Woman exercising (184195)
Credit: CDC/Amanda Mills

I am sure that you have been reading in magazines, in newspapers and online how physicians are finally trying to incorporate the mind of a patient in the healing process. It is long overdue. In fact, this concept is still not part of the curricula in medical schools, where the art of healing is first introduced to future doctors.

Whenever the necessity to visit a physician, just remember that you own your body and you, or somebody close to you, better help you to mind it. I am sure that you may feel a little uneasy about going to see a physician, mainly because you are afraid that he or she may tell you something you don’t want to hear. With all of the medical information about diseases that is available in the media, it is no wonder that folks are afraid.

Many folks feel that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Well, you know, as I do, that belief systems can be dangerous because, when things begin to hurt, the pain may be a signal that a disease condition is well on its way. It is, therefore, most important to mind your own body by getting yearly checkups, even when things are not bothering you. If, on the other hand, you are experiencing bodily discomforts that you can’t explain in a rational way, I would suggest that you visit your physician.

I would now like to give you a piece of my medical mind on what questions you should ask your physician. First of all, the physician may ask you what your chief complaint is. I would advise you to write all your complaints on a piece of paper at home before you see the physician. You should be able to give a complete description of the discomfort and how long you have had it, and whether you experience it daily, once a week or once a month or even once a year.

A thorough physician will take a good medical history from you, covering all the systems of the body. Also, a good social and work life history is a must. It may take longer than the allotted 15 minutes, but hey, it’s your time to give all the information that might have a bearing on the medical condition that you are concerned about. Finally, a complete physical examination should be done from head to toe. After the exam, it is extremely important that the physician take time to explain his or her findings and what diagnostic tests may be necessary to come to a medical conclusion. If you do not understand the medical terms, ask the physician to break it down to you in laymen’s terms. Ask the physician to write down the diagnosis so that you may be able to explain it to a family member. The physician should be kind enough not to use medical terms that might be frightening. If there is a language difference, an English-fluent relative should accompany you to the office.

To mind your body and mind it well, I suggest to you the following:

  1. The best doctor, even if listed in New York magazine, may not always be the most considerate doctor. As the old saying goes, “You may not be able to choose your parents, but you sure can choose your doctor.”

  2. Remember, it’s your body and you are somebody—not just anybody.

  3. Write down all the symptoms that you are experiencing, because as soon as you see the doctor, you will forget most of them.

  4. Bring all the medications you have been taking, including over-the-counter herbs, vitamins, tonics and things that your family may have given you.

  5. Ask the doctor kindly to explain your condition in medical terms that are understandable, because you may have never taken a course in biology or chemistry.

  6. When the doctor gives you a slip of paper for diagnostic tests, ask him or her to explain the need for the test, as well as what to expect at the diagnostic center.

  7. Because the doctor is not on duty 24/7 year-round, ask him or her to write the name of the doctor who covers for him or her when he or she is not available and get the phone number.

  8. Make friends with the office nurse. She or he is the main person who can reach the doctor when you call.

  9. A short note of appreciation or a greeting card to the doctor means a lot. A physician’s life is not easy. And whether you believe it or not, physicians are human, have families and have many of the same problems that you have.

  10. Most of all, try to stay healthy with a positive lifestyle. Eat well, exercise and give some time to your spiritual life.

Remember, it’s time to mind your body.