This morning I sit here with my coffee, on my spot, still half asleep, contemplating finally getting a move on preparing for my first appointment with a new specialist. That is, in between rushed trips to the can ever 5 minutes. I think my bowels know whats up, or going down, or being spun around. I’m only guessing, but there must be some brain to intestine communication going on that makes them know they’re in for it one we meet this guy. I should feel blessed though that they didn’t start the poop party early. There’s no way pinata but would have been tolerated while out in the boonies with no working toilet (more on that later once I process the weekend).
I know what I have to do, I just don’t want to do it. It’s so repetitive and unfortunately with my brain fog and intense lack of interest in counting off every single symptom, medication, diagnosis, test result…. I always end up skipping over parts or missing important things completely.
Intake appointments are all the same. The only way to make it through them with brain partially in tact and the doctor winding up with at least most of the right information is to prepare.
Not only is it advisable to have lists of all your medications, symptoms (even the ones you might not think have to do with the specialist you are seeing at the time), diagnosis, other doctors you are seeing, lab results, medical history, family medical history and pretty much a whole detailed life story but you should get together a list of questions and concerns to ask your doctor.
They are there to be helping you.
Earlier in life I didn’t really bother with this step. I answered the questions my doctors had, I took the tests, I followed instructions to a T and when asked if I had any questions I usually just shrugged and answered a quiet no. I assumed they knew best, that I knew nothing and that my input really didn’t matter much because, hey, I’m not a doctor.
While that may be true, I know my body better than any one no matter how many tests they run. I’ll be damned if I don’t get all the information I can including understanding where my doctor is coming from and what they plan on doing. I am no longer an idle patient that patiently waits to be told what to do.
Intake appointments are definitely necessary for a doctor to get to know your medical case, of course but they are also an opportunity for you to get to know your doctor and to understand how they might be able to help you. Like a job interview if you will.
Ask them how long they have been practicing. How long in that particular field. If they specialize in any smaller avenue in the field. Do they have any published papers on the subjects.
Ask them (after you’ve given all your information) if they have any educated hypothesis on what might be going on in your messed up body or brain. It doesn’t hurt to see if they have a hunch.
Ask them what is the plan moving forward. No, not just the immediate blood test or wait and see. If you’ve gotten a diagnosis already, ask about possible long term options. OPTIONS being the key word, don’t let them force you into their one chosen treatment plan. Expect to be told what different treatment options are out there and hope that they aren’t just a ‘one road to take’ kind of doc.
Ask them their opinion on alternative medicine, diet and physical therapy. I have found that doctors that are willing to work not only with their pharmaceuticals and laboratory tests but with other therapies have a more open mind to health and wellness and just overall care more about quality of life of their patient (not just filling out their prescription pad and getting a fat commission bonus).
Ask them what YOU should be doing. Apart from just taking your meds and keeping track of your symptoms. Is there any at home lifestyle changes you can make to help. Should you be tracking more than just your aches and pains. Are you able to keep up with your daily activities or should there be things you avoid. If you do something out of the ordinary (like 4 day fasting, or weekend mountain climbing, or giant orgy parties….yea like anything really out of the ordinary your doctor may not think to ask you about) make sure to mention it and ask if it’s still safe.
They should know or at least have an opinion on all these things and more. It’s their job to make you feel comfortable with the treatment plan and their part in your health. If not? Go fishing. Seriously. I think a lot of us that have been sick for a while have learned not to stick with doctors we don’t trust. It ends badly and it can waste months of precious time not being treated well when we could have been searching for the right doctor.
They really are all the same in the beginning, its just important to remember that while your doctor may have a questionnaire ready for you to fill out and a bunch of questions they need you to answer. You deserve to have your questions answered, your fears put to rest and to gain confidence that your new specialist is on your side and interested in your future health.