How often do you go to your MS appointment and feel unprepared or nervous? Do you leave feeling like there wasn’t enough time? Or like you didn’t get your questions answered? Worse yet, do you ever remember something important to ask your doctor after you’ve left?
An appointment with your doctor may be an intimidating experience, even if it is a routine follow-up and you are feeling well. If you are having problems related to MS, those 15 to 30 minutes spent with your doctor are important to your health. They should be planned wisely.
Doctors have different communication styles. Some may rely on pictures to educate. Others may write or type information. Some are friendlier, while others are more formal. It’s important to ask questions or ask your doctor to repeat something if you don't understand it.
You and your doctor may also have different goals for the appointment. For example, you may want to talk about painful burning sensations in your feet, but your doctor may be concerned that you did not get lab work done. Make sure you and your doctor are on the same page on the purpose of your appointment. Talk about any questions or concerns.
As a nurse practitioner, I’ve been in numerous appointments with doctors and patients. Here are some things to consider as you plan and prepare for future appointments.
Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have any questions or are experiencing any symptoms.
You can find even more tips about being your own best advocate.
The ultimate goal of each visit is to prepare a treatment plan together that supports your needs in your life with MS. Your doctor has your best interest at heart. He or she can do an even better job helping you on your path to health if you are open and honest about your concerns. This includes symptoms and their management, your treatment, monitoring, and prognosis.
Part of living a healthy life includes keeping regular visits with your doctor, and maintaining an appropriate diet and exercise program. Hopefully, following these suggestions will lead to purposeful appointments where you and your doctor work as a team.