That was the first thing that my neurologist told me when I met with him this afternoon – a year after I last saw my Epilepsy Nurse, Frank La Rocca. Last August I had to cancel an appointment due to a seizure that caused me enough injury that I was unable to get about for a week or so. Frank rescheduled our meeting, but then I recieved a letter informing me that he had to cancel and that I should wait to hear from the neurology department again.
I certainly did not expect to recieve a letter a week prior to the Head Neurologist wanting to see me. I knew that Frank had been ill for quite some time… but if you get a letter appointing you with the Head Honcho at short notice you know something is very wrong.
Frank is/was a well respected member of Broomfield’s neurology team. Even though he must have had a myriad of patients he would recognise every single one. He spotted me in a hospital corridor when I was on my way to have my dental surgery and came to chat, and if he was running late he would come to the waiting room if he had a spare moment and inform each of his patients personally that he was sorry about the delay but that he’d get to us all as soon as possible. He cared – and that is the most important thing that somebody who specialises in neurological disorders can ever do. He never forgot a face or a name.
I know that Frank is/was a spokesperson for Epilepsy Action and that he gave a talk in Colchester last year. I was too unwell at the time to attend, but now I wish I had.
Frank was more than just an Epilepsy Nurse; he became a friend – somebody that I could trust. I could open up to him, relax with him.. he would often return phone calls in which he’d recieved an answerphone message from me while I was crying and not knowing what to do.
I don’t know where Frank is now. I don’t even know if he still is. All I know for certain is that I’m to be assigned a new Epilepsy Nurse – a stranger who will read my notes and make assumptions before they even meet me.
I don’t want a new Epilepsy Nurse; I want Frank. Being autistic it takes me so long to learn to like and trust somebody in the medical field and I hate that I’m going to have to start all over again with a complete stranger.
Wherever you are Frank, thank you so very much for doing your best to help me for the last five years. I will miss you.
Oh, and you all may be wondering what’s being done about my autistic meltdowns. Nothing yet, as I’ve to increase my epilepsy medication over the next eight weeks and we’ll see how we go from there. At least my neurologist is now aware of the issue.