It can often be very difficult to know what to ask or even where to begin when you have questions for your rheumatologist at your first appointment. I remember feeling easily overwhelmed and very nervous at my first appointment. The doctor always asks if you have questions or concerns, but how can you ask a question if you don’t even know what you should be asking? I was very confused about where I should even start. I found it very difficult to put words to the thoughts that were swirling around in my head, especially at my first appointment. I didn’t even know what I was confused by or what my concerns were until after the appointment was long over. I was left with about a million questions that I didn’t have answers to which caused me a great deal of anxiety, frustration, and at times even panic. Pile that on top of an already complicated disease like psoriatic arthritis and it can start quite a downward spiral out of control.
Good questions to ask
I have compiled a list of some common questions that I wish I had available at my first few rheumatologist appointments. It may seem like quite a few questions, but remember you do not have to ask all of them, they are simply a list of questions that I wish I had thought to ask.
- What are my options for treatment and pro/cons of each?
- What will happen if I choose not to treat my condition at this time?
- Are there dietary or supplement changes you would suggest I make?
- What are the potential side effects of my treatment options?
- How are appointments, refills, questions, or concerns handled? What are the procedures for refills of medication in particular?
- How often can I expect to be seen by the doctor for my condition? Will I always see the same doctor?
- How do I access my test and lab results?
- Do I have to decide today on treatment or can I take a week and think it over?
- If I have a question or concern between appointments, can I call the office, email, or send a message with MyChart (if available)?
- If I become sick with a possible infection, should I contact you or my GP? (This is important to ask especially if you are prescribed medicine that lowers your immune system.)
New diagnosis can be scary
Being newly diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis can be scary and it can be hard to know what to expect. I know at first I felt like I was learning a foreign language. Test results, medications, and side effects were difficult to understand. It made me feel like making educated decisions for my health was impossible. At times I either found too much, not enough, or even conflicting information on almost all of my questions. When you know the right questions to ask, that is the first step to successfully living the rest of your life with psoriatic arthritis.