Establish a Good Partnership with your Therapists

Good communication with your doctor is as important as the right choice of treatment.

Sometimes you are so afraid, or lost, when having to visit a doctor that, even if you think you have everything prepared, you end up forgetting what to tell or what to ask.

Also, things that may be important for many patients may not be important for the doctor and vice versa.

The following are things that may be important to think about when visiting a rheumatologist, either for the first time or for a follow-up visit. You may want to consider even to have them written.

 

The first time you consult a doctor for your disease

A doctor will appreciate if you have previously analyzed your disease and go to the relevant points. First of all, let the doctor know what the main reason for visiting her or him is. Sometimes it may be helpful to carry a few things in a piece of paper. Introduce the "paper" saying that you're a little bit nervous so that you wrote the important things on a paper. What would these things be?

 

About you clinical history

  • Diseases in your family (close relatives: parents, siblings, and first degree aunts and uncles), especially autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, or psoriasis, as well as cancers, and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Previous diseases, especially those for which you needed a hospital admission, or a biopsy, or a prolonged treatment.
  • If you can provide dates of diagnosis, that would be super
  • Current medications (or during the last month)
  • Doctors appreciate if you can write the active principle, instead of the commercial name, and dose in milligrams per day.
  • Allergies, specially to medications or foods
  • Vaccinations and dates

 

Your disease

  • When did it start and how (what symptoms were the first ones)
  • How the disease evolved
  • If the story gets complicated, you may want to paint a timeline
  • Paint a line and write the dates (years or months, depending on how long your disease has been). Then add arrows pointing at the time-points when a new symptom started or a new treatment was started.
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  • How many joints have been affected so far
  • What other symptoms you think are related to the disease, especially if you had fatigue, fever, red eyes, bumps or skin lesions in parts of your body, depressed mood...
  • Whether you did anything to release your pain and other symptoms: movements, rest, cold, medications, homeopathy‚Ķ

 

Your circumstances

  • Whether you're married and have children and their age or live with old parents, and you're the principal caregiver
  • What is your profession, and current work situation; what type of work you perform

 

Your fears, beliefs, and personality

  • Say it as you fear it; be honest
  • "I'm afraid of toxic drugs", "I'm afraid of becoming dependent", "I'm afraid of losing my family if I complain too much", "I'm afraid of losing my job if I have to be on leave for many days", "I'm afraid of becoming ugly or deformed", "I'm afraid that the diagnose may not be correct", "I'm afraid this may not be arthritis, but cancer, or something worse"‚Ķ
  • Advise the doctor on how much information you need
    • It would be important for he or she to know whether you're hypochondriac and don't want too much information
    • Or whether you're an internet maniac and will look up everything unless you're convinced you had it all.

 

After the first time

Once you have already met your therapist it will be important not to forget some things that may have happened in between visits. What would these things be?

 

About you clinical history

  • Whether you've needed a hospital admission, or a biopsy, or a prolonged treatment since last time you visit the doctor. If you can provide reports, super!
  • Current medications (or during the last month)
  • Doctors appreciate if you can write the active principle, instead of the commercial name, and dose in milligrams per day.
  • Vaccinations and dates

 

Your disease

  • How has the arthritis been
  • Other symptoms that have bothered you in this period
  • Whether you did anything to release your pain and other symptoms: movements, rest, cold, medications, homeopathy...

 

Your circumstances

  • Wether they have changed (divorced, for instance)
  • Current work situation

 

Your fears
Say it as you fear it; be honest (refer to first visit)

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