Whether you're awaiting a diagnosis, have just got home from your doctor's office or are just starting to digest the reality of your situation, there are steps you can take to make the most of a not-so-good situation.
- Be honest with your doctor. If you find the news overwhelming, then say so. If you feel panicked, shocked, stressed, anxious or confused, you may not be able to process the important information your doctor is giving you. If you're not ready to fully comprehend your diagnosis, take some time to deal with the emotions that may be getting in the way of understanding. This could mean asking your doctor for another appointment in a day or two to get the facts.
- Bring someone with you. If you're getting test results from your doctor, bring someone you can trust for emotional support or to take notes. If you've already been diagnosed and are seeing your doctor about treatment options, having a loved one with you can ease the burden of making weighty decisions on your own.
- Learn about your condition. Your doctor can recommend books, websites, DVDs and websites that will give you information about your condition. You can also do an Internet search but you'll want to make sure the information provided is from a recognized source and is unbiased and up-to-date. Use the “Find Support” section of this website to find organizations that can give you information.
- Know that you are not alone. There are many health organizations that focus on specific conditions. Ask your doctor to recommend one that can provide you with support and information or use the “Find Support” section of this website. Often, these associations can put you in touch with an online support group or one in your area.
- Plan to make lifestyle changes. Once you know the facts and are ready to make a decision about treatment, think about how your life may change. Ask your doctor or specialist if you'll need someone to drive you to and from treatments, if you'll need to be hospitalized or if you'll need home services. Most likely, there is a social services agency in your area to help you with these very things.
Questions to ask your doctor
Take this list of questions with you to your next doctor's appointment and write down the answers in the space provided. You will find that the more you learn about your diagnosis, the more questions you'll have so keep a running list of questions to ask your doctor.
- What is the medical name for my condition? This is very important if you plan on researching your condition.
- If known, what is the cause of my condition?
- Do you recommend that I get a second opinion from another specialist?
- What is the treatment for my condition? Do I have a choice of treatments? If so, what are they?
- How long does the treatment last?
- Is this condition treatable with medication?
- What medication will I need?
- How long will I need to take it?
- Will I need to make temporary changes to my life during treatment? For example, do I need to book time off work or find someone to help care for my children?
- What lifestyle changes should I make in order to help control my condition?
- Can you recommend resources so that I can better understand my condition?
- Other questions I want to ask: