We’ve all seen those exciting House or Home Dr. TV Shows. But have you ever wondered how likely it is to get a real misdiagnosis on your own health condition?
You could, one day, be enjoying your hamburger. Then notice that your next bite is slightly off. You swallow fine and you bite down again to confirm that your teeth suddenly don’t fit together perfectly.
You wonder if it’s been this way for a while and you just now noticed it.
So, a couple of days later, you work your way into the dentist’s chair. The dental assistant preps your novacaine. Your trusted family doctor walks in, picks up the needle, gets ready to file down two teeth, then reschedules. He recommends that you go see a neurologist for, “grins and giggles.”
Honestly, when does a dentist ever do anything for grins and giggles?
So, now totally paranoid and frazzled, you walk into an office with the latest NES, stadium size flat-screen HD TVs, and a receptionist who looks like the girl either the latest Bond movie or the one just before that.
42 minutes, and a palm size sweat mark on the back of your leather seat later, A tall bald man in a white coat walks out. He greets you and asks you if you’ve noticed any facial twitching. “No?”
“On which side is the misfit tooth?” He asks, totally disinterested.
“Left.” You say, feeling like you’re imposing on the man you’re about to pay dearly.
“Any numbness on your right hand or foot?” he continues, bored out of his mind.
You start saying no but before you pump out that “ohhhh” sound, you realize that the tip of your pinky finger on your right hand is tingley.
The tall bald man in the white coat finally shows a bit of interest and tells you to stick out your tongue.
“Stick it straight out,” he says.
You do. But you didn’t. He directs you toward the mirror and you notice that your tongue is leaning to the left.
He explains, “You may have had a transient ischemic attack. The left brain controls the left side of the head but the right side of the body. The left side of your tongue and your right pinky finger may have suffered slight paralysis. That would explain why your tongue leans to the left. The muscles on the right side of your tongue are pushing harder than the left. This means you’ve probably had a minor stroke.
It’s a good thing your dentist sent you to see me. A minor stroke often means that a major stroke is looming over the horizon. If a major stroke does happen, it happens within about a week. When did you say you first noticed your teeth weren’t fitting?”