...in no particular order of importance:
1. Find out from the doctor (any doctor -- specialist, your family doctor, dentist, whoever) -- who you can call to ask questions. You KNOW that whenever you go to the doctor..and go home..you'll have a dozen questions that you SHOULD have asked when you were there, and forgot. Or got intimidated. Or just didn't have time.
So find out who you can call. And then DO it. Realize that you may not be able to talk to the doctor all the time (would you really like it if you were in the middle of a doctor visit and he left you to answer a phone call from another patient?? I didn't THINK so!!) But if there is a designated nurse, or nurse-practioner that you can call, then she (or he) will be able to take the time to answer your questions and relieve your anxiety.
2. Remember your friendly pharmacist! Find ONE, and stick with him (or her) for all of your prescriptions. If they're good, they'll be keeping track of all the meds you're taking (by prescription). Don't hesitate to call them, or stop by and talk with them: "I'm taking these meds..are there any problems with taking all of them?" "I'm taking these meds and these over-the-counter things. Is there a problem?" "Since I started taking this med, I've noted this problem...is that typical?" They can answer all these sorts of questions..and more..and are glad to do it.
3. Try to stay with ONE family physician. Let him do what you're paying him to do -- be a "gate-keeper". What does that mean? Let HIM decide when...and who..you might need to see as a specialist. Let him make the phone calls, and set up the appointments. Expect that tests done by the specialists will go back to the family doctor, and he -- the family doctor -- who KNOWS you, who has "seen" you as a patient for awhile -- will be able to interpret those test results based on what he KNOWS about you. And if he can't, he can refer you back to the specialist, if that's necessary.
4. Make LISTS. Lists of symptoms, when they occur, when they seem to fade away. List them in order of importance -- which are MOST troubling to you, and then the least troublesome at the bottom of the list. Keep it SHORT, and DEscriptIVE. Remember..the doctor has maybe 20 minutes to meet with you, and won't have time for a long rambling description of symptoms and how they might affect you. They want short and sweet and to the point. If you have it written down, you can keep it short and sweet.
5. If you really feel intimidated by the doctor, take someone with you. Give THEM a copy of your list of symptoms, and have them interrupt your rambling and read the list to the doctor. Have them take notes for you: you're likely to be bombarded with tons of information, all of it scary, at a doctor visit. If you have someone with you, they can keep track of some of that..
and then if you have indeed asked who you can call back with questions, you can do that the next day.
6. Do your homework. The internet is a wonderful thing. When I was first diagnosed, 25+ years ago, my only resource was a dusty old medical journal I found in my local library, that described MS as "a serious neurological disorder, leading to severe disability, and eventually death". A LOT has changed since then (thankfully!), and THESE days you have a whole "world" of information at your fingertips. Literally! You DO need to know that information off the internet is "raw data" -- you have to be willing to interpret it accordingly, double- and triple check it's accuracy with other sources, ask questions, find legitimate sites, ask questions...and ask again. But you can find TONS of solid information here, starting with the basic sites (like www.nmss.org ) and then branch out from there.
So this is a start. Feel free to add your own things...I'm sure some of you have learned a lot....
Post Edited By Moderator (Gretchen1) : 5/19/2008 6:24:57 AM (GMT-6)