15/08/2016

How To Handle Health Visits (2)


In my previous blog post all about how to handle health visits, I mentioned that I have narrowed down my pre-appointment stress/anxiety/nerves to three broad causes: embarrassment, pain and results. In order to save that blog post from being novel-length, I thought I'd share a more in-depth exploration of those three causes here. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts, so tweet me or leave me a comment and we can chat!
Embarrassment

Its their job. 
When i first went to hospital, I felt so embarrassed discussing my “bowel habits” with the doctors and nurses. But hey, I have an inflammatory bowel condition, so discussion of my bowels just comes with the territory - and I’m not talking about my poo in Costa, am I? I’m talking about it with a doctor, who has chosen this as their profession, and who has spoken to plenty of people about their poo before me, and will speak to plenty of people about their poo after me. They're used to it, and at the end of the day is how they earn a living, so why should I be embarrassed?!


They’ve seen/heard it all before.
Once again, the people you are dealing with are being paid to help you and many other people. There is probably nothing that you could tell them about that they haven’t come across before, and no part of the body that they haven’t examined. Again, you aren’t showing your bits to some random person - you are showing them to a health professional, for a very good reason.

Pain

Practice makes perfect.
This might be a weird phrase to use in this context, but I’ll try and justify it with a personal example: I find blood tests pretty easy peasy now, simply because I’ve had so many. Yes, they still sting, of course, and if my veins are acting up then it can be unpleasant if it takes more than one attempt, but I know that they will be over in minutes. I’ve also learnt little tricks to make them easier (see below) - if you’re having similar procedures or tests you can do the same by asking the doctor or nurses you are seeing, or simply learning from experience about what helps you before, during and after procedures.

Don’t worry about it until it is happening.
Easier said than done, but it is worth training yourself to do this. I’ve had tests done that, unfortunately, hurt more than I expected. I’ve also had to have the same tests done more than once, which makes the build-up to them very challenging as I know what to expect (in a bad way!). But the way I see it, I have to have these things done for my health, so there’s no point getting myself worked up about it - that just prolongs the discomfort, and also makes my body more tense which can lead to more pain than I’d otherwise experience. This is definitely easier said than done, and it does take practice, but I find that listening to music, having chewing gum, practicing different breathing techniques, reading, writing, or doing pretty much anything I can to distract myself, really helps.

Results

Don’t worry about them until you get them.
Waiting for results can be daunting, but worrying about them in advance of actually getting them is not going to help the situation - you can’t change the outcome by worrying about it, and you will only prolong your stress. When the time comes to collect your results (or receive the phone call) - take yourself to one side, do some deep breathing and tell yourself that whatever the results are, you will handle it and find a path forward.

You’ve done the right thing.
I used to get so stressed about results, to the point where I would be telling myself that I was silly for having something investigated as that meant I could find out I had something wrong with me! How nonsense is that? Recently, I had a mole on my back removed. I’d shown it to my GP, who referred me to a specialist, who referred me to another specialist, who decided that it should be removed and tested. After I had it removed, I started to stress that they would tell me it was skin cancer, but I stopped myself. What good would that thinking do? The fact is: if it turned out to be skin cancer, then it would have been skin cancer whether I had had it removed or not! So, better to have had it removed and it turn out to be skin cancer*, than to have left it.

If you haven't already, click here to read my previous blog post about how to handle health visits, in which I share my health journey, experiences and more tips. Leave me a comment below or tweet me to keep chatting about this - I'd love to hear your thoughts, tips and experiences.


N x

*it wasn’t skin cancer, but the mole was starting to change, meaning that had I left it, it could have turned nasty. So I’m so glad I spoke to my doctor about it, and had it removed!
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