What Questions should I ask?

I'm going to have my first big follow up appointment post-surgery with my cardiologist in a couple weeks. I'm working on compiling a list of questions and concerns in preparation. Is there anything important that I should be asking? Also, is there anything I should prepare in relation to questions they may ask me? 


3 Comments

Questions you may be asked

by Persephone - 2021-05-16 14:51:53

Hi Steph - I hope you're feeling well.  Other members here can offer more robust answers to your first question than I could, but to address your second question, I'd be prepared to be asked nothing unless there were some previously identified issues that you were to attend to (follow up meds from your GP comes to mind as an example).  In my experience, the doc/clinic will wait for you to ask questions and indicate any concerns you have. I hope your doc would ask "how do you feel", but your prepared list of Qs to ask should encompass this area.  As others have pointed out on this site, ask for as much documentation as you can get, because as newbies, it can be challenging to understand all of the terms and explanations in the relatively brief encounters we have with docs/ clinic.

Questions and more Questions

by Gemita - 2021-05-16 22:13:59

The best advice I can give is yes make a long list of questions to ask but please be prepared to narrow the list down to only a few most essential questions because time is often limited during a consultation.  Prioritise those most important to you and cover them well rather than raising too many questions and coming away with inadequate answers to important questions.  You will have time to cover everything in the future.  One step at a time.

It is difficult for me to know what questions you should be asking or what questions they might ask you without knowing more, although I can see from your second post you are getting some SOB and chest pain.  Chest pain, if new, should never be ignored and needs to be fully assessed.  These are two important questions you should be asking your doctors about and be prepared to answer detailed questions about these symptoms too.  Make diary notes when these symptoms occur, dates and times, duration of symptoms, in case they can be correlated to your data downloads and you can be given a diagnosis.  I always do when I get unusual symptoms and it can be incredibly revealing and help your doctors/technicians to confirm the problem.   But you seem to have self diagnosed nerve pain Steph.  Is this correct or have you already had investigations to confirm this?

What are they likely to ask you? Perhaps

. whether you feel your fainting symptoms, or reasons for your pacemaker, are now better controlled ?

. whether you have any new symptoms (report SOB, chest pain).  

. whether you have any other concerns about the pacemaker in regard to settings perhaps, or whether you have any other symptoms like palpitations, fatigue, difficulty carrying out your normal daily activities?

I would want to ask them:

. Have my downloads shown any significant events, like for instance an arrhythmia or a high heart rate or indeed a syncope episode?

. Are my leads/battery functioning well?  

. Are you going to make any adjustments to my settings.  If so, which ones and why?

. Could you confirm the % time I am pacing in the right atrium, the % time I am pacing in the right ventricle?

Steph if you search the Club under Questions you will find lots of posts that might help prepare you for your appointment, but I would perhaps remind you that the consultation is really all about your well being (how you are?) and any symptoms you might develop during your normal daily activities.  This is the area you should be focussing on I think and this will give a good EP all the information he needs to help you with your heart condition or pacemaker settings.  (I need to remember this too)

This was so helpful

by juststeph - 2021-05-18 17:04:25

Thanks to both of you, Persephone and Gemita!

Its helpful to get a snapshot of what these appointments will be like. I have had very little, if any, consistency in doctors over the whole course of trouble shooting my issues and now finally finding a solution with the pacemaker. I will definitely work on a clear and consice list of questions and ask for as much documentation as possible. I'm totally open to doing all my own research to fill in the wholes, but i'd like that information to come from reputatable and appropriate sources. I find a lot of people end up with pacemakers for more complicated heart diagnoses than mine, so its been hard to weed out which information applies to my situation!

Gemita, in regards to the SOB and chest pain, its been fairly consistent since day one post-surgery. I did ask a GP at my 2 week follow up, and she diagnosed nerve pain. The pain i feel on the right side is the same nerve pain I have at the incision site, so no real investigation was done to confirm this. I do plan on asking specifically about this with my EP in a month. 

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In fact after the final "tweaks" of my pacemaker programming at the one year check up it is working so well that I forget I have it.