How to ask for medical help

It’s only taken me 20 years, but I’ve finally figured out how to ask for help from medical folks in a way that not only lets me sound halfway intelligent, but also helps them to help me.

I had a very positive and productive interaction with an individual at a hospital the other day. I had undergone some testing a few months back that came up with inconclusive results that didn’t help explain some weirdness I’ve been experiencing most of my life. So, I need to get some more testing, but I’m not sure if my insurance will cover it. So, I had to contact this hospital to find out what billing codes they use and then call back the insurance company with the info. I didn’t have high hopes of getting very far — most of my interactions with hospitals have been tremendously frustrating for me.

But this time was different. There was no fussing. There was no confused back-and-forth. There were only questions and answers — the right questions, too — and positive results. It was so positive and productive, it left me a little speechless. This is a new experience for me — usually, I flounder and flail and can’t figure out what to say to medical folks, and then they get mad at me for not making their jobs harder. But the other day, I managed to conduct a level-headed, objective, intelligent, mature interaction with someone who actually helped me.

The things I did were so basic, so simple, I feel a little stupid talking about them. But not everyone knows how to do this — including me, for the past 20 years. Here’s what I did:

  1. I identified myself with my name
  2. I identified who my doctor is
  3. I gave a brief overview my background — I had some tests, and I need to have more.
  4. I identified the issue to solve — I have to figure out if my insurance will cover these tests.
  5. I identified where I was having trouble solving this issue — my insurance company needs certain billing codes for this test
  6. I identified what I needed to solve my problem — could they tell me what the billing codes were?
  7. If they could help me, what were those codes?
  8. If not, did they know who could tell them — and yes, I would hold.
  9. I got the details from them and wrote them down
  10. I repeated the details back to them for confirmation
  11. I got their name and their telephone number
  12. I repeated once more what they had told me and identified my next steps
  13. I thanked them for their help and wished them a good day.

It sounds so simple… but until the other day, I had rarely managed to conduct any kind of conversation in this systematic a manner, and it always went poorly. I got turned around and angry, and the people I was talking to always got a bit beaten up in the process.

But the other day, that didn’t happen.

Now I know how to do this.

Magic.

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Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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