I finally got to see a neurologist this week, more than a month after my second trip to the nearest emergency room for a check on the continuing problems caused by a pre-Thanksgiving tumble down the stairs.
After regularly misplacing work papers, forgetting routine details, and fighting tiredness, I wanted to talk with a doctor again. My primary care physician was too busy to work me in, so I wound up at the ER again.
The doctor I saw on my latest visit diagnosed me with post-concussive syndrome. He said I should see a neurologist.
As my discharge papers put it, I should make “the first available appointment.”
When I called the next morning, I learned what that meant: five weeks later.
In all seriousness, I asked the woman who answered the phone, “If I’m feeling all right in five weeks, should I still come?”
Informed and Relaxed
She assured me I should, because “concussions are nothing to play around with.”
After hanging up, I thought, “If it’s so serious, why do I have to wait five weeks?”
Fortunately, in early January, I got to see an orthopedic doctor for a check on the bone in my left hand broken in the same fall. He put my mind at ease.
Chatting as we finished up, I told him the broken bone wasn’t that big a deal; it was the bump on my head that was still causing problems.
He assured me that symptoms this long after the accident weren’t that unusual, and that they could continue for a few months.
“It just takes time,” he said. “There’s no medication you can take that’s going to make you feel better, or anything much you can do other than rest.”
While not necessarily good news, information dispels imagination. Instead of wondering why I wasn’t getting any better this long after the fact, I saw that my condition wasn’t unusual.
This experience has shown me the need to be more pro-active when it comes to my health and better understanding it.
Until that conversation, no one had given me much information about concussions. Or, in my case, how long the problems could continue.
To put the ball in my court, I should have asked more than I did. But that’s part of the problem when it comes to our health: we often don’t know what questions to ask.
Still, I now grasp that none of us should passively accept whatever a doctor says without following up with nuts-and-bolts inquiries about real-life issues and what to expect in the future.
Searching for Alternatives
Ironically, just before my visit to the neurologist, I talked with a friend who had taken a much more aggressive stance with his medical treatment.
Right after Christmas, he wound up in the ER because of chest pains. A cardiologist wanted him to have a stress test and bypass surgery.
Instead of agreeing to that, he got the proverbial “second opinion.”
Another cardiologist who is more receptive to alternative forms of medicine didn’t think bypass was necessary.
The cardiologist said one blockage supposedly needing surgery was about 10 years old. He suggested ways of addressing the situation with diet, exercise and medication.
So, instead of recovering from the pain of bypass surgery, my friend is still out and about and visiting the gym five times a week.
Which goes to show that, when it comes to your health, it never hurts to ask questions. I wish I had earlier.