055: Pro Tips To Getting Your Case Ready For A Practitioner

Have you ever wished that a doctor would spend more time asking you questions?

Or maybe you’ve found the exact opposite — you tend to end up basically word vomiting all over your practitioner without letting them get a word in edgewise?

It’s normal to want to share lots of information and yes… generally more IS better. But doing it in a more systematic fashion can be easier for your practitioner to put your skin rash and health clues together.

After 10+ years of experience working in my dad’s medical practice and then working with clients on their health for the last 9 years, I want to take a moment to help you become the best advocate for your health that you can be.

Much of this comes down to preparation BEFORE your visit.

And when you do this correctly, your practitioner can help you piece things together faster to help you get answers sooner rather than later.

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

In this episode:

  • What you need to prepare before you work with a practitioner
  • List of questions, patterns, and information to put together
  • Why you shouldn’t hold back and self-edit your answers about your health history
  • Case examples illustrating how hidden triggers can be uncovered

Quotes:

I spoke with this woman who had head-to-toe eczema. She tried so many different things but without much success. Because she grew up on a farm, I asked about exposure to pesticides. After thinking it over, she blurted out, “Actually, yes! We used to run outside as the crop duster passed over head. We'd run outside and dance around in the dust and it coated pretty much everything, even the bikes.” Ding, ding, ding… we hit on a major toxin exposure!

Doctor writing for patient

Pro Tips To Getting Your Skin Rash Case Ready For A Practitioner (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome to episode number 55 of the Healthy Skin Show!

Today I want to share with you some tips about how to best prepare yourself to start digging deeper, especially with the help of other practitioners.

It seems like a total no brainer, but the thing is, most people aren't fully prepared. This has been my experience as a practitioner.

Unfortunately there is no manual to know how to do this. We often take for granted that medical records are just somehow transferred.

Or you might think that it really doesn't matter whether you share any notes or documentation or previous labs because why would a more integrative practitioner need it. But the truth is, all of it is valid and important.

And it's on you as the patient, as the advocate for yourself and your health to make sure that you compile all of that data. This way, you can share it with this new practitioner or anyone else on your health team to keep everyone up to date because trends and patterns do matter!

Your issues didn't start yesterday.

Even if there was a sudden onset. That is a clue, but typically there's something else going on underneath the surface and any practitioner is going to ask you questions if they're really interested in digging.

They’ll want to know what your childhood was like. Were you sick a lot as a kid?

Were you exposed to a lot of antibiotics?

Were you born vaginally or by c-section?

Those types of things actually do matter as well as the health of your parents, siblings, and even knowing what type of medications you've been on in the past.

At the end of the day, compiling this saves you time.

I find that, as a practitioner, it's better to have more information upfront rather than to find out a month or two months later. It could focus us in a direction that may be quite different than where we were headed in the first place.

Woman putting her case together

How To Get Started Putting Your Case Together

My goal today is to help orient you towards what you need to do ahead of time so that you can be the best advocate for your health.

I gained this insight from work as a practitioner and a clinical nutritionist, but also having worked for about 12 years with my dad who's a medical doctor and surgeon.

So I’ve been able to see what it's like from both sides– conventional medicine and an integrative approach. The reality is that the way we need information communicated to us does make a difference.

My advice would be to spend time thinking over what happened to you along the way with your health. Organize your thoughts and bullet point it out in chronologic order so that it’s more concise rather than jumping back and forth in time.

Woman writing a list of all her symptoms

Then list out all of your symptoms. We've talked about this on previous podcasts. All symptoms are critically important no matter where you experience them and even those unrelated to skin.

From there, think about when the symptoms started.

Did something specific happen around that time? Did you start a new medication? Did you move homes? Were you in a very stressful relationship?

Whatever comes up, write it down. Think through about a six-month period around when things began. 

Then write out all of the things you notice about any cycles or patterns with the flares that you experience. For women, you might notice that it happens to coincide with a particular part of your menstrual cycle.

Or maybe you notice that the flares tend to coincide with certain seasonal changes or it could even be exposures to certain things.

Maybe you go on a plane and every single time you're on a plane, you notice that things flare up when you arrive at your destination.

Or on every vacation, you have seems to notice a reduction in symptoms (or they clear up). But then when you return home, your skin flares again.

Doing some detective work monitoring your symptoms and charting your flares can be incredibly important and helpful.

Happy extended family at party

Digging Deeper Into Your History And Trackable Health Data

Now, this next piece may seem obvious, but collecting some family health information from blood relatives can give us clues. Look at your mother, father, maternal and paternal grandparents, siblings and children.

But what's equally important is having a history of your own lab work. I like to look anywhere from two to five years in the past of what you have.

A lot of people don't go for lab work unless they're really sick and doctors feel inclined to actually test. But you are allowed to ask your doctor to run labs every single year.

If you don't want to deal with your insurance, most states allow you to order your own labs. The insurance won't pay for it, but at least you'll have access to it. And in many cases it's not that expensive to do on your own.

When you gather together your labs including blood labs, urinalyses, food sensitivity testing and any other type of functional testing. Put all of it together in a binder in chronological order.

And then anytime you go for labs, ask for a copy to add to your records.

Test tubes for blood test

Okay, so here is the more comprehensive (but certainly not exhaustive) list

  • Complete full body symptom list
  • Official diagnoses given by a medical doctor
  • Patterns of your flares
  • What makes your symptoms better and worse as well
  • What you've already tried
  • Family history (blood relatives)
  • Medication history from over the years of past medication use
  • 2-5 years of labs
  • Current medication list with dosages and how you take them
  • Complete supplement list
  • Previous major illness history
  • Photographs of external areas affected by symptoms

Remember, always share a complete and total medication list as well as supplements you are taking with all practitioners, even conventional doctors. Some can have interactions with medication that your doctor does need to know about.

Major illnesses are important to share. Things like Epstein, Barr (or Mono) or Lyme disease, measles, etc. For example, I had shingles at age 27 so that would be an important thing to share with a practitioner.

Pictures of skin rashes can be really helpful. Take photos of the affected areas from different angles in bright light. You can use photos as a great way to track your skin symptoms.

Now here's a final pro tip. Ask other people who know you well if there's something about you that is sort of different or strange. Maybe it’s something that you don't fully realize about yourself, but that they see as “a way that you are.”

Putting two puzzle pieces together

Why It’s Important To Put The Pieces Together Ahead Of Time

By putting all of this information in one place, it makes sharing this data easier. If you're tech savvy, turn everything into PDFs and keep a digital file. This makes it easy to upload your information to medical portals.

And I found that most people have become very lax in the duty of having put all of this stuff together.

I get it. You're used to most doctors blowing you off. They'll say that all of this isn't connected, but it can be and it often is!

Remember, only you know this information! 

A practitioner isn't a mind reader. Often what you might omit could be critically important.

The reason I find it so helpful to talk further, even after I get my hands on this trove of health information that you've shared, is perfectly illustrated in this one example.

A woman was interested in working with me on her eczema. She had it from head to toe and she felt like she tried everything. She ate all organic food, made homemade salves from real food ingredients.

She tried so many different things but without much success. As we were talking, she mentioned something about growing up on a farm in the Midwest and naturally I began asking about that.

I inquired if she had ever been exposed to chemicals or pesticides during that period of time.

Child walking through wheat field with pesticides

She thought about it for a moment in silence and then all of a sudden she blurted out, “Actually, yes! It was pretty common for us kids to run outside as the crop duster passed over head. We'd run outside and dance around in the dust as you would in a thunderstorm and it coated pretty much every single one of our toys and even the bikes.”

She realized in that moment that she had never thought of this period of time where she had large exposures to these chemicals. And no one had ever asked her about this either so it stayed buried deep within her subconscious.

One last point because I think this will also help you!

Another recent client was able to put together that there was a major long-term exposure to black mold around the time when his skin problems began. We had to spend some time figuring out the timeline, but it was pretty significant and makes sense with his current issues with candida.

Now I'm not suggesting that the clues from these two clients are everything, but they're really important. That's why spending time thinking about this stuff ahead of any appointment can be really helpful.

But you also have to be willing to share answers with your practitioner that are unfiltered. That way we can unearth these valuable little gems that are hiding underneath the surface that you probably forgot about.

Comparing this all with labs and other data can help us make sense of how these things started and where we probably need to look to figure out your root causes.

I know this is a lot and not necessarily specific to skin rashes, but it's my hope that being fully prepared will help you get the answer sooner rather than later.

And if you've got any questions or thoughts about this episode, leave a comment below! 

If you found this episode helpful or just the show in general, share this podcast with the people you know who are also seeking answers about their skin rashes. And heck, this episode is all about your health so you could share this with pretty much anybody!

And of course, don't forget to subscribe to the show and then rate and review the Healthy Skin Show on your podcast platform of choice. Your reviews mean so much to me and to the continuation of this show. I'm deeply grateful to every single one of you who has already done this!

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day and I'll see you in the next episode.

I spoke with this woman who had head-to-toe eczema. She tried so many different things but without much success. Because she grew up on a farm, I asked about exposure to pesticides. After thinking it over, she blurted out, “Actually, yes! We used to run outside as the crop duster passed over head. We'd run outside and dance around in the dust and it coated pretty much everything, even the bikes.” Ding, ding, ding… we hit on a major toxin exposure!