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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Parkie Speaks to Future Doctors

My phone rings and it is Adam, the Medtronic DBS Therapy representative from Tucson, Arizona. I met Adam during my DBS surgery and he was with me when I had the final scalp surgery a few months ago. I joke with him about only recognizing him when he is wearing a surgical mask. He appreciates my warped sense of humor. He has called to ask if I'd be willing to come to Tucson speak to a class of first year medical students about living with Parkinson's disease? I say YES! He asks if he may give my phone number to Scott Sherman, MD, PhD, who is the Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Arizona. Again I say YES. He laughs and says he knew I would say yes and that he'll be back in touch with me after I hear from Dr. Sherman.  

A few weeks later, Dr. Sherman calls me. We talk about my Parkinson's, my DBS and his medical school students. He asks if I will be nervous speaking to a class full of students and I assure him that when it comes to public speaking, I am a pro. I ask him if I could become a patient of his and have him take a look at my DBS settings. I am convinced the settings are causing my mood problems. He says yes and will set up an appointment for the same day I speak to his class. He says either he or Adam will be back in touch to make all the arrangements.

A few days later, I hear from Adam and Dr. Sherman. Adam has made hotel reservations for me and my Wonderful Husband and would like to take us to dinner the night before I speak. Dr. Sherman has made an appointment for me right after lunch on the same day I speak to his students. He warns me his class starts at 9 am and he would like me there at 8:30 am. I say no problem, I'm up early.

My Wonderful Husband and I drive over to Tucson, get checked in to our hotel and a while later, Adam and his beautiful wife Liz, pick us up and treat us to a fantastic dinner at El Corral. He drops us off back at our hotel around 10 pm, and says he'll pick us up at 7 am. Seven? Yes, he says, seven. Dr. Sherman wants to meet me before his first classes start, which is 8 am. So, we set the alarm and go to sleep.
Liz, YumaBev and Adam

Adam is already waiting outside at 6:45 am, doesn't he ever sleep? We meet with Dr. Sherman in the campus coffee shop and everyone except me has coffee (I don't like coffee.) I have a big cup of ice water and a cinnamon roll. We visit for awhile and then Dr. Sherman heads off to teach his 8 am class. It amazes me how down to earth Dr. Sherman is. He's like the guy next door (only a lot more educated). The three of us visit and drink our drinks until it's time to find our way to the classroom. I find the tech guy and make sure my PowerPoint and videos will play and the mic is set for my voice. 
Adam and YumaBev waiting for class to start

The class starts with Dr. Sherman speaking about the medical basics of Parkinson's disease and then it's my turn. Within five minutes, I have the whole class laughing, including Dr. Sherman and Adam. I do my PowerPoint and show the class my before DBS video and then offer to answer any questions. Dozens of hands go up and I answer questions until time runs out and the students have to leave for their next class. After class, I sold a few books, mostly to students who had relatives with Parkinson's. My Wonderful Husband was supposed to be taking pictures, but he got too engrossed in my speech (even though he's heard it before) and forgets. Adam, who was sitting next to Dr. Sherman, tells me afterwards, that Dr. Sherman kept making comments like, "She's right" and "She's funny" and "She really knows about Parkinson's." 

Dr. Sherman's medical students

Dr. Sherman thanked me and headed off to his next class. Adam drove us back to the hotel and headed off to work. We checked out, ate lunch and went to Sherman's medical office for my appointment. I gave him a signed copy of my Parkinson's Humor book and he bought a extra copy for his staff. Then we talked about me and my problems and he adjusted my DBS, giving me a new "A" setting to try for my mood problems. 

I told him that I'd really love to speak to his neurology residents. He said he'd think about it. He thanked me again for speaking and we left and drove back to Yuma. 

Dr Sherman and YumaBev
I tried the new "A" setting and my mood changed back to the Happy Parkie I used to be. The difference was amazing! Come to think of it, so is Dr. Sherman.

My favorite quote of the day? Dr. Sherman, "Well, you have either just convinced them all to become neurologists or scared them so they won't!" Hopefully I encouraged them to become more than neurologists, hopefully, I encouraged them to become Movement Disorder Specialists!