Talking to Your Healthcare Professionals
Last updated: October 2022
Finding your voice and advocating for yourself when visiting your doctor is important. There are considerable benefits to your level of care if you take steps to be proactive in having conversations.
I have found the best way to do that is by journaling my days and reviewing the changes with my doctor. This helped me find my new normal and better understand my COPD.
The most effective ways to communicate with your doctor
Over the years, I have learned the best ways to communicate and discuss with my doctor. These are my most important reminders.
Numbers are for doctors only
Don’t get caught up in numbers. They are your doctor's interpretation of your condition. Your doctor needs those numbers to treat you, but they should not get to you.
“Doctor speak” is not a language we can understand, so don’t make an appointment about numbers. You are the master of your chronic illness and should be ready to tell that doctor.
Give your doctor a list of your medical team
Ask your doctor to speak with your other specialists. I have a general practitioner, a respirologist, and a cardiologist. I will soon be making an appointment with a rheumatologist.
They could put my life in danger if they can’t or won’t share information. I insist on this at our first meeting and am prepared to move on if that doesn’t work for them.
There is no point in them asking me questions in medical terms. It is much better to talk “doctor speak” to each other.
Write everything down
Preparing for your next doctor’s appointment should start the minute you leave your current appointment. Start a list of what you forgot to tell the doctor about at your current appointment.
You can keep it in notes on your phone or take the time to write it in a journal.
You must be ready to tell the doctor what you have learned from your research. Let them tell you how or if it is important.
Ask if you should be doing more or less of anything. I tracked many things that I assumed meant nothing, but viewing these pages from the past brings back feelings of how I felt then.
Some are good, and some are bad. I found out that my COPD was vastly affected by weather changes.
The best way to find out what was considered normal for me was by journaling my days and reviewing the changes with my doctor. This helped me better understand my COPD.
Get information from reliable sources
I can say firsthand that Google is not a reliable maintenance method for a chronic illness like COPD. While doing your research, question the information.
Although helpful, researchers and medical personnel articles can only point out what is wrong and its technology. If you are looking for ways to understand living your best life with COPD, it should come from a fellow patient.
Take the time to start a conversation with others that have COPD. Join a peer support group, and listen to others, but ask your doctor's opinion before making assumptions about changes you need to make and how you can live better daily.
Where do you stand with your COPD?