Establish a Relationship with Your Health Care Team
In addition to the suggestions given above for optimizing your visits with your neurologist, there are other things you can do to encourage a healthy and productive relationship with all of your health team members. Establishing a trusting relationship with your doctor is essential if you are to feel a sense of self-empowerment and control over your life.
Be an Effective Patient
Being involved in your own care largely depends on your own personal style. Some people want to take a more active role in their health care and have clear ideas about their treatments. Others may be more inclined to look to their doctors for guidance. Whatever your style, being effective means participating. Ask questions and, time permitting, bring in research or studies that interest you. It's important to feel that you are contributing to the care you are receiving.
Have Realistic Expectations
While your doctor should listen to your questions and concerns, be accessible in emergencies, and return your calls, he isn't your mother or your best friend. Have realistic expectations about his involvement in your care.
Don't hesitate to tell your doctor if you're dissatisfied and give him an opportunity to correct the problem. For example, you could say, “I have concerns as to why you are suggesting this approach.” Be concerned, but not accusatory.
At the end of the appointment, ask your doctor to clarify anything about your treatment that you don't understand. It's also a good idea to summarize what he's discussed with you to make sure you've heard him correctly. Ask your doctor to write down anything you may have trouble remembering.
Your relationship with your doctors is like any partnership — communication is the key. Ideally, your neurologist or primary care physician should provide most of your care. If specialty care is needed, your doctor's knowledge about your health history will make it easier to coordinate your care with specialists who are likely to meet your needs.