One of the most transformative things that I have implemented in my medical journey was to start a daily diary of how I felt that day including my symptoms, treatment, activities and medication.
I started a diary quite early on when I first became sick, purely because I was struggling to remember all the information given to me at my appointments and all the things I needed to tell the doctors. Fatigue, loss of mental clarity and an overload of new and complicated information was getting too much for my memory to handle.
I find this daily practice to be invaluable for my recovery and management, assessing if treatment and medications are working for me and if there are any activities I am doing that make my condition worse.
When we start to collect data, we can pinpoint patterns and recurring issues. As they say ‘hindsight is 20/20 vision’ and that definitely applies here. There have been times when I have looked back in my diary to when I have started medication or treatment and found that was when other side effects or benefits started too. This is especially helpful when medication and treatment is a trial or experiment (almost everything is!), if we are starting a lot of things at the same time, and when we are not sure how our bodies will react.
Taking notes at your appointments can help if your memory is affected by your condition, it helps you keep track of what you need to do and can refer back to it later. It can assist you learn and become familiar with medical jargon until it becomes second nature.
Taking notes after each day helps when you return to see your doctor or specialist and you have an accurate review of how the time period has been. I can’t tell you how many times I have left an appointment then remembered I forgot to tell my doctor about this or that, or needed to ask them something. When appointments can be weeks or months apart, it can be hard to recall how things really were – our memories of pain can change over time and we remember it not feeling as bad as when it was occurring. Having a record of symptoms can be beneficial in any diagnostic process and if the condition changes later down the track.
We need to remember that doctors are only as good as the information we give them. The more informed we are with detailed and accurate data on our own bodies, the more we are able to help the doctors get to the bottom of the issues.
Having a daily health diary is also beneficial if something does happen to you and you’re not in a fit state to communicate, then there is a clear record for someone else to learn from. Let your carers and people close to know you that you keep a diary in case they ever need to be of assistance to you.
Somedays I find the task of daily note taking to be draining – and that’s ok. Reviewing the day’s pain, activities and all the things concerning your condition can be difficult to relive again. I choose only to review my diary for the time period between appointments and only if I am looking for specific data that I have a hunch about. Reviewing it regularly for no purpose is not a healthy pursuit. One way that I uplift myself after writing in my health diary is to write a few good things about the day or what I am grateful for in my gratitude journal. Difficult feelings and moods are usually overridden by the power of gratitude. Find something that works for you – we want to end the day on a high note whenever possible.
Find yourself a diary that you like, that suits your needs and with lots of space to write each day. If you have a milestone please record that too! It is lovely to look back on the milestones and see how far you have come.
Take care my Readers, I’ll keep the light on.