So often, we’re apprehensive about speaking up in the doctor’s office. Our doc is the expert, so we think: Don’t doubt his or her suggestions. Don’t look foolish by admitting you got lost in the conversation. Just be a good patient and go with the flow.
I’m not saying this is the way it should be. However, it accurately describes the way a good number of appointments play out. Again and again, we sign off on procedures and treatments that, at best, we’re fuzzy about.
That’s why it was a such welcome surprise to come across this article from the New York Times a couple weeks ago. Doctors Mikkael A. Sekeres and Timothy D. Gilligan discuss helpful ways they encourage patients to approach their appointments. Notably, their philosophy has a very self-health feel to it.
Here are some of the tips they suggest:
- Pose your doctor this question: “If I saw ten different experts in my condition, how many would recommend the same treatment you’re recommending?”
- Repeat your doctor’s instructions back to him or her to make sure you understand the specifics.
- Take notes, and/or bring someone with you (so you won’t need to question your recall later on).
- Ask your doctor to use terms a layperson can understand.
My personal favorite is their suggestion to ask for names of patients who’ve received the same treatment you’re considering. I never would have thought of this self-healther tactic, but it’s brilliant. Just because doctors specialize in offering a particular treatment doesn’t mean they’ve experienced it. We don’t typically have access to the perspective of former patients, but it’s easy to imagine how helpful it might be.
Also, I let out a sigh of relief when the authors admitted to not asking questions at their own appointments with specialists. Turns out, they want to appear more knowledgeable as well. Doctors are, after all, just human beings like you and I. Perhaps their experience as patients is what led them to sharing their ideas with the rest of us.
There’s just one thing I’d add to their list. How great would it be if doctors offered us an efficient, reliable way to get in touch once we walk out of their office or clinic? Once I get the chance to sit with my own thoughts, I often come up with questions after the fact. I also like to see what some of the books in my self-health library have to say. (Health Is Simple, Disease Is Complicated by James Forleo, DC, is a favorite. Forleo has a way of explaining health and wellness in an unambiguous manner.) Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to get in touch with those busy specialists for the answers you sometimes need after a medical appointment.
If you’ve been a self-healther for any length of time, you probably already do some of these things. But it’s always nice to be reminded…and given permission by the experts.
What does your doctor want you to know?
Images from iStock/Szepy