It’s safe to say in today’s busy world of technology and constant work it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of our own lives (plus our loved ones!). Especially when it comes to our own healthcare. Of course, we expect doctors and other healthcare professionals to assist us in tracking this. But when it comes right down to it, the only way we can truly know what is going on with our health is to take matters into our own hands.
Why does it matter if we keep track of our own healthcare?
If you want control over your disorder (or your loved ones) you need to start keeping track of your doctor appointments, labs, and tests. You will start to see trends and patterns in appointments, labs and more. You will see what your appointments and lab work look like when you feel well. You will see when you don’t feel well. It will give you data for how you feel.
What might you see?
You may see a pattern in seasons and time of year that your disease changes. You will see you make more appointments in November or December. You will see what the appointments are for.
If you keep track of your lab work and read it every time you will see different levels varying based on how you feel. When you are well you will see just how good your body is acting and when you are not well you will be able to see that as well.
Why does it matter if we see this or not?
Once you start to see patterns based on appointments, symptoms and varying lab levels, you will begin to identify other areas of your life that might be contributing to flare symptoms (or you might not – also a sign).
The point in chronic illness is to minimize the times when we are flaring or have active disease. The only way to determine what that means for us as individuals is to track your health care.
If you can see a clear pattern developing every year between November and January (insert any month) you are on to something. You see your appointments go up, medications are prescribed, and your lab work reflects the changes you feel. You know you have something going on. I can safely say this is a horrible time of year for myself with lupus and illness. The stress of the holidays sends me into a flare and a sinus infection – every single year. I know this, and I start to take preventative measures leading up to it. I make sure I am stocked up on nasal spray, I make sure I take as much downtime as I can. I try to let more things roll off my back – keeping the stress low.
Finding preventative measures to deal with difficult flares is important in lessening your disease activity. If you know you are going to have a busy stressful time approaching, it might be time to clear out some of your schedule. It’s tough to say no sometimes, but if it means taking less medication and having fewer symptoms it is worth it.
What are some things we can do to lessen flares?
- Get solid sleep and downtime. It doesn’t just mean going to bed early (although that definitely helps), it also means saying no to activities and putting your feet up. Maybe it’s time to binge watch your favorite show.
- Watch for food or seasonal triggers and avoid them. Make sure you are stocked up on healthy foods that don’t cause inflammation. Be sure to lesson seasonal issues as much as you can. Might be getting the right OTC medications to help you through hit. Here’s a few tips on eating healthy for inflammatory disease.
- Prevent inflammation on a daily basis in life. More on this next week! Check back.
- Lower stress levels – usually by saying no and avoiding situations (if possible) that you know trigger stress. Turn off the electronics, disconnect for a few days. Let it all go. Get a hobby that helps you clear your mind. Not sure if stress really matters? Check out this article.
Tracking your health care is essential in learning about how to lessen your disease. By paying attention to doctor visits and by monitoring your own labs and tests you can find patterns to prevent future flares.