So I'm off to see my new oncologist in a few weeks. And I'm trying to find some time to think about what I want him to know about me, beyond what he will see in the chart, and what kind of a relationship I want to have with him. So I've been reading advice about what to do when you first meet your oncologist.
Which is really weird. Here I am, a veteran cancer patient, and I'm looking at the kind of sites that newcomers have to read. I should know all of this stuff already, right?
But it's interesting -- I'm finding that I probably got so comfortable with Dr. R that I stopped doing some of the things that I should have been doing to make sure he and I communicated well. So maybe it's a blessing that I have a new oncologist. It's kind of forcing me to remember how to be a patient.
I found a nice, but brief video from Patient Power, posted about 6 weeks ago, that gives some advice on how to bring up issues with your doctor. It's pretty good advice, and definitely stuff I haven't really done in a while.
Basically, it's about being honest with your doctor. And that's hard sometimes, even if it isn't intentional. We say our pain level is lower than it really is, because we don't want to sound like a whiner. Or maybe we're having a symptom that's a little embarrassing.
(I have to say, nothing much embarrasses me anymore. I'm not an exhibitionist, but these days, I'll drop my pants for anyone with a stethoscope. I've seen so many doctors and nurses, chances are good that the one in front of me has already seen all that I have to offer anyway.)
But other things can help, too, in making sure that the doctor hears everything she should: having a friend come along to ask questions and give reminders (my wife is great at that); writing stuff down, in lots of detail, so you can remember symptoms and pains and feelings (physical and emotional). This makes sure everything gets covered, especially when your time with the doctor is short, and ultimately makes you feel empowered -- that you are taking control of the time that you do have.
So, will I do all that with my new oncologist?
I hope so. I hope my life will slow down soon enough that I can think about all of the things I want him to hear. For now, I don't have time to even write some short notes, let alone any blog entries....