Keeping all your medical information up-to-date and in one place is a good idea. Your best bet is to assemble some sort of notebook where you can store everything. You can use an actual notebook, a three-ring binder (and a hole puncher), a folder, or any combination of these. Whatever system you use, keep the information organizedand easy to find. Include the following types of information:
- Results of lab tests and other diagnostic procedures: Include such things as blood test results, scanning results, biopsy reports, and other diagnostic information. Here are some tips on maintaining those records:
• Request copies of the results of every single test you take. Ask as soon as you have the test or when you first get the result. You may have to pay for copies in some instances.
• Consider using a ringed notebook. The documents won't fall out, and you can access them easily.
• Make sure the name of the test, the results, and the test or procedure date are legible.
- Diary of symptoms: You can write this on loose-leaf paper to keep in your ringed notebook or in a separate bound notebook with lined paper. Make sure to date each entry, and write down when the symptom started and when it disappeared or was treated. You may have daily entries to record how you feel each day. This information is an essential part of monitoring your treatment.
- List of prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and minerals you take: Go through your medicine cabinet, and write down each one. Include the amount (50 mg, 100 mg, and so on) and how often you take it (once a day, once a week, and so on).
- List of questions: Write down questions you have for your doctor and other healthcare professionals and keep the answers when you get them.
- List of doctor visits: For each visit, write down any information or advice the doctor gives you. This information also helps you keep track of health insurance and payment issues.
- General information on hepatitis C: Include material that you receive from doctors, drug companies, the American Liver Foundation, and so on. Depending on how much information you have, you can place this info in your ringed notebook or folders.
- Food diary: Some practitioners ask you to keep a food diary. As you do with the diary of symptoms, you can keep a record of what you're eating so that if you have a problem, you can figure out which foods may have caused it.
When your first notebook is full, get another, and keep collecting all your information. Keep your old records and notebooks; they have important information you might need at some point.
Get creative, and put in healthy affirmations or happy pictures on the front of your notebook or within the pages. Positive thinking can help you get well faster.
Your doctor will appreciate your effort to manage your disease on your end. Having all this information conveniently on hand allows you and your doctor to make the best use of the time you have together during visits — more time for discussions and questions, and less time spent on, "Uh, let me think . . ." and "Now, where did I put that?"