How often do you think this happens? "I can't remember important details about my healthcare appointment!"
You go to an appointment and reminded yourself that you need to focus and listen to not miss a thing? Then you get home and think, "I better write this down right away so I don’t forget." And then it happens. A big blank!! Nothing!! You think harder and harder... NOTHING. "Okay I just have to get up and do something else to break this cycle of nothing." Then you busy yourself with a calm task, and make a phone call to tell your best friend how you can’t remember anything, and how frustrating it is.
Thirty minutes later you try recalling the appointment. You put yourself in the room, you see the doctor, you can even hear him. And you start to put a few words down but not sure if that’s what he meant, or how to spell the words. If only you had brought someone with you to be your ears. Next time you will but who can you ask? "I don’t want my friends to know EVERYTHING about me. I don’t want to bother them, everyone is working, etc."
That’s where I come in, Denise Holmlund, RN, your Patient Navigator.
- I have been in the health field for many years as a Registered Nurse.
- I've worked and interacted within a variety of traditional and complimentary healthcare settings.
- I have worked with all ages during my career.
- I will keep your information confidential and listen with a deeper understanding of content.
This allows you to relax and focus on what is important to you. So, if you get hung up on a specific comment made by the health practitioner, that’s okay. This helps reduce your overall stress during the appointment and gives you peace of mind knowing I will discuss the appointment afterward and create a summary that you and your family can understand. Imagine allowing yourself to listen and participate in conversation not worrying about writing anything down.
Here is another secret for you. Forgetfulness is a natural response to stress and not necessarily a health matter. When you were anticipating the appointment and the need for remembering everything you hear, you were setting yourself up. You start to anticipate all the outcomes; "what if I don’t hear it all, what if I can’t remember it all, what if I don’t understand the content, and what if I don’t feel comfortable asking for clarification?" Your mind starts pumping out the stress hormones just thinking about these questions. By the time you are at the appointment you have been secreted a lot of cortisol (stress hormone).
Every appointment brings out some stress hormone which is not a bad thing. A small amount is like an energy boost. It pushes you through the event. But sometimes we somehow forget to shut off that valve. Without knowing it, your blood is flooded with stress hormones and there is no physical event to use up that added flood of hormones. The body believes you are in a fight or flight mode perceiving stress, so it shunts blood away from brain to increase movement in muscles. The next thing that follows is confusion. Your brain gets cloudy and ‘skips a beat or two’, and then there is no way you are mentally going to remember what is said during that appointment. It’s not that your memory is poor, it’s the flood of hormones and no threat. Repeated instances of acute stress over a long period of time can become harmful. Be kind to yourself, reduce your stress and invite a Patient Navigator to support you.
Stress is involved in everything we do, it affects us physically and psychologically, the key is how we manage stress. There are some simple things to incorporate into our daily routines that improves our reactions to situations. For more details on several of these points, click on the links provided for blogs and news stories we've shared in previous BHC eNews.
- Identify your stressors - Keep a daily journal to identify some key areas.
- If it is a particular person or place, you may need to avoid them. Choose your battles.
- Take control of your environment - take different routes if it’s traffic, turn the TV off it its negative external events.
- Reduce your commitments - too many, too close together are exhausting.
- Reframe problems - look at opportunities to pause and regroup. And I Love That!
- Look at the big picture - how will this problem affect me in a week? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over?
- Get moving - take a walk, go outside. Blue Space is the new Green Space
- Practise gratitude - Name 5 things that you are grateful for. Try this every night.
- Imagine if everything you are grateful for are the only things that return tomorrow.
- Meditate - 1 minute, 3 minutes, even 5 minutes a day. Change your brain
- Deep breathing exercises. Breath, New Science of a Lost Art and Breath - Podcast
Every little thing you try may make a difference. The trick is not letting acute stress turn into chronic or long term stress. If you find yourself becoming irritable or tense you should look at your stress load.
Another way to reduce stress is to reach out to others. Tap into your community resources of friends, and professional supports. Find someone that will listen empathetically. Being in the health profession for 30 years I could be that professional support for you. There is nothing more rewarding for me than helping reduce my client's stress before, during and after an appointment while offering my experience within, and outside, our healthcare system to ensure you are receiving the best care possible.
I have had my share of stress in the past and learned ways to limit and reduce my stress. I take the time to listen to you and your story, then we share approaches to navigate the stress and our health system in support of your most valuable asset, your health.
If you are interested in being supported on your healthcare journey with Practitioners, Specialists and appointments, consider me as your Patient Navigator. Click on the link above in the title page of this article to book your first consultation, or click the link below to contact me. I look forward to meeting with you!