Practitioners are important members of the caring team, providing treatment and support to people with a chronic condition such as ME (cfs). Some people already have the support of a practitioner with whom they have a comfortable rapport. Others may not be so fortunate as they have to start from the beginning to find a practitioner with whom they can build rapport and trust. If you are in the latter category, then some of the hints below may be of some help:
A personal recommendation from someone who you respect and understands your situation can be a good place to start.
The telephone directory has most professions listed with names and contact numbers of practitioners.
Find practitioners who are qualified and registered with their professional associations, colleges or institutions.
A recommendation can be sought through the professional associations for a practitioner with a special interest in your particular condition.
Some medical practitioners have additional training and interest in integrating natural medicine into treatment and healthcare, and are members of The Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine or the Australian Integrative Medicine Association.
The ME/CFS Society in your state may be able to assist with a list of medical practitioner contact numbers.
Ask people living and working in your local area for a recommendation such as a chemist, public hospital, community health service, or ambulance service.
If you are too exhausted to make these enquiries yourself, ask someone to help you with telephoning.
Find practitioners who are willing to home visit, if possible. This will save you lots of energy when you are too ill to travel.
If possible, find practitioners who are situated close to your home to minimise travelling, which can be very exhausting.
Find practitioners who have some of the following qualities:
- has a good understanding of ME (cfs)
- has an interest in ME (cfs)
- accepts ME (cfs) as a medical disorder that causes significant ill health and disability in sufferers.
- is willing to listen
- is caring and empathic
- has good communication skills
- is willing to communicate with other practitioners
- is someone you can trust and build rapport with
- is prepared to research and discuss issues with you
- is professional and competent
- you may have other suggestions to add to this list
Questions to ask prior to making your first appointment:
- a one hour first consultation rather than the shorter sessions to allow enough time to fully discuss your medical history
- how does the practitioner charge for a consultation?
- if a medical clinic, do they bulk bill?
- will there be any other fees and charges involved?
- any other questions you may have
If you feel that the Practitioner is not right for you, do not hesitate to seek a second or third opinion until you find one you are happy with, so that a long term rapport can be established to achieve continuity of care.
What to take to a first appointment:
- refer Doctor/Practitioner Kit
- a full medical history including test results (if you have any), copies only, and safe keep originals yourself. Your practitioner may photocopy documents for you.
- a list of topics you wish to discuss, to help you focus on all the important issues
- a copy of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners (PDF, 980Kb)
- This document contains a set of guidelines on diagnosis and treatment of ME/CFS which you can use to discuss your case with your practitioner.
- this document can also be given to other practitioners, service providers, hospital staff, etc. as a basis for discussing your particular needs as a ME (cfs) sufferer. Its dissemination will also increase awareness and understanding of ME (cfs) more widely.
- Take someone with you if you need assistance with transport or support.