Remembering what the doctor said:
tips for the newly diagnosed

For a newly diagnosed patient, the AN world is an unfamiliar and confusing place.   After listening to a specialist for an hour, we often do not remember just what was said to us;  here is an actual example:

Patient's recollection:

[The physician] recommended that I have the surgery, or wait and see if it grows and then have the surgery.  He said that being 48 and in good health, he believes the radiosurgery is not appropriate for me.  My surgery is scheduled in a month [with a different physician].

The doctor's records:

I clearly recommended having a second MRI to demonstrate growth before having any treatment. If there was growth I indicated the patient could have radiosurgery or surgery depending upon his assessment of the risks and benefits of the two modalities.

Here are some tips by AN patients how you can avoid playing "broken telephone:

When I was exploring options I always took a notebook along and took notes. I also always ask for a copy of the doctor's report. These reports were always provided ... no arguments, no questions as to why I needed to know .... geez, it was/is my head ... who has a better need to know.

I know how it is when you see two or three doctors, sometimes all within a week or two. I have found that taking notes while I am there keeps me on the straight and narrow as far as what one says and the other says. Hand-held tape recorder may be even better, then take it down as notes later on. Some doctors may be a little upset about this because of litigation concerns, but it's a good way to have all the details in hand.

When in the doctor's office, sometimes we are upset, and if it is the very first diagnosis almost shocked, so that a lot of the information the doctors give out is lost in the stress of the moment. Another thing which is a good idea, is to have a friend or spouse or relative with you to absorb the information you may miss. Because I have been to most appointments by myself, I find notes just as good as long as I keep it all straight. Sometimes I have been with a list of my requests for information with answer spaces so that I can write in the answers as the doctor gives them to me. Some of this I have done over the telephone.

Last Edited: Wednesday, October 30, 2002