Question: My employers are sending me to see a private rheumatologist and they have told me they will then review how best to assist me following his report. Can anyone advise me as to what will happen when I see a rheumatologist and what sort of things they tend to advise? Any info would be appreciated!

Answer 1: Varies from one rheumatologist to another. The one I was sent to didn’t do much apart from trying to give me cortisone shots (I declined) and complaining to me that the physiotherapist department had been taken over by a bunch of feminists. I hope yours will follow a different pattern! It might help to take with you a list of questions you want to ask him. It’s easy to forget what it was you wanted to ask, once you’re in the consulting room. Let us know how it goes.

Answer 2: Also write down all your symptoms, otherwise you forget and kick yourself as you walk out the hospital!

Answer 3: If you manage that, please make sure somebody’s on hand with a camera.

Answer 4: My doctor referred me to a private rheumatologist about two years ago. From what I remember, he mainly asked questions about the problem, and then went on to examine my arms and hands. It was during the examination that he remarked I was hyper mobile (double-jointed in other words), which was news to me! I wasn’t actually aware my fingers would bend in certain directions until he tried it. The upshot was that he wasn’t a whole lot of use – he was known to my physio, and she told me he’d only just come round to the idea that RSI exists. He suggested that I exercise using a rowing machine, so I didn’t really think he helped me much. That said, of course it depends on the consultant you see, they’re all different. Write down your questions beforehand. I wish I could remember to do that when I see medics – there’s always something I forget to ask! I also always take someone with me, usually my mother. It helps not only can they remind you of anything you may have forgotten to mention, but afterwards they may be able to recall parts of the discussion you didn’t quite take in. They’re useful for moral support, too!

I’d like to add to everyone else that there is light at the end of the tunnel – well, in my case, anyway. After a good two and a half years, my RSI is finally improving apace. I had my benefit cut by the DSS a few weeks ago because I didn’t satisfy the All-Work Test, which galvanised me into doing things I’d been avoiding for ages because they hurt, but which I can now do without too much discomfort. In fact, I am now keeping my eye out for a part-time job (and I’m determined it won’t be in an office).

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