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You have become a powerful, web-savvy woman. You have scoured the Internet for information on your family’s top concerns. You are smart about mom’s diabetes, dad’s high cholesterol, your husband or boyfriend’s allergies, and your daughter’s recurring stomach aches. You have taken some time to look up thyroid issues that you wonder if you have. At some point you will be meeting face-to-face with a doctor. Will you speak up with confidence? Will you start the discussion off on the wrong foot? Will you use what you’ve learned to have a productive discussion with your doctor? Or will you weaken the relationship by being a “troublemaker?”
It’s one thing to get smart about navigating the web for health information. It’s another to use what you learn wisely with your doctor. As you know, some doctors advise you not to go on the Internet at all. They feel what you land on may do more harm than good. But that doesn’t give you credit. There are other doctors who will get “huffy” if you ask probing questions based on significant information you’ve uncovered. They get their back up if they feel they are being second guessed. But I don’t think that’s most docs these days. More and more they are acknowledging that they should “partner” with you, or you with them, and that it is your right to look further for reliable information. These docs are more secure in themselves. But that begs the question of how and when to pose questions to them.
My advice is that you approach a doctor’s appointment like a business meeting. You have two or three key questions and you put them out right at the start of the visit. You don’t yell or demand. You don’t “make the doctor wrong” because they didn’t tell you about an option you uncovered. You work collaboratively, showing them respect for their years of training and their incredibly packed schedule. You invite them to be your consultant, your health advisor, with what you’ve seen on the Internet as material for efficient and effective discussion.
It’s all in how you approach it. Show them respect and expect the same in return. Now, Ms. Web-Savvy, you can feel empowered and be more confident in your discussions with your doctor.