Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Doctor's Appointment

Finally we were able to match Patti with preferred physician this morning with myself in attendance!! That seems like such a simple request; however you have no idea how complicated that has been. Among the reasons for the preference is that her doctor is a woman. I hate to be sexist yet I have found that it DOES MATTER.


I would encourage all well spouses to begin to include themselves in the MS spouses’ medical appointments sooner than later. Obviously there are benefits to sharing information but also the onset of mental confusion or memory loss can be subtle. As the caregiver spouse you frankly are better able to notice changes. Make notes before an appointment to maximize your time with physicians and neurologists.


Patti’s problems with memory and mental confusion are of course extremely progressed. For example, when asked by doctor if she has any problems with swallowing she responded “no”. In reality Patti’s food is cut into little pieces and she has to be monitored while eating. Only a couple years ago she nearly choked to death at lunch at her parent’s home. Unless some one was there to offer the real story, changing medical professionals could take Patti at her word. In an institutional setting personnel are changing all the time.


Mainly I wanted to address increasing spasticity. Patti of course never brought it up, nor mentioned it when asked. I directed doctor to nursing notes which reflect spasticity so significant while sleeping that Patti had developed an abrasion on her knee from rubbing against the wall. Spasticity was one MS symptom Patti somehow NEVER developed before.


Nursing staff doesn’t hound a doctor to READ their notes. Frankly had I not been there, this appointment could have been like too many others with Patti responding to doctor’s question claiming she’s “fine” and on they would have moved to the next patient.


Seeing how little Patti could recall of her medical history and how inaccurate her memory was, I have no doubt her doctor will at least call me regarding appointments.


As for spasticity Patti will begin trying a muscle relaxant, Zanaflex at bedtime. Additionally combined with her other meds it may also increase sleepiness improving her overnight rest.


This will at least give her a working test before her appointment with her Neurologist next month where we can better address the increasing concerns of symptoms of spasticity and ataxia related spontaneous vomiting.

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