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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Parkinson's Doctor Will "See" You Now

Two days before my 60th birthday in March, everything in my area closed due to the novel coronavirus (covid-19.) Wonderful Hubby and I cancelled my birthday party and stayed home with my birthday present, Miss Kitty. 

Miss Kitty

Our monthly Parkinson's disease support group meetings were cancelled, so were the monthly social pizza parties. Those of us with chronic conditions (me) or over age 65 (everyone I know) all began self-isolating in earnest. A quilt-making friend made us some humorous face masks and we soon settled into a stay-at-home routine. 

Baseballs for WH, lipstick for me

I was concerned because I had not seen my Movement Disorder Specialist in over a year and  thought I might lose my current patient status. So I sent her a message saying that I wanted to remain a patient, but didn't know when I could travel to see her. My doctor replied, "As long as you are stable, we can wait, but call if you need me." I WAS stable and I didn't mind waiting a few months longer. 

In May, I got this email from my Medicare Advantage Plan health insurance: Due to the coronavirus, telehealth visits, video or by phone, with your primary care doctor and all specialists will be covered and all co-pays are waived. 

I read it again, and had Wonderful Hubby read it too. If I needed (or just wanted) to 'see' my Parkinson's doctor, I could do it right from my own home! To be honest, those 240-mile each way drives to Tucson for a 30-minute appointment were getting tedious.

In early July, I had some things I wanted to discuss with my Parky Doc, so I called and asked about a telehealth visit. My video visit was set up for July 21st and I'd receive instructions via text messaging on how to 'connect' with her via my smartphone. I had my notes all ready and found a well lighted place where she could watch me walk and do all those finger tap type tests. 

My smartphone

The afternoon of July 20th came and I received a call saying my appointment was being changed to just a phone call. This was okay with me.

The next morning, my Parky Doc called me, from HER home. She had some sniffles at work and was quarantining herself while awaiting covid-19 test results. That explained why we couldn't do video.

She asked about my current DBS settings and confirmed what prescription medications I was taking. I reminded her about my shoulder pain fix and my anxious toes. Then she said, now, what would you like to discuss? For the next 25-minutes, I had her undivided attention. We discussed my speech problems and had a laugh when I said I liked wearing a mask because it hid my drooling problem. I asked whether I should consider re-taking the cognitive exam and if so, could it also be done using telehealth. She said she'd find out. And we were done!

I really liked this type of visit. I wasn't tired or stressed out from driving 5 hours, I didn't have to spend a night in a hotel, and when it was done, I went into my kitchen and made my usual breakfast. 

I think I will schedule another telehealth visit before the end of the year. And I really hope that telehealth will still be available after covid-19 is gone! 

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