We were recently referred to a neurologist based on my husband’s feeling that he was losing his memory. At the age of 64, his general practitioner agreed that it was an issue worth investigating. This is a life curve that provides me with an insider view resulting in quandary and possibly denial. It is like walking through steady fog, I think I see clearly but maybe I do not.
So the dementia coach in me was in absentia when I scheduled the second neurology appointment in three years. Despite the many family caregivers who had expressed that the best evaluation they ever had was from a more intensive Gero-psychology based evaluation, we went to a referred neurologist.
Despite the specialist fee charged, our experience was far from special. The visit lasted less than 15 minutes, involved a cursory physical assessment, the traditional three question quiz and a brief discussion with my husband as to what he felt his symptoms were.
The thing that was most appalling to experience was the complete disregard of the spouse’s perspective. Never once did the doctor direct a question or even eye contact to me during the visit. Of course I had no expectation that the doctor would be attuned to my training or professional experience. Let’s face it, most medical doctors would not see a doctorate based in psychosocial dementia interventions as an expertise. But I did expect he would be astute enough to value input from the spouse.
At the end of his brief assessment, he told my husband “probably mild cognitive impairment, nothing to worry about.” At which point my inner researcher went ballistic. In my best patient advocate voice I stated, “We live on a boat, is this a problem? I am worried.” To which he stated, “You have auto-pilot, no need to worry.”
So as we leave my inner researcher is still screaming while inner wife of a 64 year old man is happy to have dodged the bullet. Just a little MCI. Like just a little pregnant. No need to worry. We have instruments. . .
So it is after some time away from the ordeal, we have agreed to have a more thorough clinical assessment. Hopefully one that will result in silencing the raging researcher with truly specialized testing. We have, of course, postponed this assessment until winter because . . . well either wisdom or denial. To be cont’d.
Useful Documents (pdf)
Dr Cate in the Media