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Preparing for a Doctor's Appointment

Posted Oct 02 2008 4:19pm
I find it very important to prepare for a doctor's appointment since it can be easy to become overwhelmed or feel rushed once in the exam room with a physician. I have begun to write questions or concerns down in a page set aside in a notebook that I always carry with me so that when I think of something I can write it down immediately. This has been very helpful for me to make sure that I ask all of the questions that I have thought of since the last appointment.

I also keep track in calendar of things such as medications taken, especially when it's a medication that the dosage needs to be changed at different intervals. For example, at one point my doctor prescribed prednisone to help manage a flare. He said to take 2 pills for 2 weeks and then take 1 pill for 1 week and to call him to let him know how things were going. It was helpful for me to write down in my calendar how much prednisone I had taken each day for me keep track of how many days it had been and to know exactly when I needed to call him.

I had an appointment with my doctor just last week. I had kept a log of my pain patterns, where I had been having pain, what helped it, what aggravated it, the intensity and quality of the pain. By quality of pain I mean things like a sharp pain, or a dull pain, a constant pain or pain with certain movement or at certain times of the day. I had also written down other symptoms that I had noticed, questions that I had regarding lab work, questions about other treatments I had read about or heard about. Needless to say I had quite a list of items to discuss with my doctor.

I truly feel more empowered when I am prepared for an appointment like this. It also gives me a place to write down the answers to my questions so that I won't forget after I leave or have to call later to verify information such as dosage of a medication, how often I should go to the lab or any other information like that.

I also find it helpful to bring my husband with me. Sometimes he hears things differently than I do, he has the opportunity to ask questions as well, he can answer some questions also if I'm not sure. For example, he can also tell the doctor about a particular pain or concern especially if I'm minimizing it. I rarely exaggerate to a doctor, I sometimes minimize, mainly because I'm trying to convince myself of something not being as bad or serious. Like earlier this month when I had pneumonia, I had a fever of at least 103 degrees and I kept saying that it must be because I was wearing layers. No, not really I had a high fever, I just didn't want to have to go to the doctor.

What other ways might be helpful in preparing for a doctor's appointments? Are there any systems or processes that you've put in place that are helpful?
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