WHY KEEPING A PERSONAL MEDICAL JOURNAL IS IMPORTANT — AND 5 EASY STEPS TO GET ONE STARTED
Posted by Catherine Morgan on February 2, 2007
picture by © hawkhunk
KEEPING A PERSONAL MEDICAL JOURNAL — by Catherine Morgan
Whether you are suffering from a chronic illness, pregnant, or just getting older. Keeping a personal medical journal, is important, and can really come in handy. Some may want to do this on a weekly or monthly basis, others on a daily basis, this will depend on the severity of your health issues.
STEP ONE: Just go out and get a notebook that you can use for this purpose alone. This journal will be helpful to you, as well as the medical practitioners you are working with. Especially, if you move, need to change doctors, or are hospitalized. Which reminds me, if you go on vacation, or extended holiday, bring your medical information with you, it will make it much easier if you need to see an unfamiliar physician, or be hospitalized.
STEP TWO: Begin with a page that states your medical history, as well as your current diagnosis or health issues. Take some time with this part. Make sure you include dates of hospitalizations, and prior surgeries, these are questions you will be asked if you see a new doctor or are hospitalized
STEP THREE: List your medications, if you take the same pills on a daily basis, list them on the front of your journal, if you have some that you take, as needed, list them with your daily entries. Make sure when you list your medications, you specify the dosage (ie: Placebo 1mg, 2 tablets, three times a day), also include why you are taking this medication (ie: blood pressure, depression, etc).
IMPORTANT: If you are taking any medications that you don’t normally take (ie: medications for pain, cold, fever), and you are taking them several times a day (ie: every four hours, every six hours), make sure you keep a close record of the times your are taking these medications. It is very easy to get confused, and take more than you are suppose to, and in many cases this could cause serious health issues.
STEP FOUR: Entries. Depending on your condition, you may want to use a page for each entry, or maybe just a few lines, what ever works for you. Of course, start with the date and time. Then, anything relevant to your medical condition (ie: blood pressure, fatigue, pain, blood sugar, etc), as well as your “emotional” condition (ie: happy, sad, depressed, anxious, etc).
The “emotional” thing may not seem very important, but if you have a chronic illness, you may feel very sad or down at times. It’s helpful to see your emotional history for yourself, not only so you can notify your doctor when needed, but also so you can see how many “good days” you are having. It’s easy to forget the good days, when you are feeling down, sometimes it’s just helpful to be able to look back and see for yourself. Little smiley faces (or sad faces) work good for this purpose.
STEP FIVE: Include any specific recommendations from your doctor (ie: amount of exercise, special diet requirements, etc). Don’t forget to include the dates and times of your upcoming doctor appointments. Many times people with chronic medical conditions will need to see several different doctors, and it can all get very confusing.
With that said, you can also find a spot in your journal to write down any questions you may want to ask the doctor during your appointment. Sometimes, you can feel rushed or just forget to ask the doctor something that was important to you. So, make a list, it’s a big help.
So, you have the idea. It seems like a lot of work, but once you get it started, it’s just a matter of maintaining it. Then the next time you have to go to the doctors, you will be able to give the doctor a better and more complete idea of how you have been since your last visit. You may even want to ask the doctor or nurse to jot down your vital signs, test results, or any other important information, right into your journal.
With all the confusion of chronic illness, prescriptions, doctors appointments, and so on. Keeping a personal medical journal for yourself, can go a long way to the betterment of your overall health and wellness. I think you will find it to be very helpful, to both you and your doctors. Good luck, and be well.