Today I want to share two additional things that really helped us with all our appointments: a symptom list and a question list.
When visiting doctors, we always had a hard time (1) making sure that the doctor got all of the pertinent information (thus the symptom list), and (2) getting the information that we needed (thus the question list).
The Symptom List
When we visited each doctor, I immediately handed the nurse a "symptom sheet." This was a bullet-point summary of every symptom, change in health status, etc., for the child in question, and it was an awesome way to communicate effectively, clearly, and quickly with doctors. Otherwise, a lot of details get lost in transfer - and doctors are so busy that they are hard to pin down and actually talk to. This is a great way to accomplish clear communication with a minimum of lost time or lost information.
Because our time in the medical system was spent trying to track down a mystery condition, my symptom list includes all sorts of symptoms - developmental, physiological, etc. However, it would vary greatly depending on the medical circumstances. In a different situation, for example, a symptom/informational list might list other information, briefly stated, such as:
- Surgery and/or procedure history
- Example: "Had a shunt put in on 2/1/11; recovery has been uncomplicated."
- Quick summaries of visits with other specialists
- Example: "Saw Dr. Smith in neurology on 2/12/13; he recommends a second brain MRI based on symptoms."
- Current prescription list
- Example: "Currently taking 15 mg of Drug A three times per day."
It's very easy to individualize a symptom list for an individual situation, and for our family, it was an essential part of communication with our doctors.
I should also say that, without exception, doctors loved this. When we handed them detailed symptom lists, most of them showed visible enthusiasm and excitement. "Wow! This is awesome! Thank you so much!" They loved having summarized information quickly available (without hours of interviews), and they also loved seeing parents who were intensely involved in their child's care. I can't say enough about how keeping symptom lists improved and bolstered our doctor-client relationships.
Below is a partial list of the symptom list that we took to our doctors (abbreviated for privacy purposes):
The Question List
Additionally, at each specialist visit, I presented a question list - a list of questions that we wanted to ask the doctor.
Why not just ask the questions?
As many of you know, it's not that simple. Doctors are pressed for time, conversation tends to be fast-paced and headed in many different directions, and it's very easy to get side-tracked and find that one has ended an appointment without getting any questions asked, let alone answered.
When handing a doctor a list of questions, however, he or she will often stop and go systematically through the list and answer each question in turn. It's very helpful, and again, I highly recommend it.
Questions for Dr. -------
(1) Should we be concerned about [A]?
(2) Do we need to change our prescription for [B]?
(3) We have noticed [C]. Do you have any advice regarding that?
The Symptom List and the Question List were the two key points to making our specialist visits effective!
|Our little guy two years ago, with his new baby brother!|
In simpler situations - for example, taking a child to the doctor for an ear infection - the symptom list and question list can be combined easily. We do this whenever we take a child to see a physician. Here is a made-up example:
Patient Kayla Brown (birthdate 12/13/12)
For visit on 3/13/14 with Dr. Smith
- Low fever (99.8F)
- Up at night
- Rubbing ears
(1) Can we treat this at home, or do we need antibiotics? (If we need antibiotics, note that Kayla is allergic to penicillin.)
(2) What comfort measures can we take for her at home?
(3) Will it be safe for her to attend her cousin's wedding with us on Saturday?
Again, even for simple visits, this makes everything so much easier!
I hope that these tips are a blessing to your family in whatever situation you find yourself!
Click on Part 9 to keep reading!