Preparing for your appointment and diagnosis
You'll probably first bring your symptoms to the attention of your family doctor, who may refer you to a rheumatologist — a doctor specialising in the treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bone. As scleroderma can affect many organ systems, you may need to see a variety of medical specialists.
Before an appointment
Appointments can be brief. To make the best use of the limited time, plan ahead and write lists of important information, including:
- Detailed descriptions of all your symptoms, including when they started and what makes them better or worse.
- If symptoms come and go, such as colour changes to the skin, try to get a photo of the change to take with you to your appointment.
- A list of all your medications and dosages, including nonprescription drugs and supplements.
- Questions for the doctor, such as what tests or treatments he or she may recommend.
During an appointment
- Don't be afraid to ask if you don't understand. For example,'Can you say that again? I still don't understand.'
- If you don't understand any words, ask for them to be written down and explained.
- Write things down, or ask a family member or friend to take notes.
Your doctor may ask some of the following questions:
- Do your fingers become numb or change colour when you get cold or upset?
- Do you regularly experience heartburn or swallowing problems?
- Have your parents or siblings ever had similar signs and symptoms?
Before you leave your appointment
- You've covered everything on your list.
- You understand everything that the GP has said.
- You know what should happen next – and when.
- Who to contact if you have any more problems or questions.
- For copies of letters written about you – you are entitled to see these.
After your appointment
- Write down what you discussed and what happens next. Keep your notes.
- Book any tests that you can and put the dates in your diary.