Making a List, Checking it Twice

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my gastroenterologist.  I am having a nasty ulcerative colitis flare up, and I wanted to take the time to ask him some questions while I was there.  Typically, I just go into his office and ask all my questions.  If I think of something else after I leave, I start Googling.

Talk about an irresponsible way to handle a serious medical diagnosis.

I decided to do things differently this time.  On the day I made the appointment (about a week ago), I flipped to a new page on my to-do list legal pad.  On the top of the page, I wrote Ask Dr. Atia.  About halfway down, I wrote, Observations.

I have this pad of paper with me most of the time, so it was easy to add questions and notes as they came to me.  By the time my appointment rolled around, I had a lot of things to discuss with the doctor.  Under Observations, I noted anything that has been achy or feeling off lately — regardless of whether it seemed to be a digestive concern.  In the past, I have been really surprised to find out that other health issues (like kidney stones) can be linked to my UC.  I’m trying to get into the habit of discussing everything with him.

Dr. Atia confirmed that I am, indeed, in a flare up.  He also diagnosed me with colitis-induced arthritis in my back and joints.  Awesome.  The “good” news is that the arthritis in my joints is directly related to the flare up.  In the future, I can use joint pain as a signal to increase my dosage of my medication and avoid the flare up altogether.  The arthritis in my back is not connected to the flares and pain will come and go.

I felt like kind of a dork for bringing a long list to my visit, but I am so glad I did.  My list empowered me.  It got all of my questions answered, face-to-face, by my doctor.  There are several things I’d forgotten until I looked down to check the list again.

Today, I’m filling up my awesome grandma-like pill sorter.

I’m pretty good about remembering my daily medication and vitamins, but I take them all with dinner.  Now I have some things that I need to take in the morning, and others at night.  I suck at remembering all of that, so it’s easier to just sort it out and take everything at the allotted time.  It’s even all labeled with “am” and “pm” for me, and big enough to hold my gigantic pills.  Party.

By the way, if you’re looking for a gastroenterologist in the Chicagoland area, Dr. Atia at Fox Glen Gastroenterology is busy, but amazing.  He is kind, thorough, and patient, and always squeezes me in when I really need to see him.  I’ve been seeing him for six years and give him two thumbs way up.

Do you have any routines that help you prepare for important appointments or meetings?



Filed under Living with Ulcerative Colitis, Training

4 responses to “Making a List, Checking it Twice

  1. I hope you get relief from your flare up soon. I am also guilty of using Google for medical purposes. Sometimes the info I come across causes unnecessary anxiety. But I can’t help but use it, each time I have questions.

  2. Not a nerd at all!!!!! I have a whole BINDER full of stuff I take to each appointment, including a list of ?s and things to discuss. (The binder has tests results, prescriptions, etc). I’m a big fan of self advocacy and if anything, I’d say bring more with you next time!

  3. Pingback: Not the Right Time: Gathering the Facts | Forward is a Pace

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