Take Our Advice: Why You Should Always Plan Ahead

Birgit Bauer
Written by
Birgit Bauer

Welcome back to our series, “Take Our Advice”! Each month, we’ll be selecting a question from our Facebook or Twitter communities, and one of our bloggers will answer it here on Living Like You. Today we’re tackling part two of our tips for talking to your doctor series. We hope you enjoy!

For people with multiple sclerosis, sitting in a doctor’s office is never easy. Whether it’s questions about your physical symptoms or questions about more personal issues, there’s not always time (or energy) to ask everything that you may want to know the answer to. Because time with your doctor is always limited, I like to abide by the following phrase: “he who is well prepared will have a better outcome.”

The most helpful tool that I have found for preparing for doctor’s appointments is a list-making app. I update my lists regularly with anything from my symptoms to my issues to discuss with the doctor. This has helped me to feel more prepared while also making sure I don’t forget anything. Then, before I head to my appointment, I take a moment to look at and prioritize my lists. Doing this has helped me realize that sometimes you don’t need a doctor to find advice or information, and sometimes you’re just as well off using the Internet. And by the way, if you are not a digital Person like me, a simple pen and a notebook work just as well.

For me, prioritizing my needs into the following buckets has helped me to realize what I need to share and what I can potentially save for a session with Dr. Google instead.

  • Most important: When it comes to issues that must be discussed with my doctor, I always prioritize symptoms and therapy. Because these are personal issues that differ from person to person, a doctor’s opinion is essential here.
  • Special Themes: If I want to talk about things like Food and Nutrition, Doctor’s advice is not so important. In those cases, I could instead ask for a recommendation for a Nutritionist or if we talk about Sport, think about talking to my physiotherapist instead.
  • Common Themes: There are also themes like workplace issues, typical life struggles, and relationship problems that could either be cleared by an assistant or discussed with health insurance representatives.

Keeping those priorities in mind, I also noticed over the years that it is most important to make sure my questions are as clear as possible. This means that I always ask myself “what do I want and need to get from this specific conversation?” I’ve found that the more clearly a question is asked, the better and more valuable the answer is. Because of this, I think it makes some sense to take a look at your lists and think about what is the most important and what could maybe be answered elsewhere.

Another important thing to navigate when talking to your doctor is “doctor’s language.” Because the terms and analogies that they use may not always be understandable, it is helpful to always do a little research ahead of time to find out what each abbreviation means and how it may or may not apply to you.

At the end of the day, you can never be too prepared for a doctor’s appointment. It may take a little time and energy, but in the end the outcome is better and more valuable for you.

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Birgit Bauer
Written by
Birgit Bauer
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