Routine Care with a Neurologist
Once you've established a diagnosis, selected a neurologist, and decided on a course of treatment, you'll establish a pattern of routine care. Most MS specialists see their patients two times per year, but that number can vary depending on your status. During your visits, your doctor will monitor disease progression and help you get a handle on your symptoms. Some MS specialists request an MRI intermittently to keep an eye on your lesion load and gauge the effectiveness of your treatment.
As of 2003, individuals in all states were given the right to request and inspect their medical records under a new federal health privacy regulation. Review your medical records carefully to ensure that the information is correct. Any errors you note should be directed to your physician.
Not only have you picked a doctor, you've also established a member of your team to manage your health. You both have a role to play. What can you do to optimize your visits and make them easy for you both? Preparing for your appointment ahead of time will make the visit much more productive.
Bring along your journal. It's important to keep track of your symptoms, their severity, and other worries or concerns so you can share them with your doctor. Prioritize your biggest concerns to make the most of the time you have.
Don't forget your medical records. This is especially important during your first visit. Your records might include MRI scans, test results, and records from your previous doctors.
Bring a list of your medications. If you're taking an over-the-counter medication or prescription medication (including vitamins, herbs, and supplements), be sure to let your doctor know the exact dosage and how many times a day you take them.
Decide what you'd like to get out of the appointment ahead of time. If you have six issues you'd like to discuss, you may only have time to address three. Consider making another appointment or booking a double appointment if you feel you need more time.
Bring along an appointment buddy. Having a friend or family member come with you will help you to remember important information from your visit. They can take notes for you, or just act as a “second ear” during your appointment.
Beyond routine visits, you may also call your specialist when you are experiencing an exacerbation (typically a new symptom that lasts more than twenty-four hours), or when you have questions or concerns about your treatment, or you feel you need to enlist the services of another specialist (a urologist or psychologist, for example).