Making the Most of Your Clinic Visit

Visiting a kidney specialist can be frightening. The mind is in free fall, and conjures up frightening images of death, disability, dialysis, and worse. It is worth remembering that you will be no sicker after the visit than you were on arrival! Those things you might be most afraid of, are likely never going to happen. You do not have to dismiss your fears, but you have to air them in the open, preferably with your doctor. So, take a deep breath, bring a loved one along, and keep an open mind.

To help you at your first (and subsequent visits), we have a few suggestions ready:

1. Bring a loved one along. It is common to forget specific details and suggested treatments after an office visit. This is worse when you are upset, running late, or worried. Having a loved one close by lessens the anxiety for you.

2. Bring a list of your medicines. It is important that we know everything you take, including herbal treatments, over-the-counter drugs, and pills borrowed from relatives and friends. Some may interact with other medicines, and some might actually injure your kidneys.

3. Be open and truthful. It is often difficult to expose oneself to a virtual stranger. Yet, for us to be able to help, we have to know some painful details concerning your past. Remember, we are your allies, and our job is to help you get better. This will be done without moralizing or preaching. We are doctors, not priests.

4. Take careful notes. We encourage our patients to take notes, to help them remember specific items after the office visit. We also encourage you to ask questions. Please, do not be embarrassed about any questions you might have. If your question is not completely answered to your full satisfaction, please let us know. You deserve a full account, not cliches, not dogma, not smoke. If you are still not satisfied at the end of your visit, ask to talk with the Medical Director. We are there to make things better, not cloudy.

5. Do your homework. If you have access to other sources of information, including other patients or the internet, we encourage our patients to use them. Do remember that some of the information may be dated or inaccurate. However, it could help improve your understanding of what is going on with your kidneys. In our experience, the more informed a patient is, the better the ultimate outcome.

6. Bond with your doctor. Your doctor should be seen as a faithful friend in time of need. Listen carefully to what s/he has to say. If you have any doubts or questions, ask your doctor. Do not change or alter the prescription on your own. The best relationship is founded on trust. If you do not trust your doctor, you ought to switch to another specialist.

7. You are your best advocate. Nobody loves you as much as you. Nobody protects your interests as much as you. Be your own advocate. Make sure your doctor is serving you, and make sure you are using that service. Ask questions.

8. Keep documents. Record and bring in your blood pressure and blood sugar levels at each office visit. Those help the doctor track how well you are doing at home, away from the office setting.

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  • Author:
    Athens Kidney Center

  • Date Posted:
    Wednesday, January 28