Friday, July 1, 2011

How Important is Your Neurologist?

When I can’t walk or am unusually clumsy, I call his office. When my body loses sensation due to lesions on my brain, he is my go-to guy. If my sight gets a little fuzzy from possible optic neuritis, I make an appointment. These situations are true for many people living with MS - calling their neurologist to get every new symptom checked out. Yet, this critical reaction may be forced to change in the future, as it is expected the number of neurologists who enter the MS field will decrease considerably. 

I have seen my neurologist twice in the last six months. A predicted shortage of neurologists could cause those vital appointments to come to a screeching halt for me and others like me. As the number of neurologists specializing in MS decreases, the number of people diagnosed with this dastardly disease continues to rise, ironically due to the advances in neurological diagnostic tools. The specialist's base of patients will grow, thus making it harder for patients to get a timely appointment. And with a disease like multiple sclerosis, time is of the essence for treatment of a relapse. 

This past year, the public policy office worked with Congressman Michael Grimm along with nine other original co-sponsors on the PATH Act- Improving Physician Access in Teaching Hospitals (H.R. 2224) to prevent a physician shortage in the United States. Congressman Grimm introduced the PATH Act in the middle of June. 

Channing Barker is the author of this blog post and is an intern in the Society's Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. this summer. She was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS at 16 in 2006. Channing will finish up her last year at the University of Arkansas with a double major in political science and journalism. Be sure to follow our blog and learn all of the exciting opportunities Channing participates in this summer!


Nicole said...

That's great that she forged her way through school. I too was diagnosed my last year of nursing school.

mary williams said...

she is very busy with alzheimers patients so i don't get to see her ery often even then, being in an h.m.o. and being secondary progressive, theres not much she can do for me at this point.

Laura Klenda said...

Love you Channing! I'm so proud of you and all that you have accomplished and will continue to!

Kristi said...

I refuse to see a neurologist...NOBODY is an expert on MS. IMPOSSIBLE! MS is as different as each person it attacks. Most neurologists play 'jury'. They want EXACT evidence found in the majority. If the MRI report indicates MS and the patient has had non stop MS symptoms for years the neurologist still wants to do a lumbar puncture.I refused because from experience I have seen where lumbar puncture results are often WRONG! I know my body better than any doctor, regardless of specialty. When I have 5 doctors and 5 MRI reports tell me I have MS and two neurologists tell me "I don't want to label you with that diagnosis yet" ...that's why I say enough is enough! After I began using a cane to walk and having more severe symptoms is the only time one of the neurologists wanted to "revisit the MS diagnosis" thanks! I'll continue my care with my family physician since the only meds I take are to help control some of the symptoms. I refuse to test poisonous drugs out for a more poisonous disease. Besides, I rarely have a break from symptoms and developed MS when I was 40 yrs old...chances are pretty high that I have progressive MS so the poisonous MS drugs wouldn't work on me anyway.