Guest Author - Barbara Sharpe
With HIV, a person can be taking many medications to create the right “cocktail.” To get to the magic mix, though, they probably have taken several that didn’t work out well. After awhile, they begin to blur. The doctor will keep records, of course, but what if you change doctors? One way to help keep track of your own health is to create a health record notebook.
The notebook can be as elaborate or as simple as you’d like it to be. At its most simple, you’ll want a binder or spiral bound notebook that you can make notes about your symptoms, what medications you’ve tried, what the side effects were and if it made any difference.
If you want a more in-depth health record, following are some things that you might want to include. As with anything, use what works for you and discard the rest. Don’t be limited by these suggestions, either. Whatever you will need should go in the notebook.
Sections of the Health Record Notebook
• Every doctor’s name, address, phone number, email if you have it, what they treat you for and any information you need about how to get prescription refills or other doctor-specific information.
• Other health care provider’s information. For example, you may include your dentist, your acupuncturist, your nutritionist, your personal trainer, your yoga teacher. Anyone who you consider to have an impact on your health.
• A current list of medications with name, dosage, frequency and pharmacy information. You may want to consider saving the drug inserts that come with your prescription. They may be helpful if you have an odd reaction or if you just have a question about your medication.
• A list of medications you’ve taken in the past along with the dates you took them. You might note any side effects you experienced.
• For women, a record of your menstrual cycle and regular exams such as pap smear and vaginal exam, etc.
• For men, a record of your annual prostate exam.
• If you have another health condition, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension or any other concern that requires ongoing doctor’s care, include your records from that.
• Any research you’ve done and printed out.
• A section for questions you want to ask your doctor at your next visit.
Google now has Google Health, so you can keep track of everything on the internet, if you prefer. It’s secure and you can connect with national health care providers to upload your information and have automatic updates. For example, Quest Diagnostics will automatically update your record with test results.
Whatever form you choose, don’t think you have to gather and assemble all the information at once. You can take as long as you need to complete it and it is, of course, an ongoing project. In the long run, it can make some health care decisions easier as you’ll know what has worked
for you and what you have already tried.
Drop me an email and let me know if you have sections that I haven’t mentioned or if you have stories about how having your records has helped you. I’d love to hear from you!