“Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.”
“Be prepared.” ~Boy Scout Motto
Every time I get to this time of the year, I always wish for another month,
even a half month, between November and December. We could name it “Its-coming-soon-ember,”
or “You-better-hustle-now-uary.” December is always a rushed
month for me when I have too many things to do. Get the tree. Decorate
the house. School parties. Luminaries. The Christmas card: What are we
going to do this year for a card? Pics of last year’s travels, selfies,
casual card or everyone dress up in what they would rather be doing than
this Christmas card? Then there are the lists that have to be made for
everyone I need to purchase gifts for, including teachers, staff, friends,
family, my lovely wife, kids, neighbors and colleagues.
Man, I’ve got a lot to do.
Also, if you’re like me, the end of the year is the time to get some
of those annual/biannual appointments checked off the list, like dental
appointments, rotating the tires and cleaning my eldest son’s room
(maybe next year). But in order to get all of this done, one must prepare.
There is a finite amount of time that begins on Black Friday before the
turkey gravy even has time to congeal and ends on Dec 24 when “Santa”
is looking for a lost screw to put the big wheel together. To succeed
through the holiday season, priorities have to be set in order to be efficient.
So this brings me to another parallel topic: visiting my office or any
doctor’s office. Just like the Christmas season, going to a doctor’s
office can be very hectic and confusing. However, your visit with any
doctor is very important. Research shows that patients who are more involved
with their care achieve better results. The best way to get the most out
of your visit is to be prepared for the visit. The following checklist
will help you be more active in your health care and get the most out
of each office visit.
Before you go
1. Find out the basics of the office.
- Where is it?
- What time should you arrive?
- Do you need your health insurance card?
2. Assemble your records: Compile pertinent medical records to include...
- Documents from other doctors
- Imaging studies
- Lab tests
3. Make written lists.
- All the medications you regularly take, including herbs, vitamins, and
- Medical history
- Past surgeries
- Your concerns about your condition (pain, loss of mobility, function, etc.)
4. Bring a friend: Consider bringing a friend or family member to accompany you to help you
ask questions and remember all that the doctor has talked about.
5. Dress appropriately: Loose fitting clothes help to expose the limbs.
At the doctor’s office
1. Arrive early: You will need time to fill out paperwork.
2. Do not bring extra family or friends that may be disruptive during the
3. Be honest and complete with your doctor: Share your point of view and do not hold back information.
4. Stick to the point: It is nice for your doctor to know some personal facts about you but keep
any personal stories unrelated to your health brief, so you and your doctor
can focus on the reason you made the appointment.
5. Take notes and ask questions: Take notes on what the doctor tells you, and ask questions if you do not
understand a medical term, the reason for the doctor’s recommendations
or the instructions for the medicine.
6. Ask what to expect from your treatment: Understand your doctor’s expectations of treatment to make sure your
expectations are realistic.
7. Ask for information to review: Brochures or pamphlets may be available or the doctor may recommend a website.
When you get home
1. Review the materials the doctor gave you: If you cannot remember something or do not understand your notes, call
the office to speak with a member of the medical staff.
2. Follow the doctor’s instructions: Make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions so you can report
during follow-up if the prescribed treatment regimen was beneficial.
I know that most of these points seem like common sense, however, it’s
easy to get off track, and that’s when patients feel like they were
rushed through the office like cattle. My first question to most of my
patients is, “Hey! What’s going on today, and how can we make
it better?” My goal by the time someone leaves my office is that
they have a treatment plan that they understand. This sounds easy, but
at times, it can be as hard as getting everyone to smile in the Christmas card.
Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. I’ll see you in 2019!