Monday, November 29, 2010

Difficult to Diagnose

There is no x-ray or blood test that will establish a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Each individual experiences symptoms in different way. It is the physician’s task to sort through the complaints and find a plausible cause.
It was explained to me that a PD diagnosis is a process of eliminating possibilities. First, test for things that can be measured.  The doctor looks for problems that mimic PD symptoms. In my case, the physician looked for a brain tumor and a thyroid problem. If these possibilities are not causing my movement complaints, he will prescribe Sinemet (the dopamine replacement drug). If he sees an improvement in movement with drug therapy, Parkinson’s disease might be indicated.
If PD is the cause of my symptoms, there is no hurry to accept a diagnosis.  No therapy will slow the progression of the disease and there is no cure. Prescription medications help cope with the symptoms, but my complaints, for now, are few.
The diagnosis is a tool, a roadmap. For the physician it shows a familiar path and treatments will progress along a well-traveled route.
For me, the patient, the path is an unmarked, foggy trail.  There is no route choice.  I have unknowingly made made my first steps with this disease. There will be choices to make only as the trail clears. For now, I am content to know I have time to prepare.

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