Preparing For My Rheumatology Appointments
No matter how many times I’ve seen my rheumatologist, I always find these appointments a daunting experience. I feel nervous. Many thoughts run through my head: What if my condition is progressing faster than we thought? What if I must switch up my meds? What if it’s a waste of my time and money? What if I forget to ask a question?
If you feel like this is a daunting experience too, please know that you are not alone. I thought I was alone with this feeling until I spoke with others online who feel the same.
I try my best to prepare myself as much as possible for these appointments
First off, I ring my regular doctor to make sure that my blood test results have been emailed to him.
Then, I begin by making a list. I keep a daily journal of my symptoms, so this is easy to do. I list out how I’ve been feeling in general since I’ve last seen him. I write out how many flares I’ve had since my last appointment, how bad they’ve been and how long they lasted. I list out my good days and my accomplishments. I list how many times I’ve had to take my strong pain relief.
Next, I write out a list of questions. It always seems to be the same question that I ask. How are we going to help my muscle spasms? I need an answer to this.
I sit down and have a chat with my family the night before my appointment. I live at home, so they see me living with my condition every day. I ask for their advice on what I should tell my rheumatologist and what questions should be asked.
I show him proof
Between appointments, if any swelling occurs, as it does on my hands, I make sure to take a picture so I can show him at our appointment. I also take pictures of my spasms and videos of them moving.
Usually, I go into his office with an A4 sheet of paper that’s written back to front full of bullet points and questions.
Sometimes I can see him looking at my A4 sheet of paper like I am a crazy lady lol. At the start of our appointments, he wouldn’t want to read what I had written. He would say "just talk to me and tell me without the paper."
I find it hard to say everything that I want to say as I find this a nerve-wracking experience. I told him this. I explained to him that I only see him every few months, it’s not that often and I am going to forget to tell him important stuff. I find it important that he listens to or reads everything that I want to tell him.
Doctors can be quite intimidating, they are busy people and it's easy to feel like they just want you in and out of their office as quickly as possible. I try and make this not the case. After all, I am paying him to do his job, and his job is to care for me.
I’m happy that I had the confidence to speak up for myself because now he expects me to walk into his office with a piece of paper. He now reads it every time without me having to ask twice. And more importantly, I feel that he now listens to me properly.
How do you prepare for your rheumatology appointments?
Do you live with any other conditions in addition to AS? (choose all that apply)