Seeing a specialist is so different to regular GP appointments. For many people it means travel, financial strain, increased anxiety and even relief at the prospect of finally getting some answers.
Whatever the reason for your appointment, here are my top 5 tips for meeting with your child’s specialist which I hope will help make the whole process a little less intimidating.
1) Be prepared to wait
You will rarely see me get upset if I have to wait for a specialist appointment and trust me, I’ve waited for hours with a grumpy baby. This is how I see it; in MOST instances, the doctor isn’t running late on purpose. We aren’t talking about poor time management (to a point) and people sitting at their desk playing candy crush with their feet up, we are talking about health professionals seeing sick kids with complex needs and stressed out parents who need to talk.
I know when it’s my turn I will not be rushed and take my time to ask the one million questions that always come to me when I’m lying in bed at 2am and really try to wrap my head around what is going on with Pippa. Coming from a place of empathy when waiting generally helps to keep me calm rather than a place of anger because let’s face it, getting angry isn’t going to make your turn come around any quicker. Come prepared with food not only for your bambino but for you too! Games, favourite toys, screens, books; whatever you need to get you through.
Here are some great ideas 👉🏼👉🏼 https://lifeasmama.com/10-perfect-activities-for-the-waiting-room-keep-your-kids-entertained/4/
2) Walk in PREPARED and then… sit quietly
I know it’s hard but when you walk into the appointment but try to resist the urge to word vomit. 80% of doctors will sit and read case notes, discharge summaries etc. at the beginning of each appointment so just sit quietly and let them catch up. Before the appointment refresh yourself too. Write down a brief summary of appointments, results of investigative tests and any recent changes you have noticed. Most doctors won’t remember everything and if you give yourself a little refresher you can gently remind/prompt when something gets missed. Ever heard the phrase “advocate like a mother”? This is your time.
3) Remember that the doctor is a human being
From a young age doctors are marketed to us as magical super hero’s who can fix any ailment with all but a click of their fingers. However as parents of an unwell child you soon learn that doctors don’t always have the answers and we can often get frustrated when they just aren’t “fixing” our babies. Try to remember that they are human and a good specialist will keep digging or refer on when something has them stumped.
If you are not happy with your specialist, you DO NOT have to stay with them. If you buy a pair of shoes that don’t fit, you return them.
4) Before you leave make sure you have understood everything
Appointments can be stressful, infuriating and overwhelming; in some cases it can be easier to just sit, nod and pretend you understand the foreign language that is being spoken to you. However ask the doctors to repeat or reframe ANYTHING that goes over your head. If you pretend to understand their mumbo jumbo they will continue to speak it! I have found most of the time when you bring it to their attention they don’t even realise they are doing it.
5) Make the Nurse Consultant your friend!
In a public hospital, majority of specialty areas have a dedicated nurse consultant. They go along with the doctors on their rounds and tend to be who you talk to regarding follow up appointments and queries. I cannot stress this enough… MAKE THIS PERSON YOUR FRIEND!! They are usually the backbone of the department (as well as the admin officers) who know everything from how to use equipment to where doctors are and maaaaaay even bump you up on a waiting list if you have serious concerns for your child.
Our respiratory nurse consultant is an angel and I honestly do not know how we would have survived this journey without her!
The most important piece of advice I want you take away is that YOU are your child’s voice. Make sure you are heard and respected; if not there are avenues you can take. Share in the comments below what your top tips are when visiting specialists, we can all learn from each other.
Love Hayley X
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