The days of the lengthy doctor visit are long gone but getting the best available care along with the most information is still possible. As with anything else, planning ahead will make the experience more pleasant for you and your health care provider.
Here are some tips to help you with your visit:
- Have the physician order your blood work at least one week prior to your visit so that the results will be back and you can review them together. Getting a phone call that “everything is fine” or “something is wrong” does not empower you to be involved in your own care. Knowing YOUR values along with the reference ranges give you a better understanding of what needs to be done to improve your health. Look for a lipid profile-HDL, LDL, triglycerides yearly, an A1C two to four times a year depending on your blood sugar control, GFR (glomerular filtration rate for kidney function), serum creatinine (for kidney function- one time a year if kidneys are fine or more frequently, if kidney function is reduced or on medications affecting kidney function). A urinalysis-spot collection- yearly, looking for protein /urine micro albumin, also for kidney function. Ask for a copy of your blood work and keep your own file.
- Know how much medication you have left at home and write down which ones need prescriptions. Bring the phone number of the pharmacy as well, in case they decide to call in the prescriptions.
- Bring your glucose meter to each visit; it is good to compare values with their meter. Some offices allow you to use your own meter and will not charge for a finger stick. Some physicians like to download the meter information instead of checking the log book. Most meters now have this capacity. Make sure your meter is set with the correct date and time so the download is in real time. They are looking for blood sugar patterns and checking to see trends. Bring your diabetes logbook as well, especially if you include notes in the book such as at home blood pressure readings or food intake and carbohydrate counting.
- Look at diabetes magazines, newspaper articles about diabetes products or internet sites to see if any new technology could be available for you; you may hear of new treatments or medications that you would like to discuss. Diabetes is big business and new products and medications are always being developed.
- Ask for written material. We can learn by hearing, however, written print is an excellent reinforcement tool. Sometimes, the anxiety level at the physician’s office is high and we forget what was said. Having someone with you at the visit is also helpful to remember the information discussed.
- Write down your questions prior to your visit. Understand, you may forget when the visit is rushed, if you do not write them down. Prioritize the questions since you may only have time for one or two.
- Know how and when to take prescribed medication before you leave the visit. Should it be with food, prior to food, in the evening or morning. “Is there a problem with any of my supplements or vitamins along with my medication?” should also be addressed.
- Learn about education programs that may be offered to you. There are multiple certified diabetes education 10 hour programs nationwide. Your physician needs to write a prescription for you to be covered by insurance. Ask for your prescription at the visit to save time. Check with your own policy for coverage as well.
- Set specific goals with your physician such as “I will exercise 150 minutes a week” or “I will lose 5 pounds by next visit”. This helps you focus and attain them when someone else is watching.
- Obtain an order for your next blood work and set up your next appointment before you leave.
Making your appointments with your health care provider will reduce your stress and allow you to benefit from the experience!
NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.
She is a member of the American Diabetes Association as well as the South Florida Association of Diabetes Educators. She worked with the education department of NBMC to help educate the hospital's in-patient nurses about diabetes. She practices a healthy lifestyle and has worked as a personal fitness trainer in the past.
She was one of the initiators of the North Broward Diabetes Center (NBMC) which started in 1990 and was one of the first American Diabetes Association (ADA) certified programs in Broward County, Florida for nearly two decades. Robbie has educated patients to care for themselves and has counseled them on healthy eating, heart disease, high lipids, use of glucometers, insulin and many other aspects of diabetes care. The NBMC Diabetes Center received the Valor Award from the American Diabetes Center for excellent care to their patients. Robbie has volunteered over the years as leader of many diabetes support groups.