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The Letter I Write My Doctor Before Each Appointment

The most helpful emails in health
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I learned the hard way that it can be challenging to get my questions answered and convey important information succinctly at a doctor’s appointment. Lyme
disease can make it hard to remember details in the moment, so I would sit there like a deer in the head lights. My health care team can’t help me if they don’t know what is going on.  It is on me to convey the truth of my symptoms and be cost-effective in my health care.

No Regrets: Get the Answers I Need

So I am driving home after meeting with the doctor. I drive about an hour for most of my appointments and replay the appointment over in my head. Shoulda Woulda Coulda remembered to ask what the doctor thinks about a new treatment I read about, the new neuro symptom I’m experiencing or a way to address the crushing fatigue. Time is money in health care. Many Lyme-literate doctors don’t take insurance and charge by the minute. The difference between a 20-minute appointment and an hour is hundreds of dollars. This adds up to a lot of money each year

I know I want to help my team help me. So I developed a practice to write my doctor/herbalist a letter before each appointment and email it to them. Unfortunately they rarely take the time to prepare for the appointment by reading it. The real value comes when I whip it out and use it as outline for my appointment.

Questions: Write a Letter to the Doctor or Just to Myself

Now I don’t always send the letter, but I do organize my information and questions ahead of time. My questions center on food, medicine and side effects, pain, sleep and self-care. Here is an example letter I wrote:

I am writing to organize my thoughts prior to my visit scheduled for the first week of February. I wanted to organize my questions to optimize our time together.

Discussion Questions:

1. Can you talk with me about the stage of Lyme I am in and how best to support recovery? History table indicates to me that my issues with Lyme could go back at least five or more years.

2. Is this too much or too little exercise? I feel tired to exhausted most days.

3. Ideas to manage pain please

4. Is acetyl glutathione more readily absorbed through the digestive tract and is this something I should take?

5. Any additional or different self-care practices? I am going to get an infrared sauna and will add that to my detox.

6. Paleo versus vegan with no wheat or corn? Any thoughts on what will best promote immune system strength? Herbs for my brain?

Organizing and asking questions ahead of my appointments has a lot of benefits. I think about what is going on and gain insights into my own recovery. It gives me confidence to stay on track in my communication and keeps me a vital part of the conversation.

Getty Image by Tero Vesalainen

Originally published: November 6, 2018
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