Sometimes we need a wake up call to realize that our health is important. I recently went through a trauma with my Mom (something I will blog about soon), but until then, maybe you can just take my word when I say that today’s guest blogger, Sara Stringer, has some important information to pass on.
How do you keep track of your health? Some people journal, some people use apps like Sleep Cycle or My Daily Plate, and some people just rely on their memories — that general sense that something’s right vs. something isn’t right.
Other people take it a step further, keeping track of their symptoms, diagnoses, medications, and drug interactions at a level that would make a primary care physician proud. That’s what I do, for myself and for my family, because when it comes to health care, you’re the only person who can truly advocate for yourself.
Take, for example, the humble sore throat. It’s just a natural part of life, right? Can you remember the last time you had a sore throat, or how long it lasted? If I hadn’t been keeping track of my kids’ sore throats, I wouldn’t have picked up that my son’s extended series of sore throats, combined with his increased snoring, meant that he actually needed his tonsils removed.
I keep track of everyone’s health on a basic Google Drive spreadsheet, making it easy to share my information with my kids’ dad or with their pediatricians. I have columns for symptoms, start date, end date, treatment used, and any other notes. That’s how I noticed my son’s sore throats weren’t going away. It’s how I figured out that my oldest daughter is prone to hay fever. It’s how I was able to track my perimenopause, as well as manage my healing after I sprained my ankle last fall.
Keeping track of health information at this level of detail does require a bit of vigilance. I knew, for example, that taking Advil gave me mild nausea, so I also knew to ask my kids if Advil had the same effect. (Turns out my older daughter also gets nauseous, but my younger daughter and my son do not. Because of that, we keep both Advil and Tylenol in the house.) It means I have to ask my kids really annoying Mom questions sometimes, like “How is your stuffy nose today? How about your cough? Is it moving down into your chest, or still mostly in your throat?”
This kind of detailed tracking takes time, but managing your health is as essential as managing your budget or getting the household chores done. A lot of women forget to do regular breast self-exams, for example; this tracking will make sure you get that important task done every month. (As the National Breast Cancer Foundation notes: 40% of breast cancer cases are first discovered during a self-examination.)
I also have all of the lifehacking smartphone apps designed to help me monitor additional aspects of my health, such as Sleep Cycle for sleep and MyFitnessPal for diet and exercise. This information also gets exported into the main spreadsheet.
However, I’m looking forward to the day when I don’t have to do this all on my own. EHRs, or electronic health records, are becoming more popular in hospitals and doctors’ offices; the idea is that all of our patient information, will eventually become like my giant spreadsheet, shared between doctors and patients in real time. In fact, many EHR companies already exist as I found when I glanced at the EHR vendor comparison chart on the HealthFusion site.
Soon I’ll be able to wake up, take a picture of my sprained ankle, and send it to my EHR for my doctor to see later that day. Then, my primary care physician will open up the picture on her tablet computer, use a stylus to take some quick notes and circle areas that look like they might cause complications, and send the image back to me with recommendations for treatment.
That type of medical experience is definitely the way of the future; until then, I’ll still keep track of everything on my spreadsheet. How about you? How do you keep track of your health and your kids’ health? I’m always looking for new ideas, so please share!
About the Author
Sara is a freelance writer who most often writes about business and health. In her spare time, she enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga.
Do you keep track of your health? If you do, how do you do it?