Maintaining a Good Relationship with Your Health Care Provider
Dealing with fibromyalgia can be a difficult journey, and one that you won’t want to travel alone. Your health care provider can be one of your biggest allies on the road to recovery, so it is important to build a good relationship with your doctor, physical therapist, or other health care professionals. By taking the time to build a firm relationship with your health care provider, you will find that dealing with your fibromyalgia symptoms and finding treatment therapies will be much easier.
Staying organized is one of the best ways to retain a good relationship with your doctor or health care provider. It will also help you to keep track of your various symptoms, such as fibromyalgia pain, chronic headaches and fatigue.
Try keeping a daily or weekly diary that lists all of your symptoms and how they have progressed. This diary should make note of how severe your symptoms are and how they are affecting your daily life. A symptom diary will be very helpful for your health care provider, as she can refer to it during physical exams and routine checkups. It will also help your medical doctor pinpoint which symptoms you are most affected by, enabling her to decide upon certain fibromyalgia treatment therapies.
Information File Folder
It may also be helpful for you to keep a file folder or binder with any information you have collected regarding fibromyalgia syndrome. This will enable you to access information quickly and easily, and use it to your best advantage. If your health care provider does not specialize in treating fibromyalgia disorder, it might be a good idea to ask him to become familiarized with this information. Sharing an interest in the background of fibromyalgia will help to cement a great doctor-patient relationship.
Your First Visit
Your first visit with your health care provider is an excellent opportunity for you to begin to build a good working relationship. Provide your health care professional with a typed page of information, including all the symptoms that you have exhibited so far. Also include any concurrent illnesses, such as irritable bowel syndrome or myofascial pain syndrome. It’s a good idea to give your health care provider some personal information as well, such as your employment status, marriage status, and details about your daily routine. This summary will not only help your doctor get a feeling for who you are and how fibromyalgia is affecting you, but it will also show your doctor how important your health is to you.
Some health care providers are unfamiliar with fibromyalgia, and have predetermined assumptions about the cause of the illness. Many physicians do not believe that fibromyalgia is caused by a physiological problem, but instead is a manifestation of emotional or mental stress. In order to have a good relationship with your health care provider, this view of fibromyalgia needs to change. Show your health care provider how much fibromyalgia is actually affecting your life. Give examples of things that you could once perform easily and now can no longer do. Once your health care provider understands how much fibromyalgia has changed your life, you will find that your relationship will improve dramatically.
Subsequent Visits: Trying New Treatments
When you return to you health care provider, you may be interested in trying some new treatment therapies. Sometimes, health care providers become uninterested in providing alternate medical therapies, often because of the cost, paperwork, or stigma involved. For instance, many physicians frown upon the use of opioids in treating fibromyalgia, even though these drugs can offer excellent relief for the patient. This can often lead to a strained relationship with your health care provider.
You should realize, though, that it is one of your patient rights to receive any and all treatments that may be of benefit to you. However, it is important to work with your health care provider in a professional and organized manner.
When you are interested in trying a new therapy, bring your fibromyalgia doctor a typed page listing all of the following:
- All of the medications you have used or are currently using
- Specify the dosages and frequency of use
- Describe any and all side effects caused by the medicines
- Estimate how effective each medicine was at symptom reduction
- List any alternative therapies that you have been using.
By making you health care provider aware of how your treatments have affected you in the past, you will be better able to explain why you are searching for a new therapy. This list will also help to keep you informed about all the treatments you have received, and how well they are actually working.
When you are returning for a visit, whether you are interested in trying a new therapy or not, inform you health care provider of the three symptoms you would most like to see treated. Your doctor will appreciate that you have taken the time to consider your symptoms and focus on the most debilitating. It will also help him to tailor his treatment approach to your specific needs.
What Your Health Care Provider Should Do
It may seem like a difficult task to find a good health care provider to help you with your fibromyalgia; however, excellent health care professionals are out there. A good health care provider is:
- Willing to answer your questions
- Able to explain medical terminology
- Respectful of your wishes to have a family member present at appointments
- Eager to hear about your ideas regarding possible treatment therapies
What the Patient Should Do
As a patient, you make up one-half of that important doctor-patient relationship. It is up to you to help forge a good, working bond with your health care provider. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- No health care provider is perfect.
- It is up to you to provide accurate symptom information.
- Remember to respect that there are time limits to appointments. Try writing down questions beforehand and take notes during your appointment so that you don’t have to spend extra time receiving the same information twice.