(and not leave feeling frustrated!)
Let’s face it: medical appointments are a necessary evil, and if we’re at all sick a frequent evil that leaves us stressed and annoyed. It’s easy to forget things you wanted to bring up or ask about, and it’s even easier to get flustered and forget what the doctor has told you. So, here’s my techniques for mastering that crazy. Or at least not melting down where anyone can see it.
- Write down the topics you wanted to bring up. It’s so easy to get embarrassed or distracted with small talk and lose track of what you still need to cover. A list helps keep your meeting on topic, to the point, and as short as possible.
- Bring a list of your medications. Seriously. Save some time and head scratching and have a list of any medications, vitamins, or supplements you take. Type it up on the computer, print a copy, and keep it in your purse. Update as needed. It’s a small cost in time that can prevent medication cross overs and side effects and misery. Nobody wants misery.
- Bring a pen and paper to your appointment. Take notes while the doctor is talking, especially if they’re covering something new. This makes it way, way easier to keep from being overwhelmed, and instead you can pinpoint topics they need to cover again or explain more thoroughly.
- Bring a (calm! quiet!) friend or family member with you. You would have to ask in advance so you’re not springing them on the doctor, but if you know you’re getting bad news this is a great idea. It’s doubly hard to focus and take in new information when your mind and emotions are in shock. Your companion needs to be taking notes for you, because you’ll need to know these details later to deal with your diagnosis. I’ll guarantee you won’t remember much of what was said, just how the appointment made you feel and words and ideas that jumped out and scared you.
- Keep a wellness tracker. Keeping daily records of how you’re doing makes it far easier to tell if a medication is working or if you’re improving. It’s hard to see little improvements when you’re just racking your brain to think over what happened this last month. Track mood, anxiety, energy, illnesses, symptoms, and their severity. I do this to make sure that my psych meds are on point and still doing everything they need to.
- Track events too! It sounds silly, but many things can cause health problems that you may not be able to see. Wednesday’s violent gut ache may be precipitated by an innocent cake testing for a friend’s wedding. Your manic, weed-whacking swing may have been precipitated by the stress of traveling for work. Not that this resembles me or anything. Tracking this will let the doctor see patterns you might not turn up.
- If you have an odd health occurrence, note the details, the date, the time, and make sure it makes it onto your list of things to cover. Remembering in the car on the way home that you fainted last month and wanted to ask about it is Too Late.
- BONUS! Keep a food tracker if you’re having gut problems. Food issues are notoriously hard to pin down!
I guess this boils down to ‘Keep Good Records!’ Because our minds are fallible, you know?