People with a condition that affects the brain will most likely see a specialist called a neurologist. Neurologists work on all kinds of brain diseases. They usually work with a team of other specialists and health providers. The other specialist with considerable knowledge of this type of condition is the psychiatrist, a medical doctor who specializes in brain diseases and psychological conditions.
This can be a very worrisome time as you wait to learn more about your diagnosis and treatment options. One way to regain a sense of control is to collect all the information needed to keep up with your medical treatment.
Make a record of your medical care to show your doctors. This record will also help you and your family members remember the details of your medical care history. Include:
- Medications you are taking, the dose, and when you take them
- Any supplements, herbal remedies (including herbal teas), vitamins or over-the-counter medications (cough medicine, sinus medicine, allergy medicine, heart burn medicine, pain relievers) that you take
- Any allergies you have had to medications
- Doctors you are seeing and their contact information
- Health insurance information
- Basic timeline; include dates of doctor visits and tests (a calendar format often works well for this)
- Contact information for a friend or relative, in case of emergencies
Questions to Ask About Your Diagnosis
When you visit a specialist for the first time, you will probably have a lot of questions. It helps to write them all down. Bring a pen and paper to take notes. You might also want to bring a tape recorder or a friend or relative to help you understand what your specialist tells you. Do not leave the doctor's office until you understand your situation! If the doctor seems rushed, ask if a nurse or nurse practitioner is available to help answer your questions.
Questions you should ask:
- What is my diagnosis? ("Diagnosis" means the official name of the condition affecting your brain.)
- What is the prognosis? ("Prognosis" refers to the likely outcome of the disease and treatment.)
- What treatment do you recommend?
- What are other possible treatments, and why do you believe they are not right for me?
- What medications will I be taking?
- What are the side effects?
- Where will the procedures take place?
- How long do I have to decide what I would like to do?
- How long until we know if the treatment has been successful?
- What will happen if the treatment does not work?
- Who else will be a part of my treatment team?
- Will I need rehabilitation?
- Do you recommend any support groups or counselors for me or my family?
- Are you available to talk to my family about this diagnosis and treatment?
- Do you have any pamphlets or fact sheets about this diagnosis and treatment?
Yale-New Haven Hospital
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Written by Madeline Roberts Vann, MPH
Reviewed by George T. Grossberg, MD
St. Louis University School of Medicine
Department of Psychiatry