All of us who have a serious disease that may be chronic or may be life threatening are a little nervous when we go for a doctor’s appointment. We may get more bad news. We may have to make another decision. We may have an issue that requires us to be assertive, like questions about what is going on.
And here we are: in The Doctor’s Office.
I do mean the place they park you after they get your weight. It’s like being in a foreign land. I was thinking bus station, but maybe not. There is the familiar computer. The chair for the Doc. The chair for you. There is the exam table. The sharps container is on the wall. There is the awful gown you are expected to put on.
The nursing assistant takes your temp, BP and and asks all the standard questions. Have you fallen in the last 30 days? Do you feel safe in your home? I do wish they would check the notes from the last visit. She is only vaguely interested in your responses so my first tip is to save your energy for the Doc.
Next: Be a pro
After a few minutes, there is the knock on the door. Your smiling, energetic doc appears on the scene. He wants you to have a satisfying experience with in your 20 minutes and you do have his full attention. Tip number 2 is to seize the moment and use your time wisely. You are now on the clock. Being nervous at this point is easy to understand unless, of course, you are a seasoned pro yourself and know exactly what you want from this visit.
Have a plan
Start with an fact sheet of your health situation. On it have a summary of your disorders. For each, list date of onset, dates of surgeries, treatments, the drugs that you are taking for each disorder. RA drugs under the heading of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Breast Cancer drugs under the heading of breast cancer. And so on. I also have my latest A1C and new vaccines or tests. This fact sheet is dated and is only changed when something on the list changes. Easy. I keep the sheet in my purse and in my journal. I am the leader of my medical team. I need to know what’s going on.
It is very important to make a list
The day before my appointment I review my fact sheet. I make a list of topics I will need to have addressed at my appointment. I usually use a 4×6 post-it note and attach it to my fact sheet. I prioritize the list in order of importance. I also add drugs that will need to be refilled.
Your doctor wants to help you
Prepared with information and an agenda, plan in place. Pen ready for notes. My doc can now use his time to help me. He’s not a mind reader. He doesn’t have the memory of an elephant. But he has much knowledge and can be very helpful if given the opportunity.