Talking to Your Doctor

An important step in your education is to develop an open relationship with your doctor or treatment provider. This can be a tough thing for some people to do initially, as you may never have had to rely on your doctor for anything more than your regular physical. Some people can be intimidated by the prospect of asking their doctor a lot of questions, as they are afraid that their doctor will not want to spend the time to answer them. They may even be afraid that they will appear "stupid."

Don't be afraid or intimidated! This is your life, your disability, and your future! The only "stupid" question is the question that isn't asked! You need to develop a relationship with your doctor if you are going to "move beyond" your disability. And if your doctor doesn't have the time to spend with you to answer your questions, then you need to have an open and honest discussion about this concern that could result in a referral to another doctor.

You want to know the specifics of your condition. If you can't answer the following questions, you will want to ask them of your doctor immediately:

  • What is my diagnosis, prognosis, and the recommended treatment regimen?
  • Will there be any residual conditions from my illness/accident?
  • What is my expected time for recovery?
  • Will I make a "full" recovery?
  • If not, what are the time frames so that I can expect changes or improvements?
  • What should I expect for final restrictions?
  • When can I consider a return to at least part time or accommodated work?
  • Be sure to ask if a recommended treatment or therapy is covered under your health insurance, so that you will have an expectation of the financial consequences.

When an illness or accident results in a disabling condition, the residual effects may have long-term results that may effect your quality of life and change the way you do things. In these cases the resulting long-term effects will have a direct impact on who you are and what you are able to do in the future. Some of the questions you will want to ask your doctor at this stage:

  • What are my very specific restrictions and limitations and how can they be accommodated?
  • Develop a list of the activities that you perform at home and at work and talk about each one individually. Which ones can be accommodated?
  • Will these limitations be permanent?
  • What are my abilities?
  • When will I be able to return to work and in what specific capacity?

Remember that any relationship takes time and open communication to develop. Your doctor will get to know you better through this process and as you gather more information you will build in confidence as well.

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