Day 59: Trying to get the most out of my hospital visit

It’s finally here. The day I’ve been waiting for. It’s my first visit to a specialist. I’ve been waiting for this day for over six months and it’s been a long time coming. Getting an appointment with a consultant urologist in the NHS apparently isn’t as easy as just ringing up and booking one. Even since I managed to get the referral, it’s taken over six weeks to get to see someone. With that in mind, I intend to make the absolute most out of this appointment today.

I had intended to write down the entire timeline of my symptoms and take them in with me to help Mr. Urologist get a clear overview of what’s been going on. But then I figured, I wonder if anyone has better ways of getting the most out of doctor’s visits. I thought ‘what is the most frustrating thing about the many doctor’s appointments I have had over the last few months?’ The answer: my GP never seems to have time for me, I don’t feel like I have enough time to say everything I want to say, and I don’t feel as though she is listening to me anyway.

Google is your friend. OK, Google. How do I get my doctor to listen to me?

As always, so much information. That’s fine. I like information. The following titles caught my eye:

Talk to Your Doctor so Your Doctor Will Listen
Well, that’s great and everything. I feel like I understand why my doctor acts like she DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT now, but your suggestion that I ask her to sit and take a deep breath with me at the beginning of an appointment just doesn’t appeal to my British sense of what is and isn’t an incredibly embarrassing way to begin your first ever meeting with someone.


6 Tips For Getting Your Doctor to Listen to You
Well, 6 tips are better than 1. Let’s see what insight we can glean from this. It boils down to answering your doctor’s questions, asking your own questions, answering yes or no questions with narrative instead of just yes or no, and being courteous. All pretty common sense stuff, I think. Interesting piece of advice about answering with a narrative though. Worth remembering.

Useful tip 1: Answer close-ended questions with a narrative. Instead of just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’, give some context.

Then I stumbled upon…

41 Secrets for Your Next Doctor Visit… well, that’s what it said on the Google search results page. The headline when I actually reached the page was 41 Secrets Your Doctor Would Never Share. I didn’t realise this until I had finished reading. It was horrifying. Horrifying, but not all that surprising. I recommend you don’t read this if you’re inclined to feel quite angry at your doctor already. This will not help. But here’s a sample:

I know that Reader’s Digest recommends bringing in a complete list of all your symptoms, but every time you do, it only reinforces my desire to quit this profession. –Douglas Farrago, MD

This Farrago guy had quite a few quotes included in the article. Makes him seem like a Class A Twat. I imagine he probably is. For the sake of maintaining a positive attitude towards this afternoon’s appointment, I will assume my doctor will be somewhat less of a dick.

Interestingly, one of the most useful articles I stumbled across on the subject was really aimed at people suffering from arthritis. But there was some gold in here…

Getting the Most from your Doctor’s Visit – Getting your Doctor to Listen to you
The author, Patti Wood, has herself taken inspiration from a longer article, but she makes some great suggestions at the beginning and then prints the full article at the bottom of the page. She includes steps to take to help you:

  • prepare for your visit
  • get the most out of your visit while you’re there
  • follow up after your visit

I’ve taken a few of her suggestions on board to prepare for this afternoon’s visit. First off, I grabbed myself a notepad and pen so I can scribble a few things down and make sure I don’t forget to bring them up. Here are a few of the notes I have prepared:

Know what you want
I want a diagnosis. A name for my condition. Is it Interstitial Cystitis? Do I just keep getting persistent bladder infections? Is it something even more serious with a name I’ve never heard of. Getting a diagnosis is the most important thing for me at this stage.

Make a list (of questions)

  • Why is the pain so persistent?
  • Why do the antibiotics not work?
  • Why do some tests show an infection while some tests don’t?
  • Why do certain foods/drinks seem to give me a flare-up?
  • What further tests can be done to get to the root of the problem?

Gather any information about your health that the doctor might need

  • Started getting bladder infections in mid-teens
  • Had problems with yeast infections and bladder infections on and off since then with an increase noticed when in a sexual relationship
  • Daily bladder pain since October 2013 until the last two weeks
    • Onset was at a time of high stress at work, lots of travelling and poor dietary choices
  • Pain gets worse in the evening just before bed – why is that?
  • I’ve recently been on a strict elimination diet, which seems to have helped immensely
  • I haven’t had caffeine or alcohol since September – this seems to be helping
  • I think sugar might be a culprit
  • History of autoimmune disease and food intolerances in family
    • Scleroderma, Raynaud’s, Coeliac, Parkinson’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis. Yeast, wheat, sugar, and dairy intolerances, as well as my mum having a mild intolerance to pork! That would be a disaster.
  • History of Type 2 Diabetes in family, but most likely is lifestyle-related
  • History of cancer in family including lung, breast, brain, and lymphoma
  • History of heart disease in family
  • I exercise regularly and eat a clean, wholefood diet focusing on meat, fish, vegetables and fruit
  • I’m 27 years old, female, 5’4″ tall (I think), around 113lbs (8 stone), so a healthy BMI of 19.2.

So, that’s quite a lot of info. I’ve also made a couple of notes to myself to remind myself to stay focused in the appointment, including:

  • Ask questions
  • Be direct
  • Ask about pros and cons of any treatment or test suggestion
  • Don’t rush
  • Ask why?

Who knows when I’ll next have access to a specialist after today. It’s taken long enough to get an appointment in the first place, so I really hope I can squeeze as much usefulness as absolutely possible out of the session.

Wish me luck.


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