Oh, hey! 🤗 I’ve been offline for the past couple of weeks, taking a breather from social media and focusing on some seasonal health issues that tend to flare-up as the weather starts to get all wonky, namely arthritis in my hands and fingers.
Many of you might not know that I was a professional athlete in my first life 😂. I grew up playing all the sports and ended up on a volleyball path that took me to the NCAA and then overseas to Europe.
Unfortunately, on that path were also many injuries, surgeries, and repeated trauma to almost every single body part. (Seriously, name a part and I’ll tell you the injury.)
The silver lining was, I knew my body inside and out. I was the epitome of body-awareness. I could connect every tingle, bruise, weird feeling directly to a cause.
I’m still super body-aware but now that I’m no longer connected to sports, aches and pains freak me out because I have nothing to connect them to. But many of my healthcare providers still consider me an athlete, which makes it very hard for me to have meaningful conversations about my current health as a sedentary work-from-home mom of twins 🙄
That’s why it’s more important than ever to advocate for yourself, especially when it comes to your health, though often easier said than done.
There are 2 main things that I recommend for those looking to be a fierce self advocate at healthcare appointments:
- Tracking symptoms in a journal
- Creating an action plan for appointments
In this post we’re going to focus on:
How to Create a Killer Action Plan for Healthcare Appointments
- Compile your questions into one list
- Review your symptom journal
- Write down or collect all your current medications
- Map out the drive to the office if it’s an in-person visit. Pin parking access, and then give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes.
- Ask the medical assistant to email you any forms you need to fill out ahead of your visit.
- Let the medical assistant know of any information you would like passed on to the doctor before your appointment. For example, if you suffer from health anxiety perhaps you would like the doctor to know to avoid specific triggering language.
- Be specific about your goals for the appointment. Do you have new symptoms? Require a medication change? Feel improvement? What are you hoping to accomplish with your given time?
- Take notes. Bring paper and pen, voice recorder, or use your phone. Whichever is the most convenient method for you based on your condition.
- Bring a trusted friend/family member/patient advocate if you need moral support or have trouble advocating for yourself. They can vouch for your symptoms and condition, or help you get through your list of questions, or take notes.
- Don’t let your doctor guide the conversation. You are there to be heard, and your condition is one to be taken seriously. Stick your plan and questions, and maximize the short amount of time you have with your doctor. Don’t ever feel bad for having “one more question” if they are making you feel rushed, or not heard. Remember, you can always change your doctor if you need to. But here’s hoping you won’t have to.
- Print out this handy discussion guide and take it to your next appointment.
As I wait for a referral to a new Rheumatologist, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). This chronic inflammatory disease affects an estimated 300,000 Canadians, primarily women. The onset usually occurs during the prime working years of 30-50 years of age, causing chronic pain, fatigue, swelling, stiffness, +loss of function, amongst other symptoms.
My grandmother suffered from RA, and I remember how much it affected her hands 😔. With my history of injuries and arthritis, it’s something I continue to watch out for, and make sure that I’m able to advocate for myself by educating myself.
If you or someone you know lives with RA, click here for more information and learn how to #TalkOverRA 🖤