Coping with Skipped Doctors’ Appointments During COVID-19 Lockdown
The COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful time for everyone, but it can be particularly stressful for those trying to manage long-term medical conditions. Many people with serious health problems are seeing their doctors’ appointments canceled, postponed, or changed to telephone or teleconferencing appointments.
Since my pulmonary hypertension diagnosis two years ago, my regular checkups and tests have been important, not just for monitoring my health, but also for putting my mind at ease and keeping me informed.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, I was due for a number of tests including cardiopulmonary exercise testing, blood tests, and a 6-minute walk test, all of which have been postponed due to the high risk of going to a hospital.
Many people are facing this dilemma of balancing the need to monitor or treat long-term conditions with the need to isolate and stay safe from the virus.
Having important health appointments postponed can cause anxiety, but I have had to trust my doctor’s advice that currently, the risk posed by nonessential appointments is greater than my need for testing.
Normally when I experience symptoms, I save my questions for my doctors during typical checkups every three months. Even if I’m not due for any big tests, these appointments allow my team to monitor B-type natriuretic peptide in my blood, check my blood pressure, and check for any peripheral edema (swelling), which could be a sign of heart failure.
This extended time without a consultation has forced me to become slightly more self-sufficient in monitoring my health. I have written previously about the benefits of keeping a symptoms log, and recently I invested in a few things to make my self-monitoring a little more effective. I ordered a pulse oximeter, which can tell you oxygen saturation levels in the blood, and a blood pressure monitor, which is useful because many of the medications I take can affect my blood pressure.
Being able to keep track of these things helps to ease my mind and makes me feel more in control. But it also is helpful during phone calls or teleconferencing.
Ultimately, I need to remember that this is a strange time for everyone, and we can strive to do our best to keep ourselves and one another safe. I make a conscious effort to remind myself that this is temporary, and I’ll get those tests at some point. In the meantime, I just need to listen to my body and look after myself to the best of my abilities.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.