Tips For A Successful Doctor’s Appointment

doctor-cartoon-characterCommunication is the key to a successful appointment. Have you ever been frustrated when the doctor leaves the room because you forgot to give him or her some important information? Do you think of questions you regret not asking—leaving your doctor’s office dissatisfy?

Your relationship with your doctor should be a partnership. The better you are able to communicate your needs and understand your options, the more productive your appointment will be and the more likely you are to get the necessary treatment. The time you have with your doctor is brief—if you’re lucky you get fifteen to thirty minutes.

Preparation will help you make the most of your appointment—and that anxious moment in the exam room as you wait for the doctor to arrive is not the best time to begin preparing for your visit. I’ve listed some steps I like to take before seeing the doctor.

1)  Write down all your symptoms, noting when they started and whether they get worse at certain times of day or in certain situations. The more accurately and completely you can describe your symptoms, the more likely it is that your doctor can identify your health problem and prescribe an effective course of treatment.

2)  Research your symptoms. The more you learn about the possible causes of your symptoms—and what your treatment options may be—the better equipped you’ll be to discuss your care with your doctor and understand his or her instructions.

3) Write a brief outline of your medical history, and list all medications you’re currently taking. Always keep a copy of the history and medication list to use at future doctor appointments.

4)  Learn all you can about the procedure. If you’re likely to need a medical procedure—whether surgery or a diagnostic test, such as a colonoscopy or mammogram—before your visit learn all you can so you’ll understand your options and be able to discuss them intelligently.

5) Make a list of questions to ask. When the doctor sees you have a list, he or she realizes you’re prepared and will want to make sure they have covered everything on your list before leaving the room.

When you go to your doctor’s appointment equipped with the above information, I’ve found it’s easier to lead the conversation and get the most out of the visit. The best part—the doctor will appreciate you coming prepared.

Slow and Steady

Everything I do, I try to do it quickly. Sometimes, I don’t even take time to think about what I’m doing —I’m too focused on just getting it done. Every task takes longer than I think it should. I’m not a good judge of time, and I frequently try to cram too much into the time I have. Consequently, I’m often late, resulting in a constant state of guilt and pressure.

During the summer and fall months, I enjoy bike rides with a great neighbor and friend, Michelle Bonner, who is several years younger than I, and in perfect shape. I’m sure I have to work twice as hard as she does just to keep up. On rare occasions when I’m in the lead, we end up in crazy places. Last year I accidentally lead us onto a golf course. Michelle reluctantly followed, hollering, “I think we‘re on a golf course.”

I looked around and thought, maybe she’s right, but it’s early in the morning, with no golfers in sight.

As you might guess, I have never golfed or been on a golf course—all I saw was acres of beauty with a paved trail. I was impressed and wanted to see more! Besides golfing seems like such a laid-back activity, and I mistakenly thought, no golfer would be out this early, and kept peddling forward as fast as I could.

It was the perfect bike ride until we were stopped and escorted out by “Security” in a golf cart.  Boy, did I feel foolish, and really appreciated my true friend sticking by me throughout this comical adventure.

Often when we’re peddling our hearts out, going up hills, Michelle says, “Slow and steady wins the race.” I guess I looked surprised the first time she said it because, she quickly referenced her comment to the Tortoise and the Hare story. My first thought was, if I’m one and she’s the other, I must be slow because I know she’s steady. She actually takes time to read signs and stays oriented to where we are. I’m too busy peddling as fast and hard as I can. I would literally be lost without her, only to be found in those “no trespassing” zones.

Michelle & I Bridge

Often I feel like the mouse in a maze, frantically darting about, trying to get to the chunk of cheese. Rushing to and fro only to hit a wall, spin around and try a different path. Hoping, eventually, I’ll find the way. The words, “slow and steady wins the race” come to mind. I don’t want to be slow—but I do want to be steady. I’m learning in order to be steady, I need to slow down enough to plan and think about what I’m doing so I can win the race. It’s important to use my brain and not just my feet to steer my direction.

My motto for 2014 is “Slow and steady wins the race.”