It is so easy to say to some one “How are you” and to answer, “Well, How about you?”
This conversational banality does not fare well with doctors or as a patient.
If you don’t feel well and are ill, it is an art to describe your symptoms intelligently. Most of us don’t have experience in this reporting skill. We end up sounding rather vague or worse yet we don’t communicate at all.
Using a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most severe of symptoms, you can get a grasp on your health concerns. Whether it is a cold, aches or pains or a treatment, using this scale is helpful. I learned to effectively use the scale about symptoms and health concerns during my breast cancer treatments.
Being a menopausal woman, and therefore sometimes forgetful, I also recommend writing down your symptoms and concerns, before you see a doctor. Then remember to bring your lists to your appointment after you have prioritized them.
Even if you are not seeing a doctor right now, but have a nagging concern, I recommend keeping a notebook with dates. One of the first question a doctor will ask is “How long have you had these symptoms?” and you want to be able to know the time frame.
I use questions for myself like: Is this symptom interfering with my life? Am I not doing activities or functioning well because of a symptom? Am I self medicating to relieve the symptoms?
Some offices tell you to bring in all the medications you are taking. Why not be proactive and type up the name of the drug, the dosage, whether it is generic or not and the reason you take it. Include all supplements and herbs by brand and dosage. Get the most effective care from your health care provider by being your own health advocate and communicate clearly.