Going to the doctors can seem like a big part of your life when you’re dealing with a chronic illness. They can be frequent and incredibly important- read below for our tips on getting the most out of a doctor’s appointment!
1. Don’t wear makeup to your doctor’s appointment
We’ve mentioned this tip before (in an IG post we did a while back) but it still makes our list today – go to a doctor’s appointment with a clean makeup free face. We find that this helps the physician better see you fully as the patient. Makeup might accidentally cover something up that could help your doctor better treat or diagnose you. When we have a bad Lupus or Mast Cell reaction it’s very visible on our faces – we’ll get different types of rashes on our cheeks and neck. It’s hard sometimes to go out without covering up those dark circles (we get those big time) but it’s worth it if it can help your appointment!
2. Write a list
Before each big appointment we always write down a list (usually on our phone) of everything we want to bring up with our doctor or make sure he/she goes over. Doctor’s appointments can sometimes be overwhelming and it’s so easy to forget to bring something up that you were meaning to say. We know first hand how many symptoms you can get from autoimmune diseases and autonomic disorders. It can be hard to remember them all and keep them straight. If something is bugging us we like to make a list on our phone and add to it when we feel something “off” or when something new creeps up. It helps us when our doctor asks us whats been going on to have a list to refer back to.
3. Bring someone with you to your doctor’s appointments
We find having someone with you for a doctor’s appointment extremely helpful not to mention comforting. It’s very rare that we’ll go to a big appointment alone. Like we’ve mentioned, all this stuff can be overwhelming – having someone with you for support and to act as another set of ears is crucial. We usually bring our mom along with us and after seeing the doctor we go over everything that was discussed to make sure we’re all on the same page. It also really helps to have someone else listening along with a different perspective.
4. Wear athletic like clothing to your doctor’s appointment
We like to wear athletic clothing or athleisure wear to our appointments. It helps to have something on that we can easily move around in (if our doctor needs to examine our joints) and something we can easily roll up (legs or arms). Also, it doesn’t hurt to be wearing something more comfortable when you’ve to be sitting in a waiting room for hours or if you have to be sent for more tests!
Bring a list of any recordings you may have to your doctor’s appointment. This is a big one for us and something we highly recommend to anyone new to the chronic illness world or for anyone seeing a new doctor. Writing down a list or a set of recordings can be extremely helpful in identifying a pattern or a problem. We’ve had to track our heart rate/blood pressure at different positions, sleep schedule, weight fluctuations, blood sugar levels, food diary, etc. They’ve all served a very distinctive purpose and helps both patient and doctor to have an accurate account of the issue(s) at hand.
6. Bring something to do at your doctor’s appointment
Waiting rooms can sometimes feel like your second home and for some reason it seems like the better the doctor the longer the wait (anyone else notice that?!). We like to come prepared for the long haul (just in case) so we always bring a book or iPad with us. We find the wifi at certain hospitals isn’t the best so we like to download shows or movies through Netflix so we know we have something to watch if it comes to that. Also, we find it very handy to bring extra snacks and water with you so you don’t dip if the wait is longer than you anticipated.
7. Medical records
Another tip we have, and one we wish we knew earlier on, is to bring your current medical records with you if you’re seeing someone new. Most of the time files can be transferred from office to office but it never hurts to have a hardcopy with you. We’ve been in that situation more than once were files were sent but something was missing and it becomes a long and frustrating process to relocate it – especially when you need it for a specific appointment you’ve been waiting for. We like to come super prepared because mistakes happen!
8. Time slot
After learning this the hard way, we we now highly recommend giving yourself a large time slot on appointment days. Not only do some doctors run extremely late, but many times doctors order labs, tests or x-rays that need to be done straight after. This has happened to us more times than we can keep track of and if you’ve made plans afterwards (like we’ve done in the past), they’re going to get bumped or canceled. We find it easier to let appointment days stay strictly as appointment days in case the unexpected happens (also they’re tiring!).
9. Overall look
One of the hard things about living with a chronic illness is that your symptoms can fluctuate SO much day to day. As weird as it sounds, it’s almost harder when you have an appointment on a day you’re feeling “good” because it’s sometimes harder to communicate or show how bad you may have been feeling the rest of the time. A big thing we’ve learned is to not let your current mood or feeling that day influence your appointment too much. Don’t get us wrong, we’re all for feeling well, but make sure you’re not swayed or clouded by your current situation and that you’re accurately describing your life over a specific time period. Be sure to show the whole picture and not just that one day.
10. Be your own advocate
Our last and probably most important tip is to always be your own advocate. No one knows how you’re feeling better than you do yourself. We’ve found from our own experience that if something feels off or wrong it most likely is. Doctors can be amazing and wonderful but we’ve had some who simply aren’t and who have been extremely wrong. It’s your job as a patient to speak up and ask the questions you want and need answers to. Don’t feel pressure during your doctor’s appointment, say your peace and ask your questions!