We often discuss the qualities we want to see in the perfect physician - the compassionate one who comes in and just gets what you're going through.
What if we turned the tables?
What is the top quality that we need to be the best patients we can be?
When I say 'be present' I don't mean that simply showing up will make you a great patient.
In my experiences with PTSD, I have had to learn to be present. I have to focus on the here and now in order to protect myself from the ifs, whens, and weres.
When I say 'be present,' I mean to work on mindfulness, the practice that helps us to embrace the current moment.
Our physicians are busy. We are not their only patients. Depending on their practice and where it is located, they may be responsible for upwards of 2000 patients.
Their minds are often thinking through their to-do list for later, who they need to finish charts for while they work into the wee hours of the morning at home.
They may be thinking about the checklists we all create in our heads regarding diagnoses and other issues.
In order to get the best care from our physicians, sometimes we need to be here now.
We get busy, too. Perhaps we are juggling too much on our plates like our physicians do daily.
That makes being present all the more important.
By being present and focused, we can ensure that we are actively engaged in conversations with our health care team.
If we are not, we may miss sharing important pieces of the diagnostic puzzle with our HCPs. They may miss asking questions that lead us there.
"But how, Kirsten, am I supposed to be focused when I have 8,225,953 things going on??"
Some people find making lists very helpful in the process of being present and focused on the task at hand. Others enjoy exploring mental and/or physical grounding techniques. There are other tips over on the resources page.
Meditation can help us to cultivate this presence and, more importantly almost, the ability to be kind to ourselves when we're not able to be as mindful and present as we like.
Do you practice mindfulness? Have you found it helps you with being present at appointments?