1. Think of your doctor as a less hilarious version of your best friend. And at your appointment, it’s time to tell all. Sure, symptoms can be embarrassing. But your doctor knowing that you forgot your ATM pin (again) or you have a rash in a place you’d prefer not to mention could be critical to you getting the best care.
2. Speaking of your BFF, bring her with you. Or your husband or mom or your aggressive assertive next door neighbor. Having someone else listen and ask questions can mean less pressure on you.
3. Write it down. Did your doc give you new info or instructions in your appointment? Write it down. Did a new symptom pop up? Write it down. You can’t remember your ATM pin. Believe me when I say, you’re not going to remember this either.
4. Own your behavior and choices. If there are three pills left in the bottle, you did not finish that course of prednisone. Starting an exercise program tomorrow does not count as a “yes” to your doctor’s “are you getting exercise” question. Lupus requires that you take a hard look at all aspects of your life. If you feel rotten, are you getting enough rest? If you feel good, what have you been doing right?
5. Your doctor gets to decide what information is irrelevant. Lupus is super-complex. Let your doc decide which symptoms he cares about. Over the course of years (and yes, you’ll be seeing your doctor for many, many years), patterns emerge. The more you and your doc understand about your lupus, the better you’ll be able to manage your symptoms.
6. It’s on you to address your concerns. Remember, no matter how caring your doctor is, she is not thinking about your problems after your appointment. So don’t leave the office until you’re satisfied with the info you received. This is your body, and you’re the only one who lives in it. Get the answers you need to feel better.
7. Remember that lupus baffles elite medical minds. It’s okay if you’re confused, too.