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7 Tips On How To Prepare For Your First Rheumatologist Appointment

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

So you finally have got an appointment time with a Rhuemetologist. Hooray!

Now what?

If this is your first time meeting with you rhuemetologist, chances are you are looking for a diagnosis.

I wanted to put together a list of all the ways I help myself to prepare for meeting with my rhuemetologist.

While this list is geared towards new patients meeting their new doctor, in reality, anyone can use these tips when preparing for any doctor's visit.

So let's get started!

1. Plan to arrive at your appointment early

Chances are if this is your first time meeting your doctor, it might also be your first time at the building in which they work.

Specialists such as Rheumatologists can often work in hospitals, medical centers, and sometimes Universities.

Be sure to plan and leave enough time to park, walk, check in, and complete paperwork.

I need to fill out a 5-7 minute questionnaire each time I go in. So I always plan to arrive early and before my appointment time.

2. Write down everything before your meeting

It's important when you have a chronic illness such as Sjogren's or Lupus, that you write down your symptoms, flares, moods, and major pain points.

Not only is it important for you to track your own health, coming in prepared to you appointment makes it much easier for the Nurses and Doctors who will be assisting you.

3. List all current medication, vitamins and supplements

It's Important for your medical team to know all the medication, vitamins and supplements you take, as many drugs have interactions with each other.

Have this list written down and ready to go.

4. List all family members with autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases can be hereditary. It's important for your medical team to know which family members (if any) have other autoimmune diseases.

5. List your symptoms

This one can be hard to communicate effectively. Especially if you have a multitude of symptoms.

I write a list of symptoms from most severe to least severe.

Then I label each one with how long I have had it, and the frequency (if it comes and goes).

6. List your questions

I always seem to find myself drawing a blank at the end of the meeting when the doctor asks if I have any more questions.

Writing your questions down ahead of time, helps to make sure you don't forget them during your meeting.

Make sure your questions are short and direct.

For example if you are looking for a diagnosis you can ask "what is my diagnosis?" you can also follow up with "What criteria helped make the diagnosis?"

If you are looking for a diagnosis, but didn't get the diagnosis you were searching for, you can ask questions like "What criteria was not met for a XYZ diagnosis?" or "Can you explain to me why you haven't given a diagnosis?"

7. Ask for your treatment plan

Lastly, with or without a diagnosis, you are seeing this specialist because you have symptoms and pain.

Ask you doctor what your treatment plan is.

Don't be afraid to be direct!

If you are struggling with one very debilitating symptom, ask them what the treatment plan is for that specific item.

Sadly, doctors do have limited time with their patients, and so being prepared with notes in hand is very helpful to the medical team, and may lead to you getting a few extra minutes with the doctor.

I hope that this list is helpful for you going into your next appointment.

Wishing you Health and Happiness,

Heather 💜

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