By Scott Cremeans
Some of my doctors have been confusing, to say the least. My recent doctor appointment was one of those perfectly perplexing pop-ins. When I recently saw this new neurologist things started off as most initial doctor visits do. It was just like every appointment for a new doctor that most of us have experienced. They cut off the blood circulation in your arm while testing your blood pressure. Then a thermometer is slipped under your tongue, and a pulse oximeter is simultaneously popped onto your finger.
They check where you are on the depression scale by asking question after question. I would guess that these professionals are probably testing to see if you can handle looking at the bill. Then it is time to meet you the patient by chatting about anything and everything. They are trying to ascertain where you are in your MS life. They are also trying to learn how multiple sclerosis has impacted your lifestyle.
Then there is more testing as if you have not had enough. Depending on how far along into your MS existence you are, the examination may vary significantly. They want to check your cognition, dexterity, and your vision. For those of us who genuinely dislike needles, there is the horrifying blood draw. Next, they start by checking the strength of all of your muscles. I say that they are testing to see how cooperative my muscles are going to be and that is anyone’s guess.
My doctor then wanted to discuss medicine because I am taking an off-label medication. She stated that the old MS medications were not effective and felt that I should be on one of the new drugs. Although she gave me several options, the doctor was leaning towards one in particular. I let her know that I would do my due diligence before our next appointment.
As I was researching these medications, two questions popped into my head. The first was: Why should I change or add medications? My medical records show that I have been medically stable for nearly ten years. Again she had told me that the old medications were not effective. The doctor made me aware that these new medications were much better.
I said out loud to no one: Gee doc, all doctors said back then that the meds were the cat’s meow. Now she is telling me that the old meds were terrible and that this new stuff is the bee’s knees. How do I know that in seventeen years from now a doctor will not make the same comment? “The meds from 2018 were bad, but this new stuff is too legit to quit.”
Maybe I am overthinking the process. Doctors are usually book smart, but to me, they are not always people smart. Be sure to ask your medical professional plenty of questions. Request clarification if there is something that you do not understand. Do your research so that you can be comfortable in your decisions. This is your only body so do not accept being rushed into making any hasty moves.
*Scott Cremeans lives in Central Ohio. He is a US Marine who was diagnosed with RRMS in 2001 at the age of 27. Scott has successfully managed his MS symptoms on his own with his faith, friends and humor. You can read more about his MS journey by visiting his blog www.mytruemsstory.blogspot.com where he muses about life in the slow lane with his literary wit.
Awesome article. I hope treating doctors read this as well!