A visit to the doctor’s office can be challenging. We elevate doctors to a God-like level believing they should know everything with 100 percent accuracy. Doctors don’t know everything. I’m pretty sure they don’t want to know everything because that’s pretty near impossible. There are two simple yet important steps to a successful appointment with your doctor because what your doctor doesn’t know may hurt you.
A few days ago, my teenage daughter started complaining of a sore throat. So, being a Mom, I got out a flashlight and asked her to say, “AH.” Of course, looking at the back of her throat with my flashlight didn’t take away her sore throat, so I made a doctor’s appointment for her.
The doctor declared, “You have either strep throat, mononucleosis, or a virus.” She did a strep test and said she would call in an antibiotic for a positive result. She told my daughter to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and come back if it doesn’t get better in a week.
My daughter stormed around the kitchen when we got home. “What’s wrong with that doctor? She said it could be this or it could be that. Why couldn’t she tell me what was wrong with me?”
I replied, “She couldn’t tell you what was wrong with you because she is a doctor, she’s not God, nor does she have magic know-it-all powers. She is limited to science and the tests she has to figure out what’s wrong with your throat.”
Her visit to the doctor got me thinking about what it takes to have a successful doctor’s visit.
I narrowed down the criteria for a successful doctor’s visit to two steps.
The doctor needs to know as much relevant information as you can give her.
- What vitamins and herbal supplements you are taking?
Last year, I was taking the herbal supplement Ashwagandha because I was told by a friend that it would increase my overall health. Luckily, I told my doctor at my yearly check-up. She told me, “You know, that doesn’t work well with the thyroid medicine you take?” Oops. I didn’t think she needed to know about the Ashwagandha, but she did. The herb did mess up my thyroid numbers, but luckily all I had to do is stop taking it and my numbers returned to normal.
- What are your symptoms?
Sitting on the examination table and saying, “I feel yucky,” will get you nowhere. The doctor needs a concise list of what brought you to her office. Maybe it was a sharp stomach pain or a sore throat that brought you in? The doctor needs to know specifics.
- Have there been any lifestyle changes?
Once, 15 years ago, I went in to see the doctor because of a sharp pain in my stomach. The doctor was smart, and luckily he asked me what I was doing right before the sharp pain. I was trying to get rid of my post-pregnancy belly fat with launching into 150 sit-ups. After examining my abdomen, he suggested it was a muscle cramp and that I try to start with 10 sit-ups next time and work my way up. I was a tad annoyed that after pregnancy and a c-section, I was reduced to a 10 sit-up starting point, but it did stop the muscle cramp. Can you imagine all the scans and blood work a less savvy doctor may have issued had he not been given enough information?
If your doctor doesn’t have enough information to diagnose you, it could hurt you by either not getting the right treatment in a timely manner or being put through a battery of tests you didn’t really need.
Make sure you are in front of the right doctor.
All doctors are not the same. Many people make this mistake. You’ve got to know what doctor to go to for which ailment to get the best care possible.
My younger daughter tripped and broke her foot during a dance performance months ago. I took her to a foot specialist because I knew her pediatrician wouldn’t be able to tell if it was broken or not just by looking at it. There was little to no swelling that I could see. The foot specialist was able to look at her foot, point out the swelling (What swelling? I couldn’t see any.), use a tuning fork on the bones, and tell my daughter that her foot might be broken. After listening to my daughter explain how she thought she broke it and what her lifestyle was like before, during, and after the fall, she x-rayed her foot, and sure enough, it was broken.
Going to the correct doctor is hugely important. I thought the foot doctor was fabulous, but there is no way I would take my daughter to see her for a sore throat. I think her pediatrician is wonderful, but I am not taking her to a pediatrician for a broken foot.
You have to know what doctor to go to for your specific ailment. An easy way to figure this out is to ask before you make the appointment. If you are at your doctor’s office and can’t get answers that make sense, don’t panic. It might just be that you need to be seen by a specialist. My daughter’s throat is getting better, thank goodness! If it didn’t get better, I would have brought her back to the pediatrician. If the care she got there didn’t help her ailment, I would take her to an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) doctor.
Communicate with your doctor. Everyone wants the same thing – wellness. Empower yourself when you visit your doctor with good communication and knowledge in choosing the right doctor to help you because what your doctor doesn’t know may indeed hurt you.
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