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.