A Fine Line

A Fine Line


Everything in life is a fine line.

Too much can be just as hard for you as too little.

Your goal is to find the happy median.

My Odd Sock on the high wire.
My Odd Sock on the high wire.


So you go through life like a tightrope walker, carrying that big pole to help you balance and wearing those silly slippers they wear.


I’ve learned going to the neurologist can be a fine line experience.


Let me explain my thinking.



For years, I saw my MS doctor for the allotted 15 minutes every three months.  For years, I answered his questions…”Nope, no problems.” “No complaints.”  Nothing new to report.”  Upbeat.  Positive.  “Yep, we’re good!”

Likewise, for years I heard criticisms about my doctor appointments…”Did you mention this to your doctor?  Or that?  Or this?”

You see I’m just not a complainer.  My dad would say, “He wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful.”  (Thanks dad…I think!)



So with my new MS doc, I thought I would start fresh.  A new perspective.  I would tell him everything!  Aches, pains, concerns, fears.

What did it get me?

Just a diagnosis of “major depression” and a prescription for happy pills, aka “anti-depressants.”

I’m not debating my depression—MS is stealing my body functions like a kleptomaniac in WalMart and I fall more often than the Dow Jones.

Sure I’m probably depressed, but I gotta believe it is pretty common among MSers, right?



The Funny Meter
The Funny Meter


Funny Meter?  You have GOT to be kidding me?

I just revealed my depression—and you flag me for not being funny?  Man, you got guts!

Not to change the subject Funny Meter, but we’re you taking night classes to be a digital thermometer?  Leave me alone!



Do you play all your cards?...Or keep them close to the chest?
Do you play all your cards?...Or keep them close to the chest?


Yeah, it’s a fine line we walk through life–even down the hall into our doctor’s office.

Do you lay it all out?  Or say nothing at all?

I suppose since we’re all different—to say or not to say—depends on the situation.  Though I believe I’m leaning towards going back to my tight-lipped approach to MS.

Heaven forbid I fall off the tightrope.


6 Replies to “A Fine Line”

  1. I can understand your feelings on this. MS SUCKS. But we must keep an open line of communication with our docs. Sure, most of us have been prescribed AD meds. But, they are used for other things as well. There are changes that happen in our brains that we may not realize until someone else mentions them for us. Like, losing patience very quickly for no reason…yes there is a pill that helps that…and other family can appreciate it I’m sure. This is also part of the reason that I make sure another family member attends my visits to the doc. I can understand the “fine, dandy, great” lies to the doc…at least I didn’t think they were lies. But a family member will gladly tell on us if we lie. 😉 Just remember to hang in there and enjoy every moment we have…as none of us know when it will end.

  2. I have learned not to say too much. Usually all I get is prescription offer, which I refuse.

    I hope you can tolerate the anti-depressants. The side effects can often be nasty…somewhat similar to MS.

  3. I’m with you. Why tell the neurolgist everything? Why should I spoil her day? (My neurologist is a woman)

    Your dad sounds a bit like mine. He had favorite sayings too. If someone did something foolish his remark, “He’s so stupid he couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the directions were on the heel!”. The other was when I was put in the position of gopher and was running back and forth for tools. If I didn’t get it quick enough the remark was, “I could shit that faster than your bringing it!”. I miss my Dad.

  4. I don’t have MS. My deceased father did and one of my sons does. Ain’t heredity wonderful? I asked him last night if he’s had much trouble with depression. (Notice the careful wording. I wanted no manly evasion of the truth.) He has had it since Hurricane Katrina followed a week later by the death of a close friend triggered his first attack. (Yes, he evacuated, and lost everything he couldn’t fit in the car with his wife and cat. Yes, insured and got $1500 back on the contents of his house.)
    He said he has frequent attacks of poor pitiful me which don’t last long because he makes himself think of how lucky he is he get through Katrina and other life threatening events. He thinks there are people who lost money on bets when he made it through college and high school alive, pre MS when he was trying to win a Darwin Award and prove his immortality.
    That’s the trick according to him & my Dad, a method I see you also use frequently and with success. Look at the poor pitiful me, embrace it, and dump a bucket of reality on it. You’re alive. You have a life while others have lost their’s or have even more troubles than yours. It is important to know your symptoms but then you go on. Your doctor just got a little freaked out by the list and stopped. That’s his problem not yours. You are not your symptoms and you have better things to do.
    That’s the way my Dad handled it too, forty years of MS, would have been more but he was a heavy smoker and died at 68. He got married and had 6 children after getting MS. He came down with it in the military during WWII so he was a disabled veteran, 100% by his mid fifties. He went to a high school and college with mandatory ROTC so most of them were officers in the war. The fatality rate for his class in WWII was 25%. He was always glad he made it and knew it was just luck. Being colorblind helped. He couldn’t get into the air force or navy to be a pilot like most of his class did.
    When my mother met him he’d had MS a couple of years and was drinking too much at night and earning a big salary as a research chemist. She had a masters in chemistry to his PhD and was his assistant. She refused to date him until he quit acting like he was going to die or wanted to die tomorrow. In the late forties, MS patients were told, at least by the VA hospitals, that their life expectance was about five years. They did not yet realize how antibiotics were going to change the prognosis. Before antibiotics most died from pneumonia or flu complications. Daily MS treatment was: take it easy and don’t overdo anything.
    I love your columns, your humor, your coping mechanisms and excellent advice. I’ve had off and on mobility problems since elementary school from a different health problem. My other child has my problem and was born with other disabilities as well. My son with MS has a lot more symptoms than the ones I listed. I would list some of them, but you know how it is. Some symptoms should only be shared by the person who has them. In fact I am under a direct order not to share them.
    Thanks for being there. Thank you for the work you put in to your column. I like the seriously funny ones, the funny serious ones, and even the just plain serious ones. You’re not unemployed. You just don’t get paid for your work.

  5. I have MS and I tell my neurologist everything. I come with a list and give the Dr. a copy and we go over it together. At the advice of my Dr. I schedule a “new patient” slot so I get the hour, not the 15 minute rush job. I also have the Nurse Practioners e-mail address and on occasion ask her questions. Where I go is the MS Comprehenive Clinic at Shands which is affilliated with the University of Florida. I was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic and was a patient there for almost 10 years because I thougt Mayo was “the best”. After hearing the Dr. speak from Shands and learning about the program there, I switched Doctors and have not regret it. There is a MS coordinator who is great. Always helpfull if you need a referral or letter for Medical Necessity. I live in Jacksonville, Florida.