Creating a Partnership with Your Doctor
Many people still seem to treat their doctor or specialist with a certain awe and reverence. However, this attitude may not always yield the best working relationship and may even prolong an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your consultation.
Write Down Your Symptoms
It is very easy to forget things. Even after going through everything in your head before the medical appointment it is still easy to forget details once sitting there in front of the doctor. The number one piece of equipment needed is a notebook. This is especially necessary with serious or on-going conditions that require regular monitoring of symptoms. Write down everything like a personal diary and the day before the appointment make a list of questions to ask the specialist. And don't forget to bring the notebook to the appointment!
Internet Research on Medical Symptoms
The internet has many websites on health and medicine. Even the rarest of illnesses will have a support group and forum. Make use of them and keep a file of your research with advice on symptoms, diagnosis and alternative medications that are available. Such medical websites will also be useful in distinguishing between symptoms of the illness and side-effects of any medication. If your condition is complicated and not yet absolutely confirmed, or if you are suffering distressing side-effects, then make a note of possible alternatives and take these thoughts to your doctor.
Pitfalls of Online Self-Diagnosis
It is very easy to find dozens of often rare diseases that seem to match your symptoms. Make a list of them and their symptoms but do not get unduly worried. The one major problem with online medical advice is that they do not list symptoms in order of importance and nor do they list which additional symptoms would exclude that particular condition. This is where your doctor's knowledge is vital.
How to Discuss Self-Diagnosing with Your Doctor
Most doctors are well aware that patients will attempt to self-diagnose their condition on the internet. Most will be happy to discuss this, but there are a few doctors who see this as an encroachment on their professional abilities. Avoid trying to show off but rather approach this as a need for further advice. This shows you have been pro-active but still defer to the specialist's greater experience.
Taking Notes at the Consultation
During the medical consultation your doctor will be taking notes and updating your case file – you should be doing the same. The doctor should be very happy about this as it guarantees that any advice and instructions will not be forgotten. It also shows a professional approach is being taken by both consultant and patient.
Overcoming Fear and Shyness
A notebook and pen may feel like being back at school but is a great confidence booster and helps avoid being shy or frightened to ask awkward questions. The doctor is there to help and to answer any possible questions. There are no silly questions and there is no shame in not knowing something that is a highly specialized field. Take this opportunity to ask what has been written down and thought over carefully as the receptionist outside cannot help you.