BY MADISON SKAKLE
“Help me, help you.” This famous line from the movie “Jerry Maguire” also applies to doctor/patient relationships. Here are several tips to consider before going to your next doctor’s appointment that will help ensure you have a successful visit with your health questions answered.
- Come prepared with notes. I used to tell myself before my appointment, “I’ll remember this, so I don’t need to write it down.” Trust me; you are likely to forget once you’re in the appointment and chatting with your doctor. Doctors only have a few minutes of their day and coming prepared to the appointment will help them out tremendously. Additionally, you will make sure that you didn’t forget that symptom from a couple of weeks ago or the time of your last menstrual cycle. Tell your doctor everything such as, are you taking laxatives? How often do you exercise? Are you using a sleep aid? Have you been feeling tired lately? We’re human and have a lot to keep up with in our lives, so write it down!
- Know your medications. This may seem obvious but make sure you know what medicines, supplements, and vitamins you’re taking. Certain medications have side effects that should be noted by your doctor, and certain medications do not mix well together. The more you tell your doctor, the better.
- Prepare to be 100% honest with your doctor. In your appointment, you may be nervous or suffer from “white coat syndrome” and feel pressured to hold back some of what is really happening with your health. Before you head into your doctor’s appointment, take a deep breath and prepare to be 100% honest. Doctors are not there to judge you or make you feel bad for your decisions; doctors are there to help you be your healthiest self.
- Make sure you set your schedule on the day of your appointment to arrive 10-15 minutes early. If you’re running late to your appointment, call and let the office know. Doctors have their days planned, and if one patient runs late, it could set the rest of the patients to have later appointments, too. Be respectful of their time, and they will respect your time.
- Be your own health advocate. Keep up with and track your diagnoses, and know that it’s not your doctor’s job to remember everything about your history, especially if you don’t tell them everything and share your records. Be an excellent historian by keeping track of what happened in your appointments, what you noticed between appointments, and what questions you have.
- Don’t be afraid to ask “dumb questions” because there is no such thing as a dumb question. Ask as many questions as you can during your appointment. Remember that your doctor wants you to be well and wants to answer any questions that he/he can during the appointment. That’s what she is there for! And keep in mind that your question has probably already been asked by someone before anyway, so don’t be embarrassed.
- Be open to healthy lifestyle changes. Your doctor may suggest some changes to your life, such as suggesting you exercise more, eat less sugar, drink more water, and eliminate alcohol. This can be hard to hear, but keep in mind that your doctor isn’t telling you this to call you out. Instead, she is offering a solution to make you feel better and keep your health a high priority.
Remember to ask questions, come prepared and keep track of your health. If you do those things, your next doctor’s appointment will go smoothly, and you’ll leave with a plan for a healthier you.