A Week of Accomplishment and Renewed Commitment

In my current job, my primary responsibility is more of management and scientific “oversight”.  These days, I don’t often get the time to do what I trained for in all those years I put in during college and graduate school:  to do basic research.  Well, this week, I managed to re-prioritize my time so that I could get a paper finished that I am helping to co-author and that will be submitted to an astronomy journal soon!  Additionally, I submitted an abstract to give a research presentation at a science conference, rather than the usual and more managerial-oriented “program status update” talk that I typically give at these things on behalf of the science mission that I work on.  Although other important tasks more central to my “day job” naturally fell by the wayside while I spent time on these items, the trade was absolutely worth the feeling of accomplishment — and boost in self-confidence — that it brought.  I feel like I am “back in the game” again, like the scientist I spent so many years preparing to be!  Making small baby-steps forward, like these, is what provides me the momentum to do more.  Is there something that you used to like to do (or was good for you to do), that you haven’t been making time for lately?  I highly recommend taking a temporary hiatus from the Daily Grind, to allow a redirection of focus in those other areas. You’ll be surprised by the gratifying sense of accomplishment that follows!

One other non-medical related accomplishment this past week is my attempting to do a little Spring Cleaning (yes, spring has already arrived here in California, as evident by the blooming Bradford pear trees, believe it or not!) on StargzrBlog.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading about “categories” versus “tags” and after being utterly bewildered by what exactly the difference between them are, I finally started to “get it” after reading some well-written articles like those posted here , here,  and here.  Feeling inspired, I spent a couple of hours reorganizing — I hope that followers didn’t get snowed under with email alerts every time I made tag or category change on a post?  If so, please accept my apologies for spamming you!  I do feel much more organized, now (although I may make a few more tweaks…)

The other notable thing that happened last week was that I had the first follow-up visit with my primary neurologist (Dr. K), after having seen some of the specialists that she had referred me to, after some additional blood work, and after my having seen an MS specialist (who she had not referred me to).  My significant other, always the funny man, often refers to Dr. K. as “Dr. Kevorkian” or “Dr. Kardashian”, depending on his mood at the time … her actual last name is unpronounceable to most folks, so she actually does go by “Dr. K.”  Of course,  Dr.K. has no idea of these more humorous and colorful  monikers that we have for her!)

She started our visit by asking about the outcome of the MS specialist (Dr. H.) appointments.  Please note that Dr. H. was not one of the referrals that she had set me up with, but rather I had set that visit up on my own to get an independent  second opinion.  When I confessed “yeah, I feel like I sort of cheated on you”, she laughed and said that I could have at least sent her flowers!   I then proceeded to tell her (what she already knew from the reports she had already read) about the results of the blood work, the upcoming sleep test, the upcoming spinal tap, and Dr. H.’s assessment that I had “possible MS” and what that actually meant.  And heck, since I had already confessed to “seeing” another neurologist, I decided to just go for broke and fess up to having taken a self-imposed month-long “vacation” from Copaxone injections (giving, of course, the reasons why).   In retrospect, I should have just started the whole visit by saying “Bless me, father, for I have sinned …” !

Dr. K. provided her unfiltered opinion of my planning for a spinal tap — ludicrous idea, is how I remember her phrasing it.  She indicated that spinal tap results are almost never helpful in confirming or negating an MS diagnosis, and that I should promptly cancel my plans for one.  Yes ma’am, I didn’t need much arm-twisting to talk me out of that procedure!

Dr. K then proceeded to explain how important it was for me to start taking the Copaxone again, that in her opinion, I was somewhere between “probable” and “definitive” MS.  She emphasized that her reasons for wanting me to stick to the treatment wasn’t to decrease the number of MS-related relapse events (although such would be desirable), but to reduce the odds of my losing vision or cognitive function.  Her statement —  “I don’t want you to lose what makes you, you.  And I know that your vision and ability to think are supremely critical in allowing you to be who you are today” — commanded my full attention.   And so began my renewed commitment to this treatment…

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