It can be a source of anxiety, worry, tension, and stress: how do I prepare for a rheumatology appointment?
Here are some tips to help you have the best possible experience.
Map directions before you go
Do you remember the good old days of MapQuest? And printing the driving directions before you leave?
What about a traditional, old-school paper map?
With everyone relying on technology and smartphones these days, it’s easy to forget the time-consuming effort that finding directions used to be.
I still always recommend mapping your route before you go.
There is nothing worse than having to re-route due to an accident, construction, or needing to make an un-planned stop along the way.
Whether your drive is 10 minutes or 4 hours to your rheumatology appointment, a little planning in your route goes a long way and eases a lot of anxiety!
Know your insurance benefits
Before you go, call your insurance.
Obtain clear information on your co-pays, co-insurance, prescription coverage, and your deductibles.
Eliminating the worry of the cost of the visit helps you to focus on what’s really important – you and your health!
I always recommend going an extra step – ask for your prescription formulary.
This way, you know exactly what prescriptions are covered, what cost, and if they require a prior authorization (additional paperwork.)
Bring a friend or family member with you
In these COVID times, many places are not allowing additional people in appointments.
Despite this new way of life, there are many ways to stay connected!
Zoom, FaceTime, or even a simple phone call can help to have another set of eyes and ears present for you to help remember the details of what occurred.
Keep a journal. Write down everything that you feel each day.
This includes pain, stiffness, and sleep. You can also include medications you have taken, including over-the-counter and as needed prescriptions.
Also, jot down if you missed any events, activities, or work due to your arthritis.
Offering this journal at your appointment can help your rheumatologist treat you better.
Know your goals
Everyone’s goals are different. You should expect to communicate these clearly to your rheumatologist and all medical providers at each appointment.
They are medical professionals, not mind-readers!
Examples of goals that may be important to communicate include:
Planning to conceive or trying to conceive
Options for treating disease with fewer traditional medications
Running a marathon or other fitness goals
Holding a toothbrush or other day to day limitations
Walking without a cane at my daughter’s wedding or other big events
Working 35-40 hours a week
Pursuing a career of dance or other physical pursuits
Becoming a physical therapist or other medical careers
Changing my child’s diaper or other family caring activities
Take notes during your rheumatology appointment
Paper and pen or electronic – take your pick! Just write it down.
There is nothing worse than leaving your appointment and not remembering anything that was discussed.
Be sure to ask for spellings of medications, dates and time estimates for treatments, and what the next step is anticipated to be.
My personal tip – bring a 12-month calendar with you for a quick reference to dates, days of the week, school holidays, bank holidays, and insurance re-set or change dates.
Bring questions and answers with you
It’s no surprise that this appointment is all about you.
Be prepared to answer questions about you, your pain, your lifestyle, and your relationships.
Also, if you have questions about your treatment plan, this is the time to ask!