YOU are your own best advocate.
YOU know when something isn’t just right. YOU are the one who has to keep telling your symptoms to another doctor when the one you are seeing is just not listening or just not getting it.
It’s hard to know where to begin, because I don’t know where the beginning is. So let’s just start in March, 2014. Fabgrandpa decided to quit smoking and drinking beer, and he did it cold turkey. He just laid them down and hasn’t picked them back up.
This was something that I have wanted to happen for a long time. He has COPD, and every cigarette he smoked made me sad. Sad for time I knew was being slashed off of his life. Time of his life that he would have to spend with me. So, yes, it was a selfish wish that I wanted him to stop smoking and drinking.
About a month or so after he stopped smoking and drinking, he started telling me that he felt “off balance”. Not dizzy, not like vertigo, just that he was having trouble with balancing his body. He started sort of “lurching” when he walked, a little bit of a veering off to one side or the other when he took the first step.
Other things he told me about were a tingling on the top of his head, a little numbness in his legs, cramps. Lots of cramps. In his chest, in his neck, in his legs, in his feet. Not being able to remember things. This man who could remember verbatim a conversation he had with someone in 1992 would forget to put his glasses on his face when we were going out to eat.
Then the anger started. He was angry about everything and anything. He screamed at me right in my face over the smallest things. I made a sandwich for him before he asked for it, and that made him so mad he pushed me.
That was the day I told him I was making an appointment for him to go to the doctor. Something had to change. I was not going to wait for him to hit me. The first doctor appointment was with the Physician’s Assistant at my doctor’s office. The PA told Fabgrandpa that he was depressed, and prescribed an anti-depressant.
After about a week on the anti-depressant, Fabgrandpa was calling the doctor to tell her that the medication wasn’t working, and that he did not think that he was depressed. She told him that it would take about a month for the medication to show any effect on the depression, and that he should continue to take it as prescribed. She told him to come back in three weeks.
At the four week mark on the medication, we went back and saw the PA again. She asked Fabgrandpa if the medication was working, and he said no, he didn’t think it was, and that he did not think he was depressed. He was still flying off the handle at times, but I thought I saw an improvement. I told the PA that I thought it was working some but maybe he needed a higher dose of the medication. Sometime during this appointment, the PA looked at Fabgrandpa and said “I thought you said you were better.” And Fabgrandpa said “NO! I did NOT say I was better. My wife said that, but she is not the patient.” She told him to try the meds she prescribed for a little while longer.
We left, and Fabgrandpa said he was not going to go to that PA again. He wanted me to make an appointment with my doctor, who we both like. So, I did. The Dr. told us that sometimes that medication that the PA prescribed just doesn’t work for some people, and she changed the prescription to a different medication, Dilantin. Dilantin is a drug used to help prevent seizures, but it can have the effect of calming a person who has anger problems. She said that she has some other patients, all older men, who have responded well to Dilantin for their anger. So, Fabgrandpa came home and started taking the Dilantin.
My doctor also referred Fabgrandpa to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist, because the ears play an integral part in balancing your body. She wanted to make sure there was no problem with his inner ear that would be causing Fabgrandpa to be off balance.
Next: We go to the ENT.