Well, we went Thursday to see Dr. Watts, the head of Neurology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, who has a great reputation as a Movement Disorder Specialist.
We were both very impressed with how personable he is. One of the other doctors on his staff did all of the preliminary questioning and testing. He was very easy to be with, too. Most of the tests were ones I have been asked to do many times in the last couple of years. A few were different. They both had me make big smiles with my teeth showing several times, which is not something I remember being asked to do by anyone else, and Dr. Watts had me repeat a few of the tests the assistant had already done.
They also gave me the impression that my family history of neurological problems is an important clue – mother with Senile Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s – uncle with ALS – aunt with depression, drug addiction, alcoholism – grandfather was senile, possibly Alzheimer’s? Until they asked lots of probing questions I had never connected my Grandfather’s behavior and my Aunt’s behavior as being pertinent. That’s why doctors ask things over and over, isn’t it.
Of course, they asked me a million questions about what my symptoms were like, and when and how they started, many questions asked several times. Some I could answer, and some I really couldn’t. He was very interested in knowing about anti-depression and tranquilizer drugs I have taken in the past. I have been on several for short periods of time because of the stress of caring for our parents and our daughters, but I couldn’t tell him much about which ones I have taken. I should be able to get that information from my Primary and from our Pharmacist, plus I rounded up a bunch of prescription bottles of them that I had kept – just in case.
Dr. Watts sat down right in front of me, looked me in the eye, smiled, and talked with me. I had no sense of him being in a hurry to move on to the next patient. That is so rare in doctors these days, and certainly not what I expected out of such a highly renowned specialist.
OK, so now to what happened. I put on quite a show of jerks, tremors, and facial tics the whole time, partly because I was so nervous about what they would find or not find. There is a big part of my mind that is just sure this has all been a psychological problem, but at least he never said that. At least not yet.
I gave a pint of blood in the lab (OK, so I’m exaggerating – but it was maybe 8 vials full), looking for some clue as to what is going on. He talked to me about the possibility of some kind of antibody/autoimmune problem where my own body is causing the problems. He also seemed to think it might be symptoms caused from one of the medicines I have taken in the past.
He has also ordered an MRI at UAB. He says their MRI equipment is different from others I have been in, in that it is more powerful and may see something that the others did not. Plus, it’s been 2 years since I had a brain MRI, and whatever is going on might show up now that hadn’t progressed enough to show back then. They will call me with that appointment, so I don’t know when that will be.
He talked with his assistant, Dr. D, about lots of things it might be, with all kinds of medical jargon. Dr. D was jotting down notes the whole time and seemed to be making a list of possible diagnoses as they discussed my symptoms. Every once in awhile Dr. Watts would ask me to do something or ask more questions. It was exactly like watching a real live “HOUSE” team in action. When he was through talking back and forth with Dr. D, Dr. Watts gave us a layman’s explanation of some of the possibilities. I am not going to list them, since obviously they can’t all be it, and maybe even none of them are “it”. I did come home and get busy Googling every term I could remember hearing them discussing. You knew I would do that, didn’t you. LOL!
He did put me on a titrating dose schedule of Clonazepam, to see if that would calm down the jerks and tics. He said I would be sleepy with it at first, but that this would wear off as my body adjusted to it. I am to take 1/2 tablet at night for a week, then morning and night, and work up to 1 full and 2 halves a day. I have an appointment to see someone else in the practice in May to go over the findings. He said that Dr. D and Dr. Watts would be in on the conference with us at that time.
At this point about all I do know is that it is looking less and less likely that I have Parkinson’s, but that I do have some type of Movement Disorder as yet to be named.
We’ve not told family or friends about all this yet. They know I had the appointment but not why I had it. We decided there was no point in making anyone else worry about all this. We will wait until we actually know something to tell them. I can write it all here, which helps me process it all, because nobody I know personally reads this blog.