Is it a bird? Or a plane, perhaps? No, it's my neurologist!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/12/04 17:23 -05:00, original URI:

(Warning -- nothing technical in this post -- so if that's not your thing then skip it!!)

Heading downtown to go the doctor's office is kind of a pain.

Well, not exactly downtown, but at the UWMC (University of Washington Medical Center).

Anyway, there is no way to get there on time. You are either very early (because there is no traffic yet), or very late (because there is too much traffic). Today I am very early, so I am here with my laptop typing a blog post or two. I'll put this one up when I am back in a place that I can that....

This, by the way, is probably also what keeps me from succumbing to the regular temptation of taking one or more of the linguistics classes on campus there -- they would force me to go through this every day.... although on the bright side I'd have a UW logon I could use to get on the wireless network without doing anything irresponsible like hacking into it!

Anyway, Diane has set things up so that I can both see the doctor and get my Novantrone in the one trip, which saves me having to come out an extra time. And I get my echo, pre-proc labs, and post-proc labs at the East Side Specialty Center attached to the UWMC which saves me 2-3 more trips. It is all very helpful.

Though it kind of begs the question -- if I hate going there so much, why do I bother going there at all? Why not find a neurologist on the Est Side who works out of Overlake and just avoid the weird drive that one can never make on time?

The answer is simple -- I trust my neurologist.

I first met her many years ago when she was working in a neurology practice attached to Overlake. The circumstances were less that ideal -- I was two weeks into an MS exacerbation, the worst one I have ever had -- before or since --  and was for the most part unable to walk. Stuck at home in my third floor apartment for two weeks, too afraid of the stairs to venture into the world just then, it was only with the intervention of a good friend that I did not just stay home until I recovered from the exacerbation 4-6 weeks later. She dragged me to her doctor's office (I had no doctor, let alone neurologist, at the time in this state) and the nurse there sent me straight to the hospital.

And it was there at the hospital that I met my neurologist.

Now I have had neurologists before and even worked for some really excellent ones before (in Hartford and in Columbus), and this made me a bit of a snob about only ever wanting to see good neurologists, who not only knew their stuff but knew how to deal with me -- a smart ass who knew a lot more about the disease and about neurology in general than most, who wanted the straight scoop and no hand-holding crap.

(Now when I would do the hand holding thing for a patient when I was a technologist performing EEGs, EPs, and carotid Dopplers, it was not crap -- but doing it to me was crap because I didn't want that sort of thing. If you know what I mean)

But anyway, I had kind of fallen outside of the system for several years because I was pretty self-sufficient and I figured it was not like they were going to be able to do anything for me. Since I had no insurance at that point (most of the policies I could get as a self-employed consultant were pretty sticky about pre-existing conditions), it just seemed more natural to not bother.

By the time I got out of the hospital a few days later, I knew I was going to keep seeing this neurologist because she knew exactly the kind of care I needed and did not try to give me anything more than that (I did see her interact with other patients, and it was clear that she tailored her approach to who was in front of her, something I also appreciated!).

The thing that I realized is that it is best to keep your hand in and not fall outside of the system. That's how you find out about latest treatments, about things to worry about, and about what to think of next.

She took some time off for a fellowship, and when she came back to the area she ended up at the UWMC. I did not hesitate to call and make an appointment there the next time I needed to see a neurologist -- that is not the kind of position where you can have just any random warm body with a board certification step in.

Anyway, if I ever moved, I'd rather fly back for occasional appointments than have to go through finding a new neurologist that I would like again. She was only  born four years before me, which is good; it means she will probably outlive me by a few years and as long as she doesn't retire too early I won't have to choose a new neurologist, an event that is simply way too traumatic for me.... :-)

So after I saw her I headed down to the Special Procedures Unit, where we discovered that my neurologist had not filled out the form properly (she calculated my BSA correctly but she didn't multiply it by the factor needed to establish the proper dosage. Calling upstairs to get a new req. was not working so I offered to scoot up myself and get the corrected form (which I did, completely unable to smile and say "math is hard" which did inspire a smile!).

Then I got to meet Gretchen, another patient, just a few years older than me -- same Dx (diagnosis), same Tx (treatment) -- and in the course of this conversation between two people who (with the exception of MS and presmably a propensity for breathing in oxygen) have absolutely nothing in common I was once again reminded of the fact that people with MS speak a special language of some sort based on their shared affliction, enough so that I'd be tempted to try to interact with someone who has MS but does not speak English to see if it really is some kind of language.

I'll let you know if I make any progress on this little thought experiment of mine....

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