I guess you could say I lucked into my rheumatologist for my ankylosing spondylitis. Dr. Codding just happened to be in the same office as my orthopedic surgeon. I didn’t get to research anything beforehand. I could barely spell rheumatologist. I went in wide-eyed, and just her demeanor put me at ease. Here are a few things she has taught me about what a doctor should be.
I would say the main thing my rheumatologist has taught me is how doctors should listen. There are pros and cons to this though. Most of my appointments with her can take several hours. Most of the time can be spent in the waiting room. This can be aggravating until you realize that she is taking her time and listening to other patients, just as I want her to do with me. I know when I get to the exam room, I have her full attention. This is what I was looking for in my other doctors: someone that will listen to me and take me seriously.
Dr. Codding acts as my “general contractor.” If I need to see another doctor, I always try to see her first for the referral. This way, she knows everything I’m getting seen for. This will help your doctor provide the best care for you. There are so many things involved in any autoimmune issue. Something that seems insignificant can be a major clue. Keeping your rheumatologist well-informed could be the key to controlling your illness. I know I’ve dismissed things that turned out to be major clues.
Be honest with your doctor and respect it when they are honest with you. You will have some hard conversations with your doctor. The more honest you are with your goals and expectations, the more honest your doctor can be with you. You also need to be honest about any side effects from any prescriptions. There could be other medications out there that will affect your body differently.
Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion and speak up if you have questions. This kind of goes along with being honest. Your doctor should be there to help you make informed decisions. If your doctor prescribes something that you either don’t agree with or don’t understand, then you need to let them know. Just because you ask your doctor questions doesn’t mean that you don’t trust them. Making informed decisions regarding your health is more important than the risk of offending your doctor.
I know for me it was important to discuss with my doctor any over-the-counter medications or any natural remedies that I wanted to use, like ibuprofen, natural oils, vitamins, etc. I know some of these things may seem like no big deal, but it’s safer to discuss any interactions that these things may have with your prescriptions.
I guess in the end, it comes down to communication. You should have a doctor that listens to you and puts your needs and desires into consideration when coming up with a treatment plan. Medicine isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. Be your best advocate. I hope you find your own Dr. Codding.
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