Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Getting Ready

I am surprised with the amount of anxiety I have about this upcoming appointment. Ever since yesterdays realization that April 17th has come quickly, my mind has been racing.

I think it's all because my last experience with a rheumatologist was so bad.

I look over at Niki and Tesla and am jealous that they can rest so soundly while I'm over here wringing my hands, trying to make list after list of what I need to remember to talk about.

Thanks to those of you who gave me your tips for visiting a new doctor because it gave me somewhere to start! I love you.

Like I said yesterday, I have to keep in mind that this is an interview, and I need to treat it as such. Last time I got so overwhelmed and ended up getting too emotional. I talked to Mitch about it last night and he mentioned my "flight" reaction - that when I feel things are going wrong my instinct is to get the hell out of there.

And of course, because I'm so freaking emotional, that's a very wild experience.

I got an email from Mitch this morning comforting me by telling me he'll be there this time . . . making inquisitive expressions in the background, arms crossed, tapping his foot every once in a while.

I am now 100 times more comfortable than last time. I've got an ally in my corner. Point one for Lyda.

Of course, I have to remember to stay cool. Possible point for Doctor.

So anyway, last night I was in bed writing furiously all the things I wanted to remember for my appointment. I'm not exactly planning to bring my legal pad to the doctor's office, but it helps me to write things out instead of keeping it all in my head. I might bring a condensed version of my questions and concerns on a smaller piece of paper. 

I also took some aggression out on paper, but that's neither here nor there.

The trouble I have is coming up with the right questions to ask. Thankfully, so many of my dear readers have given me a good place to start. Here are some important ones that I'm planning on asking . . .

1. How do you feel about alternative treatments?

This is important, since my last doctor was extremely open to other options, and allowed me time off medicine to try other things. He was also supportive of me trying the Elimination Diet in order to find any allergies associated with joint pain. Things like that are very important to me.

2. Do you treat many younger patients with RA?

This is also an important question that I thought up because in my mind, treating a young patient with RA is very different than treating an older patient. My philosophy and my lifestyle are very different from someone in their 80s most likely, and I need a treatment plan that will work with my life. If a doctor is only used to working with older patients, it might be more difficult for him to understand the different needs of a younger patient.

3. Pain Management - how do you address it?

Deb made a good point yesterday in that this probably shouldn't be the first question on my list, but it's still very important. Especially since pain management is a huge part of my current treatment plan. I have to take pain medicine every day in order to function so it's important that I have a doctor who helps me through that.

This also ties into talking about my future with regards to my jaw. When I was first diagnosed with RA in my right jaw, I was given a number of options to handle it, but those options were only really able to be taken action on when I reached my mid twenties. Well, here I am, and I'm curious what a new doctor would think about this.

Oh yeah, doc, I'm throwing the big questions.

4. How easily accessible are you to your patients?

In a larger office with lots of patients, I understand it can be difficult for doctors, but one of my favorite things about Doc Wiz was that he was available to talk anytime. If I called his office and said I needed to talk to him (only him, not a nurse), I would get a call back that day. If I had an emergency on the weekend, he was more than happy to take my call and help me out. Does this new doc set aside time in his day for phone calls/emails to patients? Who knows! I want a doctor who will be there for me. Simple as that.

Those are just some of the things I have in my head right now. But beyond questions, I'm going to be looking for how he reacts to what I say, and what kind of questions he asks.

I want a doctor who is interested in what I have to say. I need him to take time to fully understand my issues, and to want to get to know me.

I feel I've been over thinking this whole thing for the last 24 hours, so for now, I'm going to give myself a break. I'm going to relax, then get all prettied up (because that always brings me confidence) and then head into this meeting with my head held high and my big girl attitude.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wish me luck!

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