Getting Value From Your Rheumatologist Appointment
It should be simple. You get an appointment and you go see the doctor. At the appointment, they tell you everything you need to know.
Although seemingly it is never that simple. Most things in life ever are. Sometimes it takes a little planning and effort to get things going in the direction you want them to go. Making the best of the resources that are at your disposal is one of the most effective tools.
Tips to improve that scatterbrained feeling
Going to the doctor has always been tricky for me. I tend to be pretty scatterbrained and often leave my appointments feeling like I have not asked all the things I want to. I have also left feeling like I did not get the full value of my appointment.
If you are going for the first time or back for the tenth time, it is always important to track and communicate when you feel and notice changes that are causing any discomfort, pain, or swelling.
Make and take notes
So this might seem a little strange, but it is my secret weapon. I forget everything. Brain fog is a real thing. So from when the time before my appointment and it is confirmed that I am going to see the doctor, I simply make notes on my phone. Of course, you could use a small notebook too. I simply don’t as I never know where it is.
Take note of how you are feeling, what may have changed, and of course, questions you might think of that you want to ask the doctor. Be intentional and make the time and space to do this.
Ask the right questions
If you're stumped for any questions to ask - I recommend starting small. Topics can range from pre-existing conditions to simply voicing concerns surrounding work/life balance.
If you are going for your first appointment (or even 10th) here are some guidelines and suggested prompts to get the question juices flowing.
- Are there any potential tests that will need to be done? How soon?
- What are short-term pain relief options?
- What are the options for long-term treatment? How long before the medication is expected to take effect? What are the side effects? Is there a frequency for check-ups and or bloodwork?
- Are there any clinical trials available? Should you be interested, what are the criteria to get in?
- Are there lifestyle changes that you can make so that you can help improve your health?
- What are symptoms that you can expect to see in the coming months?
Ask about seeing your other doctors and how they will work together. It's also important to let your rheumatologist what medication you are on. This allows them to know if any will contradict anything they are thinking of prescribing.
Post appointment processing
These appointments can be very overwhelming. Please make sure you take some time to process everything. Take your time to make the decisions when you are ready.
You do not have to make decisions there and then. I would love to hear any more tips and tricks from our community. What are some practices that can really help patients make the most out of a rheumatologist appointment?
Were you ever misdiagnosed before being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (PsA)?