It can take a long time to get a firm diagnosis of a chronic illness. You will have had a prolonged period of feeling unwell, attending medical appointments, and trialing medications in the hope of alleviating the symptoms. It can be a confusing time, and it can be easy to lose track of what has happened and how you responded to medications and treatments. A journal can help you keep track of your health condition and how you feel so that you gain some insight into how you’re fairing.
What type of journal should I use?
A bullet journal is an ideal way to record your journey. It is customizable so that you can create different sections and organize your thoughts in a way that suits you. It’s wholly flexible, so you don’t need to have multiple journals or calendars. You don’t have to keep to one layout, meaning if you need a graph to track your health but also a list to note down the foods you’ve eaten, this flexibility can allow you to do both on the same page. You can also add sections as and when you need to.
What should I include?
You can be as creative as you like, or include the minimum of details, but a good place to start is listing the dates of the month. You can then record any appointments that you have, what they are for, who they are with, and the outcome. It’s also a good idea to have a section to note the advice that you receive.
You receive so much information in appointments that it can be hard to place who told you to do what. You may have been advised to do exercises or increase medication, and so by journaling the advice you have a record that you can refer to. This can be a valuable tool in case you have reason to file a medical negligence claim in the future.
Make a note of any responses you have to medication and the side effects, if any, that you experience. You may experience additional symptoms that occur after taking medication, but you take little notice of. A journal will help you see patterns to your symptoms so that you can tell your healthcare provider about them.
Why should I journal?
By journaling your symptoms and activities, you will be able to see the correlation between the two. You may see a pattern occurring that will show you what has provoked flare-ups or when symptoms started. You will be able to see when you have overdone it and exerted yourself, which is gold for managing a chronic illness.
Also have a section devoted to joy: the positive things in your life that make you smile. Having a chronic illness is life changing, and at times you will simply want to be able to look back at photos, theater tickets, recipes and inspirational quotes that have given you pleasure.
Your journal can become your go-to for information – it’s your personal record of your life journey, and it can be a valuable tool in managing your chronic illness, and a reminder of what you need to tell your healthcare team.