Friday, January 13, 2012

Organizing your medical life

There are a lot of things -- medically speaking -- that we can't control. Sometimes people get dealt a bad hand, health-wise, and they just have to deal.

I've been remarkably healthy most of my life, but the last few years have been challenging. An old back injury has morphed into sciatica; I have mysterious hip and leg cramps that defy explanation; and I've had digestive issues most of my life but now they're troublesome.

The result of all this is that in 2010 I spent most of the year going from one specialist to another. I saw every 'ist' there was: neurologist, podiatrist, gastro-enterologist, gynecologist, dermatologist ... I saw spine doctors, stomach doctors. nerve doctors, foot doctors, bone doctors, all trying to figure out why I have such a messed-up pelvic region, because that's what it boils down to: all nerves in the body flow through the pelvic region and for some reason, my nerves are out of whack. I tried acupuncture, physical therapy, water therapy, chiropractic, holistic chiropractic ...

The end result? I still have cramps, but I think I have them under control by doing a series of stretches every day. I still have digestive issues, so I've bumped up my fiber intake. And I still have hip pain, and I use ice packs when it's bad and when it's really bad, I sleep in a chair.

How does this equate to getting organized? Here's how. I keep a detailed list of all of my medications (dosage and size), my doctors and their specialties (both here and in Minnesota), my exercise routine, and the chronic conditions that have plagued me. I keep it to one page, single spaced, bullet list. Whenever I hear "bring a list of your medications with you" I just print out a new copy.

This is SO useful -- I just hand them that sheet and the admitting nurse has everything he or she needs. It's especially useful since I moved to a new state and all of my records aren't centralized. When I started getting new doctors here, I just handed them "my" health history and away we went.

Like I said: there's a lot we can't control. But we can make life a little bit easier when we're going in for that procedure or exam or test.

12 comments:

glenys said...

Sorry you've had such health issues, J.L. - I can thoroughly relate to the frustration of not being able to get a diagnosis. But your advice about keeping medical, doctor and medication records so organised is incredibly valuable. Thank you for that.

Jannine Gallant said...

Great idea. I don't have health issues (me knocking on wood) but my Grandma's pile of pills for the day looks like she just robbed a pharmacy. I can only imagine how many people have the same problem. Hope you can find someone to solve rather than treat you issues!

J L said...

I'm not complaining, believe me! It could be so much worse. As long as I'm on the right side of dirt, I'm happy.

8)

anny cook said...

Such a list ALSO comes in handy when the EMT's show up at the house in an emergency. Learned this the hard way when my husband had his seizure. Now we keep two lists--one for him, one for me--in his medication basket.

Late last year, we added brief medical histories to both lists (surgeries and hospitalizations). As you said, we can simply print it out and take it with us for doctor visits...or ER visits.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Getting my medical details in a data base on my computer has been on my "to do" list for ages. Glad you reminded me.

Vonnie Davis said...

I do the same thing for Calvin and I, but list everything on idex cards conveniently slipped in both our wallets. I also have one on the refrigerator under a magnet, should one of us need taken by ambulance, the info is quickly available for EMT's. I don't have our illnesses/surgeries on them though. Thanks for that tip. I'll be redoing our cards.

Jerri Hines said...

Great information. It is important to have your info readily available. Very helpful blog for anyone.

J L said...

I found a good use for old business cards -- I cross out the info on the front and jot medical info on the back. I tuck that in my wallet and carry it with me (medication, doctor numbers, etc.) That way if it's ever needed, it's right there with my driver's license.

Laura Breck said...

JL, sorry about your medical issues. Wow, sounds like you went to a lot of trouble for very few answers. Thanks for the organized medical tips. Lots of useful ideas.

anny cook said...

Yep, forgot to mention we keep a copy of the list folded up in our wallets in case we're in an accident. Whenever we make a change in the list we replace all the copies.

That's why we did the list in Word. It's very easy to make the change and print out the new list.

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

Hmm, most transfer requests have to be made by telephone. There are some medical providers that require patients to sign a release form, though. I suggest that you to ask these three questions, and be as polite as you can: (1) "Will you transfer my records to my new medical provider?", (2) "Will you charge a fee for sending my records to me or my current medical provider?" and (3) "Do I need to sign a medical record release form, or have I already signed a release?" - The last question may seem very unnerving to ask, but at you can at least try. :)

James Guertin