Mind over matter

First, I should tell you that I have a bias towards the mind and where it emerges from- the brain. I mean c’mon! It’s an emergent system filled with an infinite amount of possible connections. A potential space where one’s personality is kept, yet one’s ability to change is always possible. Life seems teeming with possibilities with the right mindset… right?

I had an amazing experience during my neurology rotation. I met excellent residents and preceptors who were fantastic teachers and role models. I was allowed a taste of general neurology, stroke, neuromuscular disease, and movement disorders.

I learned that there is a lot of comprehensive care with managing movement disorders. There is medical management of drug regimens and routine visits, but there is also a huge social aspect involved that is rewarding when addressed. I had to think of fall risks, driving abilities, depression, the impact of the disease on the family and patient. Yes, there was science involved but not without addressing the practicalities of life that affected the human being. This is where art comes in…

One patient comes to mind. Despite areas of progressive brain atrophy, this person had a great attitude in life and made the most of it in spite of his limitations. Eventually, his disease progressed to the point of interfering with what he loved most – playing the guitar and creating music. He then decided to do a more invasive procedure and I was allowed to see him on a follow-up visit. What I saw was inspiring: a better-controlled disease, a much happier man, and a relieved wife. Who knows how long this will last or how rapidly his disease may progress, but in that moment they were both happy. To show his gratitude, he brought his guitar in and serenaded us in song… in clinic! Seriously, I couldn’t believe that this was considered work.