I really hate going to the doctor. The appointment is never on time, there are usually forms to fill out, chances are good I’m going to get poked with needles, and the waiting room is full of sick people. It’s like a germ factory. Plus, I’m going to have to talk about gross, very personal things and not start giggling.
For me, the experience is often high-stress, and I’m very nervous. As such, I have compiled a few simple rules, if you, like me, don’t like the doctor.
- Be on time. I know. The doctor won’t be. She or he may be running at least fifteen minutes late, unless you have the very first appointment of the morning. Bring a book so that you don’t have to talk to the other sick people and get their germs. If you have changed insurance or addresses, arrive ten minutes early. If you’re at a new doctor, get there fifteen minutes early. The paperwork can take a while sometimes.
- Be nice to the receptionist. I know I’ve said this before, but always be extra nice to the receptionist. This person is the gatekeeper to your doctor. If you need a miracle, this is the person who can make it happen. But they’re not going to do it for someone they don’t really like.
- Be honest with the doctor. Are you exercising? How much are you drinking? Are you on any other medications? Are you flossing daily? Don’t. Lie. Everything you tell your doctor is confidential. It’s not like he or she is going to go put it on Facebook. She is also responsible for your health. Chances are good the doc is asking these questions for a reason. Patients who lie are very frustrating, because doctors can’t be as confident in their prescribed treatment.
- Be familiar with the medical terms. There are parts of our bodies we’re not comfortable discussing. There are bodily functions that we would like to pretend don’t exist. Learn the medical terms for these things and practice using them before you go to the doctor. This does two things, it makes it easier to talk about the “gross” things our bodies do, and shows that you are a mature responsible patient who is concerned primarily with health.
- Slow down the Google-Fu. Congratulations! You know how to use a search engine! You are still not a doctor. Google your symptoms in order to learn what kinds of questions to ask your doctor. Do not Google your symptoms to get a diagnosis which you can present to the doctor for confirmation.
- Ask questions. Ask informed, researched questions about your symptoms. Also ask any questions you have about diagnosis or treatment. Make sure you understand it so that you can follow it.
- Try to put away your cell phone. I know that we need cell phones if a call comes through, and it’s really handy for staying occupied in the waiting room. Turn off the sound in the waiting room and try to put it away entirely once you’re called back to see the doctor unless you need it. This is not just for the doctor or fellow patients. The time in which you are actually being seen is precious. Texting friends can wait until you leave.
So there you are! A guide to get through you through the perils of the doctor’s office. And if you still get nervous or confused, just remember my personal mantra: What Would Hillary Clinton Do? (Answer: Be a confident badass. Always.)
Editor’s note: This post has been edited to reflect that all doctors aren’t men.