Working With Your MS Health Care Team
Maximizing Multiple Sclerosis Doctor Visits
Given the complexity of a disease like MS, it's critical to discuss your concerns about symptoms and fears about the future. Do your best to find a doctor who you're comfortable with -- someone who really respects and listens to you, someone who is truly compassionate. Take other factors into consideration, too, such as travel time and insurance coverage.
Once you've found a doctor who works well with you, hold up your end of the bargain. Be as prepared as you can for your doctor visits. Here are tips to get the most out of your office visits:
- Keep track of your symptoms in a notebook, but remember that your symptoms may not all be due to MS. Be sure to note the frequency of symptoms, when you experience the symptoms, and the severity of the symptoms.
- Give your doctor an updated list of all your medications and contact information for other doctors.Bring a list of your top questions to each of your doctor visits.
- Put your biggest worry on the front burner where your doctor won't miss it. Are you feeling more depressed or anxious? Trouble staying focused? Your doctor won't be able to guess what's concerning you most.
- Speak up, even about issues you find more difficult to discuss, such as sexual changes, mood problems, coping skills, or bowel function.
- Speak as clearly and concisely as you can, but don't be afraid to ask for clarification or for more information. Sharing information about yourself may also help you partner better with your doctor and other health care providers.
Let your doctor know about any:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Fears of needles or side effects
- Previous bad experiences with health care providers
- Mixed or inconsistent messages from members of your health care team
- Inability to cope with the unpredictability of the disease
Staying on Top of Things
If you have more than one specialist on your team, make sure they are communicating with each other. This is especially important if you have another condition unrelated to your MS. Make sure these doctors know how to contact each other.
To better coordinate your care, it's best to use only one pharmacy if possible. Remember that your pharmacist is a good person to go to when you have questions about potential drug interactions.
If you ever feel overwhelmed, reach out to a member of your team for support. There is no reason to go it alone. It may help to focus on what you can do now to stay as healthy as possible, rather than to focus on how things once were.