D is for Doctor

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Guest blogger Kristian Johnson von Rickenbach is BACK! 
Did I mention, she's a doctor?

I’m back for my second installment, ya’ll! Who’s pumped?! Cue emoji girl with her hand raised because it’s me, it’s me, I’m pumped.

Today’s letter is D and D is for Doctor. It sounds super weird to say, but I’m a doctor. I’ve only been one for a month and change now, and I’ve basically been on vacation for the past few months, annndddd I haven’t actually started my residency or had my own official patients yet… So yeah, I’m like the jockey on the horse heading toward the starting gate, but the crowds of people wearing ridiculous hats have yet to arrive. But it’s still a real thing – I promise! I paid lots of money (loans, baby, loans) for those sweet new initials after my name so I’m putting them to use.

Today, I’m gonna drop a little bit of doctor knowledge. Truthfully, I’m sharing easily searchable material á la google and everything I say is just regurgitated info and NOT real doctor advice (aka I accept no liability or responsibility related to what you read or interpret from this post ☺).

Here’s the truth – doctors are simple people who think simple thoughts, so when you go to the doctor for a pain, rash, runny nose, cough, injury, foreign object implanted in a place where it doesn’t belong, or whatever your ailment of the day is, be SIMPLE.
 
Here’s how to be simple – mnemonics. Medicine LOVES mnemonics like Ice loves Coco. I’ve
literally learned (or let’s be real, memorized for exams) hundreds of medical mnemonics over my four years of education and none is more ingrained in my mind than OLD CARTS. So if you share the information from this mnemonic with your doctor, you’ll likely be nominated for ‘The Most Perfect Patient’ award. You’re welcome.

Sounds simple right? So let’s begin. OLD CARTS stands for:

Onset – when did it start? Yesterday, one week, one month? What were you doing around when it started? Paint us a picture with your words. Have you ever had this before? Timing is everything people.

Location/Radiation – Location, location, location. Now, this doesn’t apply to every type of illness, obvi, but for those that it does, where is the rash or the pain? Did it start in one spot and move, or did it spread to include other locations? Now take your hand or finger and literally point to the exact spot. If you say you have stomach pain and point to your left ribcage versus your right lower pelvic region I’m thinking very different thoughts.

Duration – How long does the pain or rash or cough or whatever last? Does it come and go or is it constant from day one? When it happens, how long does it last for? I told you, timing is Ev-er-y-thing.

Character – What is it like? Describe it. And can you associate anything else with it? For example: if it’s a cough – does it rattle like a 60 year old smoker cough or is it barky like a dog? Is phlegm coming up with the cough? What color is it (for real people)? Do you also have a headache, fever, and/or a runny nose? Do you have allergies and it’s mid-April and your car outside is covered in tree love- aka pollen? If it’s a rash – is it fiery red, hot, and blistering? Or is it little pink bumps everywhere? Do you have a fever or pain elsewhere in your joints with this rash? If it’s ankle pain – does it feel like someone is stabbing you with a kitchen knife or is it more like a dull achy pain like a little sister constantly poking you in the same spot over and over again? Can you feel your big toe on that same side? Are you able to do normal everyday things like go to work or walk (if that’s normal to you) or is the problem so disruptive that you can’t even enjoy the Netflix binge sesh you’ve been consuming?

Aggravating factors – What makes it worse? What makes that pain go from a slight annoyance to an unbearable rage? Does your wrist pain dramatically increase whenever you bend your wrist back to an unnatural degree (if so, just STOP DOING THAT) or is it simply when applying pressure? Does that headache get worse when you eat food, drink coffee, or wake up after a night of one too many tequila shots?

Relieving factors – What (if anything) makes it better, or at least not be as bad? Have you tried some old fashioned home remedies (I’m talking ice, meds, rest, fluids, honey, prayer, etc) before you made this decision to tap into that sweet healthcare insurance you’ve been paying for? (Side note: Yes – healthcare is ludicrously expensive, but I promise you – it’s totally worth it. Take a peek at what your insurance company is charged and then breathe deeply into a paper bag because it’s insane).  Point is, if you tried anything, even if it didn’t work, tell us!

Timing – Didn’t I tell you timing is everything? So timing is timing, when does it hurt? Are your headaches only in the morning? Does your knee pain always happen the day after you run? Does your cough only happen when you’re trying to cuddle up with your boo in bed? Does your chest burn only after consuming an appropriately proportioned burrito from Chipotle with extra hot sauce? Can you relate anything you do with when your problem occurs at all?

Severity – We’ve made it to the last letter. Tired of all this medical talk? Me too, so let’s wrap this thing up and put a bow on it. Doctors might seem like mythical creatures at times but they cannot feel your pain/discomfort so we need you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 – 10, with one being just a little nugget of pain and 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever felt in your entire life. I repeat, 10 is THE WORST PAIN YOU’VE EVER FELT OR COULD EVER IMAGINE FEELING IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. So when you casually stroll into the doctor’s office and take a running start to jump up onto that oh so comfortable paper sheet covered table, you probs shouldn’t rate your ankle pain a 10 out of 10, it looks suspicious.

So that’s it folks. Like I said before, this is by no means real doctor advice, it’s really just a script for you to consider following at your next doctor’s appointment. No need to wait for a doctor to ask you these questions, you can jump right in and share this info from the start! Then before you know it you’ll be walking out of the office with that cherry lollypop in your mouth knowing you just owned that appointment.
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