Lost Dancer by Heather Robinson

Orthopedist Dr. Rosenberg enjoys a case of mistaken identity; by Heather Robinson.

She looked different from my other patients. My typical customer is 70 to 80 years old, suffering from joints riddled with arthritis, walking hesitantly, and in pain. But she almost flitted about the exam room, gracefully turning, hands extended elegantly. A kind of Holly Golightly meets Misty Copeland. As I stared, half-amused, she apologized for her movements, said she was nervous. She told me she was a dancer and was hoping to join Twyla Tharp's troupe. Her words came out in a lilting poetic rush, but despite prompting, she still had not explained why she was here. Finally, I asked her to sit down and told her she had nothing to be nervous about. Again, I pressed her on her symptoms - knee pain? Hip? Elbow? Now it was her turn to look confused. She blushed and told me that she had trouble reaching climax and had been advised that I was the best doctor for such things.

I must admit I was dumbfounded. The first thing which occurred to me was that Barry, my evil practical jokester friend, was involved. But this was well above his skill level. If I had been dating someone at the time, I might have thought it was a set-up, but I was celibate then. For a moment, I also thought perhaps I had misheard her, and that it could be potentially embarrassing to try to verify her statement. Then slowly, I remembered.

"Martin Rosenberg, that's who people said you should see?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, "you are the best."

"Well, I am, but there's another doctor in the city named Martin Rosenberg." I paused. "He's a sex therapist. I'm afraid I'm an orthopedist."

"Oh," she said.

Immediately, I felt an odd sense of loss. How could that be? I had just met her.

"Didn't my staff inquire about the nature of your concern when you called?" I asked gently.

"Yes, but I told them it was very personal, and I'd rather explain it to the doctor directly."

I looked at the comments in the EMR. In the Reason for Visit field, it said in quotes "Too Personal." I would have to have a chat with Kelly later on.

She looked sad and defeated. I scooted my chair over to her and tilted my head down, so I was looking at her. "Listen, they're going to charge you anyway for this visit. Have you ever seen an orthopedist before?"

"Only back in grade school. I broke my wrist."

"Well, why don't we do a comprehensive orthopedic evaluation then, to get a benchmark? As a dancer, I'm sure that you'll have had your share of injuries throughout your career. This way, we'll establish some baselines. Then, if and when you have to come back, we'll know where we began."

"I guess," she answered, patting down her lilac skirt.

"I promise I will call the other Dr. Rosenberg personally and make sure you get an appointment quickly. Is that OK?"

She finally lifted her head and looked up at me. "OK."

I asked her to lie on the table and started with her arms, shoulders, and hands. As I flexed them, I asked her if she felt any pain. She shook her head. I moved down to her hips, pressing them one at a time. She seemed to be flexible and loose and did not flinch from my touch. When I bent her knee up and down, moving it to the right and left, I boldly began, "Given the reason for your intended visit, can I ask why your partner is not here with you?"

She mumbled something.

"I'm sorry?" I said.

"Julian said that no one had complained before, and he saw no point in coming with me," she said softly. I immediately despised this Julian.

I was manipulating her foot when she emitted a quiet "ow".

"Did that hurt?" I asked.

"Just a bit."

"I say we do an x-ray to be on the safe side."

She was agreeable, and I had Thomas take her to the x-ray room while I called Dr. Rosenberg.

"Hello, yes, I'd like to talk directly to Dr. Rosenberg. This is Dr. Rosenberg. Not related. I'm an orthopedist at HSS."

It took a few moments, but the other Martin came on the line, and I tried to explain the situation as best as I could.

He laughed. "Well, that's a good one. Lucky you! Of course, I'll fit her in."

"Excellent, and thank you. By the way, you probably want to get her schmuck of a boyfriend, Julian, in with her. I suspect he's 90% of the problem."

"Oh, I always insist upon that," he assured. "Well, it's good to make your acquaintance. If I ever get a torn meniscus in my office, I'll know where to send them."

"Thank you, I appreciate it."

I went back into the exam room, where she seemed perkier and was swaying lightly on the table. It made me smile. I popped up the x-ray, which didn't reveal any fractures.

"Everything is fine," I said, pointing to the scan. "Probably a bit of overuse. A couple of ibuprofens should do the trick. I would like to see you every year if that's alright with you. It's better to stay on top of these things. And of course, should you feel anything amiss before then, please don't hesitate to call me."

She nodded.

"Also, I spoke with the other Dr. Rosenberg, and he said he'll make sure to get you in soon. I gave him your number. Oh, and he expects Julian to be present too. I believe he used the word, 'insists.'"

"That will be interesting," she murmured.

"I expect it will," I answered.

She sighed.

I pulled down the x-ray and turned to her. She was collecting her bag and putting her hair up. "I must apologize for the mix-up," I said. "My staff doesn't usually make mistakes. I'll make sure it doesn't happen again."

She smiled at me. "I don't believe there are ever mistakes," she said.

Already I felt like a year was too long to wait before I would see her again.


  1. Fun story to brighten my Monday morning. I imagine she won't need to visit that other Martin Rosenberg.

  2. Cute. Sweet, actually. The medicine struck me as well researched, even authentic. Especially the part where he prescribes her ibuprofen (an OTC drug) for something she never expressed any concern or complaint over. When he began examining her, I was, perversely perhaps, expecting a conclusion that would render moot her reason for visit. A happy ending if you will.

  3. Fun read! A couple of lines stood out for me: "Then slowly, I remembered," and "'I don't believe there are ever mistakes'." Turning points, one for the rest of the story, the other for a new story to follow. Please write the sequel, Heather.

    1. sometimes I just like to let the reader imagine...but I will definitely consider this.

  4. I'll echo the above statements. A fun, happy story to start the week. Thanks for sharing your work with us.

  5. Fun tale of fate vs. coincidence. One can never have too many Dr. Rosenbergs. ;)

  6. Thank you all for your wonderful comments!

  7. What a lovely story. Uplifting, tender and funny. Don't we all wish to meet that kind of doctor?

  8. I hope she got into the dancing troupe she was aiming for and dumped the ghastly boyfriend!

  9. Great writing here. I love the line "'I don't believe there are ever mistakes'. That's a classic and is well placed here. It seems like a non-fiction story it is so well done.

  10. Wow! I appreciate that, and I do believe in her comment

  11. This is such a sweet story!

  12. An excellent story but Barry the jokester friend's appearance was far too brief, I wanted to know more.

  13. I really enjoyed this. The universe works in strange ways... I felt that these characters were both very 'real' and easy to relate to.

  14. I loved the hidden inuendo in the line "He saw no point in coming with me".

  15. Heather Robinson’s “Lost Dancer” is a really well-written story about two perfectly nice people; it’s a feel-good tale that everyone needs to read—and write—from time to time. Heather has a deft touch, which is why she is able to convey so much feeling with such an economy of words. There is a spark between the two characters which make one hopeful for their futures. There was no name given to the young dancer; might I wistfully suggest “Heather,” though I ardently hope there is no such benighted figure as Julian in your life.