Take Our Advice: Everyone’s Relationship with Their Doctor is Different

Welcome back to our series, “Take Our Advice”! Each month, we’ll be selecting a question from our Facebook or Twitter communities, and one of our bloggers will answer it here on Living Like You. Today we’re tackling part three of our tips for talking to your doctor series. We hope you enjoy!

No matter how, when, or where you are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, it is never easy. From that moment on, you are in charge of your future health, and before you can even make sense of what MS is, you are probably overrun with emotions.

And that is OK.

On the patient side of the scope, newly diagnosed people may stay quiet or stoic, while others will show anger or disbelief. They might even be relieved knowing they finally have an answer to all those questionable symptoms that they’ve been feeling.

On the medical professional’s side of the spectrum, doctors go through lengthy academic studies to get where they are when you meet them in their office. Ethics education will, therefore, teach instruct them how to handle patients. They will also learn that while they know all the scientific details about MS, they don’t know how it feels to be a person living with the condition. Because of that, you have the upper hand in your new medical relationship. And in that relationship, emotional moments are fine, and often needed to grow into a new phase of your life with MS. These tips might help as well:

  • One way to ease emotional tension and fear of the unknown is clear and honest conversations with your family as well as with your medical team.
  • Treatment decisions, unpredictable disease activity or more physical tests are just a few things that can occupy your mind to the extreme. If you have a medical appointment coming up and you know it might be an emotional event, educate yourself beforehand.
  • Don’t be shy about asking challenging questions that sound silly to you. Again, your physician has seen and heard many things in his/her medical career already. When you’re straightforward, it’ll help you achieve the most from your appointment, including setting clear expectations. The mystery surrounding MS’s cause can lead to misinformation or erroneous assumptions being said and repeated. If need be, direct any unusual or weird sounding questions at your doctor.
  • Preparation is key. Write a note the night before your consultation, this way you can still add items you might forget before going in for your appointment the next day.
  • List symptoms, including details of where they occur, when, for how long, etc. When your neurologist hears details rather than a dry-sounding bullet list, he/she can direct the conversation in the right direction. We all need to hear clear instructions, because it will encourage you feeling more composed, and it will help reduce the possibility of losing your handle on your emotions.

If you still feel like you will lose it once you’re in a neurologist’s room, perhaps guided meditation or mindfulness can help. By focusing on your breath and on the ‘here and now,’ you may be able to relax otherwise stiff muscles that make you feel tenser. Otherwise, book an appointment with a counsellor or a psychologist to help you get through darker moments.

People in your close environment including your medical team will navigate troublesome waters like these. After all, they are here to help navigate your new normals alongside you. They will guide you and tell you that your MS diagnosis was not because you did something wrong in your past, and it could not have been prevented either. MS can happen to anyone, at any time and anywhere.

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