At work, your boss has decided to host a health fair as an expression of his concern for you and your co-workers’ welfare. Besides, he was told to have one by his bosses. The health fair is to be held at lunch time. After wolfing down a cheeseburger and fries in your office, you mosey on down to the health fair.
Several stations have been set-up for your participation: Smoking – A Dirty and Deadly Habit, High blood pressure – The Silent Killer, Diabetes – A Not So Sweet Disease, and Heart Disease – Are You Next. After learning that your blood pressure is surprisingly in the normal range despite your job dissatisfaction and that what you ate for lunch may contribute to you having a heart attack, you decide to get a free cholesterol screening test.
The nice pleasant volunteer nurse ****** your finger and places a drop of blood on a small i-pod like machine. As the machine beeps, her smile turns into small tight circle. “Oh, wow. Your cholesterol is really high. You should see a doctor right away.”
And thus it begins. You have now joined 34.5 million other Americans who have been told that they, too, have high cholesterol. How could this be happening to you? Granted you may not be exercising and eating all the right foods, but still you were planning on starting an exercise and diet program next week.
What’s going to happen when you see a doctor? How do you prepare for such a meeting? What questions will I be asked and what questions should I ask?
Here’s a physician’s perspective on how you should get ready for that first encounter and what to expect.
1. What to bring with you?
If you have no significant medical history, then all you really need to bring is an open mind. Otherwise here is a list of some useful items:
a. A copy of your abnormal cholesterol test - you can’t always count on your doctor to have all the necessary records at your first meeting.
b. Any medical records i.e. summaries of hospitalizations or procedures, test results…Remember, your medical records are your property. You are well within your rights to get personal copies of your medical history.
c. A list of your medicines and their doses. Better yet, just bring your medicine bottles. Don’t just bring your pills (i.e. in a pill box) since most physicians have no clue as to what the medicines they are prescribing look like.
d. Insurance card or information.
2. What to expect when you arrive at the doctor’s office?
Forms, forms, forms:
a. Insurance forms – unfortunately, a painful necessity.
b. Medical history questionnaire – a series of questions concerning past medical and surgical history, medications, allergies, family history, and lifestyle habits. It’s designed to expedite the meeting by collecting basic information.
c. Release of medical information form – authorization for your doctor to obtain your medical records from hospitals or other healthcare providers.
3. What to expect when you go back to the examination room?
a. Vital signs – measurement of blood pressure, heart rate, height, weight, and waist circumference. This information helps screen for high blood pressure and obesity.
b. A change of clothes into a cheap uncomfortable disposable paper gown – although they are not very fashionable, the gowns do serve the purpose of making the physical exam easier. It’s important for the physician to be able to do a complete head to toe exam. If a patient is fully clothed, important clues to serious diseases may be easily missed.
Next week, we'll look at what to expect when you first meet your doctor, and the types of tests that they will run. Don't be afraid to ask questions and take control of your health!
Published On: January 22, 2007