I cannot stress the importance of education before starting a new treatment, a new medication, or having a procedure done. One should always take the time to research on your own, as knowledge is power, and it is necessary to be your own advocate.
Throughout my journey with chronic illness, I cannot believe the amount of people I have seen that go into a situation completely blind. Believe it or not, doctors are human, and they can make mistakes and can give the wrong advice for you, whether it be a new medication (I was told to take a medication, that would give me a high risk of stroke because of a blood clotting disorder, which was completely missed). Yikes!
Anything you are putting into your body, you should have full knowledge about it. You can say no if you don’t think something is right for you.
You should know the side effects of your medications, as well as drug interactions. If there is a procedure that you will be having, learn about how it is done. If you are getting an implanted device, you should know exactly what it is and how it works.
In my experience, I have found it beneficial to get second opinions. Even if you love your doctor, it is always good to have a new set of eyes on your medical history, and how they interpret it. There is nothing wrong with going to see another medical professional to get their input on what they think is right for you.
I have outlined some things you should do to prepare for your first appointment, as well as great tools and recommendations to help you during your appointment.
– Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions! If you are unsure of something, or something isn’t clear, never be afraid to speak up.
– Bring a notepad with you. You may have questions that you already want to ask when you go to your appointment, but as soon as you walk through the door you draw a complete blank. Having questions you want answered in your hands is highly recommended.
– Ask about the medications recommended to you. Find out why, and of course as I mentioned above, learn about what you will be taking.
– Bring someone with you to your appointment if possible. This way, you can have an extra set of ears if you are missing something, and as I have experienced during appointments, I might possibly hold on to one bit of information, and the rest goes through one ear and out the other.
– Find out what your diagnosis is, if they have established it. That way, you can find out as much information as possible on the particular condition.
– Bring a recorder. Ask your doctor if you can record your session.
I should note, after any doctor visit, you should ALWAYS go to medical records, and get a copy of their notes from the appointment. If you are getting blood work done, get copies of your results in your hands. I have had past experiences with doctors being quiet with what they say to you in person, yet if you have the records, you can get a feel of what your doctor is really thinking. Having all this information in your hands gives you the ability to be able to ask specific questions and having a file with all your information is an excellent idea.
Now that your doctor’s appointment is over, you might have to have testing or a procedure done. This can all be scary, and asking the right questions will not only give you information you need, but also put your mind at ease.
– What are the possible risks and complications? What is the most common issue having procedure done?
– Have the doctor go through the procedure with you step by step. Don’t be afraid to ask for details on what is to be done.
– How long will the procedure take?
– What do I need to do to prepare for this procedure? There may be specific things your doctor will want you to wear during your appointment, if they would like you to remove all your jewelry, should you “hold it in” if you have to go to the bathroom. Commonly with many ultrasounds that I have had, they have preferred for me to come in with a full bladder. Your doctor may want you to fast for your testing or procedure.
– What are the benefits of having the testing or procedure done?
– What will the results of the procedure or test tell me? – If there is a device implanted, ask what type of device, and if there has been issues with the particular device in the past.
– If a medical tool is passed along from patient to patient, ask how it is cleaned and cared for. Some procedures, such as endoscopies, can have a risk for infection if the tools are not maintained properly. I would like to include a link with more information about this topic .. http://www.recallcenter.com/endoscope-superbug-infection/
– Ask about other options. If you do not want a test or procedure done, ask what alternative options you may have that might not be as invasive. Ask about the benefits of each option and weigh the pros and cons of each. Ask why they think the route they are taking is the best choice for you. You have now completed your testing or procedure.
There are more questions you should ask your doctor before leaving the office.
– What is the healing time? – If you get a PICC line or any IV device, make sure you feel comfortable with how to use it.
– What are my limitations and for how long?
– Ask what the results and findings were. Once again, obtain your medical records to keep on hand.
– Is there any side effects or complications you should worry about?
– When should you call your doctor if you believe there is a complication or issue? Can there be a worsening of symptoms?
If you believe there is an issue or something is worrying you, contact your doctor as soon as possible, or go to the ER if you believe there is an emergency.
I hope this helps my readers and brings awareness to you all. Please understand the importance of education and research. Be your own advocate! Wishing you all luck at your first appointment, testing, or procedure!