As women, we often put aside our own health concerns to take care of our family. So when we finally go to the doctor, we want quick, accurate answers and we want to feel better. That’s a great goal. But what we don’t always remember is that the doctor cannot do it alone. It’s up to each one of us to make the outcome of every appointment better for ourselves and for the doctor!
Think about it... when you go to the doctor, all he or she has to go on is what you say and what can be observed during the visit. So if you have a fever, it will show up in the office. But if your stomach hurts an hour after you go to bed each night, that won’t be obvious during an office visit. It’s up to you to give the doctor all the information you can to help yourself get the correct diagnosis.
You may also have noticed that the time you get to spend in the doctor’s office is getting shorter and shorter. It’s not your imagination! It’s how our healthcare system works. Doctors can only spend about 15 minutes per patient based on the demands of insurance providers. That makes it even more important to be prepared before you head into the visit. In fact, I like to start my conversation with my doctor before I even get there. Here’s how.
A few days before my appointment, I send over my list of symptoms as well as my questions. That gives the doctor a head-start on figuring out what’s going on with me. If this is a follow-up visit for an ongoing issue, I send a “reminder” of what we discussed last time, including what my symptoms were then, what I was supposed to do, and what effect the treatment had, if any. I also send over my list of medications, including over-the-counter things like pain relievers and vitamins. And I include info on any big changes in my life, like losing a job or changing my diet to Vegan.
I like to send my info in about three business days before I’m scheduled to be in the office. You can send it by fax, email, or “snail-mail” as long as it gets there on time. I also like to call to confirm the appointment and to make sure the doctor received what I sent over. And of course, I put a copy of what I sent over in my medical binder.