Talking with your doctor

Talking to your doctorEffective communication with your haematologist and their team is key to staying well. You can take steps to make the information flow more smoothly when talking with your haematologist or other doctors.

Communication approaches to try

Take a list of questions.  So you can ask your doctor what concerns you most and not forget things to ask about.

Discuss symptoms honestly.  Share your concerns openly with your doctor.  Use descriptive terms to help the doctor understand your situation.

Know your goals.  Ask your doctor to define your target blood cell levels and your overall healthcare goals.  For example, ask your doctor to explain your target platelet levels and your target blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Double-check your understanding.  Repeat what you’ve understood back to your doctor using your own words.  This helps you to remember and can clear up any misunderstandings.

Ask them to slow down.  Ask your doctor to speak slowly and don’t feel like you need to rush.  It is important for you to feel able to make your points and digest the answers.

Ask for a drawing.  Ask your doctor to draw a picture or give you an illustration of the concept he or she is talking about.

Express your feelings.  Be honest about your feelings.  Do you feel confused, overwhelmed, embarrassed, or frightened? Try using “I” messages to express your feelings: “I feel that… I am concerned that… I need more time to think”.

Consider taking someone with you.  A family member or friend may help you understand information and remember instructions, especially if you are feeling unwell.  This is especially important if you are trying to make difficult decisions.

Ask for a summary.  Ask your doctor to repeat the main points and/or give you written instructions to take home.  There are many good sources available to help you understand your condition.

Check the internet and libraries.  Legitimate medical papers by top doctors and the latest research on treatment methods are usually a few clicks away.  Visit the health sections in bookshops or libraries, which can be very informative.  

Seek second or third opinions regarding your condition.  Sometimes different consultants or members of the same team or teams in different hospitals may arrive at different diagnoses and suggest alternative treatment plans.  You are entitled to be treated by the doctor with whom you are most comfortable.

Listen to all advice objectively and understand what it involves.  What effect will it have on your body?

Most importantly make the choices that suit you.