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Migraineur's Guide To a Successful Doctor's Appointment

by Teri Robert, Lead Health Guide

Visiting a doctor for Migraines and headaches is never easy, especially a new doctor. We all know that, and we sometimes dread the experience. I am often asked what should be taken to the first visit with a new doc and what questions we should ask at that first visit.

This Guide is meant to help make those first visits and follow-up visits easier. Let’s make appointments something we look forward to as a tool for better headache and Migraine management.

Please give this statement some thought as you prepare for appointments:

“Optimal healthcare can be achieved only when patients are educated about their health, and patients and physicians work together as treatment partners in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”

What to take with you:

  • Records from previous doctors. Some doctors and their staffs are reluctant to give records directly to the patient. You should know, however, that you have a legal right to your records, and they cannot legally refuse to give you a copy. Under HIPAA, once you give them a written request for your records, they must provide you with a cop within 30 days. They are within their rights to charge you what it costs them for making a copy, but they must give you a copy if you request it.

  • Your headache and Migraine diary. I know, keeping a diary can be a real nuisance, but even when we can't see patterns, the information can prove very valuable to your doctor in diagnosis and in setting a treatment regimen. A headache and Migraine diary can be done in a number of ways. You can use a small notebook, a printed form, or a document on your computer. If you choose the document on the computer, you can make notes during your episodes, then transfer them to the computer later. If you'd like to print or download our diary, click HERE.
  • Medical history information - both yours and your family's. We now know there's a genetic component to Migraine, so this is important, especially if you haven't yet been diagnosed. Keep in mind that there may be people in your family who called their Migraines "sick headaches" or thought they were sinus headaches.
  • Your list of symptoms, comments, and questions. No matter how "together" we usually are, it's virtually impossible to remember everything once we get to the doctor's office.
  • Confidence and self respect. Absolutely, good doctors deserve our respect. Just don't forget that we deserve respect too. Headache disorders tend to make us a bit more emotional and a bit less confident. We begin to doubt ourselves. Don't fall into that trap. Just have your information and questions ready. Give and expect respect, and don't settle for less.
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