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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Journaling for Your Doctor

When we see our physician because we don't feel good, or we feel something is wrong, we have faith in our physician that he is not only going to listen to us, but believe us. Butting heads with your physician, or feeling that you have to convince him there is something wrong, can be stressful. It can add to your problems of not feeling well or possibly make your condition worse. You need your physician to be on your side and trust you. You want to trust him. And you want to feel that you and your doctor are a team when it comes to your health.

There is something you can do to help doctors understand you, and to show him that you do know what you are talking about. By following this step, you can go into your doctor with confidence to discuss your health. You will be organized and have your facts straight.

The most important thing you can do to help your doctor understand what is happening is to keep a journal. You should always journal your symptoms. By keeping careful note of everything to do with your symptoms, you will know what to tell him when you see him. He will have everything written down so that he can refer back to it and see if there is a pattern. You will be more organized and he is more likely to take you serious if you know the pattern of your symptoms and have a record.

Things you should journal are:

  • Date and time - Make sure to note the date, day of the week, and time of day the symptoms happened.
  • What you were doing when it happened - This can be important because it will show if there is a pattern; for instance, does it always happen at the same time of day? Does it always happen during certain activities? Does it seem to be sporadic in nature? Make sure to note everything about your activity at the time of the symptom or problem arising. Were you sleeping, jogging, doing dishes, driving, or sitting at the computer? Whatever it is, write it down.
Be detailed in description - Not only should you journal "what" you were doing, but how long the symptom lasted. If you can, notice the time of when it started and ended and write it down. If you had the symptom while standing washing dishes, write that. But if it happened while washing dishes, but you just happened to bend over to get something off the floor and that is when it actually happened, be detailed. It could be important that it happened while bending. Happening while you were doing the dishes may be true, but it actually happened at the moment you bent over, is important.

  • How long did it last? - Try to notice how long the symptom lasted. Get used to wearing a watch or notice the time when the symptom(s) started and when it stopped. Write it down right away so as not to forget it. If you are not always used to wearing a watch, try to start so that you always have a way to monitor the duration. It could be a big difference in saying that it lasted a long time, when in reality it was 60 seconds.
  • Diet - There are a few things you should journal about eating. First, note if you were eating at the time your symptoms happened, or how long before or after each meal. For instance, if it happened before you ate, how long before you ate? Or was it after you ate? If so, how long after? Did eating make you feel better or worse? Then, keep a separate record of your actual diet; such as, times you eat, and what you eat. Your diet may have an affect on your symptoms, so to note the details, may help your doctor. This should include all fluid intake during the day as well. Note all the fluid you drank during the day: what you drank, the time you drank, and how much you drank.
  • How much sleep are you getting? - Keep record of your sleep pattern. Maybe your sleep pattern is affecting your symptoms; whether it be that your sleep pattern is causing your symptoms, or the symptoms are changing your sleep pattern.
The more details you can offer your doctor, the better the chance that he will be able to help you figure out your problem, and diagnose you correctly. Also, the better your journal, the easier it will be for him too. To keep a sporadic journal; only writing things down every so often, or skipping making note of a symptom, the harder it will be for him to make sense of it too. If you're going to keep a journal, be diligent. You may be surprised at how much it helps your doctor, and you.

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