Friday, August 8, 2008

Able to be Stable

I had an appointment with one of my neurologists this week. Unlike most patients, I have two working on my case. Neurologist A has been with me since the beginning and he knows me and my idiosyncrasies. We've been through a lot together. Neurologist B is a newer edition to my team. She did a fellowship in MS and she offers a fresh perspective on my situation. Between the two of them, I am seen every three months and that ensures that any problems are caught early while giving me the benefit of a longer time between observations. So, the appointment I had this week was with Neurologist B and she had not seen me in six months.

For you lucky people who have never had an appointment with a neurologist, it's a little different than your average visit with a primary care physician. First, you are asked a lot of questions about what has been going on with you. The first time I saw neurologist, I wondered if we were just going to talk the whole time or if the doctor was actually going to do something like examine me. Now I know that they are checking cognitive ability and your state of mind. When I am having an exacerbation, I can't hold a conversation. As an experienced patient, I come prepared with my own set of questions and concerns. Not only does it help facilitate the conversation, it also helps me to remember everything I wanted to ask. It's a way to maximize your appointment time.

After Neurologist B and I finished the Q & A, she said, "let's take a look at you." Then, it was time for me to do my tricks. It started with "follow my finger with your eyes" and then "smile" and "stick out your tongue and say ah." After that performance, it was time for the feats of strength. For the first feat, I bent my arms at the elbows with my hands on my chest, raising my arms like wings while the neurologist tries to push them down. I then pointed my elbows to the ground holding my arms close to the body while the neurologist tried to extend them. I also tried to push the neurologist away from the same position. There was a time I would do similar things with my legs but since they don't really work anymore, we forgo that.

After that strange little work out, Neurologist B gave me some good news; she thought I was stable (physically at least). In the world of progressive disease, it's the best you can ask for. You aren't getting better, but you're not getting any worse. My assignment is to keep doing what I'm doing, taking all my drugs and always being sensitive to any changes in my condition. Hopefully, in another three months Neurologist A will pronounce me "stable" too.

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