By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ask Dr. Gott 3/30
Stroke symptoms need immediate attention
Placeholder Image
DEAR DR. GOTT: I am writing about something that happened to me in January, with symptoms that are appearing now.
    I had a tingling and numbing sensation in my left arm and problems with my typing. I couldn't seem to get my fingers to do what I wanted them to. I went to the emergency ward, and a doctor told me I might have carpal tunnel syndrome. He made an appointment for me with a neurosurgeon, but since I didn't have the $125 for the appointment, I canceled it.
    My arm is still uncomfortable, and I have had problems with a pain in my upper shoulders. I've had small amounts of water coming out of the left side of my mouth for the past week. At times, this is very frustrating. Could this be a warning of a stroke? I have always been proud of being healthy, and, at 76 years old, I want to keep going. I don't have a doctor, just the emergency ward. What do you think?
    DEAR READER: I think that you need a doctor — and fast. The combination of poor coordination, tingling, numbing shoulder pain and drooling suggests to me that the problem is more than simple carpal tunnel syndrome. You need a thorough exam by a primary-care physician who can coordinate testing and refer you to specialists if appropriate. Your symptoms certainly constitute a warning of a possible stroke or one in association with other neurological disorders. Although I don't want to frighten you unnecessarily, the lengthy list of afflictions that could be causing your symptoms includes cardiac abnormalities, stroke, brain tumors and hydrocephalus. You need a diagnosis. Don't worry at this time about not having money for medical bills. I am sure you can work out a payment plan. The important thing is to get the vital testing you require. Get help now. Keep me updated.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I believe that those who accuse you of being a "real trooper in the culture of death" are describing themselves. Endlessly prolonging the process of death of helpless victims serves no purpose except to the bottom line of hospitals and doctors. As a nurse, I couldn't tolerate this all-too-prevalent practice in hospitals, so I specialized in maternity.
    Those who support a patient's decision to die peacefully are often accused of playing God. In the "good ol' days," people were able to die naturally when they were ready. Today, the doctors who play God are those who insist on keeping people in an almost indefinite state of dying via artificial means. This has nothing to do with prolonging life. Life is meaningful. There is nothing immoral for a person who has lived life, long or short, to choose to go to sleep without machines, oxygen and artificial nourishment. What is immoral is the sanctimonious attitude that demands all people subscribe to a particular point of view on this volatile issue.
    DEAR READER: Well said. I'm on your team.
Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter