Dear Addy: Hematology Visit

Dear Addy,
I often become flustered when I visit my hematologist, despite having lots of questions. Can you offer guidance on how to prepare for my visit so I get my questions answered?
Stressed by Appointment

Dear Stressed,
Any doctor visit can generate a case of nerves. If you have butterflies in your stomach about your hematology visit, the trick is to get those butterflies to fly in formation! Preparation is key to avoid leaving the doctor’s office with unanswered questions. How to prepare for your visit will differ depending on your relationship with your hematologist. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the most of your visit:

  1. Make a list of your questions in advance and refer to it during the appointment. This will remind you of what you wanted to ask and show your hematologist that you have prepared. This does not have to be formally typed. A post-it note will do for a short list.
  2. If you normally have a blood draw done during the appointment, and blood draws make you nervous, consider going to the lab before your appointment so that you have one less worry while you’re there.
  3. Bring your infusion log and review it before the appointment so that you can refer to it when you ask questions and when your hematologist has questions for you. If you have a new development or a complex situation, consider keeping a log of symptoms and pain (either in your infusion log or separately). You can provide a copy of this to the nurse when you arrive, and your hematologist may read it before starting your appointment or refer to it during the appointment. Either way, it will be in your medical record for future reference.
  4. If you are on a lot of medications (including herbal supplements), make a list of them by name, reason, and dosage so that you’re not trying to remember them on the fly. Bring this list with you to the appointment.
  5. If you are considering a product or treatment change, read up on the products you are interested in before you go and add any specific questions about each product to your list.
  6. If you need to have a particular joint looked at, wear clothing that allows access to that joint for examination to avoid having to change into a hospital gown.
  7. If deep breathing and/or meditation help calm you, take some extra time before you go to your appointment or arrive early and do some deep breathing while you wait.
  8. Take your own notes during the appointment so that you remember what your hematologist said.
  9. To boost your confidence before the appointment, read HFA’s Bleeder’s Bill of Rights.

For more information on preparing for your appointment, check out HFA’s Clinic Communications Toolkit.
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HFA frequently receives questions from the bleeding disorders community related to advocacy issues. The questions often impact the entire community. In an effort to reach the largest audience possible with our responses to these widely applicable questions, HFA developed “Dear Addy.” Questions submitted to this column are edited in order to protect privacy and should be considered educational only, not individual guidance.