Rochester, NY — Local neurologist Jeffrey Lewis was nearly foaming at the mouth after his initial appointment with new patient Jennifer Barnes, who had the audacity to show up in his office without any symptoms even remotely resembling those of Parkinson’s disease.
“I can’t believe this,” Lewis spat. “This woman had the nerve to show up to see me, a noted Parkinson’s specialist, and have a spinal cord injury? What on earth am I supposed to talk to this woman about? I panicked but tried to keep my cool on the outside, so I showed her the book I wrote about Parkinson’s. She wasn’t impressed. I don’t know what these patients want from me.”
We caught up with Barnes as she left the building after the consult, and she rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, this is the fifth neurologist I’ve seen since my injury, and let me tell you, they have all sucked,” Barnes told us tiredly, “including this guy. He talked about Parkinson’s almost the entire appointment, which — I don’t know if he noticed — I do not have.”
Neurologists have an especially bad rep among disabled people for being haughty, callous, dismissive and condescending. Doctors in general, when dealing with chronic conditions and physical disabilities, can also get testy and feel challenged when presented with any condition that is complicated, comorbid with other conditions or chronic.
Lewis’ coworkers confided in us later that he was seen repeating positive affirmations to his own reflection in his office for a great length of time that afternoon in attempts to soothe his damaged ego.