So you have an upcoming appointment– this can bring on a variety of feelings such as stress, frustration, overwhelm. But, by being more prepared for your upcoming appointment, this can help you make the most use of your time with your doctor and ensure a more accurate treatment plan. Read this article to learn how to prepare for the appointment, as well as have everything you need to get the questions answered, and have your GI doctor help you set up a great game plan!
Before the Appointment–
Having everything prepared for your appointment is key! The first key factor is having your symptoms listed out on a sheet of paper. It can also be very beneficial to note the frequency and type of bowel movements, and any GI symptoms you may feel, such as cramping, bloating, pains, heartburn. Take time with this, and add additional symptoms as you remember or experience them (sometimes we forget, or start to experience new things).
Next, your medical history. Prepare a packet of past medical history: previous doctor’s or ER notes, labwork, and procedures/tests (such as a colonoscopy, EGD, allergy testing, or stroll testing). This can be organized by putting them in a folder or binder if you have a longer health history or have had many tests done.
Bring your GI tract with you! Our GI tract can be affected by medications, supplements, and the foods we eat. First: prepare a food log for 3-5 days. This should include meals, snacks, and drinks from when you wake up and go to sleep. In addition to the food logs, bring any medications or supplements you take.
Food Log Framework Example:
Breakfast - 1 c oats, ½ whole milk, 1 handful walnuts, 1 handful blueberries, 1 cup water, venti Starbucks cold brew
Snack - 1 natures valley granola bar
Lunch - 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 4 slices of deli chicken, 1 tomato slice, 1 TBSP mayonnaise, 1 c barbecue chips 1 diet coke bottle
Snack - 2 chocolate chip cookies, ½ c whole milk
Dinner - 1 chicken breast, lemon pepper, garlic salt, 1 c brown rice, ½ red bell pepper, 5 broccoli florets, 1 cup water, 1 glass of white wine
Snack: 1 coffee mug of vanilla ice cream, ½ banana, 3 TBSP chocolate sauce
When I wake up (7-7:30 ish) 60 minutes before food - Pepcid 125 mg
Vitamin D (1000 IU), B Complex (picture of the back label), and Multivitamin (picture of the back label) at lunch (12-1 ish)
Junel Fe 120 at 9 pm
Zofran 125 mg as needed
Past Treatment Plans
In addition to what you are currently doing, it is important to note what things you have tried in the past and if they were successful or unsuccessful. What medications have helped? What medications have you tried that presented side effects or exacerbated your current symptoms? This also stays true for food/diets, supplements, or any outside services (cognitive behavioral therapy, massage, acupuncture, pelvic floor physical therapy, etc.).
Questions You Have
Finally, prepare the questions you have for the doctor ahead of time. This way, you won’t forget what you needed to ask, and hit all the important points – such as: What are the causes of my symptoms? Do I need additional testing? What are the common side effects with this treatment plan?
Day of the appointment
Going to the appointment can feel like information overload. Have a way to record the information so you have the information to review at a later time. You can ask your doctor if you are allowed to voice record the appointment, but if not, have a pen and paper ready or type away in the notes section of the phone.
If possible, have a support person come with you, like a family member, spouse, or trusted friend. They can help take notes and may ask questions you wouldn’t have thought of!