Cold and flu season is just around the corner and will no doubt demand a trip to the doctor’s office. Raising two children with special health care needs has made me a professional Mom Patient. On any given day, a Mom Patient might encounter the following: multiple doctor appointments in the same day, one usually requiring a sleep or food fast, lab work testing best to be done during nap time, numerous referral misplacements, and multiple surgeries and recoveries.
I’ve logged countless hours of lobby wait times, and built relationships in and around health care. Being emotional and worrying about your child’s health are two things that don’t go well together, so here are a few quick things I do to ensure a successful appointment:
1. I confirm specialist appointments a week prior. Yes, one week. I verify that all lab records, blood draws, shot record, referral, prior authorizations you name it are in order. One week prior to the appointment gives me time to gather intel if necessary and won’t delay prognosis.
2. I load the activities and snacks bag like a ninja, secretly keeping oldie but goody novelty toys and snacks that are perfect for doctor appointments hidden. The element of surprise is crucial here and if I don’t want doctor office germs (which in my humble opinion, are the WORST kind of germs) on my kids, then I better have a plan to keep my kid out of the play waiting area. As they kids get older, I also double check battery charges on electronics and I pack headphones just in case I need to disclose information or don’t want my child to hear something like, “Yes. A shot will be imminent this visit.”
3. Before I load the car, I call the office one last time to check that the doctor is on time. Just like the airlines, and if you follow tip 7 (below) a receptionist will disclose volumes of information in regards to scheduling.
4. I take my Medical Notebook. It has all of the correct spelling and dosage of medications, schedule, previous appointments notes, and typically a copy of the referral just in case they “didn’t get it”. If my kids are acting crazy, I can simply hand the notebook to the provider and pay attention to what needs to be attended to.
5. I have $1 cash to bribe my kid with, and I know where to find the nearest Dollar Tree.
6. Depending on the severity of the appointment, I have someone meet me there (usually my husband, or grandparent, or friend) to help me focus on the most important thing at that time–either what the doctor is saying, or what my child is doing. An extra pair of ears is just as helpful as an extra set of hands.
7. I send a thank you, with a picture of my kid. I genuinely appreciate when professionals are considerate of my time, effort, my “mama bear” worries, and most importantly, of my kids’ health and well-being.