Once upon a time going to the doctor meant that I just needed to list my symptoms and share how I have tried to treat them. That all changed after becoming chronically ill. Now I have to remind doctors of my conditions, my daily symptoms, how I treat them, question if new symptoms are a product of my current conditions, and speak up when unrelated symptoms are assumed to be connected. Doctor visits drain me both mentally and physically, often to the point of causing me to forget some of the most important questions that I wished to ask.
Prepping my notebook for appointments
To put an end to not addressing my most urgent questions, I began prepping for my appointments. For each visit, I bring along a notebook containing all my “normal” symptoms and list how I treat them. I keep photographs on my phone of all my natural medications so I don’t have to carry all of them with me and can easily show my physician what I am taking. I list new symptoms and how I have attempted to combat them. Then I list questions that I wish to have addressed, like my latest lab results, new therapies, or alternative medicinal options. Then, during the visit, I take notes while my doctor answers my questions or explains what they believe is going on and what their plan is.
My notebook keeps both me and my doctor focused on the purpose of my visit. I may not always receive the answers I am seeking, but at the very least I have made sure I won’t forget to ask. Because doctor’s notes are mostly clinical, my notes help us both understand how my symptoms affect my daily life. My appointments are more productive than before all thanks to my notebook. My primary doctor loves that I prepare in this manner and always makes a point to make sure I have the opportunity to ask all of my questions. How do you prepare for your appointments?