When I was going through my cancer journey, there were so many times I left my doctor’s office baffled. I was sick and scared, and even though I’m a nurse with 21 years of kidney stone prevention under my belt, I knew nothing about cancer. I often found myself unprepared for my oncology visits. Through my experience, I’m hoping to make yours better.
What should you talk about during your first urology appointment?
Most patients who come to me feel like they wasted their first doctor visit. They didn’t know how to prepare, what to expect, and had no clue what questions they should have asked.
Well, here’s a list of things you can do to make sure your first visit is a productive one.
- Before your visit, write down your kidney stone experience with dates. When was your very first stone? How many have you had in total? Have you had procedures in the past to remove them, or did you pass them? If your stones have been analyzed in the past, bring those reports with you.
- If this is a new doc, make sure to bring all records of prior stone surgeries, blood work, and 24-hour urine collection results.
- Bring a list of questions you have regarding your stones so you remember to ask them.
- If you’ve never done a 24-hour urine collection, ASK FOR ONE TO BE ORDERED. If the doctor says, “let’s wait for a second stone,” push back and say you are very eager never to make another stone again and will make any lifestyle changes necessary to lessen your stone risk. Typically they will order it at this point.
- Bring a friend or partner with you if you want a second pair of ears.
- Bring a list of your supplements and medications.
- Alert the doctor if you have a family history of stones.
- Alert the doctor if you have any malabsorption issues due to bowel disease or bariatric surgeries.
- Alert the doctor if you have CKD or diabetes, or both.
- Alert the doctor if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis.
- Alert the doctor if you have frequent heartburn and take antacids.
- If you have a current stone, ask your doctor the best plan of action for your situation? Can you wait and try to pass it, or does it need to be surgically removed? If the doctor says to try and pass it, ask the doctor what types of things you can do to help the process along?
- If the doctor orders a 24-hour urine collection, make sure you know when to come back to go over the results and get on a treatment plan. If you do not go over the report with your doctor, there is no point in the collection. If the doctor says come back in 6 months (this is their standard “come back and see me” time frame), ask if you can do the collection and go over the results before that time—six months is long enough for a current stone to grow or to make new ones depending on WHY you are forming them.
Kidney stones can be prevented up to 80 percent of the time with the right treatment plan.
I can’t tell you how many patients come to me after having a 24-hour urine collection who never went over the results with their doctor. It’s very common. Don’t let it happen to you. Be proactive; this is your body. You need it to be as strong and healthy as possible for a very long time!
Your friend and ally,