Do's and Don'ts When Seeing a New Doctor
As endometriosis patients, seeing a new health professional is something that we will end up doing several times during our treatment. And just like meeting a new boss, or making new friends, dealing with a doctor you've never met before never gets any easier. It is stressful enough not knowing whether they will listen and support us. With endometriosis, the added worry is whether they will know enough about the disease to treat us effectively. To top it all, there is always the extra fun of being examined by a complete stranger, and their very cold hands.
However, there are things we can do to ease this stressful experience, and regain some sense of control. This will help ease our stress levels, boost our self-confidence, and influence our relationship with any new doctor positively.
Do bring everything written down
I normally walk into each doctor’s appointment with a folder under my arm. It holds all of my records and on the cover, there is a handy typed-out document in which I detail everything I’ve felt recently.
It helps to divide the topics you want to cover into bullet points, so you can see them clearly. Write down every symptom you want to discuss. Pro tip: Don’t wait until the doctor asks you about this or that symptom. Tell them you have a list you wish to read out, and go through each item.
Don’t accept their theories as absolute truths
There are as many opinions as doctors. If you want to express your disagreement do so. But if you don’t feel comfortable enough, breathe deeply and remember you can look for a different health professional. There is nothing wrong with seeking a second or third opinion. In fact, with endometriosis, it is a very smart thing to do.
Do bring support
Even if all they can do is wait for you outside, bring a friend, relative, or anyone from your support system. Having someone waiting for you can help ease anxiety. In my case, seeing a friendly face after an invasive examination can bring a world of comfort.
Don't feel forced to agree to a certain line of treatment
Remember you have the right to go home and think about your options. A doctor once tried to force me to a yes or no answer regarding some huge surgery. I wasn’t able to think straight, and started to panic. He belittled me, huffed repeatedly while refusing to look me in the eye. He sent me away with a final “suit yourself”. As I walked out, the nurse that had been in the room with me, advised me to make a formal complaint. I did so. It made me feel empowered and I got a different doctor.
Don’t be afraid to get emotional
If you feel tears coming, let them come. Don’t feel ashamed. The situation is stressful and your feelings valid. You are not hysterical or overemotional. Endometriosis is a serious, chronic condition, and no one expects you to smile through it. And if they do, they can try walking a day in your shoes.
Do treat yourself after
Whether it’s cake, a cute t-shirt, a walk around your favorite park, follow-up your appointment with something nice and healing. Last week, after seeing my new GP, I bought the sweetest, most unhealthy, and indulgent chocolate bar I could find. It felt great.
Seeing a new doctor is akin to going on an awkward first date. It's all about how the experience makes you feel. You have to like your new doctor, trust them, and feel like they will be good to you.
Listen to your gut. If you don't feel supported by your new health professional, walk away. Give yourself some time and start all over again when you have the energy. I've done this endlessly, and so can you. We got this.
Have you ever experienced a "weird" symptom and wondered if it was endo related?