Nobody enjoys going to the doctor, but it doesn't have to be a painful experience. Sometimes you love the doctor but not the three-hour wait to see her, sometimes you get in and out quickly but aren't sure the doctor even remembers your name, much less your health concerns, and sometimes you get lucky with a doctor who runs her practice efficiently and actually listens (like the one I have right now, lucky girl that I am).
Long waits, snotty nurses, and cold stethoscopes aside, there are ways to get the most out of your very brief time with your physician ... and in the process be empowered to take charge of your own health.
Women's Health recently reported on "surviving your doctor," which I thought was really helpful. It featured horror stories of missed diagnoses, some of which could have turned deadly if women hadn't followed their own sense that something wasn't right.
There are some really important things to remember, according to the story:
- Your doctor is not God in a white coat. Don't be intimidated by them ... and I would add to steer clear of doctors who introduce themselves by their professional title (Dr. Arrogant) and call you by your first name.
- Don't be too timid to relate all your symptoms. No matter how gross or embarrassing, they've probably seen it before and, if not, a good doctor will look at it as a learning opportunity.
- Research your symptoms online and always ask about alternative diagnoses. While you might actually have, say, strep throat or acid reflux, asking what else your symptoms could mean can alert you to other problems.
- If something doesn't seem right, ask for a second opinion. A good doctor will be perfectly happy to write you a referral for one.
Reading all this makes me very glad I found a good doctor. That's really the only advice I'd add: If your health insurance allows, shop around until you're with someone you like. Going to the doctor doesn't have to be fun, but it shouldn't suck.
Image via Lauren Nelson/Flickr