The Patient Advocate
The first thing that I noticed was I felt like I had twisted my knee. And I had gone out walking with a neighbor friend pushing the strollers, me and daughter and her and her daughter, and I thought, "I don't remember twisting my knee, but I definitely twisted my knee." It feels like I twisted my knee, and it got progressively worse over a couple of days. Right as I was about to call a doctor, it went away. The next week it came back. OK, now I know I did not twist my knee, but it felt like I had twisted my knee. And I also knew it would go away. So I waited and it went away. The next time it happened about a week later, it was my shoulder, and it was the same feeling, and I thought, "I definitely did not twist my shoulder." And I didn't know what to do. It happened on a Friday, and if you ever had your shoulder go out or something I hadn't, you can't do anything without your shoulder. I sat down on the couch on that Friday and I pretty much did not get up until Sunday when it started to feel better. I just sat there because I didn't know what to do, and I couldn't -, I was so limited, and that had never happened. I never experienced that.
Monday... I talked to my mom over the weekend. My mom has rheumatoid arthritis and her reaction was sort of, "Uh-oh, that pain sounds familiar." So Monday I called the doctor and I went in and he agreed I should see a rheumatologist. He took some blood work, and that sort of started the process.
I worked with my rheumatologist over the next nine months. The symptoms got progressively worse. For me, they sort of bounced around different places in my body. They weren't just in my hands and feet, and my rheumatologist said that's pretty common, and it will eventually probably settle more in hands and feet, but I've always still had problems in some other joints. We got to the point where he said, "Yup, it's official. We've done enough, we've watched it enough, we know this is definitely what it is. We've ruled out everything else, and it's rheumatoid arthritis.
The time you spend in the rheumatologist’s office is an important part of effectively treating and managing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Yet it may cause you to feel stressed or overwhelmed. Having a patient advocate can help ensure that you leave your appointment with a full understanding of what you and your doctor discussed.
The role of patient advocate
A patient advocate is someone that you choose to be part of your healthcare team to partner with you in your discussions with the doctor. This individual can be a family member, trusted friend or someone who is knowledgeable about your condition or the healthcare industry in general. Your patient advocate can accompany you to your rheumatologist visits, where he or she can take notes, ask questions and simply help you communicate with the doctor. The patient advocate can also help make sure that you understand and remember what was discussed.
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Glossary Of Terms
An individual that you choose to be part of your healthcare team to serve as a liaison between you and the doctor. More...
A person who is trained in mental health and treatment through therapy of emotional disorders. More...
A doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the joints. More...