If you just got bad news, doctor’s appointments can be countless, intimidating, frustrating, overwhelming  and confusing. Preparing for your appointment is important and will save you money. Here is a growing list of our suggestions and tips to prepare:


What to take

  • Take all copies of the test results
  • A list of:
    • your medications both pharmaceutical and homeopathic,
    • your dosages, both the generic and the company names
    • your experience of side effects from these medications
    • any refills you will need or TARS you will need to have signed
  • Copy your MRI report highlighting everything you want explained
  • Create a list of questions (see examples below)
  • The knowledge that not knowing is actually scarier than knowing
  • A summarized version of your understanding of the technique or treatment you will receive
  • A trusted friend who can take good notes, bonus points for somebody who has either experienced what you are going through or works in the medical profession.
  • A recording device – make sure to ask the doctor about recording anything. If you face resistance use wording like “I am so overwhelmed every time I come in here and our time together is so important to me that I thought taping our session would help me focus more on answering your questions during our session”
  • A written update of your symptoms with a copy for the doctor that you hand to her/him after you go over them
  • A definitions list
  • A copy of this sheet so you can refer to this advice


While in your meeting

  • Set keeping the doctor “in there” with you aside and make finishing your you’re your goal, you will have follow up questions
  • Ask the doctor to run down the laymen version of your test results if necessary use wording like “I really want to understand” and “if you go can we set up another appointment”? 
  • Ask the doctor to describe the technique
  • Write down the location of the procedure
  • Remember is okay to ask secondary questions in the meeting based on information you are given such as: what do cranial nerves 9, 10, 11 affect? Or what is micro-vascular ischemic disease? Even if your list is long keep asking.


Questions to ask during a doctor’s appointment


We suggest you leave space for your answers


  1. How does my  insurance affect my treatment? 
  2. When are my next tests?
  3. How can I get a second opinion? You can ask this in a more subtle way by asking “who in this area is most knowledgeable about these particular types of tumors”?
  4. What technique will you be using?
  5. What is your experience with this technique?
  6. Is there a choice in locations for the surgery?
  7. How big is it in terms of: width x length x circumference.
  8. Don’t be afraid to turn on the tape recorder and ask questions like: explain “bilobed extra-axial” “maximal craniocaudal dimension” and “transverse section”. Then explain extra-axial and intra-axial, hyper-intesnse.
  9. Where exactly is it physically?  Point to your head for example.
  10. How close is it to the brainstem? 
  11. How close to the left vertebral artery?
  12. How often do I repeat MRI to check progress?
  13. How big would it need to get before surgery or radiation is necessary?
  14. How does medicare only affect my treatment options?
  15. How can you definitely know it’s not benign?
  16. Will you be taking a biopsy?  Is it in a place where a biopsy can be done? 
  17. Can lymph nodes be checked?
  18. What symptoms should I be watching for?
  19. Can I fly?


After your appointment(s)


Let the Dr. know if you are living with constant discomfort or pain.  Take time to absorb what you have heard. Tell the story to family and friends.  If repetition exhausts you try to tell people in groups.


Use this list with your completed answers to refer to when telling people like family or friends.


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