Tuesday, 11 March 2014

How to survive a consultant appointment

I managed to get to the age of 21, only seeing a consultant once for my asthma before it all went down hill! I'd hardly ever spent time in a hospital, but one day that all changed. I went to my Dr for some advice and before I knew it I was having regular check-ups and surgery! Then getting pregnant I saw an obyn initially because of that surgery, then there were complications. Once Big Girl was born she started seeing a dietitian and a consultant, I got pregnant again and was fitting my obyn appointments around hers, baby girl came along and she got her own consultant and eventually dietitian, I had more consultant appointments after a seizure and finally sent to a different consultant about the CFS/ME.

Looking through the calenders in the past 2 years I have attended no fewer than 4 hospital appointments each month, some months it has been as many as 8! This week is one of those crazy weeks where everything collides and we will spend more time travelling to and attending hospital appointments than we will spend at home. First thing Wednesday morning I have a obyn appointment here in Weston,  followed by an afternoon appointment in Bristol with Baby Girls ENT consultant, and then on Friday we are back in Weston for Big Girl to find out why she is having so many UTI's.

Sometimes it can feel like no sooner we have been discharged from one consultant we are on a waiting list to see someone else about another problem. As we see so many a month, I thought it was about time I shared my top tips for surviving hospital appointments!

1) Be prepaired to wait.
Hospitals rarely run on time, its not anyones fault in particular and getting annoyed isn't going to speed it up. So just be prepared, take enough time off work so you don't feel stressed and if you have children with you take snacks and drinks. In these situations, bribery is the key to good behaviour.

2) Don't be intimidated.
Sometimes its very easy to let the consultant do all the talking, to let them tell you how you should be feeling and what you think about it all. Be assertive and just because they have seen it 100's of times, does not mean they have seen you 100's of times.

3) Write down your questions before you go, and ask them all!
Its very easy to forget what you want to ask when you are put on the spot, so take a list of all those questions that have been spinning in your head for the last few weeks. Don't feel rushed and skip over 'non-important' questions, if they were important enough to write down, they are important enough to ask!

4) Take a pen and paper.
10-15 minutes is a very short amount of time to take in an awful lot of information, especially when you may be feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed. There is no way you will remember everything that has been said, so write down the key points for you to refer back to later.

5) Don't be scared to ask for explanations
Consultants tend to use big medical words ordinary people have little understanding of. If you are unsure of what they are saying ask them to explain what they mean, after all its your health, or your child's health, they are talking about.

And finally Don't Panic! If you feel overwhelmed take someone with you, a little moral support can go a long way!

Do you have any tips? What would you add to the list?

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