In less than 8 hours, I see my Vanderbilt neurologist. I like Vanderbilt Neurology. The people are friendly, the doctors listen and inspire confidence, and the person who does intake information lets you tell her what your weight is without making you stand on the actual scale. My type of place. I have always maintained that physicians could learn from veterinarians, because the latter don't have the advantage of conversation in the (human) vernacular with their patients. There are times I have gone to the vet and all I could say was, "he's acting funny." From that, a good vet has to be both scientist and mind reader and have the patience to be both while dodging teeth and claws and being hissed at. So, in part, I want to test my good neuro by hopping up on the table and saying nothing.
To my list of questions... those non-motor symptoms her colleague presented at the Blazing Toward a Cure scare me. I really, truth be told, want her to look me over and use some noninvasive intuition to diagnose any new problems. I want the determination of Parkinson's to be an exact science where blood work, vitals, and xrays--something quantifiable-- put me in a category with a name and a number and a specific dose of medication. Pipe dreams. I was diagnosed originally because of obvious tremors that could have been the result of Essential Tremor or the side effect of an antidepressant. But that diagnosing neurologist "saw something" in my walk and arm movement. She even laughed when I compared my imbalance to the tricycle episodes on "Laugh In" where the rider hits the tree and just falls over. That's what I do sans tricycle. With confidence in her observations, I initially accepted the diagnosis. Then, every office visit thereafter, she had to answer the same question: "Do I really have PD?" "Yes," is always the answer, and off I would blithely go into lala land to screw up my Sinemet and Mirapex routine.
One of the doctors at the symposium looked across the sea of faces and right into my eyes the way my father used to do when I was about to be punished and said, "The brain likes consistency; it's important to take your medication exactly as prescribed, according to the schedule you and your neurologist worked out." I heard that loud and clear. I went home and resurrected the schedule, bought a little old lady weekly pill container, and parceled out my meds precisely. Empirical evidence gathered this week suggests that really works. AHA!
But can my doctor just look at me tomorrow and intuit what's going on? Or will I sit there and talk about getting the hiccups and having trouble swallowing everything except chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream? I actually have a radiologist's report about my measurable swallowing problem; could that be something else? What about insomnia? I sleep about 5 hours a night and maybe 2 in the afternoon. PD related? What about opening the dishwasher yesterday instead of the microwave oven to heat something? Is my mind going too?
Well, I guess I have generated a list. I should email my doctor this blog and stay home. Suggestions readers? I shall report tomorrow.