Okay this may sound weird, but in a strange and funny way… I’ve come to realize that preparing for an appointment is kind of like getting ready for a date.
A bad doctor’s appointment is like a bad date, you get all ready, you prepare what you’re going to say and how you’d like to appear. You quietly whisper to yourself “I think this is it” Only for it last all of 2 minutes and be left unsatisfied and sometimes confused 😂
Okay, now that I’ve gotten your attention: let’s get you in charge of your next date. Sorry, your next appointment!
We’ve all been there, preparing for weeks for something that we feel could be life changing. We show up, we wait, and finally your name is called. Or perhaps it’s a phone appointment so your phone finally rings. You have a mix of nerves and excitement that you’re finally going to get answers…
The doctor quickly skims through your results, does the standard checklist of what he/she sets out to do with each patient, it abruptly finishes with “okay so everything looks great here! Any questions”
“Uhhh.. ugh.. uhhhhh…”
“Okay then! No questions. Well have a great day!”
You’re left sitting there confused, upset, discouraged, and often blaming yourself for not speaking up, not having been able to voice your concerns or ask your questions you spent weeks preparing.
I’m going to share with you ALL of my best tips and tricks to make your appointment as efficient as possible. Giving you the confidence to take charge of your next rendezvous!
Before I dive in, Before YOU even begin to prepare for the appointment. I need you to ask yourself the following question… this will set the tone for the entire appointment
“What do I want to get out of this appointment?”
Seems simple enough, right? Not always. Sometimes you don’t actually know, maybe you’re trying to get a diagnosis, maybe you’re trying to improve current symptoms, perhaps you’re just doing a follow-up. But until you know exactly what you’re looking to get out of that particular appointment, you can’t know how to prepare. We need a clear goal, and a game plan.
So once you’ve answered that question, write it down. Write down your goal, and focus on it.
Next, I’ve personally prepared for many many appointments… OVER prepared, only to be thrown a curve ball I wasn’t prepared for.
So before I share my tips, know this: there will ALWAYS be surprises in life! We can’t be prepared for everything. I will however include tips for the unexpected.
So you have your goal in mind, now you’re going to envision how the appointment might go. I’ll give you an example. My husband just had an appointment today, he’s quite nervous when it comes to his own health. He can’t communicate as well when he’s nervous, like anyone. He was awaiting test results. So I began by asking him what he wanted to get out of this appointment, and then I told him to consider the options: Your results will either show something, or show nothing.
•If they show something, what will you want to ask in that moment?
•If they show nothing, what would you like that doctor to do for you to help you with your current symptoms?
Had we not prepared for circumstance A and B, we wouldn’t have been prepared to ask for further testing, or perhaps a referral to a specialist regarding the symptoms.
Often we will be expecting that one appointment to give us all the answers we’re looking for (wouldn’t that be lovely?) but it’s not always the case. So we’re going to prepare ourselves for all outcomes, and learn how to ASK for what we need.
With all that being said, let’s begin!
Here’s your roadmap:
-To avoid a quick encounter: when scheduling the appointment, ask for extra time to discuss your concerns.
-Prepare your medical resume. I show you how to do that here. I know, sounds intense. But it’s helpful if you are meeting a doctor for the first time. It’s a basic overview that you can hand to the doctor when going over your medication list, allergies, known medical conditions, recent testing, etc. I bring mine everywhere with me. They’re going to ask all of these questions, so rather than using your mental energy on these menial questions, let’s save our strength for the important stuff! It’s also saved my life on multiple occasions. Just make sure to keep it updated!
-List of current symptoms. Okay, this can be tricky. If you have a lot of symptoms, we can sometimes uncomfortable sharing all of them. Just try to keep it relevant and in order of importance. I try to focus on what’s new and debilitating. If the doctor finds it relevant to their diagnosis, they will ask further questions and uncover what may be helpful to them. Unless asked, I won’t explain every symptom I’ve ever experienced with my multiple health issues.
-List of questions. Going back to the first question I asked you, tailor your questions to your goal. Remember though, prepare questions for the different outcomes. Plan A and B.
-Tests & Treatments: If your goal is to get a diagnosis, you may consider researching beforehand what tests are needed. (This isn’t always necessary, but it doesn’t hurt) That way you can ask for the tests you want, and the doctor can add whatever they think is necessary. This may sound unusual, but it’s not. This is self advocacy 101. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been the one to request or modify my tests or treatment plans. I’m so used to it now, it’s just normal to me! 😂
-If you have research you’d like to bring to your appointment, if possible, I like to send it in advance. That way the doctor has the opportunity to review it before our appointment. If this isn’t possible, make it clear, potentially highlight the portion that supports your point.
-Practical info: bring someone with you! It’s so important to have a second set of ears in the room. You will be overwhelmed and your mind will often be focused on the next question you’d like to ask rather than fully listening to the doctor. So having that support there with you will help guide the appointment. As well as help you fill in the blanks after. If you absolutely cannot have someone come with you, record the appointment on your phone for later review.
-Don’t be shy to take notes during the appointment, it’s important for you to leave feeling informed. You want to avoid confusion, or not feeling heard. It will help with further research and self advocacy in preparation for the next appointment!
-Always allow yourself 30 seconds to respond. Take pause, and if you’re unable to properly respond in that moment… ask for a follow up appointment. You can also request a way to get in contact, via email.
“May I have a way of getting in contact once I absorb this information? I may have questions and may need to get in touch. Is it better to contact your email directly, or go through your office reception?”
This will give you the time to consult a partner, a friend, a support group, or even just do your own research before jumping to a response. Inevitably, you will probably have more questions after you’ve absorbed the new information.
I’ll give you an example of something that requires follow up: when you’re given a new medication. I like to take the time to find out if it’s safe for me to take with my rare conditions. It happens more than I care to admit that it’s contraindicated, and I decide not to take it and discuss alternative options.
This is also common for me with scan results, when something completely new and unexpected is discovered.
This is a overview for how to be as prepared as you can for your appointment, but keep in mind… different circumstances can call for more extreme measures.
These circumstances can include:
Going undiagnosed for long periods of time can create discouragement, hopelessness, frustration.
Not feeling heard by your doctor despite all of your preparations, or being told it’s ‘all in your head’, ‘you’re fine’, ‘you’re just anxious’
I can give you the road map of how to be prepared, but it’s only helpful if both parties are willing to cooperate, respect one another, and communicate well. If you don’t find you’re making progress even after doing all of the above…
It may be time to consider getting a second opinion 🤍
Remember, you are in control of your health. You are the one who’s needing answers. No one will fight harder for you than yourself. Don’t be shy to ask, to request, to question, to challenge.
I hope this roadmap gives you the confidence you need to look forward to your next appointment!
I find the more prepared I am, the less scanxiety I have, the more calm I am approaching the appt, and I feel more in control over my emotions and feel confident in my purpose. I hope you will too!
Leave me a comment of how it goes, I love hearing from you
Stay fabulous my friends! 🦄🤍
PHEO VS FABULOUS
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