The Televisit

That sounds like the name of a futuristic sitcom, doesn’t it? (By the way, I lay copyright on that name.) The current pandemic has changed the way we live. Everything has changed from the food we eat (I don’t eat takeaway), to how we shop. Now that everything is pretty much single-use, I try to reduce waste whenever possible by buying in bulk. And, most notably, how we interact with one another. We are confined to our houses and only speak to people over video chat.

Even as the stay at home restrictions lift, I don’t know many people who are willing to venture into the still pandemic-ridden world.

I am lucky that I can work from home and only need to go out for my essentials, which are prescriptions, groceries, and infusions.

Curious about how the televisit would go

However, I did have to see my rheumatologist once during the lockdown. The office now does televisits except if a patient needs an in-person exam. Thankfully, I am not one of them at this time so I made a virtual appointment.

Televisits are a relatively new thing. There is a reason doctors prefer to see patients in person. A physical exam and face-to-face conversation can make a world of difference.

I didn’t feel any anxiety about the televisit. While I was grateful that I could minimize exposure to other people, I was curious about how the appointment would go.

Reading body language and other drawbacks

As social creatures, humans are very good at reading non-verbal body language. But, we need to see someone’s body to do that. A video conference removes our ability to read reactions properly. There could be a lag, the reception could make the picture fuzzy, and we only have access to a person’s neck and head!

My doctor is amazing at reading my facial expressions and general body language. In minutes he gauges my pain, fatigue, brain fog, and, in turn, my symptoms. Would he be able to read all that from just my neck and head?

He certainly could not do a physical exam. Over a video call, he can’t feel for inflammation in my joints or test my range of motion. He can’t feel if I have a fever or whether there is something funny in my lungs or heart.

And, we are in a completely different environment. I think doctor’s offices are decorated the way they are because it is the most conducive to an efficient visit. Would we get distracted by our surroundings?

Limitations on how I observe physical symptoms

The only thing that was a bit difficult was the physical exam. While I am capable of differentiating the swelling in my joints, I am not a doctor. Sure, I can see it and feel it but I don’t know what it means. What amount of swelling is par for the course? Am I better or worse than last time? Is there damage?

I don’t know how long I can/should go without a physical exam. I am not trained to quantitatively share my range of motion. Do my symptoms match what my body is doing? Thankfully blood work is not an issue as I get it done when I go for my monthly infusion.

The televist was enjoyable

The televisit was actually quite enjoyable. It felt more like a chat than a doctor talking to a patient (and vice versa). It was very easy and relaxed. And, I got to show him the pets which was a huge plus! I manipulated my joints. Right now, there is not a lot of physical activity, so everything felt normal!

So far, I really like televisits. Isn’t it amazing that there is yet another thing we can enjoy from the comfort of our own homes?

Have you had a televisit yet? What was your experience?

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