A few months ago, I went to my doctor’s office to refill a prescription – and post-normal questioning and pre-prescription giving, my doctor asked me a straightforward question. “Have you ever been tested for Marfan Sydrome?” I didn’t really know what Marfan Syndrome was, but I hadn’t been. She told me that Marfan carriers were unusually tall, with long limbs. Pretty much what Abe Lincoln had.
Despite my Dad being 6’3″ and my sister being of equal height as me (5’10″), I still let this question plague me for a solid six months. She mentioned it so casually, like she was asking if I read the latest US Weekly. Being a big fan of self-diagnosis on WebMD, I tried so hard to find reasons to believe that I was genetically impaired, despite the fact that throughout my life – from birth till 27 years – nobody had ever mentioned anything of it prior to. It bothered me. It wasn’t what I came in for, and while I feel as if doctors should know best, suddenly I was filled with paranoia based on a sole, 2-second long comment. Just because I was of above-average height.
Just recently, I went to the same office for a step test, as I felt like every intake of water was an equivalent intake of knives and other stabby objects.
Since this was an immediate concern, I saw a different doctor, who made me feel extremely guilty for not being on the pill (there are other options!), being a smoker (I know it’s not a smart choice, but I made it, and I’ll work on it!) and started discussing religion with me as the strep test developed. Even worse, I realized that I didn’t have strep two minutes before my doctor announced it in person, as I heard a nurse say “STREP IS NEGATIVE” in the hallway, with the door closed.
All of this being said, I realized that I need to switch doctors. My last two experiences lead to two very awkward encounters and made me realize that I shouldn’t go to a doctor solely based on proximity to my apartment.
Here are some tips if you’re on the fence about your own doctor:
1: You Should Always Feel Comfortable With Your Doctor: This seems too easy to be a tip, but – let’s face it. If your doctor makes you feel uncomfortable, switch it up. Your doctor is someone you need to be 100% honest with, for your own good. The main role of a doctor is to make sure you feel better. So if you can’t tell him/her about a weird problem “down there”, or be honest about your diet, either fess up or ditch them.
Ladies, you should definitely see a gynecologist if you’re over 18. And if you’re uncomfortable, seek reviews online or ask some close friends. It shouldn’t be embarrassing to be safe. This is one doctor that will always be awkward the first time/possibly other times afterward. Trust me: They do what you come in for on a daily basis. The worst thing you can imagine having? They’ve seen even worse.
2: You Should Never Have Questions Post-Visit: So… I have a “throat virus”? It bummed me out to not know what I was diagnosed with and have my doctor be so amped to give me as little information as possible. If your diagnosis is tougher to swallow, your doctor should be prepped to give you the (possibly bad) news, as well as all the information you need.
3. Your Doctor Should Be Easy To Contact: Granted, I’m not in the medical field – but I know how many places certain doctors need to be at certain times. Search for a doctor’s office that fits your hours – a bunch of them offer hours past 5 PM, so you can make an appointment during your lunch break and hit up the office after work.
Sidenote: My fiance was trying to fill a prescription with his doctor and the office delayed his appointment four times, since his doctor also delivered babies. While that’s a totally reasonable excuse, it’s also somewhat annoying to the patients that aren’t giving birth and he was about a week off of his medication. Get to know your doctor and what they do. That way, you can plan ahead of time for these delays or know who to ask for in the practice if your minor emergency keeps getting pushed back for major emergencies.
4. Feel Free To Be Self-Centered: I’m such a people-person. It’s tough for me to ever truly, 100% focus on myself. But at your doctor’s office, you kind of need to. After all,the spotlight is on you. While you might make subtle chit-chat with the doctor, you’re there because something is wrong with you. Tell them everything. Did your ears feel weird the other day? Has breathing been heavier recently? While you might feel weird sharing every minor detail, those details could lead to a different prognosis – so let them all out!
In general, your doctor visit shouldn’t make you question or feel awkward. A doctor should be able to relate, inform and guide you through the issue you might have. If you dread visits, or had an awkward encounter, consider looking around; other doctors in your vicinity might be your ideal match.
Tired surgeon image via ShutterStock