Louisville Medicine Volume 66, Issue 2 | Page 18

SPEAR ESSAY PHYSICIAN-IN-TRAINING/STUDENT CATEGORY Winner March Flowers IN FEBRUARY April Butler I sat in a neurologist’s office with my mom and dad the spring before medical school, finally consulting about my dad’s progres- sive dysphagia, increasingly incoherent speech and muscle weakness. My mother bragged, as mothers do, to the resident and physician that I would be starting medical school in a few short months. My dad beamed and gave me a knowing wink. After pleasantries were exchanged and the neurologist examined him, he asked me my thoughts on my dad’s symptoms. I was hesitant to speak - the only thing I had researched that made sense was the one thing I was desperately praying for him not to have. After a noncommittal response to his question, he looked to my dad and said three letters in sequence that changed our lives. “We think you have ALS.” My world was shattered. I briefly heard murmurs about diseases that can mimic ALS and how there was no true confirmatory test for ALS. The truest test would be the progression. My dad sat calmly, as always, but he knew the gravity those three letters car