My dentist runs on time, has an amazing staff, completes my cleaning in less than 45min, confirms my appointment by text, bills my insurance correctly, remembers my name and I know 2hr parking will cover the whole visit.
For most other doctors I go and see, none of the above is the case. The staff is snarky or unhelpful, they’re always running behind or there’s always some snare, be it paperwork, timing or other people’s crap. So, of course, I adapt.
Here are the things I do / bring with me when I am headed into a doctor situation that is not an easy in/out.
- Water bottle, sometimes filled with something extra delicious, like cucumber water.
- Book to read. Or books… yay Kindle.
- Charged phone and phone charge. One to stay on top of things at work if the appointment hijacks my schedule. The other b/c long waits means I burn through my battery if I get on a social media tear (but I do try and focus on the book I brought instead of my phone).
- Email on said phone. See #3.
- Cash, credit and coins for parking. This is Los Angeles, so I go with the longest option I can find. If it’s the difference between $2 for 2 hours or $6 for unlimited, I bite the extra bucks and go for the spot where my car won’t be towed for hours.
- Arrive early. 15 min before my appointment time is my usual plan. There is always some type of paperwork to fill out, insurance cards to be copied or some extra thing that needs to happen before the doctor can see me. This makes for an even longer wait, but at least I’m not the cause of the delays.
- Expect them to be running late. Like, really late. Like, so so so late. Try not to plan anything that bumps right up against the appointment on either side.
- Snacks. Whatever works, just stave off the hangry.
- Headphones or ear plugs. Nothing gives this highly-sensitive person more anxiety than a crazy loud TV running in the background. Music calms me, podcasts entertain me, and ear plugs create a nice little buffer.
- Accept the crazy lateness. Acceptance, ah yes. If I were meant to be somewhere else by now, I would be.
- Be thankful for affordable health care. Even if this means the receptionist never knows what your copay is or if you paid this time or last time or if you receive a bill 2 months after your visit, saying you own more money, like I do every single time. The fact is, I have access to medical professionals and health care I can afford because I have a good job and live in the United States. I am leagues beyond women in other parts of the world (though I’d argue that, when it comes to caring for mothers, some other countries are doing a much better job).
- Remember, they work for you. A friend said this to me and it blew my mind. Of course they do – I am a patient, which in other industries is a client or customer. I don’t have to give any particular doctor my business (see #11). If the staff / wait / bedside manner of the doctor isn’t in line with what I want, I can go to someone else. I encourage you to as well.
- Speak up. Ask questions. Call back. Wait on hold for as long as necessary. This is really, really hard for me. I don’t like “bothering” people. I don’t like asking questions. It takes me a bit to process all the info/sensations coming in, to then figure out how I think/feel, to then form a thought and ask a question… picking doctors who give me a moment to collect my thoughts, who don’t seem aggressive or harried, helps me immensely.
- Keep all receipts, paperwork, and copies of stuff in one place.
- Practice presence. I try to feel my feet on the floor, my breath moving through my nose and lungs, and my body in space. My natural inclination is to detach, as if the situation isn’t really happening, but that just disturbs my feelings more. If I can relax into what is actually happening, I am sitting in a room, waiting, then I feel less anxious overall.
What do you do to support yourself when dealing with doctors and medical appointments?