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Good doctor-patient relationship key to successfullsy managing PD

Dr. Cindy Comella and I have been “together” for 15 years—outlasting many marriages. We didn’t meet on e-harmony or match.com. We met the old-fashioned way, through a referral made by one of the national Parkinson’s disease organizations.

Cindy diagnosed me as having Parkinson’s within minutes of our meeting. She noted that I had three of the four cardinal signs—resting tremor, lack of arm swing, and rigidity in my wrist. I had only noticed the tremor.

I began weeping inconsolably. Cindy sat down beside me, put her arm around me, and told me I had permission to feel sorry for myself for a day or two, but then I had to get on with the business of living because I still had many good years ahead of me.

“If you have to have a neurological disease, Parkinson’s is the one to have,” she told me. It has a slow progression and effective symptomatic treatments. Still, I couldn’t make myself feel lucky.

That first office visit, and every one thereafter, Cindy has made me feel like I am her only patient, giving me all the time I need to update her on how I am doing. She listens intently to what I say and asks all the right questions. If she thinks I’m not fully disclosing what’s going on, she looks to my husband for affirmation. He has been known to tattle on me when it comes to my poor sleep habits, but I know he has my best interests at heart.

Studies show that patients who communicate well and feel a strong personal connection with their doctors are most likely to take an active role in their care and obtain optimal results from treatment.  The “right doctor” for one person is not the right doctor for everyone. Differences in our personalities and the way we communicate dictate whether we want someone who is business-like or “warm and fuzzy?”


Sheryl & Dr CIndy Comella

All of us, however, are entitled to doctors who listen to us, take our concerns seriously, explain treatment options in terms we can understand, and involve us in charting our own treatment course. If you don’t find “Doctor Right” the first time out of the gate, keep “shopping.”

Within the last couple of years, we began presenting our story – It Takes Two to Tango: Successful Doctor/Patient Relationships – at Parkinson’s symposiums around the country.   

(Presented in Atlanta GA on 10/17/2010)

Cindy and I have grown ever closer with the passage of time, becoming each other’s #1 fans. She is not just my neurologist, but also my psychologist, friend, coach, cheerleader, and alter ego. With our move to the stage, she is the ultimate “neuro rock star.”

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World Parkinson's Congress

email us directly at: Sheryl@pdplan4life.com

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Without express written consent, this material may only be used for your own personal and noncommercial uses which do not harm the reputation of PDPlan LLC, provided that you do not remove any copyright. To request permission to reproduce, please contact PDPlan LLC at Sheryl@pdplan4life.com

blogger partner WPC 2016 in Portland