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Managing Your GP. Wednesday July 16, 2014

Earlier this month I had a change of GP and medication.

Maybe that gives the wrong impression; I am sure the change of medication would have come about had I not changed GP, but my former GP is now the senior partner and has reduced her hours so that one has to wait a long time for an appointment. I had faithfully promised my Moodscope Buddy that I would see somebody very soon (a week of scores below 10% had caused considerable anxiety), so I booked the next available appointment.

Our poor overworked GPs get something like seven minutes per patient (maybe twelve minutes – but it's really not that long) and when you're dealing with something complicated like a mental health issue how can you expect them to get up to speed with your case in that length of time; especially, if like many of us, you have pages and pages and pages of health record notes? I was concerned about this and wanted to be proactive in managing my appointment.

So I sent the GP an email, outlining my case and history. Not a long one, just about 350 words that she could read much more quickly than with me talking to her. I also took my husband along to the appointment; partly for emotional comfort, but also so he could support or qualify any of my statements regarding my symptoms and the effect they have on family life.

I think I've said before that I am fortunate in my GP practice. They are a forward thinking lot who run late surgeries, will prescribe over the phone for simple conditions, run phone consultations (not sure if they do Skype yet) and are fully aware that drugs are not the answer to everything.

What I did with this GP might not work with every GP. But it was successful this time; in fact, I was thanked for sending the email. Apparently it was very useful and she'd like it if more patients did it too! I was also asked to send a follow-up email so she could put in my notes how effective this new medication is.

I now have a new medication which is much more effective than the last lot (hallelujah!), while not being so effective it makes me feel as if I'm better. The Moodscope score is up to 40%, and life is bearable again – for both me and my family.

And I have a new GP – who is just as lovely as my former GP: I am truly blessed.

But I'm sure being proactive helped.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 6:20am

I once gave a new psychiatrist my Moodscope login and password, which I changed once he got a chance to see it. He said it was invaluable to see months worth of patterns. He'd never heard of Moodscope and loved it! He also was able to ask me about a couple of spikes (up and down) and their causes...which sometimes don't necessarily exist. I highly recommend sharing your graph with your care provider and I'd do it again for sure!

JEREMY THOMAS Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 8:45am

Good practical stuff. Doctors have eevn less time to see patients where I live so think this advice of pre-advising or at least writing down the facts is v helpful.

Vanessa Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 9:46am

so glad it's starting to ease for you Mary. A great idea to email your GP! love Vanessa x

Julia Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 10:36am

It's so good the new medication is helping Mary and you have a very supportive husband to go along to the GP with you. I think acknowledging that one member's moods and problems have an effect on the whole family is brave. It's never been acknowledged in my family as they maintain they don't notice! Some people may not be able to string two words together let along pen an email to their GP but I can see the value in being proactive in this case. It certainly worked for you and your GP. I did this once and my GP hadn't had time to read it so now I just present myself and let him take over sort of!

Julia Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 10:39am

Sorry, I should have said Some "depressed" people may not be able to string.....

Theresa NZ Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 10:58am

I did the email thing with my gp too. and he found it useful as well. i articulaye myself so much more clearly in writing vs talking. i so agree that mental health issues are complex and they take time to talk out. when i feel thr is a time limit i get nervous and tongue tied.
thats why one hour therapy sessions are excellent. thanx for sharing mary ... im sorry you hav bn so low and im glad u hav come out into the sunshine again. your blogs are my favourites to read. yoh can WRITE!!! your description of the bird in the tree ( in a previous post) was magic. im glad ur meds are working. God bless you. T x

Anonymous Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 11:50am

I was on the cusp of doing the same thing myself, Mary, so thank you for the encouragement. Something has niggled me about disloyalty to my current GP but I realise now that I do not have to justify my actions. Best wishes. Your No.1 fan.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 12:11pm

Great idea Mary. I agree with a previous poster that feeling under time pressure when I know GP appts are so short can make it hard to clearly articulate the issues involved. An email is a great idea and I'm delighted to hear your GP surgery were so open to it.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 1:57pm

Great post Mary !

Anonymous Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 2:07pm

Hi Mary

My GP practice does some " book ahead " appointments for the next 6 to 8 weeks. I usually see her every two months and she just books the next one while I am there, so I nearly always see the same person and it saves us both time. Might be worth asking if your practice can do something similar ? Great to hear you have a supportive doctor it makes such a difference and the new medication is working.

Serine Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 5:02pm

That was a very good idea to email your doctor. I find that I can relay so much more information in the written text than in speaking as I will get so distracted in speech. My doctors fortunately have been able to give me all the time I have required and in this I have been very fortunate and very appreciative of especially in our Canadian health care system.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 5:25pm

I used to write down the things that I thought I might not be totally honest about when I actually got into the appointment. It was much easier to hand over a piece of paper which was completely honest about how low I'd been feeling and what thoughts I'd been having. I know I wouldn't have said all of that 'out loud' if I'd had to

Mapsie1066 Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 6:58pm

Dear Mary
Congratulations! I am pleased for you that you had such a positive response and that you are feeling the benefit of new medication. I am a GP with Bipolar, so I see things from both sids of the desk. My psychiatrist is a mood buddy, and I take my graphs and a summary of the notes to each session, which he finds helpful. I also have a sense of security knowing he will pick up on a sudden drop (as happened last week).
I too appreciate receiving a written account or summary from a patient ahead of time. It allows me time to read and assess the situation and target resources appropriately in the all to brief 10 minute consult.
I hope you continue to improve.
Best wishes.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 10:24pm

Hi how did you get your gps email address? At my surgery you can't contact gps directly you have to go through reception

Anonymous Wed, Jul 16th 2014 @ 10:26pm

Hi how did you get your gps email address? At my surgery you can't contact the gps directly you have to go through reception

Anonymous Fri, Jul 18th 2014 @ 11:52am

Thank you so much for this post, this is exactly what I needed today. I was feeling so low that I can hardly get out of bed.

Today, rather than try to do everything, which is way too daunting (and impossible anyway) in my frame of mind, or do nothing, which will simply leave me feeling empty and useless, I shall just do one thing. Already I feel better after having decided this.

Thank you again

Anonymous Fri, Jul 18th 2014 @ 2:16pm

Hi Paige, I need to do exact this. Precisely and particularly this. Thank you for the blog, fab words which must have taken courage to write. p.s. I think somehow this blog has mixed with last Friday's (date at top) and has comments from that. Hopefully it won't stop others posting today's comments.

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