Tackling Anxiety Over Doctors’ Appointments

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by Eleanor Bird |

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As I write this, I’m due for a hospital visit tomorrow for a day of tests. And I have some pretty major pre-appointment anxiety.

I haven’t had a face-to-face appointment to monitor my pulmonary hypertension in almost six months. While my doctors have been checking in on me via telephone consultations, this will be the first time I’ve had actual tests in over five months. I’m not worried about the tests, as I’m used to the process and thankfully never had a problem with needles. I’m worried about the results.

The anxiety is worsened by the fact that I can’t bring anyone with me. Anyone with serious health problems knows how comforting it is to have someone along during appointments. For one thing, appointments involve a lot of waiting, so it’s good to have someone there to distract you to avoid overthinking.

Secondly, it’s helpful to have someone there when you receive results, as often it is difficult to process everything, and you don’t end up taking it all in or asking the right follow-up questions.

It also will feel strange walking into a hospital after so long at home seeing only my family. I know my specialist hospital is taking every precaution in the current context. For a day admission like this, I normally would be on a day ward with other patients. This time, I will be in an isolated room. 

Visiting the hospital can be stressful, and all of the new precautions and changes don’t help. It has forced me to think about things that relax me.

The main thing for me is to be prepared, even if I’ll just be there for a day admission. I like to make sure I have a bag packed with everything I need. Of course, it’s important to pack overnight things just in case.

I bring antibacterial wipes so I can wipe down my area, which might sound strange, as I’m sure it’s already pretty sterile. But it makes me feel more at home. I also like to bring my own food (yes, I’m that diva). Hospital food is often not as bad as you might expect, but I find it comforting to have food from home when possible. 

Obviously, the most important thing is bringing stuff to do. I try to bring a variety of things to do, because what I feel like doing varies based on the mindset I have on a particular day. If I’m really anxious, I need the big guns: the TV show “Friends.” I make sure to have a few episodes downloaded. If I’m calmer, I might read a book or do some work.

Another thing I like to do is let my friends know I’ll be in the hospital so that people will text and perhaps phone me. 

All of these little things can make a big difference, but obviously, it’s never a walk in the park. It’s natural to be anxious about test results. I just have to stay positive and be confident that no matter what the news is, I’ll get through it. After all, I’ve done it before! 


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.


"Mendo" Bruce Buckner

I use a major university medical center with a specialized PH dept. They too do not allow anybody other than the patient to attend visits due to the Covid pandemic. They also require masks for all on the premises.

However I can not walk, with a mask on, due to my end stage emphysema and severe pulmonary hypertension. I informed them that I would require a wheelchair and attendant. They told me I had to provide my own wheelchair attendant, which allowed me to bring a friend along to push the wheelchair and attend my appointments with me.


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