By Lisa St. Ledger
So, you’ve patiently waited months for an all-important doctor’s visit. How can you make the most of that valuable face to face time with your physician? After all, those precious moments can have a huge impact on your health.
In those few minutes, your doctor has to diagnose your condition and create a treatment plan for you. That diagnosis can sometimes make the difference between you living an active healthy life and struggling to exist.
· In those few minutes, your doctor may prescribe medication that you will be taking for the rest of your life. Medications have a huge impact on your body and ensuring you have the best one for you is critical.
· In those few minutes, your doctor may suggest blood tests or other medical tests to investigate your condition more thoroughly. Ordering the correct tests can determine if you get a good and accurate diagnosis.
· In those few minutes, your doctor may suggest a treatment plan that can cost thousands of dollars. Most of you have healthcare coverage, but copays can significantly take a chunk out of your savings.
Your doctors’ appointments can be crucial for your wellbeing. Are you adequately preparing for those visits? I used to walk into my doctor’s office, complain about a few things, get a prescription and hope for the best. Most of the time, I would forget an important symptom or to ask a vital question. My forgetfulness could have had serious health consequences, so now I prepare for my visits by writing a letter to my doctor. I give my letter to the nurse when she checks me in, and I have received overwhelmingly positive responses from my doctors. My visits are goal focused and productive.
I have 4 parts to my letter.
· State the reason for the visit.
· List the symptoms you are experiencing.
o Detail the severity or impact.
o Identify the frequency.
o Ask a question.
· State your health goals.
o Make them relevant to the reason for the visit.
o Be specific to your personal life.
· List any related health conditions.
o Give the dates in which you were diagnosed.
· List the steps of your current treatment plan.
o Include any lifestyle changes you have made.
o Include medications and supplements you are taking.
The doctor’s diagnosis is only as good as the information that you can provide. Your doctor is an expert on medical issues, and you are an expert on you. When you partner with your doctor, and precisely convey your concerns, you can make the most out of that invaluable face to face time.
Dear Dr. Smith,
I made an appointment today to address some thyroid symptoms that I am experiencing. I was hoping that you could help me evaluate my symptoms to determine a treatment plan.
Some of the symptoms I am experiencing are:
· Chronic Fatigue: I don’t have any energy and it is difficult to achieve my daily tasks most days.
· Brain Fog: I am having difficulty remembering things that I should be able to remember. I lack mental clarity and am struggling to do my job.
· Difficulty Sleeping: I wake up most nights around 3:00 am. Do you think this could be related to my thyroid or adrenal glands?
· Weight Gain: I have gained 11 pounds in the last 2 months even though my diet hasn’t changed.
My health goals are:
· I want to have enough energy to attend my daughter’s sporting events in the evening.
· I want to remember my student’s names and easily reason through simple job-related tasks.
· I would like to lose 10 pounds in the next 3 months.
· I want to sleep through the night.
Other related health conditions:
· I was diagnosed with Hashimotos in 2010 with high antibodies in a blood test.
My current treatment plan is:
· Taking 90 mg of NP Thyroid: Is there a blood test to determine if this is the correct dosage?
· Taking 1.5 mg of LDN: Could this be keeping me up at night?
· Taking 2000 IU of Vitamin D Can we check my Vitamin D levels?
· Started Weight Watchers Diet: Is there a better diet that you can recommend?
Thank you for your time,
Action Steps: Think about your goals for your next doctor’s visit and start your Dear Doctor letter.