Coping With Fibromyalgia? Why You Should Take a Tape Recorder to Your Next Doctor’s Visit

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Coping with fibromyalgia is hard enough without having to deal with the insult of cognitive impairment that many sufferers experience. This symptom, not-so-affectionately dubbed “fibro fog” by many who deal with it daily, can wreak havoc with your work life, your relationships, your self-esteem — and, if you’re not careful, with your medical care.

One way to adjust to a symptom like fibro fog is to avoid its impact altogether. That is why I often advise fibromyalgia patients to bring one of two things with them to each and every doctor’s appointment: a tape recorder, or a good friend. Of the two choices, I recommend a tape recorder most of all, since a friend can’t always be with you when you need to recall a key piece of advice.

Another benefit of recording your doctor’s visits is that it leaves you free to concentrate on the conversation, instead of struggling to keep up with your doctor’s advice and make notes at the same time. Such task-juggling will invariably cause you to forget a key question, a new symptom, or some other crucial piece of information you needed to bring to your doctor’s attention.

Small cassette recorders can be purchased from most office supply stores for under $ 20. You don’t need a fancy digital version — the regular kind that take small cassettes will do nicely. Simply load a fresh cassette before your appointment, and press “record.”

It’s always a good idea to ask the doctor’s permission before recording the visit. The vast majority of physicians will have no problem at all with you recording their words and your conversation, especially if you explain that you have trouble remembering details on occasion, and this will help you implement their advice more effectively.

Once you leave the doctor’s office, remember to label your cassette with the date and name of your doctor (especially if you see more than one physician for your medical care, as many of us with fibromyalgia do). Then review the tape when it’s still fresh in your mind. Now you can make notes, pausing the tape as necessary to give yourself time to jot items down completely.