Thursday, August 20, 2015

American College of Rheumatology: What to Know Before You Go

I remember that very stress-inducing first appointment with a rheumatologist. Had I read an article similar to this one, I may have felt better prepared:

What to Know Before you Go
Symptoms with unknown causes are scary enough. Your first visit to a rheumatologist shouldn’t be. Like any new relationship, preparing for the first meeting can raise a lot of questions and maybe some nerves, so we asked a few rheumatologists what they would tell new patients to expect.
Before your appointment…
Arm yourself with the details of your own story. Spend some time thinking about your symptoms in as much detail as you can. These details will help your rheumatologist immensely. Some rheumatologists suggest thinking about a timeline of your symptoms.  As you prepare for your appointment, try asking yourself the following questions about your symptoms:
  • When did they begin?
  • Where were they localized?
  • How long did they last?
  • Were they triggered by something specific?
It is also very important to make note of any medications you take regularly, as well as ones you have tried specifically for your symptoms. It can also be helpful to call your regular care provider for copies of recent lab work, X-rays, etc. and your full medical history. This can help eliminate duplicative testing.
During your appointment…
Be prepared for a conversation and exam. Your rheumatologist will ask a lot of pointed questions about your symptoms. Some new patients are surprised by the volume of questions during their first visit! Some questions may even seem unrelated to your symptoms, but rheumatologists are like detectives: they need to collect all the evidence they can.
After all the preparation for your appointment, meeting with your rheumatologists for the first time may feel like the finish line, but it is important to understand that this is the first step in a journey. Many rheumatologists will likely schedule a follow-up appointment to review lab work or imaging results. Patients, like Shanelle and Christine, often form long-term relationships with their rheumatologists, and consider them a close partner in their health care. Now that you know more about what to expect, you and your rheumatologist can focus on what matters: getting well. Continue reading here. Bolding mine. 
I agree wholeheartedly with their reminder that the first appointment is the first step in a journey. Did you, as I did, expect all the answers to your health concerns immediately? Now of course I realize what an unrealistic expectation that was, but at the time I came away somewhat frustrated at the thought of more tests, more appointments, and elusive definitive diagnosis. 

Ah, but the reminder that getting answers when dealing with autoimmune diseases is truly a journey is invaluable advice. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. Had a first visit this past week and I have to get more labs and a salivary gland scan. Glad to heat this is part of the process.