Hey guys. So today I want to talk to you about some of the things that you should be having conversations about with your doctor in your routine visits. I used to have a very clear goal with my doctors at the onset of my diagnosis. You always want to have a clear goal of what you want to discuss with them and be clear about what direction you want to take with your lab and visits.
Every Time You Visit A Doctor
Here’s a caveat. A lot of times when you go to a doctor’s visit, they’ll give you a requisition for your labs. It’s kind of a waste of time. You get the requisition. Then you have to get the labs drawn, then you have to wait a few days for the results. You have to either come back or do a phone consult with them to go over the lab results. In my opinion this is very unproductive. I don’t have time for that. I usually always request the lab requisition, but I ask for more labs than what they willingly do as a routine. This makes it worth my time.
For myself, I ask for full Lupus serology. I ask for AVISE testing because it’s specific to Lupus. Now if it’s a different autoimmune condition that you’re dealing with, you want to make sure what those labs are. You can reach out to me and schedule a consultation to learn what these labs are.
Labs And Testing to Consider
If you have any questions about what you should be testing for, I can help you. With my patients, I want a very good comprehensive lab draw, and I can request for some special lab testing. For example, with a standard lipid profile, I can get more detailed particle sizes and such to assess your risk.
However, I won’t just ask for these lab results. If you don’t have any risks showing, then labs aren’t always necessary. But if you were to have some fatigue, brain fog, aches, or other symptoms that might be questionable involving some hormones, adrenals, and thyroid, I want to assess you.
I recommend you assess your Vitamin D on a regular basis. At least every six months, you should be getting bone density testing. Especially if you’re over 40 years old, this should be done every two years. Insurance pays for this.
You should also be getting a mammogram, as well as a colonoscopy. If you have risk factors, you want to start at probably around age 40. I believe this is the new norm. Personally, I had diverticulitis. I started very young because I had an episode. If you’ve had a similar situation or have a history in your family, you might want to have a conversation with your doctor about it.
I typically led the conversations I would have with my doctors. We would discuss tapering down the corticosteroids when I was on them, and also making sure that I absolutely needed the medications that they were giving me. I would have an open discussion about the labs and what they meant, making sure I understood everything.
When it comes to my doctors visits, I know exactly all the things I want to talk about in terms of questions I might have with some of the symptoms I’ve been having. Also I would know the questions that pertain to my symptomatology as it relates to my labs. Then I made sure that I understood everything before I left, all things discussed in that visit.
Keep in mind that many doctors practice conventionally. They’re not going to have the most broad and comprehensive insights for you. But at the same time, you want to make sure that the visit is very productive for you. Making sure that you get the regular serology tested for the specific autoimmune condition that you’re dealing with. With a lot of the lab testing, many times insurance will pay for it. However your doctor won’t always order these labs because it might not be important to them. But because you’re more holistic in nature, and I know this because you’re here reading this blog, you want to be able to get tested for all things that you can get.
Be Knowledgeable About Your Condition
Vitamin D is not a routine lab that most doctors will order during a typical visit. I’ve had to ask for it. Additionally, I sometimes ask for my hemoglobin A1C as well as my lipid profile, just to make sure that everything is in working order. I like to get my urinalysis, comprehensive metabolic panel, CBC, and lupus serology regularly – about every three months. And I get the AVISE testing every six months.
This is how I assess where I am. And of course, my doctor always asks me how I’m doing. As you get more skilled in your ability to decipher where you’re going with your health and things start to calm down, your visits will be a lot more predictable. This was the case for me. For the first 10 years of my life after getting diagnosed, I used to get high blood pressure just when going to see my rheumatologist.
In the beginning, we hang on to every word that the doctors tell us because there are so many new things to navigate, especially with our specific caseload or autoimmune condition.
These are some insights I want to give you. The more confident you can voice your opinions, the more your doctors will respect you and work for you. Don’t let them intimidate you into thinking that you should be timid and patient. You need to be very vocal about your needs.
Find A Doctor Who’s Right For You
If your doctor doesn’t suit your needs and you don’t have rapport with them, don’t feel like you have to be at the mercy of whoever is given to you. You can “go shopping” for a new practitioner. These days, they don’t realize they are losing their credibility because of their inability to broaden their scope.
Be vocal about exactly what you are trying to accomplish. Let them know; make sure that they’re in alignment and that they are supportive of everything you’re wanting to do. This is absolutely necessary, but not every rheumatologist is going to be on board. Some will straight up tell you your disease is incurable. I have dealt with rheumatologists like that.
Know where your doctors stand and what role they play in your “sick” care. Your health care is up to you to create. Personally, I go to the doctor to get my labs drawn and that’s pretty much it. It’s “sick care insurance” just in case something does happen with my health. It’s possible I might need to be admitted to the hospital because that has happened. Autoimmunity is an unpredictable condition that we all live with. If that were to happen, I know that I’m covering all my bases to make sure that I don’t end up with a high hospital bill because those things can make you bankrupt.
I hope this was helpful. Let me know your insights and your needs so I can better serve you. If you don’t feel like your doctors have your back and you’re not sure how to lead them in your care, I would love to work with you or at least guide you in the right direction. Click here to learn how you can work with me.
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