What was I thinking ?

Eighteen years ago I commenced various drug therapies for my Multiple Sclerosis.

My prescribing neurologist in Philadelphia came highly recommended. His practice was the (BLANK ) Multiple Sclerosis Institute, which subtly suggested to me that he wasn’t just any Neurologist. He was an MS doctor.

Indeed, for many years he took good care of me through some difficult stages of my disease. Initially his practice was inside Temple University Hospital. Later, he moved to Graduate Hospital, then to his current location in a decidedly ratty part of Philadelphia. Nonetheless, his practice flourished.

Perhaps his location was water off a duck’s back to most of his patients . Do they really appreciate the pothole-pocked street ? Or was it the fact that the pavement was so strewn with trash that it couldn’t be seen ? Over the many years, I never engaged fellow patients in chatter about the location. I didn’t wish to insult anyone’s home turf.

In the meantime, it was in a dump of a building . Finding a parking space was a daunting task. It was never near the building , great for people in wheelchairs ! Getting inside was not smooth. On a ramp, Judy pushed from behind while I pulled the handrails with both hands. Those metal handrails, incidentally , were freezing in the winter and piping hot in the summer. You know, patient friendly .

Finally at the. top of this narrow ramp was a 90 degree turn with a heavy hinged door to negotiate the wheelchair through while holding it open. At that point, we were near home free with only a few hundred feet of hallway to stroll down to arrive at the waiting room.

There seemed a certain numbness that pervaded among patients here, an aloofness to the dismal surrounds of the place. Is this as good as it gets in Philadelphia? Has enough been done to tamp down patient’s expectations ? Surely there was a compelling reason to have driven an hour and a half to get here, and an hour and a half to get back home. But that reason was elusive.

It seems part of human nature to keep repeating the same act just because it’s the way you’ve always done it. It finally occurred to us both that that’s what we were doing with each monthly trip to Philadelphia.

What if I changed my doctor ? My treatment wouldn’t change with a new Neurologist. It would be the same check up, the same drug infused in the same veins with the same regularity.

We talked with our Neurologist in Philly about the notion of getting his prescription infused at a location closer to us. He said to do that would require another doctor. His reply was matter-of-fact, almost a bit cold. So, Doc: point taken. Yesterday I had my first infusion with my new Neurologist at, Voila, Hunterdon Medical Center.

WOW! The difference was stark. A line of leather, push-button recliners offered each patient his/her choice of spots in the room to sit. A very personable, professional nurse set up the infusion. There was no waiting time. Between her and a few “infusees” in the room, they were all having a spirited conversation.

This just didn’t happen in Philadelphia ! Here in Hunterdon, there was a vigor, a brightness in the infusion room that was welcoming. The time whizzed by. Good thing, too. Who wants to wile the day away… getting infused ?


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