Before an appointment, write down your child’s symptoms and your observations. Make a list of your own questions and concerns. Take a pad and pencil to your appointment so you can write down what your doctor says and review it at a later time. Or better yet, bring a tape recorder or someone to take notes for you.
Make sure you understand the particular arthritic condition your child has, along with necessary tests and various treatment options. Here are some questions you might consider:
- How do you know he/she has [diagnosis]?
- Are there other names for my child’s condition?
- How will this condition affect my child’s body?
- What treatment do you recommend and why?
- What are the side effects of treatment?
- What are the alternatives?
Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. Your child’s doctor can probably recommend someone qualified, if you so choose.
Keeping communication open during healthcare visits is important. Ask for your doctor’s guidance as he/she gets to know and understand your child. Discuss ways to help your child feel “in control” when so much else is beyond his/her control. Ask for clarification, and don’t be afraid to ask as many times as necessary. Remember, there are no stupid questions.
Don’t try to find everything out at once. Illnesses evolve and so does the doctor’s understanding of both the illness and your child.
If you want to research your child’s diagnosis on your own, ask the doctor to recommend reputable and credible websites, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics. Otherwise, don’t believe everything you read on the internet or in the newspaper.
Finally, as a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. You can often read your child’s face or body language and anticipate his/her emotions and responses. Share this information with the doctor, and if something doesn’t seem quite right, express your concerns.