Here’s some great advice on making every minute of your appointment count, courtesy of rheumatologist Dr Ronan Kavanagh.
Before your appointment
Do some (reliable) research
Having a good, basic understanding about your ankylosing spondylitis lets you and your rheumatologist focus on specific things that matter most to you, rather than general topics. Most rheumatologists are delighted if their patients have a good understanding about their AS – it saves time having to explain lots of information.
The more prepared you are, the more you will get out of an appointment. Do some reading online before you go, but make sure you pick reliable sources, for example AS charities and associations. Have a look in the find support section of This AS Life for groups where you live.
Go with a goal
It’s a great idea to work out what it is you want to get from your appointment before you come. It could be information or advice about your ankylosing spondylitis symptoms or treatment. Order your goals by importance and then…
Write a list, bring it with you and refer to it
It saves you having to recall everything from memory and helps stop the topic of conversation moving in different directions during your appointment.
"Great advice to make every minute of your appointment count."
During your appointment
Remember: we’re not scary!
Try not to be nervous. Rheumatologists (and people who look after those with chronic illnesses) went into medicine to help people, not to be mean. On the whole, rheumatologists are largely a personable and friendly bunch of people.
Wear the right clothes
Don’t feel you have to dress up, but try and wear something that’s easy to take off, then put back on. The doctor will need to examine your spine and hips (and listen to your heart and lungs). The less time you spend dressing, the more time you have to chat about the things that matter most to you. Also bring a list of medications (that you take now and took in the past), plus check to see if you need to bring X-rays, scans and/or reports with you.
Bring your list with you and refer to it
Ask to clarify anything you have read that you’re nervous about or don’t understand. It’s sometimes a good idea to bring a family member or friend with you, especially if it’s your first appointment. Patients can often forget a lot of what is said, which is understandable, so a second pair of ears always helps.
Ask your doctor for extra information
They might give you a booklet or show you where to find the best information online.
After your appointment
Write everything down
Put everything in writing while it’s fresh in your mind. Sometimes it’s easier to refer back to notes than have to recall them from memory.
This article was written by Dr Ronan Kavanagh, with help from the resident experts at ThisASLife.com; a social site, helping the whole AS community to: Learn. Share. Inspire. Discuss