Searching for stability: How a Hoag specialist helped patient find answers, get treatment
When Virginia Torney started to feel off-balance, she was concerned.
The 84-year-old always been active, with pilates, yoga and frequent walks serving as staples in her lifestyle.
But three years ago, she started to notice she was walking differently. Virginia at first chalked it up to her age, but something about the change in her movement and cadence nagged at her.
“I just felt like something was not right,” she said. “It bothered me.”
She started comparing herself to friends of the same age and noticed she was struggling to keep up.
“I have friends that can run down the street and back and I was way behind,” she said. “That was my main concern.”
Virginia also suffered from nighttime leg pain and leg cramps, which she thought might have to do with the type of shoes she was wearing. But no matter which kind of shoe she tried, the pain persisted.
Several times over those three years, Virginia visited her internist to discuss what she was experiencing.
At first, she was told the changes in her physical ability was simply part of growing older, but eventually her internist ordered a brain scan.
“It came back as being acceptable for a woman of my age and I was told there was no problem,” Virginia said.
Still, something didn’t sit right.
Virginia read about a Hoag community education class offered by movement disorder specialist Dr. Sandeep Thakkar and decided she should attend.
“The description of the class asked the question: Do have difficulty walking or balance issues?’” she said. “And I thought, ‘Yes, that’s me.’”
She listened to Dr. Thakkar talk about his expertise and the importance of sub-specialists when diagnosing and treating various neurological disorders.
Much of what he said resonated with Virginia, so she made an appointment.
“He had said in the lecture that when patients come to him he can practically diagnose them right when they walk in,” she said. “He was very pleasant, very congenial.”
Dr. Thakkar evaluated Virginia, including having her walk in the office, then gave her the diagnosis: Parkinson’s disease.
“I didn’t like the answer, but at least now I have one,” Virginia said. “So here I am. I’ve got to do something about where I am at this moment.”
Dr. Thakkar put Virginia on a regimen and will meet with her again to devise a plan for how they will manage her Parkinson’s in the years to come.
After a few weeks on her new medication, Virginia said the pain in her legs at night has subsided, and she looks forward to continuing treatment and realizing new improvements.
Virginia said she is grateful she became an advocate for her own health, which led her to find the specialized care that is truly making a difference in her life.
“It is so important to find the right kind of doctors for whatever illness or ailment you might be battling,” she said. “Find the experts. Find the best. It will make all the difference in your care. I am so thankful my journey led me to Dr. Thakkar.”