One of the things that most grown adults are uncomfortable with is their next doctor visit. Are you? Most of my family deplores going to their doctor visits. I used to enjoy them, but not any more. Why? Because for the most part I feel like I’m just there to punch THEIR card, rather than to get good, solid advice on how to improve my health status. That’s what I EXPECT when I go; useful advice. Help. Direction.
Far too often, though, I get whisked through after being given advice to “cut down on sugar, exercise more, stop smoking, don’t drink too much, and come back and see us in a year.” Really, Doc, is that the BEST you can do? I understand that you are busy, the IT software isn’t working as promised, you haven’t had enough coffee today (but not TOO MUCH!), and that I’m just one in a long string of faces who you will see today. But I’m here, now, for MY doctor visit.
Here are a few doctor visit survival tips:
1) shower beforehand. no, really. within an hour of going, if possible.
2) have questions prepared ahead of time. if your employer offers a free health risk assessment (HRA), use it. they often have suggested topics in the results.
3) be honest, be specific. “I drink every day” is different from “I drink a 12-pack every day” and still different from “I have half a glass of wine with dinner every night.”
4) try not to be embarrassed. chances are that if your provider is older than Dougie Howzer, he’s seen and heard just about everything. really.
5) involve your family for the ‘big deal’ appointments. discussing what happened during the doctor visit with someone else who was there can help relieve some stress and anxiety, especially if the news is confusing.
6) if you are given treatment suggestions, ask for more than one option, including “What would happen if I did nothing?” it has been my clinical experience that this throws them off a bit and gets them out of their ‘routine answers.’ Also, that might be the best option! I was in the room when an 80-something year old man was recently diagnosed with early mesothelioma (cancer caused by asbestos). It takes a while to really ramp up, and the treatments are no fun. He said, “Doc, I’m 8(something). I don’t want do treat this.” (props to you, old man).
7) if you have recently changed the type of foods you eat or the level of exercise that you get (more OR less), let your doctor know. it matters. or at least it SHOULD. so much of what goes on in our body is directly related to what goes INTO our body.
8) bring your meds. OTC meds, herbals, and supps that you take on a REGULAR BASIS should be included, too. if you need new meds or adjustments to current meds, these will be very important when determining compatibilities.
9) ask about tests and procedures that may be prudent. is there any prep? should you fast before the blood work? stop taking OTC meds?
10) evaluate your physician. seriously. your doctor should be working for (with) you. if that’s not happening, the doctor visit is the perfect time to evaluate. a co-worker was talking to me today about some recent weight gain that she attributes to a new medicine (amitriptyline). When she asked her doc about it, the doc said, “That is a very rare side effect for that med. Perhaps you should try to cut your calories in half.” WHAT WHAT WHAT???? According to the link above, “•appetite or weight changes” are a COMMON side effect. So I asked my co-worker if the doc ever asked what her current calorie intake was. “Nope.” So I said, “what did you eat yesterday and today?” Come to find out, she had eaten less than 1200 calories both days. SO….doc-mc-know-it-all wants her to eat only SIX HUNDRED CALORIES? I’d fire her in a heartbeat.
I hope that these tips help you during your next doctor visit. Hit me up in the comments if you have more tips to share!