As featured in The Country Web Number 58 Autumn 2013
It’s important to develop and maintain a good working relationship with your main doctor in life, who is normally a GP but can also include any number of specialist doctors that we become involved with through our life. Sometimes men may wonder what things they need to tell their doctors or what might be more indicative of a larger problem. Women are usually more familiar with the health system as they spend more time with doctors discussing their problems and children’s issues. So we are not meant to naturally know how best to get on with our doctor. You should find a GP who provides care that is scientific, considerate and compassionate. You need to stay in control of your health by fully understanding the nature of any health problem and the mechanisms and potential hazards of treatments or side effects of drugs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or request more consultations for complicated problems. Try to develop an overall Health Plan with your doctor—most men have a maintenance plan for their car or computer so why not develop a health plan with your doctor to increase your chances of maintaining a long and healthy life.
If you have a good working relationship with your doctor it helps to make sure that you’re being as open as you can be and presenting all information in a way that your doctor can use effectively. It’s a two-way street—your doctor isn’t a ‘mind reader’ —keep him or her informed of what’s happening for you. When consulting a doctor present a detailed and well organised account of symptoms and relevant past history. Before you arrive at the doctor’s you might want to write down symptoms and history, current medications and dosages, plus any questions or things you want to talk about. If there’s more than one problem begin with the most important one. Bring your concerns up early in your visit and take notes as it is easy to forget key information if you are feeling unwell.
Some men have been raised to be self-reliant and to conceal weakness and pain as they think showing and talking about this is unmanly. Your doctor is there to help you and needs to know what is going on—so talking about all your symptoms, feelings and providing him with accurate pain levels is the sensible way to go. Don’t minimise your symptoms as this makes it much harder for a doctor to effectively assess and treat you. Be honest and build your health plan together with your doctor.