Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You Can't Choose Your Relatives, but You Can Choose…

English: A physician sitting at his desk.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.”  - G. K. Chesterton

People are loyal, often to a fault. Year after year we stick with the same auto insurance company, the same favorite restaurant, and even the same brand of shampoo, no matter how much better the alternatives may be. I’ve used one bank for more than 20 years. Is there no better choice? I’m not sure. I’ve never considered the issue.  Whether it's a matter of comfort, loyalty, or laziness, we tend to mindlessly stick with what we know.

On the other hand, we have no control over other parts of our lives.  We can’t choose our relatives or our genetic makeup.  I’ve figured out that we men don’t actually chose which woman it is who knocks us over the head, drags us to her cave, and forces us to make babies and take out the trash for the rest of our lives either. But this post is about one area where we do have a choice, and where we should not settle for mediocrity.

Elaine recently wrote me at, regarding her husband who, like me, has primary progressive MS:
Dear Mitch, I am very sorry that the CCSVI treatment did not work for you.  We are desperate for the procedure to work, so I am hoping it does.  The one bad thing that has come out of our CCSVI experience is that my husband got the testing done and was scheduled for treatment, and then when we asked his local neurologist to support him after the procedure and monitor him the neurologist accused us of seeking "quackery", and said he would not support him after the procedure.  The MS center that he is part of has an extremely negative view of CCSVI.
When I read something like this, my blood boils.  It's one thing if a physician draws a line in the sand when a patient refuses proven treatments in favor of experimental ones. I may not agree with that, but I get it. What I don't get is this doctor. There are exactly zero FDA approved treatments for primary progressive multiple sclerosis. This doctor has nothing to offer his patient, yet he won't support the patient’s exploration of a promising new treatment. To me, that is unconscionable, and grounds for dismissal.

Yes, that's right. You can fire your doctor! He is supposed to work for you, with your best interests in mind. If he strays from that duty, then you are allowed to fire his ass (I use the masculine pronoun here, because it's usually the male doctors who are the most arrogant).

I’m not here to bash the entire profession, just the few doctors who have lost sight of their original calling.  I'm fortunate to have a neurologist who, although he is skeptical about the relationship between CCSVI and multiple sclerosis, accepts that he has nothing better to offer me.  He supports most of my wild ideas, and even suggests a few of his own.  This is how it is supposed to work.

So go ahead and keep writing checks to your underperforming insurance company and continue visiting the diner on the corner, but be choosy about your doctors. Don't hesitate to make a change if your relationship is not meeting expectations. It could be a matter of life or death.

Oh, I just received an update from Elaine. Her husband was treated for CCSVI last week, and is experiencing significant improvement. Hmmm. Imagine that.
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  1. I fired my last neurologist when she said about my refusing DMDs, "Okay, but don't come to me when you're crawling on the floor." Then three years later, I had a worrisome flareup that, away from my current wonderful neurologist's area, landed me for observation overnight at a hospital. And who shows up as the neuro on call? Yep, the very same neuro I had fired three years before. I fired her again. And I am not crawling on the floor, thank you very much, Ms. Doctor.

  2. Judy, I stand correted for my sexism. Female docs CAN be as obnoxious as male docs.

  3. My doc told me, he had taken an oath to save lives. He did not want me to try experimental. I got a 2nd opinion, they agreed with him. Do what you need to do for your best!!!
    ps it is your body

  4. I'm somewhat in limbo about my neuro right now. I had a horrible visit with his PA, and an unfriendly phone conversation with his office manager. I'm looking into other doctors right now, but I'm also nervous about switching...

  5. I admit that it was demoralizing for my husband to be told by his MS neuro that he would not support my husband if he went through with trying CCSVI. But when we asked what the options were if we agreed with him and did not pursue CCSVI, his answer was "pain management" and of course the drugs he was already on for spasticity. So after a few hours of disbelief and shock at what the doctor was proposing, we decided that it was best for us to go on a different path.


  6. The most demoralizing part of all this CCSVI saga is how we have lost faith in our doctors. People that we used to trust most! Hearing mine last month telling me that he was to support me in anything I tried as long as it is not "unblocking my veins, hahaha!", I felt like crying! And than I felt pity for this man who has spent most of his life in the MS field. How is he gonna feel the day CCSVI becomes a respected treatment for MS?

  7. Way to go Elaine. I'm happy for you both. I fired my neuro when his resoinse t my q re ccsvi was, "everyone knows the brain and spinal cord aren't related to the rest of the body." Can't you see it!!