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Having an elevator slot for your chronic illness can help you receive better care



I put a blood vessel in my eye a few months ago. I was in the middle of a migraine – a common experience for me – but the eye thing was new. I panicked. Have i had a stroke? I wanted a qualified health professional to tell me I wasn’t dying.

The telemedicine doctor I called spent most of our 10-minute virtual appointment reassuring me that migraines are not fatal. I was distracted and scared and couldn’t convey to him that I know what a migraine is. I to have chronic migraines but felt too sick, too anxious to give a coherent medical history.

I needed him to evaluate this new development in the context of a life full of migraines. In the end, he told me not to worry and suggested treating my migraines with caffeine ̵

1; something I’ve been doing since elementary school.

This telemedicine doctor was one of eight medical professionals I saw about my migraines in the past year. Each time I have to tell them my medical history clearly and coherently, which is a challenge, even when I’m feeling good … and often not.

Jessica Ailani, MD, works regularly with patients like me. She is a neurologist and director of the Medstar Georgetown Headache Center, a clinic where I was treated. She admits that being sick and waiting for a doctor can make the already difficult task of reciting a medical history difficult.

“You wait a long time for an appointment to see a doctor and then you have all these things you want to talk about,” says Dr. Ailani, who is also a professor of clinical neurology at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. “When you are brought back to the room and the doctor comes in, you say: What should I tell you?”

Dr. However, Ailani says it is easier for her to devote herself to treating patients when she has a full background on her chronic conditions right away.

About 60% of American adults have a chronic illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The category includes chronic migraines and chronic pain, as well as cancer, diabetes, and more.

Coping with these conditions usually requires visiting a number of health care providers, but appointments are often not satisfactory. A systematic review 2017 in BMJ Open found that primary care physician appointments in the US last a little more than 20 minutes on average. Globally, the picture is even more bleak: 50% of people spend five or fewer minutes with their doctors at primary care appointments. While this review focused on GPs rather than specialists, it nonetheless paints a picture of how frustrating abrupt doctor appointments can be.

Moving from doctor appointment to doctor appointment looking for answers to my migraines felt like a full-time job. So I started treating it like one. I’ve posted an elevator seat.

Typically, an elevator parking space is a short bio, a networking tool that allows you to quickly sell what you can do – for example, during an elevator ride. Instead of writing an elevator seat to accomplish career goals, I wrote an elevator seat of my chronic illness to hopefully help me get the care I need.

I was testing my version of an elevator parking space when I met a new specialist a few months ago. With a bulleted list of everything she needed to know, I didn’t miss any important details and got us talking about new migraine management tools much faster.


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