The more people who get involved with your medical treatment, the higher the chance that something can be forgotten/noted incorrectly/misunderstood. That’s why making a medical log yourself can be a good idea.
I used to have a problem colleague. Someone who was powerful and used to getting their own way, and who didn’t care whom they had to trample over to get it. Before not very long, we clashed. I won. But I’d poked the bear and made myself an enemy who began looking for chances to make my life difficult. Eventually I found a way to make sure they left me alone, but even after this, when I should have been safe, I kept a folder with emails, dates of conversations and exactly what had been agreed each time we had to deal with each other. Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to remember what happened several weeks ago, and should I ever need it, I would have cold, hard evidence to fall back on.
I started thinking about this colleague the other day, and how keeping records can be a good thing with ongoing situations.
I’m talking about medical treatment here, but it can be anything. Problems at a child’s school, the difficult colleague, allergies that you’re trying to pin down to something specific, or how much money you’re spending on your house. The kind of things that go on for a while, and for which you can’t completely rely on your brain to remember all the little details.
Overall I’ve been really happy with the care I’ve received since my medical incident back in August, but the appointments and the tests are ongoing. I’ve noticed a couple of things. An important bit of information missing here, a miscommunication there. Someone apparently not quite following the normal procedure, which makes it harder for the next person in the chain. I don’t think anyone does these things deliberately – in fact I’ve seen it happening when I worked in a large organisation with lots of incredibly busy people involved in handling cases. Sometimes things fall through the cracks. The only person who is there consistently through everything is you!
So today I sat down and wrote a chronological list of what happened, with whom, what advice I was given, and what each person said they were going to do. Because sometimes these things are important, and if I’m going to query something or say it isn’t right, I need to be clear about my version of events too.
It doesn’t need to be a novel – just a list of dates and key things that happened on those dates. I’ve had to go back around a month to do it, but from now on I’ll update it when things happen, so they’re fresh in my mind and I don’t have to look back at my diary to check dates and people’s names.
I’m not saying you should do this for every illness, but it can help with things that are more complicated with various specialists or hospital departments involved. However hard they try, sometimes systems and people don’t communicate as well as they should.
If you’re asked questions in an appointment, it’s easy to get flustered because you can’t quite remember what happened or what you were told. But if you take time to write it all down when there’s no pressure, it’s easier for you to get things straight in your head. It’s also a good chance to think about any questions you want to ask when you’re next talking to someone, and to write them down so you don’t forget anything.
Do you think keeping a medical log helps? Let me know in the comments!
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