One year is closing and another beginning, so I am making a list of my gratitudes. Top on this list is my most recent neurologist. She is relatively young (when you are my age, someone in her 30s seems practically newborn), warm, and empathetic. On our first encounter, much to my amazement, I burst into tears and told her I was angry at how MS prevents me from doing what I want to do. My outburst was momentary but real...and so was she.
When I was diagnosed, the first neurologist delivered the news over the phone. When sat down for my first post diagnosis appointment, she said that my age made it likely that drugs would be ineffective. I asked her what I could do to stem the progression. I thought she might mention acupuncture, yoga, meditation...but she talked about a lemon juice/peanut butter fast, a magic crystal, and a hocus pocus footbath to remove toxins, none of which seemed very appropriate. I never went back.
The second neurologist conveyed profound disinterest. She checked my reflexes and strength, had my eyes track her finger, and suggested baclofen for nighttime leg cramps. She seemed unable to hear my concerns about taking baclofen in my situation: I lived alone on my dream farm, caring for dairy goats and hens, growing produce organically. I had to be strong and capable everyday: how would a drug affect this?
My third neurologist was dismissive of my concerns. At this point, I was three years into the diagnosis, had surrender the dream of a farm, and had used the internet to find out more about MS. You will have to take my word for this, but I am not a complainer. I could, of course, list all the little things that bother me: the inability to type as well as I once could, my deteriorating cursive, the loss of ability to play the piano...and those are just my hands and fingers. Then there are the eyes, the feet, the joints that suddenly weaken...you have MS, you know. But she asked a question. And I answered. I told her I thought I was walking like Frankenstein...and she said I was lucky because her young male patients had it much worse.
Here, I want to say that I understand my blessings. I have empathy for others...for those diagnosed with MS, with cancer, for those who are hungry, or homeless, or in pain, and...and...and... Within my abilities, I always act with respect or help for my fellow humans. In addition, I am not stupid. I know MS can rob someone of every function we take for granted. I also know that medical practices have to keep a schedule and limit appointments to a certain period. But all I wanted was someone to listen to me, not for long, just for a moment.
Now, almost seven years after diagnosis, and so much solo work trying to figure this out, I have a fourth neurologist and this online community of fellow humans to understand how I feel. I have felt so alone, so isolated, sometimes so crazy, often so judged...but here, I feel accepted, understood, listened to. Thank you. I didn't know how much I needed you. I am grateful for you.