In the next month, I am meeting a new endocrinologist, a new neurologist, and a new physiotherapist.
Meeting new doctors and health care workers can be a scary thing. It’s one thing that definitely makes me feel quite anxious and nervous.
Part of that is the power dynamics between health care providers and patients. Doctors have traditionally been the holders of the information. They also are the ones that sign off on important things like treatment plans, and disability claim papers.
If a doctor says no, then you might be out of luck. If they disagree with your assessment of the situation, then you are back to square one. If they don’t help you move towards positive improvement, then you are stuck.
However, if a doctor listens, supports, and agrees to help you (in an appropriate way), then you can move forward. And that feels great.
The problem is that, in my experience, not all health care providers, are kind and help you move forward in a positive direction (see Neurological Nightmare: Part 3 ).
Now, I recognise that there are a wide variety of reasons why an appointment might go sideways: a doctor might just have poor communication skills, a patient might have poor communication skills, the appointment might be rushed, the doctor might be stressed, they might not be very knowledgeable in the issue at hand, personality clashes, the patient has withheld information, etc.
At the end of the day, there is a lot riding on an appointment and it can be difficult, as a patient, to convey all of your symptoms and experiences accurately to a doctor. Then, to get the doctor to understand, diagnosis, and create a treatment plan, and to translate that back to the patient with no communication errors is asking a lot in a short time frame.
So you can understand why I get anxious about meeting new doctors, when I don’t know what to expect with them.
Doctors that I have met, and have a relationship with, I know that we can get both our jobs done and communicate effectively during the appointment. I do not know that this new doctor and I can do this.
One way that I try and cope with appointments, and my anxiety around them, is to write down anything I want to talk to the doctor about beforehand.
I have a small notepad that I carry in my handbag with me. It has all my notes from my appointments. I carry it with me so that if I end up in hospital, I can bring it out and share it with my doctors and nurses there.
I write down any troubling symptoms and I try to write down any key questions and points that I want to bring up with the doctor. Then, during my appointment, I use it to write down what the doctor has said, so that I don’t forget it later (as I’m bound to do!).
I’ve found this helps a lot with brain fog, because I don’t have to worry about remembering anything, and having everything in one notepad has been helpful as I can go back and answer questions too about past events and appointments because it’s all recorded there.
Having an advocate with you at an appointment also helps a lot. My (ever supportive) husband often comes with me to appointments. He has promised that he will come with me to my upcoming consultant appointments, and I appreciate the support and advocacy that his presence will bring.
An advocate can help you remember things, helps ensure that you’ve communicated clearly to the doctor, can help you understand any instructions, ask questions for you, and provide general emotional support.
Hopefully my handy notepad and the calming support of my husband will help my upcoming appointments go smoothly!