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Dear Doctor
Keeping a Journal

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Keeping a Journal

Information about your ongoing personal health and any problems you encounter, diagnostic tests you undergo, or procedures performed are all valuable pieces of information for both you and your physician. Using a journal or diary to track all of your medical events allows you to develop the "big picture" of how your fibroids may be impacting your Quality of Life. It can also help you with developing an ongoing list of questions that you can discuss with your physician during the next appointment.

Keeping a journal doesn't have to be a time consuming or costly activity. You can get started by purchasing an inexpensive notebook or check your local bookstore for one of the journals that have been created specifically for tracking personal health events.

Daily personal information you might want to track may include the following:

  • start and stop of your monthly menstrual cycle (along with heaviness of flow -- how many pads, tampons, etc. used daily?)
  • abnormal bleeding occurring outside your normal menstrual cycle
  • pain -- identify where you feel pain, how intense it is (on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being "unbearable"), how long it lasts, and whether anything you do makes it better or worse
  • bothersome symptoms (such as urinary incontinence, headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, fatigue, etc.)
  • unusual emotional "highs" and/or "lows"
  • any and all prescribed medications, herbal remedies, vitamins, naturopathic treatments, hormonal creams/treatments, and over-the-counter drugs consumed (write down the product brand name and the dose used/taken)

Before your next doctor's appointment, review and summarize the content of your Journal (logged since your last appointment) into a single page of information. Include three sections of information:

  1. Menstrual Cycle/Pain/Symptoms/Emotional
  2. Medical remedies used (list all of those medications, etc. you identified in your Journal)
  3. Questions

Be as brief as possible (use checklists if you can) but include as much information as possible that will give your physician a broad view of your health situation. Looking over your one page summary, create a list of questions to ask and write them down on the same page. Make a copy of this summary and give it to your doctor at your next appointment.

While keeping a Journal can be helpful in logging all of your health events and even serve as a personal diary of your life, it is important to remember that physicians simply may not have the time to "read a book" during your visit. Summarize everything to one page and write down your questions so you don't spend any time at all trying to "remember" everything. Hopefully, your summary will serve to help guide your visit in a more direct and positive manner and, perhaps, you'll even get all of your questions answered too!

Additional resources:

The Savard Health Record : A Six-Step System for Managing Your Healthcare by Marie MD Savard

Maintain Your Medical Records by Mary Ann Ryan
(Today's Chemist at Work, Volume 8, No. 8, 49-50, 52-53)

Personal Health Guide: Put Prevention Into Practice
ACHPR Pub. No. APPIP 98-0027

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