You don’t have to read medblogs for long to learn that doctors do not appreciate it when patients research symptoms on the internet, then show up for an appointment with printouts. Irritating the person who’s supposed to be helping us isn’t a good idea, so it makes sense to not take printouts to appointments.
That doesn’t mean patients can’t read reliable websites (Up-to-Date and Mayo Clinic are good places to start). It just means that we ought not tell the doctor how to do his/her job. It goes over much better if we don’t provide a diagnosis; patients provide symptoms and let the doctor come up with a diagnosis. At least that’s what the medblogs say.
But what if the doctor’s diagnosis is wrong?
I’ve written before about the red sores that my rheumatologist and family physician thought might be psoriasis, but my dermatologist diagnosed as nummular dermatitis. Those &#%$ spots show up if I miss one of my cimzia/mtx injections, and take a couple months to go away — unless I dig into my stash of prednisone, in which case they are gone in a couple weeks. It’s obviously something related to the RA, but what?
Well, recently I googled another symptom (completely unrelated, I thought) that has plagued me for well over a year. I find it bothersome, but not something I’d dream of making an appointment about. It certainly would never come up in the course of conversation at the doctor’s office. However, in reading the differential diagnosis for that symptom, up popped vasculitis. Really? Others with RA have mentioned vasculitis, but I didn’t know much about it, so started reading. The articles include photographs of red sores, mainly on the legs, that look very much like what my dermatologist said is something completely different. Reading about vasculitis is frightening, so I hope that’s not what this is. But I need to know.
At my next appointment, I think I will ask if it’s possible that those red blotches all over my skin could be vasculitis instead of nummular dermatitis. The trick is finding out without annoying my doctors.