Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Listen Up, Doc - Tip #2

Take Someone Along with You

When you’re really sick, maintaining an animated discussion at the doctor's office, full of provoking questions and answers can seem like an impossible task. If you feel as though this inability is lessening the effectiveness of your appointments, consider taking someone in with you. It’s important that you choose your companion carefully, as you don’t want to feel inhibited by their presence, nor do you want them to be unnerved by the detailed discussions that might occur. Once you have the right person by your side, however, you’ll be reassured to know that someone else is there to listen, interpret and, if you choose, speak on your behalf.

From time to time, I’ve asked my husband or sister to accompany me to my appointments, and when that happens, Dr. R knows that something is amiss. He’s even joked that when I walk in the door with a companion, he knows he’s “in trouble”. Granted, I tend to bring in my back-up troops when I feel I’m not getting through to him or when I’ve been sick for weeks without explanation, but the presence of a third-party seems to be just the stimulus we both need to renew a direct and effective line of communication.

I had a chance to sit in on a doctor’s appointment that wasn’t my own, when I accompanied my sister to a doctor’s visit about which she was particularly nervous. We discussed some of the questions she planned to ask on the way to the appointment, and like a good, prepared patient, she’d brought a list of things she wanted to mention to the doctor. Several minutes into the appointment, though, I could tell that her brain was beginning to overload with all of the information discussed, just as mine would and usually does during my own appointments. Just as she’d done for me dozens of times in the past, I jumped in and asked a few questions myself, relieving her of the pressure and/or confusion one feels when the issue of your own health is being discussed. On our drive home, I helped her recap the discussion that had taken place, remembering a few details that she had forgotten. It became apparent how much I must have needed her help during my sickest visits to the doctor.

And here's another rather amusing, but true, example of how beneficial it can be to have a second set of ears present during a doctor’s visit: During a recent check-up, a friend of a friend complained to his doctor of digestive trouble. The doctor recommended he make a certain addition to his diet, to which he adhered for the next six weeks. He went back for a follow-up appointment, this time accompanied by his wife. Having stayed apprised of her husband’s dietary changes, she immediately asked the doctor how much longer her husband needed to eat the eight plums a day he had prescribed. “Eight plums!”, the doctor exclaimed. "I never said anything about eating eight plums." My friend replied, "The last time I was in, I told you I was having trouble with constipation, and you said, 'Why don't you try eight plums a day'". The doctor just shook his head. “I said a plum a day!” Who knows if my friend's wife would have correctly heard the doctor at the previous appointment, but my bet is her presence would have helped!

1 comment:

DC said...

LOL at the plumbs! :)

Wishing your SIL good luck with her IVF cycle! Here's a link to a great study that talks about success rates for 1st attempts vs. subsequent attempts:

http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/13/2/403.pdf

Hope this helps! :)