When keeping a medical information log can be helpful

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!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

August 19 highlights – afternoon tea, friends, and a new owl bag

August was a bit of a tough month – for two years running! In some ways I’m happy it’s September, and not just because September is my birthday month. Some good things happened in August too though, so I’ve decided to write about them here!

1. Friends

I didn’t tell everyone at first about the hospital incident that resulted in my first aid post, but when I did, stop hiding and open up a bit, people were lovely. I had visitors. I caught up with people whom I hadn’t seen in ages. I had lovely messages. I had friends invite me round and give me a lift so I didn’t have to spend as long on my own the first night S was away. I don’t actually mind being on my own – I used to live on my own – but when you’ve been rushed to hospital in the middle of the night … things always feel worse in the night time.

Life gets busy and we don’t even mean not to keep in touch, but if you don’t make an effort to do it, you don’t get round to it, or it ends up taking ages. I didn’t enjoy the hospital experience, but it did remind me that I have a lovely network of people around me.

2. Replacement bag

My owl bag gets a lot of comments because he’s a bit unusual. I talked about him first a couple of years ago. We fixed him once with a new strap because I’d been carrying too much around, but his feathers were starting to get frayed at the bottom, the stitching round his ears was coming undone, and the metal that kept him together was starting to wear through. So S got me a replacement.

Apart from being an owl, and therefore fitting in with all my other owls, I love the tactile design with the textured feathers, the eyes and the sparkly beak!

3. Sushi restaurant

Thanks to someone who was only here for a visit, we discovered a new sushi restaurant. It’s delicious and I actually went 3 times in August! I’m not usually a fan of fish, but there are other types of sushi too. It’s always good to try out new places! Two more sets of friends want to try it out, so no doubt we’ll be back in September too!

4.New walking pals

I’m still having tests and can’t do some of my usual fitness activities, but I’ve found a few new people to go walking with for some exercise and fresh air. It’s so good to get out in the nature, especially on days when it isn’t so hot.

5. Securing my place on my next module

This academic year I’m doing the second half of my first year of my degree because I’m part-time. The first two modules came one after the other. The ones for October both start at the same time – so I’ll have more to do, but a longer break in the summer.

I had booked onto my 3rd IT module a while ago, but then I needed something else at the same level. Most other people going down the IT route did an entire module of maths, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that, so I chose a linguistics module as well.

This is one of the nice things about an open degree. I’m doing it so that I can use the knowledge I learn at work, rather than to apply for specific jobs, so I can customise it to make it as interesting and relevant as possible. As I already work in the language field, I think something related to this will be more useful than maths.

6. Wedding preparations

We didn’t make a lot of headway with wedding preparations – our August kind of got taken over by other things. There was a venue that we were considering. As it turned out, it didn’t offer what we were looking for, but we had a lovely meal there and a walk, so it was still a good day out.

7. My first afternoon tea

It’s taken other blogging friends to open my eyes to what’s about in terms of afternoon tea. I thought it was all about the tea, but most places will let you swap out the tea for coffee – this had me more interested in the idea, as did the fact that there were savoury as well as sweet treats.

Anyway I was talking to one of my friends and we decided to do an afternoon tea for her birthday. I’ll probably write a full post about it, but it happened in August, so it belongs in the August highlights.

8. Rain!

I know, I know – some people aren’t happy about it. But I really struggle with the heat, especially wen I’m supposed to be working. I’m more of an autumn kind of girl. So a couple of times this month I was doing a happy dance because we finally got some rain, which meant that things cooled down a bit.

I know it’s not so much fun for the people further north who had the floods. We didn’t get anything like that in the south and after a second lot of really hot weather, I was happy about the rain. Everything smells so fresh and alive afterwards too!

9. First customers for my new business

My new website EwK Services went live earlier this year. As I split out my businesses, some customers that wanted my translation or language services automatically transferred over to EwK Services, but it also got its first project that had nothing to do with my first business. For me, that was also a reason to celebrate.

10. New fan

Things only tend to break when you’re using them, and that was true for my fan too! It broke during that really hot spell that we had in July and I didn’t get round to replacing it until we had another really hot spell in August.

The one I bought wasn’t the most amazing in terms of power, but it’s small, portable, and can follow me around the house when I’m struggling with the heat. It’s a tower fan, so it doesn’t take up much space either.

The other nice thing was that it was available from Ocado, so I could pick it up with my groceries! I really like the fact that Ocado does home products and toiletries that you can just add to your basket along with your food.

The fan and I are now firm friends!

How about you?

My favourites posts used to be all about the things I’d bought. I have bought some things and I do plan on writing a couple of products posts in September, but good things can also be a walk in the nature, a good book, time with friends, or just taking some time out for self-care. This month I’ve had to take things a bit easier due to health reasons, but going at a slower pace and taking time to recover has also made me appreciate people, and the little things more.

How about you? What were your August highlights? Let me know in the comments!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

 

Interview with Mel from Blind Alive

Today I have something a bit different for you. It’s an audio interview, in which I talk to Mel from Blind Alive about her Eyes Free Fitness programmes.

Mel produces described work-outs so that blind people can take part in them and keep fit.

I first heard about Mel’s work through a comment on my blog post about keeping fit, and I wanted to find out more about what’s on offer, why Mel decided to make the audio exercise materials, and how they have helped people so far.

You can find the interview as episode 27 of the Unseen Beauty podcast, which is available on iTunes or Player FM, or you can listen to it directly here.

I hope you enjoy the interview and that you find Mel’s advice useful.

Have you tried any of the Eyes Free Fitness work-outs or exercises? If so, let me know in the comments.

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.

Keeping fit when you can’t see

Being unable to see doesn’t mean that you can’t stay fit! This is what I do.

Keeping fit when you can’t see
When I worked in London, I got daily exercise without even thinking about it. I had a 30 to 40-minute walk to the station, which I usually power walked with my guide dog – not really to keep fit, but just because we enjoyed it! Then there was a 40-minute train ride followed by a 10 to 15 minute walk to the office – which was much better after I’d discovered a back way to avoid all the tourists. Seriously, if you go on a city break, please spare a thought for the people who actually live and work there! Some people have places to go and they don’t want to have to fight through crowds of people who won’t let them through. Some of the other pedestrians walked in the busy roads to get round them, but I invariably made the tourists move!

Anyway, apart from days when it was pouring with rain, or snowing, I really enjoyed these walks. Still, over 2.5 hours of travel every day is a lot. I was always happy when I negotiated a working from home day – partly because I didn’t have to commute, and partly because I felt I made much faster progress in my quiet cottage than in the noisy open-plan office.

Taking action

When I decided to set up my own business, I still took my dog for a walk, but I didn’t miss the commute. However, as my dog grew older, the walks were usually not as long as the trip to and from the station, and I realised I needed to do something more for my fitness.

I decided to invest in an exercise bike. Something that I could put in my spare room and use whatever the weather to make sure I got my daily exercise. Well, buying the bike was the easy bit. I said I’d use it when I had time, which often meant that the free time never came. Planning to do exercise when you have time is a bad idea!

When I moved in with my boyfriend, I brought the bike with me and he brought his cross-trainer. I decided something needed to change in terms of my exercise routine, so I now put it in the diary, like a meeting that I have to attend. Monday to Friday. Every day. It’s ok if the meeting gets put back a couple of hours, but the meeting has to happen! Only then can I click away the Outlook reminder and know that the job is done! This is important to me, partly because I have a desk-based job and no walk to work, and partly because there are some considerations to do with being blind that mean you sometimes have to be a bit more proactive if you want to stay fit.

I’ve heard some positive experiences about blind people going to the gym, but I’ve also heard of people struggling with staff who are not particularly helpful, or machines that are not accessible.

I would rather make the initial investment in the equipment and have it in my own home, where I know that I’ll use it. I don’t use any of the features on the equipment, but there is nobody who will change settings and make it harder for me to use. I don’t have to queue, work out which machines are available, or take time out of my day to get to and from the gym. Ok and I don’t have to listen to anyone else’s music choices either – I listen to my own music or podcasts to make sure I don’t get bored!

As I can’t use the display on either of the machines, I generally do 20 minutes on the bike and 45 minutes on the cross-trainer and use the step counter on my iPhone to measure the distance. I like to use the app from Withings, which is generally accessible, apart from some buttons that I had to label myself. I don’t use all of the functions, but I can keep track of how far I’ve gone each day, which is what interests me.

For anyone who wants to measure their blood pressure or heart rate, the Withings wireless blood pressure monitor is fully accessible because you use it with the app. I think this is a better alternative than some of the talking blood pressure monitors on offer because you can store your activity and your heart and blood pressure measurements in the same place, whereas some of the so-called accessible talking stand-alone devices say in the instructions that you need sighted assistance for some functions.

I did try a device that you put on your wrist instead, but it annoyed me because it didn’t seem to track all of my steps, and I could only read my progress score when I synchronised the device with my phone, which was a faff. I’d much rather check the total going up in realtime on the app. However, if you can see enough to read the screen of the device, it might be ok for you. Here’s the link for the Withings pulse activity tracker.

Last Christmas, my mum bought us a set of York Fitness cast iron dumbbells. I like this particular set because you can change the weight of the dumbbells by adding or removing the metal discs. They come with a set of exercises, which my boyfriend showed me last week, and I plan to include using the weights in my fitness routine – ok, when my arms have recovered, that is!

I think it’s good to do other activities as well. I enjoy going for walks, I’ve been on tandem and canoeing holidays, and I used to do a lot of horse-riding as a child. However I see these things as additions, whereas I need some kind of plan to make sure I get enough exercise whenever I need it, and by doing activities that don’t rely on someone else being available. For me, the exercise regime with the bike and the cross-trainer is the ideal solution.

I have heard about some audio exercise classes specifically for blind people, which means that the exercises are described. This is something that I would be interested in exploring, because I can’t follow normal fitness videos or Youtube classes. If I decide to try them out, I’ll report back later here.

I know there are many blind people who are interested in sports and who play team games or take part in local activities. I don’t really do this, because I need my fitness plan to fit in with my schedule, and for me it’s about keeping fit rather than finding additional social activities.

I think there are a fair number of blind people who struggle because they haven’t yet found good and accessible ways of keeping fit. However exercise bikes don’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re not looking for features on the electronic display, and when you consider the price of a gym membership, I think they are a good investment. If that is too expensive, finding a friend who can describe exercises and then writing down the exercises is also a good work-around. If I’m away on business and I don’t feel like investigating the hotel gym on my own, I often use these exercises from the NHS fitness pages. However I still think it’s a good idea to get someone to check the first time that what you are doing is in line with the images on the page.

Do you have any tips to add?

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips or resources to add, or share with me what you do to keep fit!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.