Doctor, doctor…

I have come to understand that it is important to go into a doctor’s appointment prepared and with a mission. Not only does this help lower my anxiety about the appointment, but also it makes me feel in control of my health care. Most people tend to forget that the health care industry is service driven, and each appointment you have with a doctor should be treated like a purchase. Whether you are paying for the appointment out of pocket, or if you have health insurance, that doctor is paid to provide you with a service. Think about a time when you had a bad experience when purchasing a service (like car repair, a haircut, etc.) Did you do repeat business with them? Did you complain to the company, or tell friends about your bad experience? A doctor should be treated the same way…if they don’t provide you with the service you expect, then don’t do business with them again! You need to take control of your health care, and find doctors that provide you with a high level of care and customer service.

One way you can take control of your health care, and help the doctor to provide you with the care and service you need, is to go into each and every appointment prepared with a list topics to discuss and questions to ask. This will help focus the appointment, help the doctor to understand what you need, and make the entire process more effective and efficient. I do this by making a running list of questions and topics in a file on my computer. As long as it’s not something that I feel is serious, then I will just continue to add to this file until my next appointment. If you are like me, and have a serious health condition, then you probably have frequent appointments. I see a rheumatologist for my Churg Strauss every six months, in addition to my visits with my primary care doctor. I recommend that you see a doctor at least once a year, and as I said, go prepared…don’t just go for a “check-up” to let the doctor evaluate you…otherwise you’re just wasting your time and the doctor’s time. Go with a specific agenda in mind, and ask at least one or two questions. Your question could be as simple as “I’ve been feeling a bit tired lately, what do you think could be causing this?” The doctor may not have a clear cut answer for you, but this question should at least spark a conversation where they in turn ask you questions in an attempt to address your concerns. If the doctor is not willing to engage in a conversation, answer any of your questions, or tries to dismiss you, then don’t go back to that doctor! A good doctor will understand that you may have some concerns, and even if they do not think you should be worried about something, they should be able to talk to you about it and help you understand WHY you shouldn’t be worried.

If you’re interested in some of the types of questions I ask, below is a sample of what I brought to my most recent appointment:

I have seen some positive and possibly negative changes already in the short time I have been grain free, and we can discuss those during the appointment.  One change that I am not sure is related or not, is possible low magnesium.  Based on symptoms I have read, I wonder if not eating grains has caused this, since I think some grains may be fortified with magnesium?  The most noticeable symptom is an increase in cavities, when I didn’t have any 4 months ago when I had my last dental appointment.  It is also my understanding that magnesium is recommended for people to take along with calcium and vitamin D to prevent bone loss, so I wonder if it’s a good idea for me to take a supplement anyway since I have osteoporosis.  The only issue that I have read about magnesium is to not take it if there is kidney damage, but I wanted to get your opinion.  Is there a test you can do to make sure my kidneys are ok?  I think you usually do some kind of test for my kidneys anyway, but I wasn’t sure.

I read some information about K2 being essential for calcium absorption and keeps calcium from accumulating in arteries, which could be an issue when taking calcium supplements and osteoporosis medications. Do you know anything about that?  Do you know of any issues or side effects that could occur if I decided to take a K2 supplement?

Last month I was sick (coughing and lethargic) and went to a walk-in clinic and was told I had pneumonia.  I didn’t think at that time that I was THAT sick, but was trying to prevent getting pneumonia.  They said my white blood cell count was extremely high and they saw something on my lung x-ray, so they gave me a very strong 7 day antibiotic, and told me to stay out of work for a full week, which I did, and I recovered fine. I have copies of the bloodwork for you to look at. Should I get pneumonia vaccine to prevent this in the future?  I am always hearing bad things about vaccines and would prefer not to get one, but if it would prevent me from getting extremely sick, then I would consider it.

What is your opinion on a grain-free diet?

Should I take the any the following supplements: K2, Magnesium, iodine, or anything else?

Should I see a nutritionist, or specialists to address the above questions?

When should I get another bone density scan done?

Should I see a specialist about my osteoporosis?

Can you have the following tested: Calcium levels in my blood, Kidney function, Liver function, Iodine levels, Iron levels, ESR  (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate), CRP (C-Reactive Protein)?

Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos

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