For those groups that wanted some commemoration but couldn’t work up enough enthusiasm for a full month, there is National Procrastination Week, March 1-7 (whoops, I guess we missed it, though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you celebrate it a few weeks late), American Chocolate Week, the third week of March, and Root Canal Awareness Week, March 28-April 3.
And for groups that decided to put all their energy into a single day, there is National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day, March 13 (perfect, since it’s also National Umbrella Month), International Goof Off Day, March 22 (I hear they don’t have a lot of activities planned), and Weed Appreciation Day, March 28 (this year’s theme, “Salute the Lowly Dandelion”).
Ah, but my internet search has diverted me from my original point. March is also National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness and Education Month. (I think they figured if they had the longest title they’d get more attention.) As a function of my affiliation with the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, I have been tasked with providing informational brochures to doctors’ offices in the area who treat MS patients.
It’s been an interesting, eye-opening experience.
- The first office I visited was a large practice in a high rent medical building, lots of marble and wood in the halls. With any big practice I’m aware that it’s potentially the kind of place where I feel I’m being processed rather than treated.
- The second office I saw was in a much smaller, older building and had a single doctor on staff. The sort of place where you can get to know the people, but you have to be careful that your doctor, who might be treating a zillion different neurological illnesses, is up to date on the latest in MS care.
- The third office wins the award for most amazing magazine collection in the waiting room. They must have had over a hundred magazines neatly arranged in a big ring around the edge of a circular coffee table. Just like the men’s necktie display at Macy’s. They were so closely overlapping that you couldn’t discern any of the titles, but I wouldn’t have dared pick a magazine up anyway, lest the OCD receptionist who set up the display have a cow.
- The fourth office was not a generic neurology practice, but focused solely on MS, and was clearly headed by a woman. The waiting room was big, open, sunny. Coffee, tea and cold drinks were available. The receptionist was so friendly–I wouldn’t have been surprised to see her wearing a Miss Congeniality sash. They had Gameboys for playing and movies for watching if you were there for the infusion center. It was kind of like a place to hang out, to commune, to lounge, to share. The whole thing said, “WELCOME.” Take a load off. Make yourself comfortable. Have a chat with a compatriot. I liked it.
- The fifth office was part of an HMO. Like going to a mall for your health care, one stop shopping. Visit your neurologist first thing in the morning, then down the hall for your mammogram, up one flight to get that wart removed, and finish up with a root canal before you head home. (Check with the dentist to see if you can get a discount on the root canal during Root Canal Awareness Week, March 28-April 3.)
- The sixth office…well I actually never found it. I used the GPS and I used my own brain, the part that still works. As best either of us could tell, the practice must have been located on the campus of large juvenile reform school. And judging by the security patrolling the place, I wasn’t too keen on venturing forth. So I gave that one a pass.
All this got me thinking about my own neurologist. I’m crazy about him. Even though he spends a lot of time on the road presenting at various symposiums, during my appointment, I feel like he is 100 percent focused on me and looking out for my best interest. And I love the fact that there’s a nurse on staff dedicated to MS patients. It’s a large practice, with some 13 doctors. The downside is that the front office is about as friendly as a piece of toast. And the parking at the facility ranges from bad to atrocious. But as long as I’m happy with the medical care, I’ll tolerate a lot of the accompanying annoyances.
I read about people who hate their neurologist but are stuck because no others are available. And about people who travel OUTRAGEOUS distances to their MS appointments. Choice is good. I consider myself lucky.