Keeping on the road to better health.


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Hi <<Name>>


Like you I spend a lot of time at various doctor appointments. Too much time. This time can so often be filled with frustration and anxiety, which comes regardless of whether you get answers or not.


The answers can too often be things you don’t want to hear, or they are things that confuse you further. Lack of answers leaving you confused and stressed out. You can’t win.


Over the last 17 years of navigating health systems in two different countries I've learned a thing or two (or five!) on how to get helpful answers to your questions and challenges.


Many doctors will hate me for saying this but the Internet is your great chronic illness buddy.


It’s true that self diagnosis and getting stuck on a particular route according to some article you read is not a good idea. Doctors train for many years, read a lot of medical research and are experts in their jobs, so don’t take one writer's view over that of the doctor that knows you and your condition well.


However, in my experience doctors, no matter how brilliant, only answer the questions you ask or deal with the symptoms you present. Therefore it’s up to you to arm yourself with the right questions and some knowledge to get yourself the helpful answers and results you need.


Just this week I visited my doctor for my annual physical and explained some symptoms I’ve been struggling with lately. She wasn’t sure what was wrong so ordered labs. She would usually only order full blood count, Iron and Ferritin, but in the last two years I’ve been insisting on 6 monthly checks of my B12 and Vitamin D levels. I had to ask for these. Common sense would suggest that doctors who have patients that are intestinally challenged would automatically check these levels as it’s known that we don’t absorb vitamins and nutrients like the intestinally intact, and yet they don’t.


No doctor or surgeon has ever explained the likelihood of my suffering these deficiencies or the symptoms they can present. I have learned all about my difficulties with absorption through experiencing symptoms, researching and asking questions. At one point I discovered I need these tests so asked for them.


This time I’m low on Vitamin D which has also left me with a low WBC (white blood cell count), which explains why I’ve been feeling so bloody awful recently. I can now up the time I spend outside (sunshine is the best source of Vit D), up my supplementation and so on, and hopefully feel better soon.


I only know this route to better wellness because I asked the right question.


Had I not asked for the tests I would be non the wiser as to what is wrong and would feel quite hopeless, which you know is a terrible thing to feel. Oh sure, my doctor may have got there eventually but she got there a lot quicker because I know my body, my subject and have the courage to ask the questions.


Here are my five tips for getting the most help from your doctor appointments:


1) Take a list of symptoms and questions. Always go to the doctors with a list of your symptoms and a list of questions, particularly if you suffer from brain fog or find yourself overwhelmed when discussing your issues. If possible keep a diary of how you feel in the run up to the appointment so you are detailed about your experiences.


2) Get the list out  and go through it one item at a time. No doctor has ever minded when I get my list out and work through it methodically. This always insures that you walk away from the appointment content that you covered everything you wanted to and often means y ou get helpful answers to put you back on your path to wellness.


3) Know your illness, it’s symptoms, the medications and side effects. This is hard when you’re first diagnosed and definitely takes time to learn but you must learn as much as you can and becoming an expert on your particular health issues. The main charity that supports your illness is a great place to start as they usually have lots of materials about your illness, it’s treatments and the support available.


4) Join an online support group. You can join my Who’s That Lady Support Group for Women with Chronic Illness hereBefore you go to the doctors run your questions by your friends in the group. You’ll often get a lot of different answers and you have to understand that each individual’s body and experiences are different, but often this process can enlighten you on what your symptoms might mean and what treatments are possible, arming you with information that will help you get answers and help quicker.


5) Ask two simple questions at the end of every appointment:

Is there anything else you can do to help me right now?”

It’s surprising how often this prompts a doctor to think out of the box and dig around their brains for ideas and solutions.

Is there anything else you think I can do to help myself?

This seems pointless as you’re probably doing all that you can, but sometimes the answers help you reprioritise or adjust what you’re doing in a way that’s really helpful. It’s hard for us each to think out of the box and we get stuck in our ways. This is a great question to make sure that you’re on the right track and shows the doctor that you take your health seriously and conscientiously, which encourages them to do the same.


Are there other things you do to make sure you get the most from your doctor’s appointments? Please share in the comments below or over in the Facebook group.


You are never alone,

Lottie -x-


Hopefully you already realise that I am not some distant being but a real person that LOVES to connect so do click on the links below to find me and say "Hi!" across my social networks.
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