How To Handle Health Visits (1)

Health visits can be stressful, but they’re necessary, so its worth finding ways to handle them.

A bit of a backstory...

From simple check-ups, to surgery…I think most people would say that health visits cause at least a little stress or anxiety. As a child, I visited the doctor about as much as the average child I would imagine - for check-ups, antibiotics, etc - and then slightly more when I had to see specialists for my back, and for what I now think were the very early signs of my Crohn’s disease. I was pretty healthy as a teen and didn’t see health professionals much at all during my high school days, but that all changed when I turned 17. I won’t give the full story (I might do in another post if anyone is interested...?) but as of late 2011 I started seeing health professionals very regularly, began having multiple tests, ended up staying in hospital and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2012. My condition has been under control since then, which I am very grateful for, but that process really threw me in at the deep end in terms of becoming confident with health visits.
I still have to see a doctor for my Crohn’s every few months, and I've had countless blood tests, multiple infusions and met plenty of different doctors, nurses and other health professionals. I’ve also been to my GP a fair few times over the past few years for non-Crohn’s-related symptoms and queries too. Some of these have ended in over-the-counter treatments, others have led to more stressful tests or procedures.

The whole point of sharing my own personal experience (albeit rather sparingly!) is to put into context the fact that I myself have experienced many different situations insofar as health professionals and procedures are concerned. Like most people, the thought of needles, procedures, discussing symptoms and medical examinations don’t fill me with any sort of joy. But I’ve learnt to be comfortable with the idea of them, because at the end of the day, I value my health more than my dignity… only (half) joking!

I’ve tried to identify what I think are the cause of my nerves (or stress or anxiety) before health visits, and have narrowed it down to three broad causes: embarrassment; pain; and results. I'll be sharing these in a separate blog post, which I will link here. Before reading that, however, have a look at a few other random tips I've picked up from my experiences with health visits...

Quick Tips
  • Learn some breathing techniques - for before, during and after health visits.
  • Take notes - it can be hard to remember everything the health professional has said to you, so write it down in detail, and also write down any questions you might think of.
  • Find little tips and tricks for procedures and tests (for example, I’ve found the following tips for blood tests: eat and drink lots beforehand, do some exercise to get your blood pumping, keep legs unfolded, look straight ahead, rub your arm/hand beforehand…).
  • Have something nice planned for after your appointment - even if it is just something simple like a trip to Costa, your favourite dinner, or a pamper evening.
Wow. This has already been a long post…hence me splitting into two: read about my main causes of nerves (embarrassment, pain and results) in my other blog post linked here. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve shared, and on how you find health visits in general - tweet me or leave me a comment so we can chat about it!

N x

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