So, you’ve scheduled an appointment with a new neurologist and you’ve waited weeks (even months) for the appointed time. But….are you prepared for the visit? There’s much more involved than knowing where and when. The medical staff wants to be part of your healthcare team and appreciates if you are an active participant in the process. Here are a few suggestions to help make the most of your upcoming visit.
Please arrive at least 15 minutes early. This is especially important if you are not familiar with the location. And, of course, there will be forms to complete!
Know as much as you can about the events you have. How old were you when they began? Do you have different types of seizures? Do you get a warning? Do you have risk factors like a head injury or family history of epilepsy? Was there any trauma at birth? Your family may be able to answer these questions if you don’t know.
How often do your seizures occur? There are several websites and apps you can use to track them. (MyEpilepsyDiary-iTunes, SeizureTracker.com, etc)
If you aren’t sure what happens during your seizures, ask someone who has witnessed an event to accompany you to the visit. At the very least, try to get a description. What happens first? What have others observed? For example, does your head turn to one side? If so, which side? Are your eyes open or closed? How long does it last?
Please bring pertinent records like results of EEGs and imaging (CTs or MRIs) if done at a different hospital/clinic. If possible, in addition to the CT or MRI reports, a CD with the actual images can be very helpful. These reports or CD may help you avoid repeat testing.
Have a list of present medications and supplements. This is important as some meds may interfere with you seizure meds. If applicable, keep a list of seizure medications you have tried in the past. It’s important to not only know the names, but the doses and why they were discontinued. Did you have an allergic reaction? Were they ineffective? Did you have an intolerable side effect? Details, please!
Do you miss doses of your prescribed anti-epileptic medications?
Do you have other significant medical history? What is your family history? What other symptoms do you have? They may be related to your medications or seizure disorder.
Are you aware of anything that might trigger your seizures? (ie, sleep deprivation, alcohol, stress)
If you are a woman of childbearing age, have you noticed your events occur more frequently during certain times of the month?
Above all, please remember that this time has been set aside specifically for you. If for some reason you are not able to keep your appointment, please call to let the staff know as soon as possible.
Melanee Newman, RN
Neurology Research Nurse at Emory University