The cold and flu season is upon us again, and this year it has gotten off to "about the earliest start in the last decade," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dawn Isherwood, Health Educator for the Lupus Foundation of America, writes about a few ways to avoid the cold and flu this season.
Getting the Most from Your Doctor’s Appointment
In order to continue living well with lupus, it is essential that you have access to high quality information about the diagnosis, treatment, and management of the disease. At times, this may seem like a daunting task. You may have multiple doctor visits and medications to coordinate, as well as new information to learn during each visit. However, living well with lupus means playing an active role in your care and treatment, and one of the best ways to do this is to ensure that every doctor’s appointment is as successful as possible. So what are some ways to ensure this?
Prepare for your medical appointments ahead of time.
Prior to your visit, make a list of topics and questions you want to discuss with your physician. Prioritize the topics and questions that you feel are most important for your doctor to hear about. This way, if you don’t get through the whole list, you will still have the most important questions and concerns addressed.
It is also a good idea to bring paper and a pen so you can take notes during the appointment. This will allow you to review information after the visit, in the calm of your own home. You can also share these notes with friends, family, and caregivers, to help them understand how they can best support you in managing and treating the disease.
Some doctors may ask you to bring all the prescription drugs, over the counter medications, and any vitamins and herbal supplements you are taking. If this is impractical, put together a list of each medication and supplement you take, including the dosages of each. We recommend that you do this for each of your doctors. You may be seeing several physicians, and it is important for them to share information so they can work as a team to provide the highest quality of care.
Communicate with your doctor.
To ensure the best management of your lupus, it is essential to create a partnership with your healthcare team that includes clear communication. Be sure to tell your physician about any changes in your symptoms. This can help during your evaluation, and when ordering tests, to ensure that your doctor has the best understanding of your current health. Also, don’t hesitate to let your doctor know about any questions or concerns you may have. It’s best to be proactive in voicing questions and concerns, as opposed to depending on your doctor to ask the right questions. If you have any doubts about something that doctor has said, don’t hesitate to continue asking questions until you feel satisfied with the answer. You may also ask the doctor, nurse or pharmacist to write down instructions for you, or to provide you with printed information about your lupus, medications, or treatments.
Bring a shoulder to lean on.
Some doctor’s visits may make you feel emotional, stressed, or rushed. It can be helpful to have a supportive family member, friend, or caregiver accompany you to appointments. They may also be able to help by taking notes or helping you recall what was said during the visit.
A truly successful relationship with your healthcare team begins with you. Take an active role in the management of your lupus, and don’t hesitate to ask for a helping hand.
Jody Gehrmann shares her experience of living with lupus and staying physically active and the journey she and her husband are taking to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.