Talking to your doctor
Speaking to your neurologist about your treatment options for MS may sometimes seem difficult, but it’s important to make the most of these conversations. To do this, take time to prepare for your appointment, no matter how busy your life is. Your neurologist is busy as well. But you shouldn’t feel rushed or unsatisfied when you leave his or her office. Be sure to take your time and get all the answers you need.
Planning ahead for your appointments can:
- Help you to make the most of your appointment time
- Help you maximize the care you are receiving
- Help you to remember more of the information your doctor or nurse gives you
- Think about what you want to accomplish. This can help you decide on the most important things you want to cover.
- Make a list of important questions or concerns to discuss. Jot down two or three top points to cover during your appointment with the most important at the top in case time runs short.
- Ask a family member or friend to come with you. Not only are they great emotional support, they may notice things you didn’t and can take notes while you focus on talking to your healthcare provider. They can also remember things you forget to mention.
- Keep a health and lifestyle diary. This can help refresh your memory when preparing for your appointments.
- Practise what you want to say. You can never be too prepared! Practise describing your concerns and symptoms as clearly and concisely as possible.
- Make a list of all medication and supplements you are taking. Be sure to review what you are taking and when/how you are taking them.
- Be afraid to ask questions! Your appointment isn’t just about listening to what they have to say – it’s also a great opportunity to get all your questions answered.
- Never feel like you can’t ask a question.
- Whatever it is, the neurologist or nurse will probably have heard it many times before.
- If your healthcare provider doesn’t answer a question you have, be sure to ask it again until you get an answer.
- If you don’t understand something your healthcare provider says, ask for the information to be rephrased (ask until you can repeat it back in your own words).
- The more questions you ask, the more comfortable you are likely to feel about your MS care plan.
- Forget that your neurologist and nurse are both partners in your journey. Use your appointments to share information with each other so you can make joint decisions about your care.
Discussing your treatment experience
MS affects each person differently, and so does MS treatment. Everyone has a unique experience – both in response to treatment and how it may affect them. Since MS treatment is a long-term commitment, it’s important to discuss how you’re feeling about your treatment and communicate your experience with your healthcare team.
To help guide the discussion, think about the topics below that are most important to you and discuss them with your healthcare team.
Treatment topics for discussion
- Relapses – What are the signs?
- Progression – How do I know what’s happening?
- How do I know treatment is working?
- Side effects – What do I do about them?
- Dosing – Does this ever change?
- Administration – Are there tips and tricks?
- Treatment tracking – What can I use?
- Patient support program – How it’s going
- Family planning
- Cost/insurance coverage
It’s important to talk to your healthcare team about what you feel is working and what isn’t. In order to get the most out of treatment, it must be taken on a long-term basis, so don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. The important thing is to continue on therapy to control your MS.