In these days of changing health care, it’s tough to be a patient. It’s also tough to be a doctor. I’ve had the opportunity to be both recently, and trust me: they’re both difficult paths to walk down.
We owe it to ourselves to find out the absolutely best way to keep ourselves healthy, right? Here are some easy steps based on my experience on both sides of the fence.
1. Be up front with your doctor.
Be honest if that pain in your belly has actually been there for much longer than three weeks. It’s OK if you’ve been ignoring it. The important thing is that you’re seeking help now.
2. Bring in as much information as you can.
Your medications, supplements, allergies, family history can all play an important role in what’s bothering you now and what can be done to make you feel better.
3. Keep a health journal for each member of your family.
It’s overwhelming to keep up with everything these days. One thing that helps is to have each member of the family have a color-coded journal with all their information in it. It keeps all the data in one place, and it helps tweak your memory when you’re sick or scared at the doctor’s office.
4. Bring something to pass the time when you visit your doctor.
We promise your health care providers are not in the back room getting a mani-pedi or watching videos. Imagine if the patient ahead of you is just finding out they have cancer. We know you'd want that person to have a little extra time to process it and ask questions. We’ll extend you the same courtesy when it’s your turn, and hope we have better news. This is a great time to catch up on fun reading, balance your checkbook, write notes to friends.
5. Bring water and a snack.
It’s always easier to wait when you’re not thirsty or hungry, don’t you think? A bottle of water and a few apple slices or raisins can keep you from getting too grumpy while you wait.
6. If you're feeling particularly nervous or just want extra support, ask a friend or family member to come along.
They can enter information in your health journal and ask questions that you may forget.
7. Do your homework before you arrive.
It can help you and your doctor piece together the story of your current illness if you take the time to jot down a few notes. When did this problem start? What makes it better? What makes it worse? Have you ever had this problem before?
8. Start off on the right foot.
Give your doctor the benefit of the doubt if you've been kept waiting. Remember that you're both there to connect and work toward health and vibrant living.
9. Set the intention that everyone you meet that day is there to help you.
Whether it is the front desk clerk, the nurse, the doctor or the check-out person, know in your heart that everyone you encounter has the very best goals for your health and well-being. What you focus on grows.
10. Be comfortable with looking elsewhere.
If you and your medical team aren't on the same page, don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion. It’s your right and privilege to feel your very best. Find the team who will help you achieve it.