Working With Medical Professionals

One of the most important members of your healthcare team is your Doctor.

His/Her job is to provide you with advice, treatment and hope. Your job is to help health care providers to help you. This shouldn’t be a one sided relationship, you cannot expect your doctor to wave a magic wand.

Recognise that will be inherent frustrations for patients and doctors when treating a condition that continues to hold mysteries for the researchers. There are constructive ways that you can help.

  • Prepare for your appointment ahead of time to make the best use of the time with your doctor. Be sensitive to your own symptoms and concerns and give some thought to the questions you might ask.
  • Take time to write down your questions and symptom complaints in an organised format, i.e. what the symptom is, how often you experience it, how it is affecting your life; if you have previously been prescribed medication, is it helping you cope with the symptom.
  • If you are experiencing pain, keep a diary and record the level, on a scale of 1-10, duration, and location of the pain (use a body outline, and shade the areas).
  • During surgery appts. be prepared to ask for what you need to manage your Fibromyalgia. Try to be concise (easier said than done I know!) and ( even harder ) not ramble.
  • Remember that sharing information is important, but listening is just as important, ask your doctor to repeat or clarify information that is unclear and write things down. It is helpful to summarise your understanding of what the doctor has just told you.
  • You can’t expect your Doctor to be your friend, but you can expect them to treat you with respect, and listen to your concerns and requests.
  • As there is no magic bullet for Fibromyalgia, great patience is required to find a combination of therapies and medication to bring about improvement. Work with your doctor to develop a plan of action should you have a flare up, so you can initiate treatment on your own, i.e. can you increase your sleep medication or can you have a standby medication that works for you, with your existing combination. What else can you do during a flare-up to reduce your symptoms? Consider other resources such as your pharmacist.
  • Realise that much of your treatment is up to you; exercise, relaxation, stress management, pain management, and pursuing additional complimentary or holistic therapies such as massage.
  • Your doctor can’t guarantee that a particular medication will work for you, but you can ask why he/she has recommended it and what they hope to accomplish by prescribing the drug.
  • Consult your doctor if you feel that your symptoms require investigation, do not be tempted to put everything down to Fibromyalgia.
  • Learn as much as you can about your illness, since you are the one who will manage the day to day problems that occur. Remember that you are in charge of your own treatment plan
  • Don’t forget that even Non-prescription treatments (herbs, vitamins, supplements) can interact with prescription medications. It is better to be safe than sorry and let your doctor know about everything you are taking.
  • Be respectful of the time constraints.