I might be many things. Loyal, friendly, quirky. But there is one thing I am not and will never be- my doctor's favorite patient.
There is a reason for this. I take my diseases and my health very seriously. And I always prepare for my doctor appointments ahead of time. I come to each doctor's visit prepared with a list of questions. Seems reasonable, right? I mean, isn't that what doctors want? They want you to be an active participant in your care, right?
Okay, so maybe there is a fine line between being a proactive patient and being insane. I'm not sure what side of the fence I fall. Yesterday, I had my first follow up to the spinal cord surgery. I'm pretty sure I was scheduled for only 20 minutes. I always try to warn the receptionist when I make an appointment to make it for "a little longer," because I come armed with a lot of questions. They never take me seriously. Well anyways, so during the visit, after the physician's assistant reviewed my xrays with me and talked about the next steps, she asked me if I had any questions. I told her I had a few.
Like, a page and a half of questions, double spaced. I pulled my question list out of my purse and watched her eyes get big. The only thing should could muster out of her mouth was a helpless "Okay." We did get through all 21 questions, and my 20 min office visit turned into 45 minutes. Some questions were of higher importance, like asking about prevention of future problems. And then there were questions like #11, "Can I get my hair done now?" (The answer was no). Which led to a Part Two question "When can I?" (Answer: we'll re-visit the question after next appointment in 6 weeks).
Sidebar: Look, I'm a chick. I need to get my hair done. The girl who does my hair actually facebooked me because over the last 8 years I've never missed my every 8-week appointment and she hadn't heard from me and got worried. I need my highlights, my lowlights, and about 5 inches cut off my hair. All this lack of grooming is making me depressed. For crap's sake, I haven't been able to BEND my back in order to shave my legs for the last 6 weeks or paint my toenails. Give me SOMETHING!!! (TMI TMI TMI).
When I got home, I used my scribbled notes I wrote to type up a more thorough question/answer sheet that I can reference later.
Yes, I'm pretty sure my doctors demand double the payment from my insurance company for my visits.
Look, I have a type A personality. Always have. I can't shake it. I've always been thorough and organized. It's the business analyst/project manager in me. And when you have more than one illness to take care of, you NEED to be organized. I have a binder assigned to each one of my illnesses. Some are thin binders (Grave's Disease) and some are the thickest ones Office Depot offers (Diabetes and Celiac Disease). I now will have one for my spinal cord surgery. Everything related to those diagnoses go into the respective binder. Every lab result, medical record, question and answer sheet, brochure, business card, referral paperwork, you name it, it all goes into the binder. I have dividers for different sections in them. When I go to my doctor appointments, I bring the respective binder with me. The doctors who have been with me since the beginning of my diagnoses are used to it, if not fascinated by it and like to look in it. The new doctors are the ones who are more bewildered by it.
I don't feel embarrassed by this because guess what, at the end of the day, I get to go home and manage my diseases, not my doctor. I see them once every 3-12 months for 20 minutes a pop, whereas every other day during the year I am using that information obtained in said 20 minute appointment to manage my disease and keep myself, you know, ALIVE. So yeah, I want to be as thorough as possible because who pays the price if I don't remember all the information because I didn't write it down or didn't ask the question? That's right, I do.
I'm quirky and organized and thorough. And proud of it! :)
So no, I probably won't be winning any Patient of The Year awards anytime soon. But in the end, I take home the bigger prize.