How to Visit Your Dr with Confidence, Not Confusion
With our free My Daily Health Tracker, you’ll be on your way to stress-free Doctor visits!
Let’s face it – no one gets excited before visiting their doctor.
Your palms are sweating just thinking about the hassle of making your next appointment….You know you’ll forget all of your questions, the second you walk in the office….The few minutes your Doctor spends in the cold exam room with you is never enough…
It’s all very overwhelming, even for those of us who visit the doctor frequently. So how can you be better prepared during your next visit to the Doc?
Use a Daily Health Tracker
Monitoring your vital signs each day is good practice, but it could also save you valuable time during a Doctor’s appointment. When you visit your Doctor, they take your blood pressure and a few vitals, but the only comparison they have is your other visits’ vitals.
Ever heard of “White Coat Syndrome”? I have Members who swear their blood pressure rises at least ten points more than normal when they’re at the Doctor’s, so their Doc never get an accurate reading.
Taking your own vitals daily can provide you and your Doctor with a better blueprint for your health. Your Doc can monitor changes with more data, helping him or her to better diagnose issues you may have. The Cleveland Clinichttp://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/hic_Vital_Signs recommends monitoring all four key vital signs regularly: blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, and temperature.
Your measurements should be taken in a place you are comfortable and resting, and at the same time every day. Most medical professionals recommend taking your vitals in the morning before you get out of bed, so your body is at rest and not stressed. So you don’t raise your resting rates, place all your materials (including your My Daily Health Tracker, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, and stopwatch) close to your bedside. Be sure to write down your readings as soon as you take them.
Once you have tracked your vitals for a few weeks, bring them to your Doctor to discuss trends and changes. “Normal” or healthy ranges for these vital signs may vary based on a person’s height, weight, age, sex, and health. Of course, these vitals can be effected by your lifestyle and should be monitored for changes.
It’s best to consult with your doctor to determine what your healthy ranges are and to learn if what red-flags to watch out for. Tracking this information regularly can help medical providers track changes in your health.
Be sure to keep this information organized! As a special bonus, we’ve created a My Daily Health Tracker for you.
Write down your questions in advance
Every time I make an appointment to see my Doctor, I think of a dozen questions and issues I want to discuss. The second I walk into that cold waiting room, I go blank. I can barely remember why I made the appointment! As soon as the doctor arrives, I still don’t remember my questions for her. I feel like I’ve wasted her time as well as mine.
That was until my Doctor told me a simple tip: she suggested I make a list of questions I have and issues I’d like to address before I come to the appointment, so we can be sure to stay on track. She said it helps her focus on the issues bothering me, and that it would help quell my fears.
Keep a notepad near your nightstand so if you feel any aches and pains before bed, you can jot them down. Noting the time that symptoms of an illness occur could be useful, as changes in things like weather or hormones throughout the day can affect how you feel.
If you see a commercial for a new medication that treats your illness, write down the name and inquire with your Doc during the next visit. If you’re the type to self-diagnose by heading to the internet for medical answers, do yourself a favor and write down a list of your concerns so your medical professionals can address them.
Or for the ultimate convenience, if you’re a smart phone user, make a note in your phone of your questions. You can also use the space provided in the My Daily Health Tracker to keep note of inquiries for your Doctor and their medical staff.
You can easily bring this list of questions to your appointment, along with your Daily Health Tracker, so your doctor is better equipped for your appointment. Your questions will never go unanswered and you’ll be more satisfied with the visit!
Know Your Medical History
Family medical history is often used as an indicator to predict a person’s likelihood of becoming ill. While not all illnesses are hereditary, some folks may be at a higher risk because of traits passed down from previous generations. Also, your lifestyle can greatly influence your health, so be sure to discuss with your doctor any “bad habits” that could increase your risk.
While great aunts and seconds cousins aren’t related closely enough, immediate family members’ health history can be very helpful for your Doctor to review. And of course, write this information down and bring it to your appointment.
At the very least, become familiar with the medical history of your parents, siblings, and grandparents:
- Is the person living or deceased? If deceased, at one age did they pass away?
- If living, what is their current age?
- Do any of them have a history of cancer, heart disease, genetic diseases, diabetes, or any other grave illnesses?
You actually share more in common – genetically speaking – with your siblings than your parents, so pay special attention to your siblings’ health histories.
It’s also important to know your own medical history.
- Have you had any surgeries?
- Do you have any allergies?
- Are you due for any tests, vaccinations, or regular screenings?
- What issues are you there to discuss?
Again, bringing your family medical history documentation to your appointment, along with your questions and vital signs, will give your doctor the data they need to make more informed diagnoses, and will give you the confidence that all issues are addressed during your appointment.
Now, it may sound silly to recommend you bring items to make yourself comfortable during a Doctor’s appointment. But I know we’ve all spent countless hours waiting for the nurse to call our name to go from the waiting room to the exam room….only to be stuck waiting even longer for the Doctor. (They really should call every room at a Doctor’s office a waiting room!)
All kidding aside, doctors and their staff are very busy. Whether it be your Primary Care Provider or Neurologist, they are all working hard to provide quality care to those and need. It’s easy to become impatient when you’re just sitting there…waiting…and cold…and bored.
So why not bring some items with you to keep you comfy? Bring some socks to keep your feet warm if you’re instructed to disrobe in the exam room. Keep a small crossword puzzle or Sudoku book handy to pass the time. Catch up on read that book you never had time to finish. Or, take up the trend your grandkids love and snap a few “selfies” if you have a smartphone!
You can also take this time to review your My Daily Health Tracker. Jot down any last-minute questions that may have come to mind. Grab a few of the brochures we’ve all seen in the exam rooms; they really do have useful information!
Passing the time by staying busy will relieve some of the stress and nervousness you may feel when waiting for your appointment. Give it a try and see if it helps!
Take Your Time
It’s finally your turn! The nurse has taken your vitals, you are settled into the exam room, and you can hear the doctor’s footsteps coming from down the hall.
And this is when suddenly, you forget the reasons why you have an appointment in the first place!
But you don’t have to worry – you are equipped with your My Daily Health Tracker and have your questions written down. You’re confident this appointment will go well.
Until…the doctor starts to rush you. She has other patients waiting. You begin to wonder which of your questions or concerns you can delay until another appointment.
But this is one of those times when it’s OK To advocate for yourself. To kindly remind the doctor that you still have questions you’d like them to answer. And any good doctor will understand, pause, and take more time with you.
If the doctor absolutely had to leave, ask if there is a nurse or a physician’s assistant who can spend time with you.
If it seems like all doctor appointment time-slots are shrinking, it’s because they are. Doctors have to squeeze in more and more patients each day. But don’t let your health care be sacrificed!
Stay calm, but insist that your doctor take the time you need with you. You deserve it.
Take a deep breath! You are now on your way to a more comfortable, pleasant, worthwhile experience at the Doctor’s.