Preparing for Medical Appointments
Below you can find information on how to prepare for medical appointments alongside a packing checklist of what to bring to appointments and investigations.
Often with a chronic illness, we've been told MANY a time by doctors that it's all in our heads, it's just anxiety, we're just hypochondriacs - and this ESPECIALLY doesn't help when tests come back seemingly 'normal' or the medical condition you have is rare
The template below could be useful for you if:
You get brain fog
You get anxiety in medical appointments (perhaps due to past negative experience; I defo do!)
You have a complex medical history
Have been gaslit by medical professionals in the past and want to clearly portray your full case and advocate for your medical needs
In the past, I've prepped before for medical appointments with some notes on a list, but I've never prepared in as much detail as I did for a new consultant appointment I had just this week.
Part of me was worried he'd think I was a little 'over the top' - HOWEVER to my surprise he was INCREDIBLY thankful that I'd prepared in this much detail and kept thanking me throughout the call (it was a remote appointment due to COVID)
You see, when you have such a huge range of multisystemic symptoms every day, it's often difficult to list & communicate these just verbally off the top of your head - and with brain fog is SO easy to forget something that may have been important to relay. [For me, pain is often out of sight out of mind, so I actually forget that I was ever in pain or what my symptoms were!]
Preparing in this way, means that you can think in detail (and over time, perhaps a few days) so you are thorough in the information that you put across. By doing this, you're ALSO giving the doctor the answers to those generic questions every new doctors has to ask. For example; what preexisting conditions do you have, what regular medications do you take etc.
Something that I've learned doctors REALLY DISLIKE is when you've researched a condition you're pretty sure you may have and go in suggesting that you think you have it (times I've done this I've often actually been right - because we know our bodies best!), nevertheless I've always found this counterproductive in my experience.
So it's important to present them with your history and symptoms and let THEM do the troubleshooting, if they don't mention the condition at all, then later in the appointment you may want to give a gentle prompt as to whether they could consider if it could be what you think it may be!
I've put together a general template that you can duplicate on Google docs and create your own for any pre-appointment prep. Simply click File -- Make a Copy and it will duplicate the template ready for you to edit!
Once you have filled out the document and it's ready for your appointment, you can export as a PDF and email it to the doctor's secretary before the appointment. This may help a lot when it comes to understanding your case (I've even drafted the email for you below)
[Subject box] FAO: DR ____
My symptoms and medical history is a little complex, so I thought I'd send through some notes for Dr____ ahead of the appointment (/call) today, that may help them understand my case
All the best,
My Top Tips for New Medical Appointments:
📑Prepare well in advance
- My free template may help you
📧Email it to the doctor ahead of the appointment to give them a clear overview of your case
👥Bring someone with you who knows your medical history
(to help in case you go blank)
🗣Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor questions about your prognosis. Write a list of potential questions prior to the appointment.
🎙Ask the doctor if they don't mind you voice recording the appointment so that you can refer back to it
What to bring to medical appointments and investigations?
Comfy loose fitting clothes and a vest or short sleeved top in case of tests
Aids & supports: For me this is a coccyx cushion with a waterproof case and a neck collar for support on transport
A large lightweight bag to carry everything in
A bottle of water and both sweet and salty snacks
Precautionary medications and pain relief
Headphones, downloaded music, series or movies and a book
Cards to help you advocate on public transport
A medical appointment preparation document
A mask, tissues and sanitiser or toxin free hand soap!
Is there anything you would add to the template that I haven't included? I've tried to make it as generic as possible but if there's anything you'd suggest that may be able to help someone else please get in touch using the button below!