Diabetes Blog Week
What is Diabetes Blog Week? Click here for an explanation and to sign up.
You can also check out the topics over here and you can find a list of participants over here. And don't forget to check out the DBlogWeek Facebook page here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

White Coat Syndrome

WhiteCoatSyndromeTo say that going to the doctor stresses me out would be a huge understatement.  I hate doctor appointments.  I get all tied up in knots for over a week before my appointment looms.  Funny thing is, I really don’t know what I’m so worried about.  I love all my doctors.  I know I can talk to them and they will listen.  I know they only want me to be at my best and healthiest.  But even so, it’s still really hard and stressful for me.  So I fully support the recent initiative by Diabetes Advocates to help with What to Say to Your Doctor by providing some tips and links to resources. And even though I don’t have all the answers, I can tell you what has helped make my white coat syndrome a little less severe over my past appointments.

The first thing is to find The One.  Yup, in a way it’s almost like dating.  That blind date my neighbor fixed me up on was easy - I knew within 10 minutes I would not be seeing this guy again.  It can be the same with health care professionals - you might know right away it’s not a good fit.  Sometimes it’s a little tougher than that.  I think back to some really nice guys I’ve dated.  They treated me well and I liked them a lot.   But I didn’t "LIKE like them” (official teen girl speak flashback!!) - something was just missing and I knew I wasn’t doing either of us a favor by continuing our relationship.  It was scary and sad but we both deserved better.  It can be the same with a healthcare professional.  You might like the doctor a lot but something is missing.  You’re not getting what you need and your appointments almost seem like a waste of time.  It can be scary and take some work to move on and find a new doctor, but it’s probably better for both of you if you do.

So now that I’ve found The One, my appointments should be a breeze, right?  Well, not exactly.  I’m still a bundle of nerves.  So how do I make sure I’m getting the most out of my appointments and the best care I can get?  First, I make a list of all my questions in the weeks or even months before my appointment.  I type them in the Notes section of my smartphone so it’s easy to add things as I think of them and I know I’ll have them with me when appointment time comes.  Next, I ask all of my questions - even the ones that seem stupid once I’m in the doctor’s office.  And yes, when I’m feeling stressed I often look at a question on my list and want to skip it because I think it might sound stupid.  But I force myself to ask it, and my doctor has never once made me feel silly for asking anything.  (By the way, if your doctor doesn’t take the time to listen to and answer all of your questions, you probably have not yet found The One.)  And lastly, I remember that my appointment is a two-way street.  My doctor will probably also have a list of questions for me, and the most important thing is that I answer them HONESTLY.  Even when I don’t want to.  At my last appointment my endo was concerned about a huge 300+ spike on the printout of my CGM graph and asked about it.  Did I want to tell him that I had a major moment of weakness with my Easter basket?  I sure didn’t.  But I told him anyway because I’m human and I wanted jelly beans and chocolate that day and even though I tried to bolus for them there was no way I could eat what I ate without a mega-spike.  I’m not proud of it, but he understood, he didn’t chastise me, and he also didn’t waste our time trying to figure out a problem that wasn’t really a problem at all.

Sure, I still get nervous and stressed before my appointments.  These days, at least I’m less nervous and stressed than I used to be because I know the doctors I see are people I respect and trust and because I show up at my appointments prepared.

Do you have any advice for making the most of medical appointments?

8 comments:

  1. I definitely have white coat syndrome with my internist. It is better than it used to be, but I often have high or borderline high blood pressure when he measures it. But at all of my other doctors, even if I am nervous, my blood pressure is always normal or even low-normal.

    The mind is a powerful thing....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My blood pressure is always high at appointments too!!! My doctor understands that it's nerves, but he still has me check it at home once in a while.

      Delete
  2. For me it is all about going to the appointment. In other words, any appointment you go to is a good appointment! Doesnt matter the results or diagnosis. Not knowing what is happening to you or your body is a major problem but I just consider showing up a win and whatever info the doctor has for me as just that, INFO. Regardless of how thick the guilt trip is I let it roll right off and congratulate myself for doing something positive for my health.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are absolutely right and I'm going to keep that in mind before my next appointments. Hearing news I might not want to hear is worse than not knowing something is wrong and doing our best to fix it. Thanks for the words of wisdom, my friend.

      Delete
  3. Love this post! I'm still on the hunt for the ONE but I have a new endo appt next week so here's hoping it's a match made in heaven. I love your tip about putting notes on the phone and referencing them in the appointment-as well as making sure not to skip over any that might seem "silly" at the time. Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I completely agree with the idea that finding your doc is like dating -- don't settle! Doctors have different personalities and you have to find the one that matches yours :) You made great suggestions here! Love this post!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I totally get it! I also have to admit that I'm awful about not asking questions because I get nervous I'm going to sound stupid. Something I'm working on, but its a tough one for sure. Having a crudy doc and not finding the One didn't help.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love George's comment (of course I do, right?).

    I'm so much the same. I get all sorts of anxiety and nerves, but I can't really explain why. Then one moment it hits me - I have an endo appointment coming up! That's it!

    But it still doesn't explain why I get all worked up about it.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your comment!