My First MS Clinic!

Written by on March 11th, 2014 – 3 Comments

Hi Everyone!

You may notice the name change from ‘TheFloweryOne’!

A couple weeks ago I visited my first MS clinic!  I was referred by my GP during the ‘limbo – land’ stage to get a second opinion and to gather some general information for myself.  At first, I was really nervous; the thought of seeing another doctor really put me off, but in an effort to get ahead of my thoughts and to centre myself I consulted my resources, you guys!  I posted about my upcoming visit and asked for advice on what to expect.  As always, in a matter of hours, I had stories, comments and words of wisdom that not only settled my nerves but also made me look forward to it; I’m so grateful.

St Michael’s, located right smack dab in the middle of downtown Toronto is a beautiful (and very old) hospital.  Its MS Clinic is one of the largest of its kind in North America and is affiliated with our amazing MS Society.   While it mainly focuses on diagnosis and treatment of the disease, the clinic also participates in research and clinical trials; everyday they’re a step closer to a cure!  When I first got to the hospital I had some trouble navigating my way around, the dimly lit halls made it tricky but added nicely to the eerie-ness of the building’s history.  Located on the third floor of the Shuter Wing, the clinic itself was very welcoming and was packed floor to ceiling with pamphlets of information posters about symptom management and flyers with invites to local support groups.

As a very organized and punctual person, I checked in early.  Since it was my first visit, I wanted to get ahead of any paperwork they needed me to complete.  Fortunately, confirming the information they already had on file was all that was needed, so I took a seat and watched the Olympics.  As I sat in the waiting room, I was reminded of my journey over this past year.  In the corner sat a girl taking an IV of steroids and a few seats over a girl checking her eyesight using the posters on the wall; two things I did during my first flare-up.

After waiting over an hour, I was seen by my first doctor, a French neurologist who took me in and reviewed my file.  She asked me to explain my first flare-ups, all my symptoms and my current vitamin/medication routine.  Then we completed a physical exam that consisted of me walking around the office in different ways, testing my reflex reaction time and how far down I could read the eye exam poster; it took about an hour to complete in total.  The last part of that exam consisted of a review of my MRI scans.  In the past, I was used to my neurologist telling me about my scans, but had never had the chance to actually see my brain/spine.  Thankfully, she took the time to explain and show to me my lesions, where they were and which symptoms corresponded with which lesion.  It was an overwhelming experience to be given that much information at once but it was a very welcome change.  I was then asked to return to the waiting room to await the supervising neurologist who reviewed the work of the first.  Less than five minutes passed before I was asked to join them for my final consult.  The second part confirmed my MS diagnosis; my symptoms and current treatment plan going forward.  He then provided me with requisitions for monthly blood work and for another MRI.  I left the office feeling taken care of and with a follow-up appointment set for October.

Overall, I have nothing but positive things to say about the MS clinic at St. Mike’s.  The staff was amazing; they called me the day before to remind me of my appointment, had my file ready when I got there and were great at explaining how to get around the hospital.  Despite having over 6000 patients, I felt that the care they provided was one-on-one and extremely thorough.  I take a lot of comfort that I now have the right doctor for me and feel more confident that I’m on the right path; it’s a wonderful feeling!

Have any of you been to an MS clinic?  If so, which one?  How was your experience?

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3 Responses

  1. F.U.MS says:

    Great blog Ashley. I’ve been going to St Mike’s for almost 15 years now and I think I have finally found the secret way to get to the MS clinic. You really can get lost in there pretty easy. The staff at the MS clinic are so amazing. They have been there for me so much over the years. They have also watched my kids grow up which is pretty cool. I always enjoy seeing them all. Glad you had such a good experience.

    Aaron

  2. Lily says:

    My sister just had her first appointment at the MS clinic at St. Mikes, and her experience could not have been more different. Her doctor was in a rush, dismissive, rude and basically told her to research a number of drug options and get back to her in April (it’s January) on which one my sister wanted to try. There was no diagnosis – she wasn’t given any concrete information about what type of ms she had, there was no discussion of the course of the disease, what steps to follow to slow the progression of the disease, how to address her mobility issues. Nothing. Absolutely pathetic care and a total waste of time.

    • Ashley Martin says:

      Hi Lily,

      I’m just seeing this response now!!!

      Wow! I’m so sorry that your sister had this experience, how llong has she been going through the initial process, has she gone back since? I’m definitely not trying to make any excuses for that doctor, but try to keep in mind that it does take ‘time and space’ before an official diagnosis can be put forth. Sadly, it can take years, depending on her flare-ups, how often they happen, if/when she has them again and MRI results. Also, MS has a nasty habit of disguising itself as other conditions, so I have to wonder if maybe (just maybe) she is triaging her. Myself, I had 4 different doctors, a round of steroids and 10 MRIs before my diagnosis was given. I was put on Avonex to prevent any additional flare-ups but even now, 2 years later, my MS is changing, in fact, I see my doctor later this week to review my newest MRI. It’s scary to think that my doctor alone sees over 3000 patients, isn’t that insane!?

      Again, so so sooo sorry for your experience and my late reply. Would you mind updating me?

      Ashley

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