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Welcome To The Bitchery

Let's face it - going to the doctor just ain't what it used to be.

In MY day, you got dressed up to go to the doctor - a hat, gloves, and your Sunday finest, and you could smoke.... Wait, no, that's airplanes I'm thinking of....

No matter. Odds are, your doctor's office is an uncivilized place. The receptionist shouts "YOU'RE HERE FOR VAGINAL DISCHARGE??" and requires your insurance card which is mysteriously missing from your wallet, the only magazines available are Highlights and Field & Stream, and you show up 5 minutes early only to be seen an hour after you arrive. Then you FINALLY get to see your doctor, and they barely look up from their computer screen, and spend 3 of the precious 5 minutes you have with them talking to you about your weight.


But here's something you might not know - your doctor is probably just as miserable as you. The only difference is she gets to keep her pants on and her weight to herself. But she is running behind because her office manager has decided the only way to keep the practice afloat is to double book every available time slot, and she will be at the office long after the last patient is seen, coding charts while the sun goes down. The system, frankly, sucks.

Which means getting what you want means playing the game. It shouldn't be this way, of course, but putting that aside for the moment, here are some times for getting what you want from the precious little time you have with your healthcare provider.

1) Be respectful. Obviously, this goes both ways. But really basic respect goes a long way. That means please don't call your doctor by their first name unless they specifically tell you to. And for the love of god, don't call her "Hon" or "Sweetie." C'mon. Really?

Illustration for article titled How to Get What You Want from Your Doctor

2) Keep the list of things you want to address in that visit to less than 3. Three issues is the absolute limit, and thats only for if the 3 issues are SIMPLE ones (toe fungus, refill for your inhaler, etc). If one of your complaints is headaches, unexplained weight loss, insomnia, back pain, etc, those are complaints that warrant an in depth physical exam and a good history and are worthy of a visit all their own.

3) If you want drugs that lots of people like to take for fun, be prepared to make your case. This means Ambien, Xanax, Adderall, Oxycodone, etc are all going to take more than a simple request. And its unlikely that you are going to be able to walk in and just demand them if this is your very first visit. Your doctor has a license to protect, and the quickest way to lose it is to start handing out prescriptions for controlled substances all willy nilly. Your best bet for "scoring" any of the above is to, for one, need it for a LEGITIMATE REASON (you know who you are), ask for the smallest supply you can, and express concern about it becoming habit forming. Do not use shorthand or street names for the drugs you want. Do not claim allergies you don't have. Do not wait until the very last minute when the doctors hand is on the door to leave before you pipe up. Here's a sample of a patient I would never give an opioid to in a million years:

"Oh, doc, before you go, I was wondering if I could get something for this pain I have in my back? I've tried everything since I was in a car accident 5 years ago, and the only thing that helps is Oxys. My last doctor would write me for them. I think I'm allergic to ibuprofen. Physical therapy didn't do anything."


Don't be this guy.

4) Play the long game. As I mentioned above, the first visit is not the time or the place to start asking for 90 day supplies of Xanax. Like any relationship, cultivating the one you have with your doctor will go a long way in getting you more face time and getting your requests taken seriously. If your doctor wants you to follow up in 2 weeks, do it. If you have multiple concerns, make an effort to be seen more often. We are happy to give notes to your employer to improve your compliance.


5) Find a doctor you like. The above is all going to go a lot smoother if you don't waste your time on assholes. Quite frankly, there are those in my profession who are not good at what they do, or are jerks. Fuck them. If your doctor is a fat shaming moron who doesn't listen, doesn't apologize for running behind, and fails to respect you in the way you have respected her, then don't waste your time. That doesn't mean you should fire your doctor just because they don't give you what you want - after all, a doctor that truly cares is a doctor who cares enough to tell you "No."

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