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.
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.
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?
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