MS Information Index
Community Information & Resourses
Doctor Visit Prep
"The Care and Handling of a Neurologist"
Suggestions Pulled from Topic-Related Threads
Word of Mouth
Ask your friends, family and acquaintances if they have heard, or know of a good Neurologist! For example: While traveling by plane last month, a forum member spoke to a woman and her daughter who were seated in the two seats beside her. In the middle of the conversation the woman told her that she had Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. The two were having a wonderful conversation and proceeded to discuss related medical issues, the importance of attitude, hope, etc. They then spoke of her daughter, the one who was not traveling that day.
The woman revealed that her daughter had MS. After listening, the forum member told her that she too was diagnosed with MS, last year. She asked her if her daughter liked her Neurologist. The woman’s other daughter spoke up and said she "loves" him. The daughter phoned her sister right then and there on the plane. Turns out, the Doctor worked close by and in the same state. Before they parted ways, the forum member had the name of the doctor, got the girl’s her email address, and a new contact! Since then, she’s added this to her own list of "good doctors" for future reference. See, you never know where you’ll get a good reference from – could be a stranger!
This leads us to NO. 1 on the doctor prep list:
Know "something" (yes, hearsay applies) about your Doctor before you make an appointment.
Be factual during visits and leave emotion out of the conversation.
It will be hard for any doctor to correlate individual facts, and map out a subsequent plan of action, if the visit is garbled with emotion. When conversations are consumed by emotion, critical details often get difficult to recollect, and subsequently decipher. Ever read a post-consult from a doctor’s visit? Been misquoted? Seems they didn’t listen to a word you said? It happens. The key is to streamline the issues. It has been suggested by forum members to have a short list of six or eight "bullet points" of the biggest problems. These can be brought to the attention of the doctor after he or she has listened to your history and discussed current medical conditions.
Do not mention or suggest the name of a condition that you "think" you have.
As a patient, it is important to tell the doctor all of what you are experiencing. It is up to a professional to state what could be causing the problems and make a diagnosis. Do not self diagnosis. It is equally important to be an educated patient. Ask open ended questions. Example: Lesions show up on reports and films of the brain. The neurologist says "these are nothing to worry about." You could then ask the doctor what the possible causes of these lesions could be. You could further ask the doctor if there could be more lesions in the rest of your central nervous system. Can your spine be checked too? If the Doctor dismisses you, ask him or her for the name of someone who could help find the cause of this damage. If you still have unresolved issues with no medical support, move on to another Doctor.
Obtain copies of MRI reports, labs and test results.
The results of tests are yours. During an office visit, ask the receptionist or nurse for copies of all your reports. You can also contact the testing facility to obtain the same. Keep a running file at home of all of these results. If you have to move-on to another doctor, you’ll have copies to bring with you. The office can then make copies of what you bring to them for their review and file. Testing is expensive. No need to re-run a test that may be revealing and helpful to another doctor.
If a doctor brushes you off or seemingly dismisses you, do not to take it personally.
Just don't go back. For example: A female patient goes to her first neurologist who says that the lesions seen are from migraines. Patient tells the doctor that she has never had migraines. The doctor responds "well, they could be from anything." The conversation ended there. No further explanation or interpretation was offered. This smart patient moved on!
Bring someone with you to your appointment.
Partner up! Preferably, someone who has experienced your issues firsthand or the noticeable changes, and has seen them from the onset. Or, someone who can write notes, or chime in when needed. Bring a colleague or someone who is unbiased. A lot of us are with our co-workers more than our family during the day. Do not bring someone who is "too close" and just as emotional as you are. Bring someone who will write notes exactly as they were stated, without personal opinion or thoughts interjected into them. This is very important. Remember, it’s an emotional time, it’s easy to forget and even easier to "misinterpret." You need another set of ears – It’s that simple.
The Timeline of symptoms and any prior work ups.
Prepare and bring a timeline of symptoms and prior workups. It should be sparse, but descriptive enough to tell the problem. It should be quick to skim read – no long paragraphs. Make sure the timeline tells briefly who you were before all this started, and what you are losing, and how frightening this loss is. Most importantly, be honest about your symptoms and do not exaggerate them. Trust yourself and be factual with yourself and the doctor about the information detailed in your timeline.
If the Doctor is Vague, Press for more Clarity
Be a Good Listener
Make Eye Contact
Print this helpful List! Add-on to and Personalize it for your Doctor Visit