You’ve been referred to a Rheumatoid Arthritis specialist (Rheumatologist) and you’re anticipating your first visit. I’m sure you’re feeling anxious, nervous, intimidated and perhaps scared out of your wits, gathering your thoughts together and writing down questions to ask can make the most of your first visit.
For me, I had no idea what to expect, but I had a lot of questions that I needed answers to. Here are my top 9 questions that I asked my Rheumatologist on my first visit.
1. Do I have arthritis? I know some blood work had been done, and my family practitioner suspected it, but I hadn’t had a definite answer.
2. What type of arthritis? I wanted to make sure that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, and the Rh factor confirmed it.
3. What the first bit of treatment? My family Dr had given me cortisone shots but I wanted to know the next step, which was Plaquenil.
4. What does this new treatment do? Alright, so I’m on Plaquenil- what the heck does it do? Is it a pain killer? NSAID? Anti-inflammatory?
5. How long until I notice improvement? I needed a time line, something to set my sights on, and I was told it would be about 6 weeks before I really noticed a difference.
6. What if it doesn’t work? If Plaquenil didn’t put the disease into remission, then methotrexate would be prescribed.
7. How will my progress be monitored? I was told to keep careful watch and record anything new, and to bring all this information back with me on my next visit. Participation on both sides of the table is very important and can make treatment more successful.
8. Whatother tests will I need? I had already had some blood work to determine the Rheumatoid factor, but a test for Marfan Syndrome was also ordered, x-rays and a biopsy procedure were also booked.
9. Whatelse can I do to help myself? I couldn’t just leave it up to the rheumatologist to fix my problem, I wanted to be a part of it too. I was advised to keep physically active as much as possible, to watch what I was eating, keep my stress level low and to rest as often as I could.
So, don’t be afraid to get involved and ask questions. Doctors aren’t mind readers, they need to be asked sometimes in order to share information.