Common Mistakes Kidney Patients Make & How to Avoid Them, Part 2: Forgetting To ASK & TELL

By Risa Simon

If you missed the first part in our new series Common Mistakes Kidney Patients Make and How to Avoid Them, you can read it here.

If you are just showing up for your appointments without a pen and a legal pad full of questions, list of concerns, and your spreadsheets with all your number comparisons, you’re missing out on a valuable wisdom-gaining experience. When you choose to engage, you’ll influence the focus of each appointment from the moment your doctor walks through the door.

Here Are Your Top 3 “ASK’s”: 

  1. What’s your “take” on my last labs and what can I do to impact them more favorably?
  2. Should I need renal replacement, do you think I’d be eligible for transplant?
  3. If not now, what could I do to improve my chances?

Become an inquiring mind. Never stop asking and learning.

Here Are Your Top 3 “TELL’s”:

  1. Your symptoms, observations and concerns since your last visit (use your observation diary).
  2. Obvious number changes (utilize your blood pressure, weight and lab comparison spreadsheets).
  3. Your concerns, desires and future goals.

If initiating dialogue with your doctor is uncomfortable for you, state it as so. For example, you can say “This is a bit awkward (or embarrassing or perhaps even a bit premature), but I think it’s important enough to bring up. Can I use this opportunity to share a couple of concerns I have with you?”

If you find your doctor is unwilling to entertain your questions, disengaged or just too rushed to listen, you might suggest email communication as an alternative, but only if that’s your preference.  Bottom line, it’s extremely important to sense a strong connection with your doctor. In fact it’s the only way to build respect and trust.  If your attempts fall on flat ears, find another doctor—and don’t stop looking until you feel your physician cares, “gets you” and has your back.

Check back next week for part 3 in our new series!

About Risa Simon: As a motivational speaker, 3x published author, patient educator and Peer Mentor for the National Kidney Foundation, Risa has one goal: To empower kidney patients to become their own best advocate. Risa is the founder of Simon Says Seminars, Inc., The Proactive Path and She also runs the Phoenix Chapter of the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation while serving on prestigious renal organization advisory committees. Known as the kidney patient’s patient advocate, she followed the proactive systems she created for herself and others, and is now living her best life ever. This is what she wants for all transplant eligible patients. Her tips, scripts and Donor Magnet® system can be found in her book: Shift Your Fate: Life-Changing Wisdom For Proactive Kidney Patients. For more information visit:

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