“I didn’t want to bother you”

You didn’t want to bother, yet you’re here anyways. You haven’t made an appointment or been seen by a doctor in over a year, so you’ve come in today with a laundry list of issues that have collected over the more than a dozen months. But you don’t want to bother me. At least that was your rationale when questioned why you haven’t been in sooner, or more often.

Before I continue, let’s define “bother”. If I’m out for dinner at a restaurant browsing the menu trying to decide what to eat, and you approach me to let me know you need to come see me because you’re having abnormal vaginal bleeding, you are bothering me. That’s a true story by the way.

If you call the office to make an appointment because you had a medical question, illness or concern, even if you come more than once a year (or once a month, even), it’s not a “bother”. It’s my job. It’s what I signed up to do. However, if you’ve come in, been assessed and given advice on how to manage something, but don’t use any of said advice, and return for the exact same thing shortly after, that’s being a bother.

Back to our original story; coming in with multiple issues may not always be ideal, even if you think you’re doing a favour by making it a one-stop shop or by not coming in more often. We can look at it from a few angles:

Looking at it from fellow patient’s point of view, a large factor contributing to the long wait in the waiting room is the amount of time the doctor spends with the person ahead of you. Sometimes a single issue may turn out to be more complicated than initially assumed. But sometimes when issue after issue is brought up, that takes up time. Speaking for myself, I have a hard time telling a patient to come back if they exceeded the number issues they’re “allowed” to bring up; especially since it may have taken lots of courage to mention it in the first place.

Another factor to consider is your own. If you’re waiting to come in until you have multiple issues, the original issue may be worsening to the point where it becomes more complicated to treat.

Presenting with many issues that may each themself require a devoted office visit may also prevent full attention to a particular symptom. Unfortunately, this is where doctor errors can sometimes occur.

Don’t undervalue your symptoms. If you have an issue that you’re concerned with, get it checked out, guilt-free. You’re not being a bother. But leaving things, or bringing up the shopping list of symptoms, might complicate things more than they need be.

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