3 Steps for Beginners to Overcome the Frustration of Not Knowing What to Say At the Doctor

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Avoid frustration at the doctor by writing things down

Does Frustration Describe Your Experience with the Doctor?  Many of us have been there. There are a few key things that you want to make sure that you talk about as it relates to your condition story. This post is going to give you three steps to get the most out of your doctor visits.

 

First things first:  If you are someone that has been diagnosed, meaning someone has given you a formal title of your condition, make sure that you write that down first. 

For example, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto disease, May of 2009. 

That is a very important component in my story, because they need to understand how long you’ve been going through or experiencing the symptoms. I also add, before being diagnosed, how long did I experience symptoms. In my case, I experienced symptoms five years prior to that; however, everyone chalked it up to me being a hormonal teenager… 

Before I get to the steps, check out this post to obtain a bonus tip on how to prepare for your endocrinology visit.

Step 1

If you do not have a diagnosis date, here are some things you want to consider:

  • How long have you been having symptoms?
    •  Be very, very specific with the symptoms. 
    • This is a big reason why say…write everything down. Need a health journal? Grab mine here.
  • When do you normally flare up? 
    • Meaning does it happen when you’re stressed out? 
    • Have you been sick? Maybe you’ve had a virus? 
  • Does the weather change your symptoms? Do you typically notice a change at the seasons? Or are you usually the same consistently throughout the year? 
  • What type of food sets you off? 
  • What’s your menstrual cycle like? This was awkward for me, in particular, because I’ve never really had a normal cycle.  
  • What medications are you taking and why? The same is true for supplements. I didn’t realize that calcium and vitamin D and all those fun things that everyone says are so good for us can be awful If you’re taking thyroid medicine, 
  • How is your sleep? 
  • What happens when you go to the bathroom? Are you typically constipated? Or do you have a lot of diarrhea? 
  • What does your skin look like? Is it dry, oily…describe it…
  • What is your hair like? 
  • Do you have a family history of thyroid issues? Do you have an issue with diabetes running in your family? Does anyone else have a thyroid disease condition or cancer?

Step 2

Once you’ve written down your story, I want you to practice saying it out loud. Yes… say it out loud.  You will need to be  straight to the point and give enough detail that it allows your endocrinologist to gather details.  Do you tend to forget what you want to say at the doctor’s office? Me too, which is exactly why I’ve practiced telling my story. It will be awkward at first, but here are some of the benefits:

  • It will help when you’re nervous. You will always know your story.
  • It avoids distractions.

Step 3

Once you’ve actually gone through the story exchange, allow the endocrinologist or provider time to ask you questions. This is when your active listening skills will help (active listening: to listen carefully and be present in the conversation). Sometimes it’s easy for a provider to “stay in their head” and walk through many big words that we may not always understand. Don’t be afraid to stop them and ask for clarification because you don’t want to leave anything open to misinterpretation or misunderstanding. 

Also, your provider should be an active listener as well. Understand that something that you said while telling your story  might trigger something for them to think about and they may interrupt. This may be okay if you’ve established this is okay. If this makes you uneasy, don’t be afraid to speak up about it. Often times, they’re trying to figure out how to best help you and may think or process out loud. 

However, don’t forget this: You have to be strong so that you can advocate for yourself.  

You can do this!

Check out my YouTube video here for more tips on preparing your condition story:

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