First, congratulations on taking charge of your health. Finding a provider that is a partner in your care is a powerful thing, and is definitely worth the time and effort involved.
It may feel like you have an insurmountable climb ahead of you, but just take it one step at a time.
I previously shared My Journey. Here are a few things that helped me move forward in establishing care with a new provider.
Many of us have a lot of data on our chronic illness, including medical history and pain trackers. Understand that there's simply no way that a doctor has time to go through all of that for each patient... and that's okay.
A lot of what I was so overwhelmed and anxious about was feeling that I wasn't going to be able to provide all the answers or information the doctor would need to partner in my care.
Having a brief introduction prepared is a good place to start. Being able to concisely share a description or outline of your journey is a great skill to have. Consider how you would share your health story in just a few sentences. Some questions to guide you:
- When did you start experiencing headache?
- When were you officially diagnosed?
- What was your diagnosis?
- What categories of treatments have you tried (e.g., medications, devices, alternative therapies)?
You know your body and your experience better than anyone. The combination of your new patient paperwork and your short introduction should result in a conversation between you and the provider. They will ask for more details when they need to, and you'll be able to answer because it's your experience.
Establishing care with a new healthcare provider can be difficult and stressful, but it can also be hopeful. This is an opportunity for a fresh start. A new partnership. A different set of knowledge, skills, and experiences.
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu
When I was writing about this topic, I found myself addressing it from two different angles: personal experience and as a step by step process. It’s not unusual for me to struggle with which way I want to share, as well as with indecision. I’ve chosen to post both, as I believe them to both be useful in seeking and establishing care with a new provider. Stay tuned for the Step by Step guidelines.