The Fifth and Final Step to a Great Office Visit!

Remember in elementary school when all the teachers insisted that you use the buddy system? Crossing the street, you had to grab a buddy, hold hands, and look both ways. Going on a field trip? Grab a buddy. Going to the bus stop? Grab a buddy.

Going to the doctor’s office? Grab a buddy!

It doesn’t matter how old or how smart you are, there are certain things about going to the doctor’s office that can be too much for us to handle. Whenever there is something important to be discussed at a doctor’s visit, bring a buddy.

Courtesy of http://www.pmslweb.com/
Courtesy of http://www.pmslweb.com/

Why is this, you ask?

1 – They can advocate for you

Many of us get overwhelmed at the doctor’s office. No matter how much you control your stress and prepare, it is very easy to get caught up in the fear of the moment and freeze. A buddy can speak for you when the cat’s got your tongue.

If you know that this happens to you, let your buddy know ahead of time the questions you want to ask. (I always suggest you write them down!) Having a buddy helps to make sure ALL of your questions are answered to their full extent.

Having a buddy also helps to make sure all your important symptoms are communicated to the team. There were many times that my husband would chime in about different symptoms of mine that I forgot to mention or didn’t even notice!

For example, when I was on Interferon, my brain fog was intense. To me, it was annoying, but I thought I was getting by pretty well. I didn’t know how bad it was until my husband made it clear to the doctor that he was frightened by how poorly I was functioning mentally and he was INCREDIBLY glad we were changing treatments!

Wow!! I had no idea – my dear husband wasn’t about to tell me I was a blubbering idiot for the past 3 months, but he was very willing to tell the doctor it was a problem that needed to be fixed. He was trying to help me get through that period of time by not telling me.

Moral of the story? Your buddy = instant advocate

Me and my favorite buddy at the Miles for Melanoma event in Boston

2 – They give you a second set of eyes and ears

Have you ever gotten directions from someone and as you start to drive, you forget what they just said? “Was it a right at the light and a left at the stop sign? Or a left at the light and a right at the stop sign?” If two people listened to those same directions, you’re twice as likely to remember them.

(This doesn’t apply now with smart phones and GPS, but I know you folks who feel me on this one are out there!!)

Or maybe you’re driving and start thinking about work or the kids, and next thing you know, your passengers yell “There’s the exit!” and you have to swerve to make it at the last second?

We can’t see or hear everything all the time. Having a buddy helps to make sure that all the important information from a visit gets noted. This helps to make sure that every important detail, every treatment option, every little fact and statistic gets remembered. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one!

When a consult only lasts 15 minutes, there’s a LOT of information coming at you. If you can’t take notes, much of this information will go in one ear and out the other – it’s just entirely too much for you to soak in. Follow-ups, future testing, etc can be easily forgotten with such a large load of info. Having a buddy also helps you stay on schedule with your busy calendar of appointments.

3 – They support you

Last, but most definitely not least, a buddy is a support system. They can hold your hand and keep you calm during your visit. They can crack jokes with you in the waiting room to keep your mind off of things. They can give you a hug or a high five after good news. Or give you a shoulder to cry on after bad news.

And a buddy doesn’t have to be a spouse or a partner. Many people bring friends, relatives, kids, whoever you love and know you can trust. I try and go to as many family-related doctor’s visits and appointments as possible, because my family trusts me to advocate for them and interpret medical jargon. And I bring my husband to all my oncology appointments because he can make me laugh with just a funny look. Less stress for me always means a better visit.

No matter how big or small the visit may seem, always follow your teacher’s advice and bring a buddy. They can keep your stress level down, be your advocate, and help you remember information and future appointments. Help yourself by allowing others to help you through your doctor’s visits. This will help you have a better doctor’s visit and lead a happy, healthy life!

Comments? Questions? Concerns? I’d love to hear them! Email me at Lauren@WithinMySkin.com

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