More Than Just a Neurologist

With my neurologist of 17 years.

When you have multiple sclerosis, you need to have a great neurologist. This is not an area where you can compromise.

Whenever I’m speaking with people who are newly diagnosed, one of the first questions I ask is whether they like their neurologist…”Is this a doctor you trust? Someone you can communicate with easily and openly? Someone you like as a person?”

If they answer no to any of those things, I tell them to find a new neurologist. Immediately.

Your neurologist is your partner in fighting MS and someone with whom you must feel comfortable at the most uncomfortable of times.

I was fortunate to meet my neurologist, Dr. Thomas Chippendale of The Neurology Center in San Diego, the week after my primary care physician told me that I had multiple sclerosis.

My first visit to his office included a spinal tap, a.k.a. lumbar puncture. My dad drove me to the appointment with my then-9-month-old son Jake, and they waited for me as I went in for the scary procedure.

As I lay on the table wearing a hospital gown, Dr. Chippendale explained everything he would be doing. In the fetal position, with a large needle in my back, I asked him “How much longer?” I was uncomfortable, to say the least.

At that moment, Dr. Chippendale reached over and held my hands, which were clasped together tightly by my chest. He calmly said, “Drip…drip…drip. That’s how fast the spinal fluid is coming out. And we need another tube, so just a little longer. You’re doing great.”

Finally we were done. He told me that I could slowly sit up and get dressed. I made my way to the waiting room, where I found him sitting next to my dad and baby Jake. My dad later told me that Dr. Chippendale came out to introduce himself right after the procedure and offered his sympathy about my diagnosis.

It started out as a very uncomfortable day. But looking back, it was the beginning of a wonderful doctor-patient relationship. Seventeen years and counting.


11 thoughts on “More Than Just a Neurologist

  1. michaelgrist says:


  2. Shirl Diaz says:

    He has been with you through thick and thin. Now I know why you like him so much!
    Love you, Shirl

  3. Sarah says:

    So many doctors have lost great bedside manner so you’re so fortunate to have one that it comes so naturally with!

  4. Clive says:

    That is an excellent story and blog.

  5. That’s one of those “hidden” trials that most people don’t know about, isn’t it? I’ve often said that having a chronic illness is like having a full time job: between all the doctors, therapists, pharmacies, hospitals, tests, the list goes on… and the phone calls. Oh, the phone calls. It really IS a full-time job. And who would stay in a job where they hated their co-workers, especially if there were other jobs out there that were willing and able to take you on instead?

  6. […] left his office and called my go-to-guy, my neurologist Dr. Thomas Chippendale. He referred me immediately to a new urologist who was proficient in a relatively new procedure […]

  7. This post made me cry. I imagined your dad and Jake waiting out there for you and how kind that doctor was to go out and offer his sympathy for your diagnosis. What a great doc. What a kind heart he has. Thanks for sharing. Great writing, btw. Great article. Great site! FUMS!!

  8. This has definitely encouraged me to get a new neurologist!

  9. domain says:

    It’s really a great and useful piece of info. I am happy that you
    shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like
    this. Thank you for sharing.

  10. […] Dr. Chippendale, my neurologist of 20 years, passed away from an aggressive cancer last April, I knew it was going […]

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