The New England Journal of Medicine reports that 9 out of 10 doctors think that 1 out of 10 doctors is an idiot. — Jay Leno
I don’t know about you, but going to a doctor’s appointment is not my idea of fun. I’d rather clean a stable full of horses that had too much bran added to their feed than go to a doctor’s appointment. I’m talking about specialists or for a check up, here — not about emergencies. If I have an emergency, I’m not stressed because I’m unconscious. I do not recommend unconsciousness for getting through a regular doctor’s appointment, however.
When you make an appointment weeks or months in advance, you have enough time to get stressed about what the doctor will say about your health. Here are some tips on how to make your doctor’s appointments less stressful.
Before The Appointment
Make the most of your brief time with the doctor by writing down all of the questions you have and taking that list with you to the appointment. If you’re like me, you will feel too stressed by the journey, the wait and the smell of a doctor’s office to be able to think calmly and rationally. So, I write down the questions before the appointment at a time when I’m more relaxed and rational.
Also, depending on how much time you have before the appointment, find out if anyone in your immediate family has experienced the same medical problem you are currently experiencing. This is stuff the doctor will need to know, and will most likely ask you during the appointment, anyway. This can help make you feel more in charge of your condition and feel less hopeless.
You also need to bring a list of all of the current medications (even over the counter meds), alternative treatments or vitamins or herbal supplements you are taking. The doctor will need to know all this in order to help you more quickly. These lists can help make your doctor’s appointments less stressful because you are acting as a helper to your doctor, not just expecting the doctor to do everything.
Expect To Wait
Due to the nature of their work, it is an extremely rare event to see a doctor at the time your appointment is. Expect to have to wait a while ‘” like about four hours, at least. This is because people tend not to get injured or suffer sudden illnesses on schedule. Your doctor will drop appointments to take care of someone with an emergency health problem.
So, take a book, a bottle or water, comfortable shoes, a pillow ‘” and settle in for the long haul. If you go into the appointment expecting to wait, then you will be less upset and disappointed if you are told you have to wait. During the wait, you can also play some mind games in the waiting room, such as guessing what disease each person has or is likely to get in the near future. That will at least take your mind off of your own medical problems.
Don’t Take Doctors’ Attitudes Personally
According to a 2008 survey, most doctors feel overworked. Doctors might seem to be rushing you through your visit without meaning to be disrespectful. Some doctors find that in order not to feel overwhelmed from their patient’s pain, they try not to learn their names and refer to them as “the migraine” or “the dislocated shoulder that never healed”. Again, this is not meant to be disrespectful to you. This is their way of doing their job the most efficient way they can.
If you think the doctor is not going to be able to help you, ask them point blank “Do you believe me?” or “Have you ever dealt with anything like this before?” Your health is too important to try and be polite. Except for the bill, you don’t owe a doctor anything else like loyalty or treat him or her as medically infallible. If you and your doctor just aren’t getting anywhere, your doctor is obliged to help you look for another doctor.
All About Seniors. “Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Visit.” Robin Hudson, RN & Kellie Visker Gonyar, MN.
Reuters. “Many doctors plan to quit or cut back: survey.” Maggie Fox. November 18, 2008.
Author’s personal experience.