You Have "Peri" What? : Make a List and Check it Twice
Are you a list maker? If you are, then the recommendations in this post will be easy for you. If you’re not, I would highly recommend that you become one -- at the very least you should when you go to your physician. A few good things will come out of it if you do.
First, you won’t forget what you want to speak to your doctor about. Second, he will see that you are mindful enough to write things down, and will very likely appreciate that you are so engaged. Third, you will save an enormous amount of time (you only have eighteen minutes, remember?), and as a result, you will get much more out of your appointment; and last, you will feel you actually accomplished something during your visit, which believe it or not, will give you a tremendous sense of empowerment.
And that is really what we’re after here, ladies. As much as I would like to give you the perfect recipe for your doctor visit, with a guarantee he or she will listen to you and give you a correct and accurate diagnosis, I cannot. But, if we can remove some of the frustration in feeling you are not being heard, and if you can make some headway toward an accurate diagnosis, then we’ve just scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro in my view.
What Should You Write Down?
Elizabeth Cohen suggests in The Empowered Patient that you should write down your top three concerns. If you’re in perimenopause, perhaps your periods are heavy with blood clots and you’re feeling drained from the blood loss; or maybe your hot flashes are worse at a particular time of day or night.
Perhaps you are experiencing bolting anxiety and panic attacks which wake you from a deep sleep at night. Write those things down, and put them in order of importance. And by all means, if you have more than three concerns, right those down as well!
If you are taking any medications, even herbal supplements, it’s important that you list those, how much you are taking, and when. Do you have test results from other doctor visits? If so, bring those results with you, along with any MRIs, CT scans, etc.
Elizabeth Cohen also suggests you use the worksheet she includes in her book called the “Get it Dun” worksheet: D-for diagnosis, U-for understanding, and N-for determining the next steps (Cohen, 2010, p.180). As the acronym suggests, it is a worksheet to help you get your diagnosis, understand what kind of plan you will need to help you get better (or in this case, help you determine what to do about your perimenopause symptoms), and to help you understand the next steps involved to see your diagnosis through to a completion point.
On a personal note, as resistant as I can be at times to linear, flow-chart type solutions to a problem, the truth is, utilizing lists and worksheets can be quite useful. You’re taking the bull by the horns, so speak, by writing things down, organizing your thoughts, and formulating a plan.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and powerless (as women in perimenopause often do), having the right tools will not only help you solve the problem more effectively, but they will also help you feel more in control of the situation, and therefore, less of a victim.
To be continued…
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.