Doctors make me nervous.
I never know when I should visit one. Once I get up the courage to call the doctor and show up for the appointment, I am ushered into a room, poked and prodded while wearing a revealing and unflattering paper gown. After an hour in the waiting room and 15 minutes with the doctor, I leave the office only to realize I didn’t mention the real reason why I made the appointment in the first place.
This does not have to happen to you.
Doctor’s appointments go off track when patients do not come prepared for the appointment. You have to put in a little effort too if you want a correct diagnosis. And please, don’t tell your doctor what Web MD suggests your symptoms mean. You will only impede the process.
First, have a list of all medications you take and your doses. This is essential because certain medications will cause side effects, and that can narrow down the diagnosis quickly. Also, not all medications play nicely. Doctors need to know what you are taking to avoid a toxic medication mix.
Next, make a list of everything you want to talk about. This might sound very Type A to have your symptoms list, but it will help you in the long run. Start making a list as soon as you make the appointment. Unless you visit the doctor regularly, this could be your chance to get medications filled as well as any potential diagnosis.
If you are going for a specific problem, make a list of when your problems started, how often it happens and what bothers you most about it. Don’t trust your memory on this. Creating a timeline will help your doctor really establish what the problem is.
Also note any big changes in diet, exercise or lifestyle change. Your doctor might ask about any significant or tragic change in your personal life that might be causing your problems. Be willing to open up about your physical and emotional health. Those are often intertwined.
Third, make a list of all heredity diseases in your family. Breast cancer and other diseases are much more prevalent if a family member is diagnosed.
And don’t be afraid to tell your doctor what you are worried it might be. If you have sharp stomach pains and a friend told you that you have appendicitis, tell your doctor. If anything, he can calm your fears. Just ask.
Lastly, do not be scared to ask your doctor anything. If privacy is a concern, do not let it be. Doctors are under strict laws to keep all patient information and diagnosis under lock and key. And trust me, doctors have seen and heard it all. You will have to try pretty hard to shock them. And your answer from your doctor will be much more personalized and accurate than a Google search or advice from a friend.
Good luck at your next appointment! Take a detailed history and notes, ask lots of questions and come home happy!