Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Doctor's Visit

I can hardly wait until my next doctor's appointment - because I have a new symptom and it's bothering me a lot. My legs have been hurting for days now, and today I notice that my lower back is feeling quite strange as well. I am starting to wonder if the problem is actually in my back, and because of all the nerves involved I'm feeling it as pain in my legs.(That's my current theory, it could be all wrong. Hopefully my doctor will know what's going on for sure when I see her on Monday.)

Between visits to my doctors, I constantly add items to my list of things to talk about. The list is kept in my diary app on my phone, as notes for the appointment. That way, I don't forget anything I need to talk about.

These links: The Lupus Impact Tracker and The Doctor Discussion Guide give checklists for patients who might want a prompt to remember what they need to discuss with the doctor. They go together and look like a good starting point. But ultimately every patient is unique. We all need to know what is important to us.

If I wrote a basic guide to what should go on the list of things to discuss with the doctor, it would include these things:

  • Which prescriptions are on their last repeat?
  • What has changed? (Anything worse? Anything better? Anything just different?)
  • What is new? (New symptoms.)
  • Generally, how have I been feeling?
  • Do I need new referrals for my specialist/s?
  • Do I need new referrals for blood tests?
  • Has anything about my health bothered me this month?
  • Any issues with medication?
  • Any issues with exercise?
  • Any issues with diet?
  • Any other issues?
  • Which other doctors/therapists have I visited this month? Did they say/do anything I need to report back?
That's the kind of stuff that makes it to my list. My doctor's used to the list coming out each visit. 

If we want to get the best out of our visits with our health care professionals, we need to do our homework. Our doctors do rely on medical tests to some extent, but the most important source of information they have is what we are able to tell them. The more aware we are of our own bodies, and the more prepared we are with the information, the more our doctors have to work with as they care for us.

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