Cancer Club Thought of the Day: The Doctor Appointment

cancer club thoughts

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.

First tip

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.

 

 

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thyroid cancer doctor visit April

Nice having many of my doctors in one place: endocrinologist, rheumatologist, medical oncologist. It is chronic disease alley.  The pain clinic is also there. Haven’t been to that  one yet. Lucky for us, the nurses and assistants are very helpful people. The place is always decorated for the current season or holiday. Coffee and tea are served as well as juices and graham crackers. There is never more than a few minutes wait. It is a welcoming, reassuring place. We even have our own lab. Never more than one person ahead of you.

Other areas of the hospital should follow their example. I don’t dread my appointments.

Dr L is an expert in her field. She is conservative, thoughtful and considerate. Her visits are never rushed. I am 100% confident in her choices for me.

I had not seen her(had talked to her on the phone) since my RAI (Radioactive iodine) treatment. The pill that had been presented to me in its 20# lead container was impressive and got my son’s attention that day. Being radioactive was fun only in that my meals were delivered to me.  I read, watched movies and chilled. The next week I had a full body scan(doesn’t include knees down for some reason).

The complication came suddenly with severely inflamed salivary glands, throat, total mouth and tongue. Quite painful! Impossible to eat. Dr L ordered prednisone and soon my whole head and neck was feeling better. This is a common complication. Avoid it if you can. Drinking a lot of water is really the only help.

My Dr L’s appointment started as 20 minutes but ended up an hour. I have new cancer. The RAI might have helped it but in all likelihood it will still be there for the next ultrasound. Another surgery would be the next step. The suspicious lymph gland may not be receptive to the RAI, may be gone, may be something else. A biopsy might be next with possible external beam radiation. I’m still hypothyroid so more levothyroxin for now with a possible change to medication with T3 as well asT4.

Courage

Might just as well feel like a hero in your own movie.