How Much Does a Doctor Really Need to Know?

I had an appointment with a new neurologist yesterday morning for my migraines. I have been to so many doctors, tried so many medications, and somehow I can’t seem to get rid of them. I know they are related to stress and lack of sleep but it still doesn’t take the pain and frustration away. I liked the doctor today. He came highly recommended and I got what I needed from him which was someone to manage the medications that I feel are right for me (after almost ten years of trial and error). I am sure you have all had to fill out those forms about your medical history prior to a visit with a new doctor and as someone who has filled out way too many of those forms, you do get use to what information is relevant and what isn’t.

How much does a doctor really need to know? Well, that really does depend on what he/she is treating you for. If I had to give advice on this in one sentence it would be “Be open and honest about everything because if he/she doesn’t know what is really going on in your life and with your body, you cannot be properly treated.” And I do believe that! However, it is also important to gauge what things from your past may be worth mentioning and what is irrelevant. Doctor’s appointments usually aren’t very long so I believe it is important to get right to the point in addition to giving a thorough explanation of whatever you think might be impacting the way you are feeling. I think any good doctor will ask you what else is going on in your life. I spoke about how important it is to find a doctor that treats the entire person, not just the organ or general area that they specialize in here

My appointment was an eye opener in terms of this topic because as I started really telling him what I had been through and where I was at today, I felt like I just wasted time. I would be the first person to comment if I thought this doctor was not doing the right thing. But, as I briefly explained the enormous amount I had been through and attempted to do it in a way that he would understand, I felt like I was completely all over the place. I had so much to say and when I am in any type of situation where I am given a general question about my health (for ex, “what has been going on?”), I feel like I am incoherent. As I continued on about my failed Jpouch for the purpose of pointing out that I have had a rough road which I thought would be helpful for him to understand, his response to me was that it seemed difficult. He then proceeded to say we should look into the reasons why I have a lot of anxiety and don’t sleep well. Now, yes that is being a thorough doctor. I don’t want a neurologist who is only going to treat my migraines and ignore the rest of me. But…. Where is my anxiety coming from? Why do I have a hard time sleeping? Those aren’t mysteries to me. I just nodded, agreeing that I should see a sleep doctor (again), etc.

I left the appointment with exactly what I went there for. I have been haphazardly managing my migraines with inderal since I had a lot of refills but I did recognize the need for me to be under the care of a doctor who was prescribing it to me. I don’t like feeling like I have to be in control and in charge all of the time. As I mentioned a number of months ago, in one of my very first posts, I need to feel like I can relinquish some control to the person who is taking care of me. He gave me samples of medicine to try for pain and I was so afraid to take it since I had a bad reaction a long time ago to a medicine in the same class. But I did take it because I needed to be able to trust him. And it ended up being okay. Bottom line is that a doctor who is treating you does need to know everything about you in order to give you the best treatment plan available. However, if you have a chronic illness, or just have had a number of medical issues and procedures throughout the course of your life, my advice to you before seeing a new doctor is to think about what is actually relevant for that appointment. What does this doctor need to know about you that will allow for the best results in terms of treatment options and/or pain management? I like to ask myself these questions before I see any new doctor which I failed to do in preparation for yesterday morning’s appointment….so, thought I would share this with all of you so you don’t make the same “error” I did.

  • val0525

    Sounds like it went well for you. I hope he can help you with your pain.

    I certainly hope so.

  • Jodi

    So glad it went well. it’s amazing what finding the right doc can do for you! I hope he is able to help.

  • Jaime Weinstein

    I recently went through this with a craptastic doctor whom I will never go back to. He barely paid attention and kept mixing up my conditions. So here is what I came up with for the next Doctor: build a timeline in word. Keep it as barebones as possible, but this little printout is for them to keep and for you to feel like you have covered the bases without missing a beat or droning on losing their attention.

    • rissy26

      Building a time line is such a good idea!!!

  • Amanda Brooke

    really really proud of you.