I have lived with type 1 diabetes for 18 years. Along the way, I've collected a few tips and tricks for ensuring my medical appointments are positive and productive.
Here's my advice for maximizing those few short hours with your care team:
1. Make notes
It is likely that in the weeks or months before you see your GP or specialist, there will have been issues relating to your health and diabetes that have caused you concern, confusion or even celebration. These should be noted down and shared at your appointment. As issues arise, I record them in the notes section of my smartphone. It’s ideal because it’s always with me and the notes are easy to organise into points.
2. Give a heads-up
I email or call my doctor’s office to let her know in advance if there is something that may take more time than usual, or if I am looking for information she may not have on hand. I also call ahead if I need forms filled in, such as a driver’s licence review, information for my private health insurer or a letter written for travelling. This gives my doctor the chance to have these ready to discuss in person.
3. Have results ready
Before seeing my GP or specialist, I take care of any blood tests or other diagnostics, allowing enough time for pathology to send the results back to my doctor. This gives us a chance to speak about my tests.
4. Set your limits…
As well as knowing what I want to achieve in my appointment, I’m also clear about what I don’t feel is necessary. For example, I prefer not to be weighed. This is a personal choice and an issue I have discussed with my healthcare team. If there is no real need (for example if my weight is required for medication doses) and there are no concerns (either from me or my team), then I don’t get on the scales.
5.…and your goals
Other checks, however, I consider essential, such as blood pressure. I always ask how my most recent numbers compare with previous results. I note this down for my records, again in my smartphone, to create a really useful record. On your list of discussion points you may also want to include standing items such as prescription reminders, regular complications screenings and any referrals that need updating. Don’t forget to leave room for ‘general business’ in case your healthcare professional has anything to add!
Check out Renza's blog at diabetogenic.wordpress.com.