Preparing For Your Doctor’s Appointment
React19 has prepared an extensive “How To…” guide for those with longterm vaccine side effects. It would also work well for those with symptoms of Long Covid. Download the full PDF here, with an excerpt below.
Your relationship with your doctor is one of the most important ones you may have. Advance preparation will help use your doctor’s time more efficiently and effectively. When people take an active role in their care, research shows they are more satisfied and do better in how well treatments work. Being prepared for your doctor’s visit is important toward becoming a better advocate for your health and well-being.
Preparing for your doctor’s appointment can seem overwhelming when you have a lot of information you want to relay to that medical professional, especially if this is your first time meeting with your doctor, or if you have been ill for a long time and you are unsure where to begin. Being organized is important because typically, on average, you will have less than ten minutes to address your concerns. Your medical professional will also have a few issues on his or her mind that they will want to discuss with you in that limited time so quality is more important than quantity. So try to remember what your ultimate goal is and try to stick to what is most important. Your focus should be on those concerns. Is it diagnosis, prognosis, testing, a new treatment plan, or modification of an existing treatment plan? What is the main reason for your visit? Preparing for your appointment can help you understand and answer those questions if you are still unsure.
Start with gathering your supplies. If you have had recent testing results that needs to come with you for the appointment, such as MRI’s on cd’s, make sure to call ahead so they are ready to be picked up in time for your appointment. If you have had lab tests run and need those results, or need help filling out certain medical forms, (for example, packets that have been provided for you from the provider you are seeing), be sure to provide as much detail as you can. If possible, drop them off ahead of your appointment with your medication list and list of your other medical professionals, including their phone and fax numbers, addresses, and reasons for seeing them. If you use a Fitbit, be sure to download that data and summarize your findings ahead of time to see if there is any correlations or noticeable information you should relay to your doctor.
And finally, be prepared to share your story truthfully and as openly as you can. Instead of just stating the problem, provide details about it. Disclose any smoking, vaping, drinking, CBD, THC, eating habits, mental status, exercise, LGBTQIA physical issues and needs, and any and all unique concerns you have. That will allow your doctor to best openly address your unique situation. Be prepared to express your feelings in a positive way. If you feel unheard, rushed, or need more attention regarding a certain issue that may require an additional appointment to fully address those concerns, be prepared to say so.
The best thing you can do for yourself to handle your appointments and your mental health while managing your care is to make a 3 ring binder now. Trying to keep track of your appointments, tests, phone numbers and fax numbers, medications and other important details is very overwhelming, especially when you are battling an illness.
Get organized! Below are some forms that will help you successfully organize in a way that will allow you to do some of your homework one time so you can prepare more easily on each individual appointment as it comes. Make sure to print out the Concerns page each time you make an appointment immediately. As an appointment nears, you can write your thoughts down on that sheet. Reprint it prior to your appointment and reorganize by priority because, as you know, things can change unexpectedly, and it is imperative to keep track of issues and important details as they change.
Here are some common questions to help you gather your thoughts and relay them to medical professionals as appointments near:
- What medical tests do I think I need?
- How often will they need to be repeated?
- What will the tests tell us?
- What do they involve?
- How should I get ready?
- Will insurance pay for each test?
- If not, how much will it cost?
- Are there any dangers or side effects?
- How and when will I find out the results?
- Can I get a copy?
- How soon will I need a follow up appointment?
- How will you make your diagnosis?
- What may have caused this condition?
- How long will it last? Is it permanent?
- How is this condition treated or managed?
- How will it affect me?
- What might be the long-term effects?
- How can I learn more?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the risks and benefits?
- Ask yourself which treatment is best for you, given my values and circumstances?
- What medications are available for me?
- When will they start working?
- What are common side effects?
- Will I need a refill?
- How do I arrange that?
- Should I take it with food?
- What time of day should I take it?
- Should I avoid anything while taking it?
- What if I miss a dose?
- What can I do to prevent a health problem from developing or getting worse? How will changing my habits help?
- Are there any risks to making this change?
- Are there support groups or community services that might help me?
This, and much more, with forms you can fill out and bring, tips on getting organized, and full symptoms lists, is available in our PDF download here >