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How I'm Managing Doctor's Appointments During COVID-19

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My doctor’s office called today. I recently turned 45 and was scheduled for a blood pressure check. The state shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic caused that to be postponed, which was fine, as I had enough medication to last until my new appointment in June. Then the pharmacy texted and said my medicine had been refilled.

Now, I do not have hypertension, but my current life situation (an ending marriage, raising a teen daughter, receiving a promotion in a field that is new to me, and dealing with a stressful work environment) have caused my blood pressure to elevate. My doctor doesn’t want this to cause lasting damage to my heart, as I am at low-risk for heart attack or stroke based on my weight, age, biological sex, lifestyle, and family history.

I am taking an SSRI temporarily to keep the stress from having a negative impact on my physical health. I also periodically visit a therapist who specializes in work stress. And until the gyms closed, I was exercising. I was supposed to have my blood drawn for the usual annual regimen of tests when Covid-19 hit.

In the beginning of the quarantine, I lost five pounds. Now, I’ve gained ten.

So when the doctor’s office called today to confirm next week’s appointment, I wanted to tell them no. I don’t want to go. But instead, I mentioned that it was a simple blood pressure check, and that I would do whatever they recommended as best practice. They told me to come.

What did that look like?

On the phone:

  1. They asked me about my health insurance and method of payment.
  2. They asked me about any possible COVID-19 symptoms in a very detailed series of questions.
  3. They asked me if I have a mask.
  4. They asked me if I will be coming alone.
  5. They asked me what I drive.
  6. They asked if I have a cell phone.

Before my appointment:

  1. I need to go online and use their app to complete my check-in.
  2. They will call me to confirm my medications Monday afternoon.
  3. I am to alert them to any symptoms that may indicate exposure to the virus.

The day of my appointment:

  1. I will call them from the parking lot and finish my registration over the phone.
  2. I will wear a mask.
  3. The physician’s assistant will come to my car.
  4. The physician’s assistant will escort me to the sanitized exam room.

I am sharing this information in case anyone else is wondering what going to the doctor may look like in coming months. Remember to ask questions and advocate for yourself so you can feel safe when taking care of your health.

Originally published: October 29, 2020
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