I’ve spent quite a bit of time harping on the importance of preparing ahead of time for your appointment with your provider by downloading your free Appointment Preparation Worksheet and filling it out beforehand.

OK – so you walk in prepared and you share what’s going on with you.  Now what?

Chances are good that your provider will need some additional information – she may do an exam, ask some more questions, peruse your records, and suggest a few options for you. 

You may feel a bit overwhelmed at this point.  Or maybe you’re hyper-focused on what she’s saying trying to catch every word. 

Or even tuned out to what seems like a lot of mumbo jumbo while you wait for her to deliver “the verdict”.

Here’s where you need to stop and listen very carefully:  take a moment to just tune in to your body. 

Whatever she is saying or doing can wait for you to do this.  It doesn’t matter what you miss in that moment – you’re catching your breath.  We all have a right to do this and that includes you.

This strategy of Stop, Look and Listen is part of tht Patient Power Manifesto where you take control over getting the healthcare you deserve!

So, stop in that moment and check in with your heart.  Are you still breathing?  Just notice – no need to do anything else. 

You can even say “Hang on a second” – though it may seem awkward, the provider will take at least a second hanging on while you catch your breath.  So, mission accomplished right?  Believe me, no one will remember it at the end of the day and she’ll probably appreciate the brief pause, whether she acknowledges it or not.

(And if you’re not comfortable doing that, no problem.  You can’t do this wrong.  Just make a mental note before going into the appointment that you’re going to try this okay?  Don’t take my word for it -experiment and see)

Then,  ask her to repeat  what she’s said it if you think you’ve missed it.  Say something like this, ” Oops – missed that.   What did you say?”  Very simple – you can even plant that line in your head as well or write it on your Appointment Prep Sheet if that helps. 

(I still write it on mine to remind me to stay focused.  Kinda ironic -but it works for me!!)

In fact, even if you think you know what she said – verify your understanding.

Why?  Because if you don’t understand what she is suggesting – you cant’ make an informed choice about what’s best for you. 

Do you remember this game in nursery school, telephone, where you’d go around in a circle whispering something in the next person’s ear and by the time it got back to the beginning of the circle it didn’t sound anything like the original message? 

There’s something similar to that going on when you’re talking to your provider about something that’s bothering you  – we all naturally tune out at one point or another. 

What I’m suggesting is to intentionally tune out so you can tune back in more clearly and get the message straight

Why?  Because once you get the story straight you then have a great opportunity to see if what’s being suggested is truly something you want to consider.

Once you’ve slowed the process down, verify whether what you’ve heard is correct.   

You can say something like this:  “So, I wanna be sure I got this straight.  You’re suggesting that I get a fasting blood test done immediately, not eat for 24 hours beforehand and do it before next Thursday correct?” 

Keep doing that until you clearly understand everything that has been suggested to you.

A good provider wants you to understand what they are suggesting clearly because they care about their job.  And they care about your well being.  So, your part is to tune in fully to what they are recommending and verify that you got it straight.

So, the words for today are STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN.   When you are at your appointment and you can see you’ve lost focus (for whatever reason), try this:

  • Stop:   Check in with how you are feeling right now – and you do this by taking a. . . .
  • Look:   Check inside yourself by noticing your breath, your feet, your heart beating and then you . . . .
  • Listen:  Verify what has been suggested to you and make sure you’ve gotten it straight

Even if you feel like you completely understand what your provider is telling you, take a moment to be sure.  Why?  Because double checking your information is like wearing a belt and suspenders too: you’re taking that extra step to be sure your covered.

You can practice Stop, Look and Listen – not just before you cross the street – but anytime you are in a situation where you want to pay more attention to details.

My book, Patient Power:  Get the HealthCare You Deserve, will be coming out shortly and it will show you how to apply this strategy to your appointments so you can be sure you’ve gotten all the information correctly to make informed choices.  Stay tuned for more information on this.

Try this for yourself and let me know how it goes.

One Response to “Stop Look and Listen – It’s Not Just for Crossing the Street!”

  1. Cranky Fibro Girl Says:

    Thank you for those suggestions. They are very practical and useful, plus they are really easy to remember 🙂

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