My "Interview" with a Doctor of Nuclear Medicine - 10.26.10

I had a really interesting conversation with a doctor of nuclear medicine this evening. I won't put his name here for confidentiality reasons, but he did give me permission to share our conversation on my blog :)

He had emailed me a few weeks ago, hoping to interview me about Lyme Disease after fumbling upon my blog. I responded at first, just stating that I am by no means an expert, but would be happy to answer any questions I could or forward him to someone I know more qualified. I have to admit I was intimidated by the title "Nuclear Medicine". What could I possibly teach this man?

He started by giving me background on his education and reason of interest in Lyme Disease. He lives in Northern California where ticks have apparently become more prevalent in the last few decades. He told me that he had many patients cross his path who questioned Lyme Disease as the cause of their newly acquired psychiatric symptoms. He admitted that he knew little about Lyme Disease at the time and generally didn't go above and beyond to find a diagnosis for these patients because he figured they were just people in denial of having depression or anxiety disorders.

I have to admit I was a bit taken back by this confession. After having felt written off by so many doctors during my struggle to be diagnosed, it hit a soft spot. But I took a deep breath and I kept on my professional head.

He went on to tell me that about 2 years ago, his wife, who just turned 38 years old, started having "panic attacks, mood swings, crying spells, was often tired and went from being an outdoorsy type to a couch potato". She went to her doctor, who told her it sounded like depression and wrote her a prescription for Zoloft.

He said over the next few months new symptoms arrived but each time his wife went to the doctor they told her she needed to give the medicine time to work and that it was only anxiety. The doctor admitted that he began to wonder if his wife was in fact Bipolar or had a severe Anxiety Disorder cause her doctor had run many tests on her and they were all "normal" results.

It wasn't until his wife had a seizure that he asked for tests that many of us would never be able to get. Sure enough when the results came back - she was positive for Lyme Disease and because it had gone misdiagnosed it was in the chronic phase already.

At this point, the doctor broke down in tears and said, "Even I failed my wife. I didn't believe her that something was physically wrong. Her own husband". It was then that I knew this conversation needed to be one of support and not focused solely on education.

Our conversation lasted just over an hour. We decided to continue the "interview" another night and I will post about our discussion once that occurs.

To the doctor this blog is referring to: forgive yourself for being uneducated about Lyme. You very likely saved your wife from a lifetime of misery with undiagnosed Lyme due to your pull in the medical field. See the positive of the lesson learned. Feel pride that you are another doctor that has opened his eyes to the need for education about Lyme Disease and other tick-borne infections! Pay it forward and educate other doctors who can in turn make a difference to many peoples lives. I look forward to talking soon :)