Tips on How to go to the Doctor Part 2

This is a follow up. Anyways. Here’s part 1. This list is a little more in depth and possibly for people who go to the doctor more often and (probably) take more medicines than ‘normal’ or ‘average’. This list also covers points that I can almost guarantee will make your appointments less stressful.

11. When calling your doctor’s office: If you are making a new appointment, say something like this: “Hi, I am an existing patient and I would like to make an appointment.” If you have a question: “I am an existing patient and have a question (blah blah blah). Same goes for new doctors/being a new patient. “I would like to make a new patient appointment.” If you have a specific doctor in mind or see a doctor in a large practice, mention/ask for that doctor.

12. Keep a neat list of all of your medicines. By neat I mean everything is spelled correctly and it’s legible. It’s best if you can type and print out the list, but if that’s not an option, then hand write it. This includes everything you swallow, apply, and sometimes use. I would suggest a total of three to four lists.

  • prescription medicines you take daily – maintenance medicines
  • over the counter (OTC) medicines/supplements you take daily – again, maintenance
  • medicines you take/use as needed – this may or may not also need to be split into OTC and prescription

13. Keep a record of all your allergies. Drug, food, chemical, etc. Tell your doctor all of them. Let your pharmacy know. Artificial colors are especially tricksie hobbitses.

14. Keep a record of your health history. This is where comorbidity comes into play. People are kind of like soup. When you have different health problems then medicines might not work as the doctor expects. The more ingredients, the more complicated the soup’s flavor. Make this list as extensive as you need it to be. It’s also to help you remember. This sort of leads into number 15.

15. Keep a list of your doctors. This is probably more useful for your own sanity. My own list is doctor’s name, type of doctor, practice name (if relevant) and office phone number. I give the list with new patient paperwork but otherwise it helps me out.

16. You are allowed to ask questions. Ask questions. Keep your questions relevant to the appointment.  If you are seeing a doctor for specific acute symptoms, try to limit your conversation to just those problems/symptoms. For example, if you (think you) have a sinus infection, your sore elbow isn’t relevant.  This leads us to number 17.

17. If necessary have a list of questions or points you want to make sure are covered during the appointment. This helps you remember and could also help your anxiety. Make sure your questions are to the point. This is easier to say than it is to actually do, believe me, I know! Sometimes I give the tech./assistant/nurse the list of my questions and sometimes I keep it to refer to once the doctor shows up. It depends on the doctor and my comfort level.

18. Politely ask someone at the doctor’s office to make a copy of your information and ask to keep your original. They won’t have a problem. Printer ink is expensive!

19. Expect to review your current medications at every appointment. If you are not prompted for the information, then report all changes in your medication.

19. Remember that your doctors are a team and you are part of that team. Teams work best when everyone is working together towards the same common goal.

20. Optional: Have a copy of your latest lab results. You never know when you might want to refer to them. It also helps to know how long it’s been since the last time you had blood work.

21. It’s ok to be nervous and also remember doctors are people too. But get help if your fear or anxiety is interfering with your life and or your ability to go to the doctor. I used to get panic attacks driving to doctor appointments.  But now, for the most part, new patient appointments are a lot like the first day of school. I went through 18 years of school and every single semester I still had first day of school jitters up to my last semester of grad. school. It’s also okay to be afraid –like if you’ve had bad experiences with doctors but your fear shouldn’t be incapacitating. Maybe ask a friend or family member to go with you to the appointment, especially for new doctors.) Personally, I’m afraid of any new ER because of a horrible experience I had at an ER a few years ago. This trauma still affects me and makes me nervous at any ER visit. Also, I know multiple people who have PTSD because of experiences with medical professionals. If you cannot develop a relationship of trust with any doctor, it’s okay to let that doctor go but, remember, get help for your anxiety and fear if it’s interfering with your ability to even make appointments to go to the doctor.

If you apply any of these points to your doctor appointments then your appointments should be less stressful and less traumatic. Doing these things should help you to feel more in control at your doctor appointments and this helps anxiety.

Chronically sick and grieving

Apparently, I’ve been grieving for awhile. I didn’t get the memo.

Grief can occur in many different situations. It’s not something that happens only when you lose someone whether it be death or the end of a relationship.  Grief also occurs when being diagnosed with a life changing disease, the death of a pet, the loss of a job. A lot of people probably understand grief as something that occurs in stages. Culture is full of such references. Those five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. However, there is also thinking that grief does not occur in stages but rather in a cycle.  Here’s a great explanation of grief with possible causes, the stages, and how it can also be described as a roller coaster. I like the roller coaster idea better than a cycle. Regardless of which you prefer, I like “cycle” or “roller coaster” better because they are more fluid and have more motion than what you get from the word “stage”.

Where am I going with all this? Because of the counseling I’ve been doing for the last few months, I’ve realized I have a lot of grief in my life. I’ve lost access to foods, social events, hobbies and other fun activities, as well as easily completely tasks or chores because of my health. There’s a list of things I can no longer do because of all of my different health problems. I don’t want to go into listing all of them here. There’s also a list of things I’m grasping onto because I don’t want to lose them – like reading books regularly. My cognitive problems make reading harder than it used to be. One such example would be learning – the “hard way” – that I cannot complete light yard work without having something to protect myself from dust, pollen, irritants beyond antihistamines. This is on top of the restrictions I already need to deal with like not being able to work outside when it’s warm.

This realization that I’ve been grieving over the things I’ve lost in my life makes me think I’ve been self-absorbed these past few months. I understand, at least on a logical level, that this is because I’ve been doing a lot of internal processing. That kind of thing takes time and energy. Especially since I’ve been sick on top of my regular chronic sick life. I’m writing this on my fourth day of taking 50 mg of benadryl every 6 hours. (That includes setting alarms the last two nights to continue at the 6 hour intervals.

I don’t know how to cope with this realization that grief has invaded my life other than thinking I need to do something more than what I’m already doing. I knit almost daily and that helps me. At this point I think knitting is a form of meditation that works for me. To add something else for coping and processing makes me think that writing will help. I enjoy the act of writing. I liked writing papers in school, even though I hated starting writing said papers. This blog seems like a great way to start but I’m not sure of the details yet. I’d like to post about things beyond my health, emotions, or random crap. More book reviews perhaps? Writing prompts? I don’t know.

So far, I only know this. I feel like I’ve lost control of my overall life and that this is causing me to feel grief, anxiety, anger, and fear. This emotional stress is also hurting my physical health. I need to do something about it.