Making the Most of my Doctor’s Appointment

We’ve all heard that it is important we play an active part in our healthcare treatment but Imagewhat exactly does that mean? Here are some of the things that I try to keep in mind when visiting my rheumatologist or physio.

1. Prepare: Before my appointment, I write down questions, items to discuss, and any changes in my condition so I can make the best use of my time with my doctor.

2. Questions: Unless I’m 100% clear on what my doctor is saying, I will ask for more of an explanation. I find that seeing x-rays or using diagrams can often help.

3. Bring a family member or a friend: Not something I have done in a while but it can make the experience of visiting the doctor less daunting. Moral support is always nice as is having someone to help you get around!

4. Describing pain and symptoms:  I find it useful to think of how I am going to describe the pain and symptoms I’m experiencing in advance so I can give an accurate description during my appointment: Where are my symptoms? How much does it hurt? When did the stiffness start? Have things changed over time?

5. Recording major events: I try to jot down anything that I think might be significant in relation to my arthritis since my last visit. For example, if I’ve been having trouble with my neck at work, I will record this at the time and tell my doctor when I visit.

6. Scaling my pain: I find it useful to give the level of pain I have been feeling a number based on a scale: 1 representing no pain at all and 10 the worst pain possible. The doctor sees this as a helpful way to track my pain levels.

7. Prioritise: During my appointments I try to ask the top things that are concerning me at the beginning rather than the end. This means that if we run out of time, I will still have had the most important things covered.

8. Write down: If I’m worried that I will forget something my doctor advises, I will ask him to write it down for me so I don’t have to be concerned about not remembering some important information or detail.

9. Keep a diary: Keeping track of all of my medication, treatments, symptoms and pain levels can be very useful over time as I start to spot trends emerging. I keep track of my overall health, not just arthritis-related symptoms so I get an accurate general picture. At Arthritis Ireland we have developed ‘My Health Organiser which is a handy place to store all of that information. There are also a number of mobile apps available that you can download for your phone.

For more tips on making the most of medical appointments check out ‘Let’s Talk Arthritis’ information booklet.

Laura Hickey is Arthritis Ireland’s Young Arthritis Ambassador. If you have any questions or would like to join the Young Arthritis Network, please email lhickey@arthritisireland.ie. 

10 Tips on Working with Arthritis

Working with Arthritis, Parenting with Arthritis

Young Arthritis Seminars

We have all heard the well-known adage that work is good for your health, but when you have a musculoskeletal disorder, like arthritis, it does not always ring true.

Whether your job is physically demanding or you are sitting at a desk all day, work can have an adverse effect on your joints and posture. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce the strain your body is under at work.

Arthritis Ireland is running a number of Young Arthritis Seminars around the country for young people (aged 18-40) living with arthritis, which will focus on the topics of pregnancy and parenting with arthritis and working with arthritis.

The second of a two part series on the new Arthritis Ireland Blog will focus on working with arthritis with 10 key things to keep in mind in the office.

  1. Plan and prioritise tasks, completing most important first. Pacing yourself throughout the day will conserve your energy, reducing pain and fatigue.
  2. Stop before you get tired. Bad habits creep in when a person is tired and not concentrating.
  3. Leave working splints in your drawer and use when needed. They will assist in relieving pain and increasing strength of joints.
  4. Adapt your work station for your individual needs. Using ergonomic keyboards, mouse, chair and desk will reduce strain on your body.
  5. Avoid prolonged standing or sitting positions to minimize muscle stiffness, pain and fatigue. Use a timer on your phone to remind you to change position.
  6. Complete stretching exercises when seating such as ankle rotations, wrist rotations and shoulder rotations, circle the joint in one direction for several seconds, and then change direction
  7. Utilise heat e.g. hot water bottle or ice packs to reduce pain and inflammation.
  8. Discuss options for flexibility in work schedules and tasks with your employer to allow you to plan for changes in function that come with an arthritis flare up e.g. if you find the mornings difficult explore possibility of working flexitime.
  9. Explore the possibility of adapting your role, cutting down on tasks you find most difficult or transferring to a different role within your workplace.
  10. Utilise peer support e.g. discuss matters with your line manager, occupational health specialist and other young people with arthritis through the Young Arthritis Network!

The Young Arthritis Seminars will feature expert speakers, including rheumatologists, clinical nurse specialists, occupational therapists and patients, who will focus on pregnancy and parenting with arthritis (click here to read 10 tips on parenting blog post) and working with arthritis.

The events will take place in:

  • Athlone: Sheraton Hotel, Saturday 19th January, 11am.
  • Dublin: The Gresham Hotel, Sunday 20th January, 11am.
  • Cork: Maldron Hotel, Saturday 2nd February, 11am.

Admission is free. Click here for more information or contact Laura Hickey on (01)6470208 or email lhickey@arthritisireland.ie.