort, begging
for pain medication and being given them, I was met with a smile and assurance
they would not be needed. Sure, I thought. But he was right! I healed
just fine, no pain, no gain is just not always true. My toe is as good as
new. Thank you for not making me blue, Dr. Baker.
If your toe is in a jam, don’t forget
this man! Michael R. Baker, DPM, FACFAS Please visit their practice's website, Advanced Foot & Ankle Care Centers (link below) to learn more. Be sure and tell him I told you he was toe-tally awesome.