Going to your medical appointments and tests can be quite stressful. Your brain will most likely create worst-case scenarios, which can scare you and potentially make the experience feel worse.
If you notice your brain going straight to the worst case scenario, try to pause and bring yourself back to the present moment. Worrying about the things we can’t control uses up a lot of emotional energy and does not actually achieve anything. Bringing to mind the things you can control and making plans for those specifically, may help you to feel more prepared for tests and appointments.
If you notice yourself feeling scared and worried, you can try a strategy called grounding. This can help bring you back to the present and to re-focus. You can do this anywhere and it is a good strategy to have in your ’emotional first-aid toolbox.’
Other practical strategies to assist with medical appointments
- Keep a list: In the lead-up to any appointment, keep a list of the questions, issues and any symptoms to discuss with your doctor. Taking your list with you, will help you and your doctor stay on track.
- Take a support person: If possible, take someone you trust and like with you. They can sit in the waiting room or come into the appointment, depending on how you want it to happen. If they come into the appointment, they will be able to help you remember afterwards what was said, which can be helpful. You could even ask them to take notes as another way to recall what was being said.
- A ‘test run’: Knowing where you are going for your appointments can help you to be prepared. A test run a week or a few days beforehand can save you angst on the day. Allow for traffic and finding a parking spot or drop-off point. Some big city hospitals and outpatient units get very busy and navigating them can take time, especially if you are experiencing breathlessness. Some people find it easier and less expensive to catch a taxi or ride-share to their appointments.