Posted by: fosteringcare | March 18, 2011

Lesson Learned


 One thing I have learned…really, really, really ALWAYS bring someone with you to EVERY doctor appointment.

 It has been said on every talk show, written in every book about healthcare and I have even insisted on going with friends to their appointments, yet I ignored the #1 rule of “Informative” doctor appointments… I went alone.

   Retaining large amounts of information has never been my forte, so if emotions and unknowns and medical jargon are in thrown in the mix, I am worthless! Nothing good can come from me being alone in that situation. Notebooks and lists of questions are all fine and good, but if nobody is sitting there with me to remind me to “write that down”, or to ask me, “What’s on your list”, those tools are of little value, trust me.

   Out of five doctor appointments last week, one of them was a last minute, impromptu, “I cannot wait an entire week until you get back from Spring Break” visit. Of course it ended up being one and a half hours long and the one I showed up to by myself.  Sitting in the exam room across from my Oncologist, I SWEAR I was hearing every word she said, AND understanding it. I made appropriate responses and comments, having a grown-up, intelligent conversation. After 90 minutes of this intellectual conversation, I headed out of the office, sat in my car trying to comprehend everything we had spoken about. I had no notes, no questions checked off of a list and all of the clear, concise explanations sounded like Charlie Browns “Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah” teacher in my head.

   Oh how I wish I had taken someone with me! I have FIFTY-THOUSAND people offering to go with me to appointments all the time, yet since this was such short notice, seriously, “Can you head up here now”, I didn’t even consider calling and asking anyone to come with me. It should not be allowed to happen. Nobody should ever be allowed to do that alone. It should simply be illegal. I propose that if a patient shows up at a doctor appointment that is in any way, shape or form life-changing, there needs to be somebody sent in with them. A secretary, a nurse, heck a janitor…anybody that can be another set of ears, asking for clarification when they see the “glazed over stare” beginning and that will be available to repeat everything they heard at least three times.

Unfortunately, I do believe that is one lesson I have now learned well.



  1. Hang in there and don’t be too hard on yourself. As a single person I learned this the hard way too. After the first time I experienced that brain blackout I bought a cheap portable tape recorder and now I always record all my doctor visits to play back if I need to. If I don’t, I can always delete it later, but I have it to listen to as often as I need to while the information sinks in.
    Good luck!

  2. Don’t be so hard on yourself baby. You don’t get one shot, you will have plenty of other appointments and next time, you will be ready! It’s ok. You are doing a great job. I found it helpful to write down questions ahead of time, with space left to write in answers, which I did during the appointment. I kept a few little notepads around so if I remembered a question I wanted to ask, I would jot it down. Can you reach your oncologist by email as well? Ask. Then if you forget something at the meeting, you can send off a quick note. It’s ok. You are doing just fine. hugs.

  3. Amen. I took a friend and I was holding the notebook and after a minute I handed it to her to take notes. I couldn’t do anything except try and listen and not freak out.

  4. i am the one who usually goes with my dad- i started a binder for him. with many folders. one for notes, one for appts, prescrips etc. we have found it a great thing. bc no matter who goes with him we have all the info in one place.
    you are a brave woman, i pray for you!

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