If you have the opportunity to visit the Simmons Hanly Conroy Mesothelioma Video Library (MVL), you may find it helpful as you prepare for your initial consultation with a mesothelioma expert.

You know you have questions, but knowing how to ask them to get answers is important. Viewing these videos will help you better understand the medical terminology to communicate your concerns to the doctors. Also, knowing the correct pronunciation and description of a procedure will help you understand what the doctor is trying to tell you.

Of course, write down any and all questions and concerns. It might be a good idea to type up your list, so that anyone can read it should you or a family member become unable to do so. And remember to leave space to jot down the answer below each question. It can be confusing to review notes if you cannot associate the answer with the question.

Make arrangements to ensure that your medical records arrive at the doctor’s office, allowing ample time for review. The doctor may decide additional testing is necessary, which may require an overnight stay in the hospital or a few extra days for completion.

You want to be prepared, and this includes your travel and lodging arrangements. When you speak with the doctor’s staff, ask for recommendations. If the specialist is affiliated with a major medical center or university, ask if there are housing accommodations on the campus or discounts with local hotels or motels. Often an information packet is provided by the doctor or medical facility that includes this type of information.

If no such information is available, ask the hotel for any discounts available when staying for medical consultations. Don’t be embarrassed about asking. I know of a number of hotel chains that offer such assistance as well as some airlines. Your focus should be centered on your health and potential treatment. You should not have to have the added worry and stress of travel and lodging.

Sue Vento advises that you should carry a notebook or two when you meet with health care professionals. Many of our clients devise a plan that really proves to be easy for all involved to carry out. One woman explained her method:

“We started out with a small one-inch (1”) size 3-ring binder with colored tabs for each physician or health care facility. At the front of the binder we inserted a clear plastic business card holder where we stored all the doctors, hospitals, Medicare and insurance information. The use of a 3-ring binder provided a hard writing surface for taking notes.

Behind each colored tab we listed all the pertinent information relating to the doctor, including emergency contact numbers, office hours and appointment schedules.

My sister insisted on getting copies of all office-visit notes and medical and lab reports, which she then tabbed in reverse chronological order so that the most recent information was on top. At the end of each tabbed section was plain-ruled paper for her to take notes during each visit, which she then filed with the corresponding date of the visit or procedure.

Soon we learned that the small notebook was not large enough, so we eventually ended up using three colored notebooks. The RED notebook was for medical and radiation oncology, the BLUE notebook was for the hospital and the BLACK notebook was for her primary care doctor and home health care provider. This made it easy to grab the right binder for each scheduled appointment or hospital. The small was easier to carry to and from the appointments.

We had duplicates of all three notebooks. One set was kept in the house and the second “emergency set” was stored in the car. That way we always had all her medical information at our finger tips.”

Yes, it does take time to organize the notebooks after each office visit or procedure, but being this organized helps provide better care for the patient.