We all know the calls that we get when we are due for a yearly physical or, as I call it, yearly maintenance. You show up, chat with the nurses, see the doc who then asks you how you’ve been the past year. My standard answer: ‘OK, I guess.’
A good doctor digs further to ensure that we are not missing anything in preventive care or injuries that might linger too long. Often, I walk out of the building only to realize later on at home that I had a bunch of questions such as lowering a dose, trying a new prescription, possible side-effects, or that I had started a supplement regime, needed a referral, etc.
To make sure that I get the most out of these yearly physicals, I started a health journal. Nothing fancy, it is a simple notebook. I write the Month at the top of the page and every day I jot down a few words about my health. How do I feel? Fever? How high? Did any food make my stomach upset? Any patterns? How well did I sleep? Any sport’s injuries that linger? Any sudden weight gain or loss? Vision ok?
It is really a very basic thing, one line on most days. Then, at the end of the month, I write a quick summary. How was this month’s sleep compared to last month? More or less stress? Any life changes or news that got me jumpy? If changes were stress related, did I cause my own stress or was it based in worries over another person? Did I take more OTC meds one month than before? Did I exercise enough?
Doing this has made it easier to answer the doc’s questions especially regarding regularity of my periods, the changes with menopause, weight gain or loss after new prescription medications, side-effects, pain that is weather related, and suggestions for life changes and nutrition. It ensures I ask the questions I had during the past few months and I have pen & paper to write down the doc’s answers.
So this week, my gratitude shout-out goes to my health journal!