In Part 1: 10 ways to Survive a Doctors Appointment (tips 1-5)
I talked about the basics of surviving a Doctor’s appointment without needing therapy afterwards.
Here are the rest of the best tips I’ve found for getting the most from your appointment!
6) Get Physical
Doctors appointments aren’t just mentally exhausting; they are physically tough on us too!
*Bring a bottle of water, Gatorade or Pedialyte if you aren’t eating sugar (talking can dehydrate us quickly; something to drink is a life saver!)
*Bring Sunglasses for glaring overhead lights / ask the Nurse to dim lights in the exam room
*Bring ear plugs for the car ride if noise is hard on you
*Bring a sweatshirt or jacket if you get cold easily
*Pack a snack (It sounds funny to pack food but an appointment can take a lot longer than expected and the pure effort of the appointment can make your blood sugar dip. A small bag of anything on your diet plan is at the very least, something soothing to stress eat on the way home!)
7) Long Wait-ing Room
The waiting room can be the worst part for me; your mind races, it feels like an awful waste of time and it’s a germ nightmare! You couldn’t pay me to touch the germy magazines, so I doodle all over the notebook I brought. It’s the perfect mindless distraction. (I know it sounds silly but don’t mock me until you try it! Then you can openly mock me.) If brain fog isn’t an issue for you bring a book to read or headphones for music, any distraction is helpful. And consider sitting as far away from other patients as you can to limit the germ risk.
8) A Train of Thought Ran me Over!
“What’s the worst that can happen?” This may seem like a funny question to keep asking yourself before the appointment but it serves you in two ways. First: we rarely force ourselves to go all the way to the end of that train of thought (mostly because we fear the train will run us over!) So instead we just worry without realizing some of it is irrational. Second: it helps us decide what we’re willing to accept from a Doctor and what we aren’t.
If your worry is what if the Dr doesn’t believe I’m sick (then what?) I’ll find a new Dr.
If the Dr no longer will give me the pain meds or letters for insurance I need (then what will I do?) When you rely on a Dr for important things like that it can feel like they have all the control. But the truth is, if you take the train of thought all the way to the last stop, you will realize the worst that can happen is you need to find a new Doctor.
9) Who’s the Boss? (not the sitcom)
You are in charge! You get to decide what you want to do and what you don’t. Relying on a Dr for meds (etc) doesn’t mean you aren’t in charge of what you are willing to do. It’s so easy to forget that. It’s also easy to feel pressured on the spot to agree to whatever your Drs kick of the moment might be.
So now I have a rule: when I see a Dr they can say whatever they want, they can hand me the pile of scripts they want me to try but I truly agree to nothing. I go home, let my brain chill out and then decide what I will do. If you go with family you can often feel pressure to do whatever the Dr said, so making this a flat out rule you discuss ahead of time will alleviate a lot of your stress.
10) Dr. God (Not!)
We don’t pray to Doctors! If you’ve been sick awhile you already know this. But if you are new to the illness game, you will quickly learn – Doctors are not Gods! They aren’t perfect so always listen to your own gut (not the part that can’t digest anything but the intuition gut). Chroncially ill patients have this amazing intuition about what is the right thing to do for their own body. Listening to that rarely steers you wrong!
Doctors don’t know it all! But many are happy to read any information you bring them as long as you don’t act like they are stupid not to know it. Be nice when you hand it to them, even say “I’m sure you know all about this but I wondered what you thought?”
If all your efforts don’t work out, move on and find a new Doctor that will give you the help you deserve!
Bonus Tip: Taking Names
Making friends with one of the nurses at the office can be a life saver! If you meet someone at the office that’s nice to you, jot their name down on your notepad so when you need to call the office and ask for something, you know who to ask for. A great nurse can get a lot done (and fast!)