Regardless of what causes your chronic pain, the thing that we all have in common is a large number of medical appointments. But with everything going on in our lives and our health, it’s so easy to forget something at these appointments that might be important. Since I have anywhere from one to four medical appointments a week due to a large number of specialists for the many aspects of my pain, so I’ve gotten pretty good as preparing for appointments, and I’m sharing my expertise with you in this post and with 2 free printables. Ones help you brainstorm important topics for your appointment, and the other enables you to hold all of your medical information in one document.
What To Do: Before your appointment, you want to think about what you want to bring up. How has your pain been recently? How is that different compared to your last appointment? Essentially, you want to brainstorm everything important before the actual appointment, as then it will be easy to forget something. You should also figure out what your other doctors have said that the one you’re going to see should know. Even if your medical team has communicated with each other, that doesn’t mean that they do it regularly. For example, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, your orthopedic specialist (let’s say a knee doctor) will want to know what your rheumatologist has to say about your knee and your health overall, and they’ll also want to know what your physical therapist thinks. Even if your doctor has the other specialists’ notes pulled up before the appointment, it will help to have what your own notes of what they have said during your appointments with them. Sometimes the notes they give to one another differ from the things they say to you, or the things they say to you will create questions for the specialist you’re seeing, so it will help if you think back over other appointments you’ve had before you go to your next one.
What To Bring: Always make sure you have an updated list of the medications you’re on, as well as the doses. If you scroll down, you can download a blank copy of the form that I use! (I also keep a copy of it in my wallet at all times in case there’s ever an emergency.) You should also be sure that you don’t forget anything by bringing your questions with you! Write them down so you don’t forget them when you’re actually in the appointment. This also includes any questions or concerns from anyone close to you who won’t be with you. For example, before my appointments, I ask my parents if there’s anything they want me to bring up.
What Your Doctor Needs To Know: They need to know of anything different, which could mean a variety of things. This could be more of one symptom, less of another, an entirely new symptom, or one that is gone. They also need to know the ways that your pain is affecting your life. Are you unable to do a task that you used to do? Are you having trouble sleeping more often than not? It will also help if they know what your pain feels like. While saying that it’s strong is somewhat helpful, it will help more if you use specific terms: sharp, dull, aching, burning, etc. Often, these words mean different things to doctors than they do to patients, or at least they help your doctor understand you better. Saying that your pain is “bad” or “strong” is only helpful if your doctor knows what that means to you.
Need some help getting organized for your appointments? Check out these two free downloads to help: