Good Reads

Monday, March 8, 2010

Talking to Your Doctor

Talking to your doctor can be intimidating. You may not feel as adequate as him, especially someone like a neurosurgeon. Sure, he has a lot of degrees hanging on his wall and sure, he is no doubt a very smart man. But you are intelligent too. Especially about your body.

Some people may not feel like they know how to speak to their doctor because he does have a medical degree, and a very difficult and specialized one at that. He has studied the brain extensively and does know a lot about it. But remember this, he does not know "all" about it. Nor does he know all about you. It is up to you to convey to your doctor exactly what is going on with you, but if you are nervous, feel intimidated, or feel inadequate to discuss such things as your nervous system and brain, you may need to take these steps to be able to have an intelligent conversation with your doctor. You may need to follow these ideas in order to convey to him exactly what you want, and exactly what has been happening to you.

(1) Document everything. Carry a tablet or diary with you all the time so that when you need to write things down, document your symptoms, or think of a question you want to ask, you won't forget.

(2) Practice talking to your doctor prior to your appointment. Stand in front of the mirror and rehearse what you want to say, what you need to say, and what is on your mind. Practice talking to your spouse, family member or friend, with what you want to say.

(3) Practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing exercises can help you focus and stay focused. Meditation or yoga can help relax you.

Try to remember that your doctor is a person too. First and foremost he is human and may have had his own medical problems over the years or a family member with medical issues. So he may surprise you and be as open, friendly, and understanding as you want him to be. Do not panic when talking to him and think that he's not going to believe you, no matter how crazy or strange your symptoms may be. Give him a chance.

If all else fails and he is still dismissive, rude, or berates you or makes you feel uncomfortable, you have the right to find and seek medical care elsewhere. Do not be afraid of hurting anyone's feelings if you want a second opinion, or simply just do not feel comfortable and want to try a different neurosurgeon. You can always request copies of your records and go elsewhere for your medical care.

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