Tom Willemann Health Tips

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Get the MOST Out of Your Doctor Visit

Going to see a doctor (especially when it isn’t routine) can be daunting. The stress builds up and the unknown can be a little scary. This happens to everyone, including my wife, Sue.
With a history of seizures, she developed a headache that wouldn’t go away. A few thoughts went through my head as she craned over the laptop computer looking through Excel spreadsheets: Maybe it is her posture? Could it be loss of cervical range of motion?
After a “family evaluation” (typically done in 2-3 minutes and rarely effective), I gave her a couple of exercises to try. It was much better than my usual response, which is, “Why don’t you take some Advil, ice it and see how it feels in the morning?”
After a few days Sue kept mentioning that her headaches had not gone away. Showing incredibly poor timing on my behalf, I asked her in my “therapist voice” (a voice that she hates!) whether she did her exercises. She abruptly shot back, “I did them and they didn’t work!”
Obviously a bit of tension had built up over this persistent headache, which she worried was a possible “brain tumor” or “spinal infection.” So we scheduled an appointment with a neurologist and went through a list of things I always tell my patients to do prior to seeing a doctor.
Get the Most Out of Your Visit – 11 Tips to Follow When Visiting a Doctor:
1. Bring a friend, spouse or family member. It’s always best to bring along someone who is good at asking questions. With the possibility of a serious diagnosis, what you hear as the patient and what the doctor actually states can be wildly different. An interesting fact: in car accidents, the account of what occurred according to the drivers and bystanders is typically not accurate for all parties.
2. Review your history prior to arriving at the visit. When did you start having this problem? How does it make you feel (ie dizzy, numbness, weak)? Is it constant or intermittent? Does it occur with or without activity? What time of day?
3. Ask the doctor if they read your chart. Often it is difficult to read a complicated history in the three steps from one treatment room to another.
4. Make up a file that contains your past medical history and family history in typed form. Major portions of one’s history are often forgotten.
5. Ask for the copy of your records to be sent to you after each visit.
6. Be clear and concise. Don’t lose your audience by rambling to recall the history of your problem. Unless you are paying for a boutique service, the physician has typically allotted a certain amount of time to figure out your problem.
7. Research possible side effects of current medications that might be affecting your condition.
It’s possible that medications that you’re currently taking are causing your body to react in a certain way.
8. What was the past treatment for the condition? Fill the doctor in on what’s already been done, if anything, to treat your issue.
9. Bring a list of medications you are currently taking (have taken) and the dosages. I often get a list of medications based on what it treats. Helpful, but not enough to base an adjustment of medications (i.e. “blood pressure meds”, “heart meds”, “ the green pill” – you can’t make this up).
10. Write down pertinent facts or record the visit. (They hate that! Blame it on memory issues.) Review what the doctor prescribed in the waiting room prior to leaving the office. It is much easier to get a quick question answered while still at the office.
11. Summarize and clarify the basic recommendations back to the physician at the end of the visit. Don’t be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS! Don’t assume!
Your goal is to provide your physician with the necessary facts to make an educated guess as to your condition.
Now, back to my wife …
After a long series of questions asked by Sue and me, and a thorough history-check by the doctor, he wasn’t sure what the origin of her headaches was. Prior to a barrage of special tests and in the spirit of “ruling out” causes of her headaches, he suggested that she avoid red wine, coffee and chocolate. If I recall correctly, her response to this suggestion was, “You might as well kill me!” As the doctor exited the room, he questioned whether Sue had a recent eye exam. Although that didn’t go over too well, she did go and received a prescription for glasses. Lo and behold, the headaches went away and thankfully, the concerns over several other horrible conditions passed.
Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Wyckoff, NJ provides orthopedic, spine and sports physical therapy services for the greater Ridgewood, Wyckoff, and Bergen County region. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. The views expressed here are the author’s views and should be taken as suggestions. Always consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before engaging in a physical therapy or rehabilitative program.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
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