Seeing a new Doctor, Specialist or Clinician can be a huge source of stress. It's often after an agonising wait, both for the appointment and in the waiting room (the good doctors always run late). I start with a combination of hope & fear, will they be able to help me? Will they be a good doctor? Will they listen to me? Even going to a follow up with your usual doctor can be emotionally draining.
It feels similar to a job interview, except it’s your health and wellness on the line. You are expected to open up to a stranger, trying to give an often complex medical history in the space of minutes. Most health professionals aim for privacy and dignity for their patients, but no matter how they phrase it, it's still invasive discussing your bowel movements, urine schedule & sex life!
Sometimes they ask loads of questions which I don’t always like as I feel I miss out on information or it makes my ‘timeline’ feel confusing. Or other times they sit in silence and you don’t know whether they want more or less information! Some of my symptoms can be so strange I forget what is normal or I start to become too creative in my metaphorical descriptions of my pain!
So before a new or 'big' appointment I do the following things:
1. Plan - especially if it's a new hospital, it can be so hard to find where you need to be. I also make a list of everything I need to take e.g. urine sample, referral letter etc.
2. Medication List - make sure it is up to date and I include all my doses too & what time I take them.
3. Photocopy any latest important letters - I know most are meant to be sent between professionals, but I find they very rarely have them/can find them so I ensure I take some to save time. Also if you are like me, my medical file is SO heavy I can't carry it anymore, so I just pick out a 'highlight reel' of latest letters and results.
4. Update my health summary - including my relevant past medical history and current symptoms etc.
5. Write my list of questions - This helps me make sure I get everything I want to out of the appointment.