Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Visit
In the past, I have written extensively about the kinds of things patients want from their clinicians – and what should be their basic rights. I believe that it is paramount to be familiar with these in order to even BEGIN to have a positive working relationship. A clinician who does not respect our voice as a patient, or who dismisses our concerns or our initiatives, is not someone we can run a marathon with, for the long haul. Certainly, not someone who can emotionally support us through the ups and downs of the chronic illness.
This all being said, as patients, we have a responsibility to listen to and consider the medical opinions of our team, and an obligation to implement them responsibly and consistently.
There will be times when we feel unsure about our medical regimen, whether it’s something in our diet, or our medications, or perhaps a new symptom. It can be awkward getting into a short, 15 minute appointment, and getting our words across and in the most effect way.
Here are some things to consider:
Keep a list of your current health conditions, medications and dosages, which you take for each of them. Also, keep a list of the labs which you may have taken, and how recently. If you have taken these tests through a different facility, perhaps consider having copies with you – or the name of the facility through which you had them, so your current clinician’s office may access them.
Keep a journal
Whether you are starting a new diet, or a new medication, keeping a journal of what you ate, or when you took your medicines – as well as your feelings, symptoms, and when those began, will be an effective tool in tracing back the origins of any new developments. Doctors will always want to know when symptoms began, or how and when were you taking your medications – or if with food. It’s hard to remember these things months after the fact, so keeping a journal is helpful. If you are female of reproductive age, consider also keeping track of the first day of your last period.
Be detailed and to the point
If you have been on a certain routine for a while, and want to change it – make an itemized list of what you want to change and WHY you want to change those things, and be specific and realistic. It’s not just a matter of whether the clinician can change something for you, but also whether or not you’ll be good in following through with the change, or with any further testing or medications required for the changes.
Take your medications as directed
Some medications have certain side effects which are to be expected, and usually subside, or may be manageable by taking them with food, or on an empty stomach. Familiarize yourself with the indications for your medications, ask your pharmacist any questions, and please – do not stop taking any medications before first consulting with your doctor’s office. Many offices have nursing staff after hours, with which you may leave a message, or you may even call your pharmacist.
Give your medications/regimen time to work
Your blood glucose problems didn’t begin overnight – and often some medications require time to work in the system. If your blood glucose is not lowered right away, take heart. Some medications require 3-4 weeks to show improvements. Keep doing your best with lifestyle changes, and taking your medications as directed. Your clinician cannot treat you, or choose a better course of action, if you are not patient with your current treatment.
At the clinician’s office…be patient.
Clinicians nowadays see so many people, and spend so little time with them. They will ask you a lot of questions in order to not presume anything about your level of diabetes management and understanding. If you are considering trying something new, please present to them your best reasoning for that. Be prepared to respectfully listen to their concerns, or objections, if they have any – and provide any reasonable refutations if you have them. Remember, that the internet is FULL of information suggesting how we should manage our health, but much of that information is NOT medical advice, and might even be detrimental to our health. With a little planning, and patience, we can work together with our clinicians as a team of people, ready to make goals happen.