5 Tips for Handling Multiple Medical Appointments

For patients with a chronic illness, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), there’s no shortage of medical appointments to schedule, attend and follow-up on.

While the number of appointments is to be expected, it doesn’t mean that dealing with them is easy to handle. Even the most seasoned chronic illness patient, who is quite used to multiple appointments, can become overwhelmed in having to deal with so much information.

Below are some tips that can help you deal with multiple medical appointments, especially if they are in a short timeframe, such as week or all within a few days:

Be proactive in asking what you need to bring with you.
Unfortunately, receptionists sometimes miss information, and nothing is more frustrating than arriving to a specialist appointment and not having what you need. Ask what you need to bring to each appointment in advance, so you’re sure can optimize your appointment time with your doctor. By having your medication list readily available, you can easily discuss changes with the specialist based on your experiences with each drug. The doctor can see things like dosage, side effects (this is important for a patient to log as well) and the pros/cons of being on each medication. Keep a running journal where you can jot down questions or concerns about your illness and details on how you’re coping, and bring it along to your appointment. This ensures that all of your concerns and questions are in one place, and can be readily available to discuss with the doctor during your appointment.

MORE: Three professionals to talk to before traveling with IPF/PF

Ask for things to be repeated or clarified.
For some patients, there is this perception that asking doctors to repeat or explain information more than once is a waste of the doctor’s time, or that asking them to clarify something more than once reflects a patient’s inability to understand or comprehend. This is not true. It’s incredibly important that patients understand everything their doctor is telling them, since the expectation will be on the patient to do what the specialist says after leaving the appointment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request clarification.

Bring someone with you.
Whenever possible, it’s helpful to bring a trusted loved one, friend or family member with you to appointments for a second set of ears. Different people understand things differently, and the ability to check in with someone else about what they understood the doctor to mean can be both helpful and therapeutic. Asking another person to attend an appointment with you can also make the visit easier, since they may be able to drive you to/from the doctor’s office, help you take notes, serve as an emotional support or offer up information to the specialist that you might forget in the moment.

MORE: Four tips for discussing your pulmonary therapy treatment with your doctor

Be in a good headspace and have a positive mindset.
Specialist appointments can be scary, overwhelming and filled with fear of the unknown, so being in a good headspace before your appointment is important. Get a good sleep the night before, ensure you have a nutritious meal, pack what you need for your appointment in advance so you feel organized and leave yourself enough time to get to the appointment. Nothing is worse than being late to a specialist appointment, so it’s important to leave yourself lots of time to get there, which will help avoid feelings of anxiousness, stress or worry.

Space them out.
While this may not always be possible, try to space out your medical appointments whenever possible. This will allow you to easily transition from one to the next. Digesting information and processing each appointment can take time, and going from one medical appointment to another interferes with that ability.

Do you have any other tips to share when dealing with multiple medical appointments?

MORE: The invisible impact of trauma on pulmonary fibrosis patients

Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Thanks for stopping by my column! My name is Charlene Marshall and I was diagnosed officially with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) on April 7 2016 after 13 months of various tests, hospitalizations and misdiagnoses, such as bronchitis and asthma. Due to my age, the specialist disclosed that he was unsure how the IPF would manifest itself in terms of progression, and whether it would be fast or slow and what the course of my illness might look like. Not much has changed since then, meaning there is still a lot that remains unknown, which is largely due to my age and how “rare” it is for someone under 30 to receive a diagnosis of IPF. That being said, a lot has changed for me in the time since diagnosis and I am looking forward to sharing some of those changes with you through this online platform, and I invite you along for the ride! Throughout this column I intend to chronicle the experience of living with an invisible, yet fatal disease as a young adult and share some stories about how IPF has impacted every aspect of my life, both good and bad, thus far. I plan on highlighting the challenges (and where I can, the positives…) that come with living with IPF and the impact on social and intimate relationships, finances, family dynamics, facing mortality, infertility, travelling, medication side effects, career goals and so much more as it arises for me as a “new” patient. I hope others’ with similar experiences will reach out as no story trumps any other, nor should any go unheard. For now, let me leave you with some personal details about who I am, outside of my IPF diagnosis. I grew up in a small town in south-western Ontario and still live within Ontario, although in a much bigger city. My favorite sport is/was underwater hockey (yes, it is a thing: look it up on YouTube), I love working with people, I work full-time in the Social Work/Social Services field, I am an avid learner filled with heaps of curiosity for the world, which lead me to start my Masters Degree in 2014. I am in the last few months of my Masters Degree and am looking forward to an upcoming trip to Australia more than I’ve looked forward to anything before. Welcome to the shambles and chaos that is my life!
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Thanks for stopping by my column! My name is Charlene Marshall and I was diagnosed officially with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) on April 7 2016 after 13 months of various tests, hospitalizations and misdiagnoses, such as bronchitis and asthma. Due to my age, the specialist disclosed that he was unsure how the IPF would manifest itself in terms of progression, and whether it would be fast or slow and what the course of my illness might look like. Not much has changed since then, meaning there is still a lot that remains unknown, which is largely due to my age and how “rare” it is for someone under 30 to receive a diagnosis of IPF. That being said, a lot has changed for me in the time since diagnosis and I am looking forward to sharing some of those changes with you through this online platform, and I invite you along for the ride! Throughout this column I intend to chronicle the experience of living with an invisible, yet fatal disease as a young adult and share some stories about how IPF has impacted every aspect of my life, both good and bad, thus far. I plan on highlighting the challenges (and where I can, the positives…) that come with living with IPF and the impact on social and intimate relationships, finances, family dynamics, facing mortality, infertility, travelling, medication side effects, career goals and so much more as it arises for me as a “new” patient. I hope others’ with similar experiences will reach out as no story trumps any other, nor should any go unheard. For now, let me leave you with some personal details about who I am, outside of my IPF diagnosis. I grew up in a small town in south-western Ontario and still live within Ontario, although in a much bigger city. My favorite sport is/was underwater hockey (yes, it is a thing: look it up on YouTube), I love working with people, I work full-time in the Social Work/Social Services field, I am an avid learner filled with heaps of curiosity for the world, which lead me to start my Masters Degree in 2014. I am in the last few months of my Masters Degree and am looking forward to an upcoming trip to Australia more than I’ve looked forward to anything before. Welcome to the shambles and chaos that is my life!
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One comment

  1. Johnna Smith says:

    I agree with article. My husband has IPF. My son is epileptic and is getting allergy shots. In August we had 63 appts scheduled before it even started. You have to be very organized. My husband only had 2 appts and maybe 2 er visits in the prior 30 years, so pthat part was easy.
    I have a backpack with 3 1 1/2” binders, organize, I make excel spreadsheets on everything, organize, I take detailed notes at all appointments. I also have a section with all the physician’s info, this way we will know who we are meeting before we get there. The backpack goes everywhere with us.
    We now are on the list and I have 9 bags packed and ready to go, a note taped to the back foot with a list of things not to forget. Our 2 sons also have a bag packed as well as my SIL w a note taped to the back of her front door.
    I can only be as good a patient advocate as I prepare my self for.

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