10 Ways to Prepare for Your Next Doctor Visit

July 15, 2020

10 Ways to Prepare for Your Next Doctor Visit

The last time I took my mother to see her doctor she confessed to me she was so nervous she had forgotten what she was supposed to ask in the first place. She’s a retired nurse and even she gets nervous! What about you? Do you get anxious when you go see your doctor?

Going to the doctor can be a nerve wracking experience. We’re conditioned to fear the “white coat” and there’s a level of anxiety that rises in our gut when we have to go for a checkup. These days most doctors only spend 15 minutes or less with their patients and if we’re not prepared to ask the right questions, we may feel like we missed our chance to get the information we needed. 

To avoid this and to help you make the most out of your doctors’ visit, I’ve prepared ten guidelines to follow and questions to ask your doctor next time you need to go for a check-up, especially if you suspect you may have  pre-diabetes, insulin resistance or diabetes. 

  1. Bring a notebook with you. I have a journal I call “My Health Journal” which I take with me anytime I see a health professional. In this journal I write out a list of questions I want to ask. Here I track symptoms like pain, sleep disturbances, medication and supplement questions or eating/digestion issues that may be relevant to my conversation regarding my diagnosis. I do this at least a week ahead of my appointment. 
  2. Ask your doctor to review your medications and supplements and share with her your side effects, symptoms and the reason you’re taking them. Make sure the current medications you’re taking are still relevant to your condition. 
  3. Questions to ask about medications: 
a. How does this medication work and are my results what is expected?
b. How long should I take this medication?
c. What are the expected side effects? How long do they last?
d. Will this medication cure my condition? 
e. When can I hope to get off this medication? Why?
f. Are there alternative treatments or lifestyle changes I may consider
4. Ask your doctor to review the following labs with you and be sure you have a good understanding of normal ranges and how they apply to you.
a. Fasting glucose: Blood sugar when you’ve been fasting at least 12 hrs.
b. Hemoglobin A1C: This is a measurement of the amount of glucose on your red blood cells for the past three months.
c. Iron levels: This tells you whether you have enough red blood cells to function
d. Vitamin D3 levels: Vitamin D3 is a hormone and it is necessary for proper functioning of many pathways in the body. Normal levels are crucial for bone metabolism and good immunity. 

e. Ferritin (iron storage): Measures whether you’re anemic.
f. Thyroid panel (TSH, free T3, free T4, thyroid antibodies): This measures the health of the thyroid and whether your body is attacking your thyroid gland. TSH is not enough to diagnose hypothyroidism at an early stage when you could implement diet and lifestyle changes. 
g. Liver enzymes: Crucial to assess the health of the liver as it relates to GI function and metabolic processes like detoxification.

5. Ask your doctor for alternative treatments for your condition and for resources to help you bring your body back into balance. When it comes to insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar, there are a myriad of resources you may use. Sometimes the doctor is assuming you are only interested in medication. For example, if you need to lose weight or have issues with mobility, you may go see a physical therapist or if you need help with your meal planning you can go see a nutritionist, health coach or dietitian. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

6. Ask your doctor when you should follow up and if you can bring a health advocate with you to the next visit. Sometimes having someone with you, like a family member or a friend may help you listen and remember everything you discussed. 
7. Ask about blood sugar monitoring and if he or she would support it. Blood sugar monitoring using a glucometer gives you great insight into what is going on in your body after every meal and it’s a great resource for you to use, as you’re learning how food and movement affect your blood sugar levels. 
8. Ask your doctor whether they would recommend the treatment they’re recommending to you to a member of their family. This would give you an insight into their philosophy for your particular condition and would help you develop a closer relationship with them. 
9. Ask how often they treat this condition and if this is an area of expertise for them. If not, ask if you can get a referral to someone who is an expert in this area. 
10. Lastly, ask your doctor what his or her care plan is for you. Be sure to review it with them and ask questions about it. You are the most important member of your healthcare team! It is your body and you can question anything! Your doctor is someone you hired to help you get your health back on track. If you don’t agree with him or her, you can find someone more suited to your particular health goals. 

The most important thing you can do for your body is get to know how it works. Your doctor does not hold the key to your health. You do. Get informed; be an active participant in your own health care. Ask questions and do your own research. Be empowered to be as healthy as possible and help others in your circle of influence do the same!

I’ve also prepared a YouTube video here that you can share with your friends and family

In great health,

- Monica

P.S. Sign up for a free discovery call with me if you’re trying to upgrade your diet and lifestyle. In this free 15 minute session we can explore your health questions and discuss your concerns.

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