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Werner Karl Heisenberg

Theoretical Physicist

He was a pioneering German physicist renowned for formulating the uncertainty principle and making significant contributions to the development of quantum mechanics.

Never be unprepared for exams – even medical exams!

Preparing yourself for doctor’s visits

To excel in an examination, preparation is key. We take notes, revise, practice answering questions and even sit for mock examinations prior to it. A visit to the doctor is an examination that we often don’t prepare for. This results in failed or prolonged recovery due to misdiagnosis.

A rule of thumb when sitting for an exam is that you write everything you know, assuming the examiner knows nothing, and never leave room for assumption. A medical examination should be treated the same way. Doctors are gifted with wisdom and skill, but not gifted with the psychic ability to look into our eyes and automatically know our medical history. That stethoscope around their neck only hears the lub-dub of the heart and cannot hear your body explain your health habits and ailments. The responsibility is on you to be well prepared and give A+ grade answers regarding your condition.

Doctor’s visits are expensive and here we give you some examples on how to prepare for your doctor’s visit so that you make the most of this interaction.

A thing or two from how Sheldon Cooper aced his tests.

Sheldon Cooper, the fictional character from the TV series, The Big Bang Theory,  was a theoretical physicist and child prodigy who graduated from college at age 14. Alongside his excellence in academics, I bet he aced every medical examination and doctor’s visit. Here’s how: in Season 6 of Big Bang Theory it is revealed that Dr. Cooper had separate journal records of his life details since he was a baby. One of them was the diary detailing his bowel movement.

Though comical and weird at first, I couldn’t help but wonder how easy it would have been for a doctor’s diagnosis if he ever were to fall sick.

The colour and form of faecal matter can tell so much about one’s health. It is common for physicians to use a Stool Colour Card when evaluating the health of newborn babies. Clay-coloured or putty coloured stool is observed in biliary obstructions and red-coloured stool is observed in lower gastrointestinal tract bleeding. Furthermore, Modified Bristol Visual Stool Scale, which evaluates stool consistency, has been found to be beneficial in monitoring treatment efficiency in functional constipation (Kasırga, 2019).

No, I am not suggesting that you keep a detailed poop journal but this is just to show how much taking notes can help with a successful doctor’s visit.  Then, what should you be journaling about and is it absolutely a must?

Preparing for the viva

A study in the United States examined how clinic time was spent during elderly patients’ visits to primary care physicians. The average time duration of a patient’s visit was 15.7 minutes. The median talk time by patient was 5.3 minutes, and physician, 5.2 minutes. This means that a doctor has a matter of minutes to determine your illness and offer you a remedy that best suits you.

Before your visit to the doctor, keeping notes of a few things such as symptoms experienced can help you have a productive conversation within the given amount of time. Identification of symptoms is the basis for a correct diagnosis. Though some symptoms are physically observable by a doctor, many of them are only known by you.

Self-tracking is defined as the practice of repeatedly recording information such as behaviours, thoughts, and feelings about oneself. Self-tracking health information has scientific evidence to show that it improves communication with the doctor. Today, many mobile phone applications have made this task easy and quick (Figueiredo, Caldeira, Chen, & Zheng, 2018).

Some of such applications that I find useful are Symple and Clue. They are both available for free download and can be upgraded at USD 10.00 per month for additional features. Symple is a symptoms tracking app that makes self-tracking easy. Additionally, the app allows you to journal your thoughts daily, record eating and exercising habits, even keep a picture diary! Clue is a menstrual health tracker. Apart from being able to record symptoms such as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), skin condition and sleep patterns, it predicts the dates of ovulation and menstruation and gives medical information when your cycle does not look right.   

Symptoms alone cannot determine the best treatment for you. Recommended therapy differs depending on lifestyle habits such as the co-use of other medications, underlying health conditions and allergies. The next part of this series will focus on how to have a productive conversation with your physician, during your doctor’s visit: things you should let know of and things you should ask, in order to receive the best tailored medication on your road to quick recovery. 

Author: Indumini Balasuriya


Kasırga. (2019). Çocuklarda Gastrointestinal Hastalıkların Tanı Ve Takibinde Dışkı İncelemelerinin Yeri. Türk Pediatri Arşivi. https://doi.org/10.14744/turkpediatriars.2018.00483

Figueiredo, M., Caldeira, C., Chen, Y., & Zheng, K. (2018). Routine self-tracking of health: reasons, facilitating factors, and the potential impact on health management practices. AMIA … Annual Symposium Proceedings. AMIA Symposium, 2017, 706–714. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5977566/


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