Five Ways to Find the Best Neurologist for Your MS Needs

Five Ways to Find the Best Neurologist for Your MS Needs

When I was diagnosed in 1986 my neurologist told me to go home and call him if I experienced any symptoms. He’d prescribe a round or two of steroids. Adios and have a good life.

I changed doctors after that. My next doctor was excellent but strictly traditional. At that time the school of thought practiced by most doctors was traditional medicine. The answer to every symptom was a prescription to (hopefully) get you better. They didn’t look at the “whole person”, that is, body, mind and spirit. They considered complementary and alternative medicine (healing practices combined with traditional medicine) unchartered territory.

When I asked about the use of yoga or acupuncture my questions went unanswered. Sometimes they chuckled at the very notion.

I was fortunate to happen on the advice of Dr. Andrew Weil, an American trained doctor who focused on natural health and wellness and helped establish the emerging field of integrative medicine. I often write about Dr. Weil’s work since it had such a profound effect on me. I followed his advice on nutrition, meditation and spiritual practices that helped provide a feeling of being in the driver’s seat as much as someone can with an unpredictable disease.

I’ve been to several neurologists over the 30 years I’ve had this disease. They ran the gamut of wonderful to arrogant, from uninterested to you-don’t-look-sick-and-you-walked-in-fine-so-you-must-feel-fine.

Last week I finally hit the jackpot. I’ve been searching for a new neurologist whose practice was closer to home. After asking trusted friends and doing a lot of research I finally had an appointment with my new doctor.

All I can say is, “Ahhh!”

Read this next sentence twice:

My neurologist took 45 minutes with me and gave me the most thorough examination I ever had.

Yes, you read that right. Forty-five minutes! In today’s world of healthcare I’d say that’s extraordinary.

Beyond the typical tests she asked:

  1. Did I want a prescription for a massage? (Was she kidding? That took 2 seconds to answer.)
  2. Did I try mindful meditation to help me sleep better?
  3. Was I practicing yoga for better balance and to increase my walking distance?
  4. Did I have any questions for her? What were they? Was there anything else?

I was surprised that I didn’t faint from the surprise of it all. I laughed, cried and hugged her after the exam. I told her about my first appointment thirty years prior and how happy I felt knowing that younger neurologists were looking at the whole patient, not just throwing drugs our way to stop every symptom.

She was a breath of fresh air and treated me with the respect and dignity every patient deserves. I found a doctor who believed me without question, looked directly in my eyes while I was speaking and encouraged me to seek answers within complementary medicine.

Every person living with MS deserves a neurologist who will hear them. It doesn’t matter what our financial or insurance situations are. We deserve to be heard.

Here are a few tips based on my experiences:

  1. Research online to find the right doctor for you. Ask those you trust for recommendations. You can check doctors’ backgrounds online at Vitals.com to check patient reviews, credentials, locations and availability and accepted insurance. (NOTE: Keep in mind that reviews are based on the reviewer’s experience, and their needs and expectations are often different from yours.)
  2. Bring a list of what you need to discuss with your doctor. If they’re ready to show you the door before you’ve reached the end of your list loudly insist they stay to listen. Bring a loved one along if you need a little help. Do not leave until you are done with your list.
  3. Find a doctor you feel comfortable with, one who puts your needs first. You should be a cohesive team, and have the ability to reach them by phone if necessary. Some doctors answer questions at the end of their workday or have a nurse practitioner respond on their behalf. You want to feel taken care of. You deserve that.
  4. If, for any reason, you don’t feel your doctor is the right one for you move on. You only have one body and you need to take care of it the best way possible.
  5. If you’re in the emergency room and feel your needs are not being met notify a nurse or health care worker to discuss the situation. If your needs are still unmet work the chain of command. The head or charge nurse should be notified, and after that demand to see the Department Director of Nursing or the Chief Nursing Officer. Every hospital has a chain of command and working it is not a sign of weakness but a way of trying to resolve your issue.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (5)
  • LuvMyDog
    3 years ago

    “find the best neurologist….”
    Much, much easier said than done.

    The “best” neurologist I have ever had was the one I was fortunate to meet 34 years ago.
    After going to seven neurologists in my own area, this person was recommended to me and I drove 94 miles to see him.

    He spent about an hour with me, going over all of my medical history and symptoms.
    He sent me for several tests and told me he would call me as soon as he received the results.

    He did call. The tests were negative, but he said, “if you are willing to come back here, I’m willing to keep trying to find out what your problem is…”
    I went back a week later.
    More tests. An MRI. A spinal tap. And, I was diagnosed with MS.
    This wonderful, brilliant, compassionate doctor was there for me for more than 20 years until he retired.

    After that, I looked for another neurologist.
    I went to one in my area who was arrogant, cold and dismissive. I dismissed him immediately after our first conversation.
    No others in my immediate area.
    I looked online, found someone 52 miles away.
    She was very pleasant but couldn’t be depended upon.
    She cancelled appointments on a regular basis but didn’t like it if I didn’t feel well enough to drive 52 miles to see her.

    I had not seen a neurologist for about 3 years and decided to look for someone else again, in my area.
    Found one guy. On the day of the appointment, he breezed into the exam room with a young woman who looked like she was in junior high school, introduced himself so quickly, I barely understood what he said..and was out the door again.

    The young woman(?) sat with me for about a half hour, asking many questions, speaking to me many times as if I were a 6 year old idiot and then exited the room saying, the doctor will be back in shortly.

    About 20 minutes later he came back in.
    He sat down in a chair, threw one leg over the arm of the chair and looked rather bored.
    The young woman then proceeded to tell him what she had asked me and…what I had told her, not always telling it the way it was originally said.
    I have no patience for that.
    I had to interrupt her several times and correct her.
    I don’t think the doctor said more than one or two sentences throughout the whole thing.

    He ended our appointment with writing out an order for an MRI, breezing by me at the speed of sound while saying….”Good-Bye” and was gone… on to the next victim.
    I didn’t bother with that MRI and never saw that doctor again.
    Have yet to see another neurologist.
    I have been told that they are few and far between, especially within 50 miles of where I live.

  • Amit
    3 years ago

    Absolutely. This illness manifests in still unknown, complex and disturbing symptoms which necessitate ears willing to listen, mind willing to comprehend and then offer a treatment in patient’s best interest. We deserve a physician who may practice medicine upon us, but never experiment it upon us. We deserve a physician who will always, without excuses, be accessible to us. We deserve a physician who will have the wisdom to challenge conventions and not consider that disability progression is a foregone conclusion if you have MS. We deserve a physician who can feel our pain without showing it to us. We deserve a physician who can actually rise above commercialism and give the right time and advice irrespective of our capacity to pay his bills. We deserve a physician who can be our friend in times of need. We deserve a physician who will listen to us and actually take us seriously. We deserve a physician who will go the extra mile to offer the best solution to us, even if that means using the non-conventional systems of medicine and therapy and not be rigid or be against it, because relief to patient is more important than the ego of his physician. I am glad that I am associated with one such neuro-physician.

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    3 years ago

    All excellent points about what we, the patient, deserve! So happy you found such a physician, Amit.

  • Shantami
    3 years ago

    Well said! I’d love a prescription for a massage! My neuro is limited in what he is allowed to do as well as his knowledge. Do I sound arrogant? Yes, I do!
    xo Take care.

  • alchemie
    3 years ago

    Well, not around here. There’s not enough of them, and most of them aren’t worth my time.

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