On the way to see my beloved neurologist last week I was thinking about my decision in December 2007 to use a walking stick- not an easy one to say the least.
For quite some time I had been tripping over nothing- though I never thought too much about it. I was branded a klutz at a very young age and always chocked it up the tendency to a flawed gene I had inherited. So when concerned family members asked me if I had considered using a cane- I defensively claimed that if I needed a stick, my doctor would certainly have recommended it. And thus the phantom obstacles continued to block my path, with many a bloody knee and an embarrassed moment on NYC subway system. I glossed over the absurdity of this all-to-frequent occurrence with a bit of performance art. Brief moments of flight followed by random explanations announced to everyone and no one. Look that sidewalk is uneven! It’s these shoes! These practical rubber soled shoes tripped me.
And so it went unchecked until December of 2007 when the dizziness arrived, an unwelcome guest who would never get the hint. What I hoped would be temporary became a new way of life. It was my husband’s inquiry that made me realize I would need to reconsider what I’ve assigned as my neurologist’s responsibility. Keith’s question has more power than my original family and it forced me to realize that my life requires another “foot” on the ground- a tripod if you will to help me navigate the concrete jungle as well as the bumpy green suburbs.
This need was reinforced when I visited with the vestibular neurologist who when testing my stability marveled that I would consider walking without a stick. Placing his own stick near his desk reminding me of Joe Gideon’s exam as the doctor and patient both had cigarettes hanging off their lips hacking away during his physical— only less ironic. (see All That Jazz)
So, where was I? Oh yes- my doctor’s visit. After the routine performance of move this, touch this, walk like this, tell me this- my Dr. said,
“What are you using a cane for?”
“To compensate for my foot drop” I say.
“Well foot-drop doesn’t show in your reflex test or in your walking test.” he said
“But it does show when I’m kissing the sidewalk!” I hadn’t thought quickly enough to say.
So I’m leaving his office wondering why my Dr. would question my decision – one that was very difficult to make- and serves an important purpose in my life. Could he have said “Tell me, why have you decided to use a walking stick?”
I know, I know. Dr.s treat diseases and symptoms while nurses treat people. How is it that they can’t be housed in one person? Is there is no time to teach it in those advanced degrees? And to think that I thought that my Dr. would have recommended it, if he felt I needed it. In addition to having this disease, and living with the constant symptoms and their physical/emotional effect- I have to be my own advocate. Any large company would view that role as a conflict of interests.
Hmmmh. I miss Linda Morgante more than ever.