I know many of you have expressed the concern that some of the issues don’t get addressed or addressed in a timely manner when visiting your neurologist or MDS. This especially difficult to deal with since many do not live close to a neurologist and have to travel a way to go see them. So of course you are tired and frustrated of having to wait both to see a neurologist or movement disorder specialist as well as in pain and discomfort if asked by your doctor to be off your medications for evaluation.
We all have experience the feeling of disgust at ourselves when after leaving the doctor’s office after being there several hours we realized that we forgot to ask or discuss an issue that was utterly important.
A few tips to minimize frustration and maximize our time and neurologists focus on our issues are the following recommendations based on my extensive experience as a Parkinson’s specialist and as a patient.
First, I am sure many of you have experienced the phenomena I like to call the ‘doctor syndrome.’ For some reason, it happens to me all the time and I am certain it happens to you because many of my patients told me that they were worst before coming to see me. I am not sure why that is but my Parkinson’s symptoms are always better when I see my doctor!
Second, especially if it’s the first visit make sure if possible to bring someone with you that can be your ears. Because unless you are savvy in the medical field and medical jargon, after the first few sentences where your doctor tells you the diagnosis I guarantee you will not remember anything else said or explained.
As physicians we usually concentrate on what’s visually in front of us and have to pay close attention to non visible symptoms and rely on you unfortunately too much to let us know how your life is being affected by these invisible otherwise known as non-motor symptoms.
Parkinson’s disease is extremely complex illness and increasingly getting more as we speak even though most neurologists and movement disorder specialist like me typically spend an hour or more per patient it is impossible to cover ALL possible symptoms in detail.
Therefore it is imperative that you prioritize your problems:
- Are you there as a new patient and looking for diagnosis and new treatment?
- New patient for second opinion and alter treatment?
- Established patient for management of symptoms?
- Established or new looking for disability?
- Interested in participating in studies or research and what are you willing to do?-e.g. participate in studies with new unknown meds vs. known medications already approved, invasive vs. non-invasive?
All of these will require different focus from your doctor.
I recommend that you limit your discussion to main reason (chief complaint-e.g. new patient looking for diagnosis) you are there and two other symptoms that need immediate addressing!
If you have more pressing issues make an appointment sooner than what they will suggest don’t settle for appointment in 3-6 months if NOT doing well!
Also if need a family intervention to discuss prognosis and long-term treatment plan and care, make appointment with you, family and doctor exclusively to discuss these issues. Let the doctor know ahead of time that this is purpose for visit so doctor and staff can be prepared for meeting as far as time so you won’t be rushed and also and most importantly so doctor can formulate plan ahead of time and bring ancillary services if needed such as social services or names of assisted living, nursing home, or rehabilitation places etc.
Third, know your insurance coverage of medications. This will expedite treatment and allow doctors to know which prescriptions to write. Unfortunately, due to recent changes in healthcare and medication coverage (at least in this country) it is becoming increasingly more common for doctors particularly specialists to prescribe medications base on a patient’s formulary rather than what they think should be first choice! Ask for samples, ask for assistant programs, and let them know if meds will require pre-authorization or paper work filled out. If you are new patient or established patient who will be on new drug- it is best to not have that medication sent to mail order pharmacies until required dose achieved and / or know if can tolerate otherwise will get stuck with a bunch of medicine can’t use.
Fourth, always bring a list of your medications better yet the medications themselves which should ALWAYS include name of over the counter medicines even if they are as needed because could possibly interact with new prescription.
Fifth, ask for side effects of new meds, what to expect, how fast will notice improvement, do they need to be titrated and how often? In this should also inquire if meds will affect women issues such as safe if planning to conceive or are breastfeeding, ask especially if risk of melanoma, breast cancer and prostate cancer in family to be referred to specialist for follow-up given that some medicines will increase these risk and others like melanoma simply by having PD make you at higher risk.
Finally, at least in this country know that if you require paperwork filled out there most likely be a fee and a few days to get paper back so plan ahead.
Ask for literature, support groups, as well as ancillary services such as speech therapy if needed.
If you follow these simple rules, I guarantee that you will have a much happier and successful journey with PD as you and your doctor work as a team.
Dr. M. De Leon is a movement disorder specialist on sabbatical, PPAC member and research advocate for PDF (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation); Texas State Assistant Director for PAN (Parkinson’s Action Network). You can learn more about her work at http://www.facebook.com/defeatparkinsons101 you can also learn more about Parkinson’s disease at www.pdf.org or at www.wemove.org; http://www.aan.org, http://www.defeatparkinsons.blogspot.com All materials here forth are property of Defeatparkinsons. without express written consent, these materials only may be used for viewers personal & non-commercial uses which do not harm the reputation of Defeatparkinsons organization or Dr. M. De Leon provided you do not remove any copyrights. To request permission to reproduce release of any part or whole of content, please contact me at deleonenterprises3@@yahoo.com contributor http://www.assisted-living-directory.com Contributor http://www.lavozbrazoriacounty.com
2 thoughts on “How To Make The Most Out of Your Neurology/MDS Visit: by Dr. De Leon”
I appreciate you sharing some tips on how to make the most out of your Neurology visit such as making sure to schedule an appointment sooner than what is normally suggested. If you have pressing concerns, it is highly encouraged that you visit your doctor as often as possible. This way, you would be able to monitor your own progress, and the doctor would also be able to provide you with new updates regarding your condition. If I were to look for neurological services, I would definitely take this into account. Thanks.
Thank you Bobby and good luck and remember to keep problems to 3 maximum to ensure all your needs /concerns/ and questions are answered and met in a timely fashion and in a manner which is most beneficial