If you have a chronic illness you probably deal with many doctors and lots of info you need to either memorize or have somewhere. I have seen a few people on Instagram talking about how a medical binder has made a difference. Making a binder has been on my list for nearly 3 & 1/2 years. I finally did it this summer. One thing I forgot to do was take it to my doctor appointments.
In 2020 that is something I want to improve. A lot of time the doctor and I will look on my phone (most of my doctors use an app of some sort) to look up lab results, etc. It sounds like a good plan but you can’t always be guaranteed wifi or internet service. I have all my medications memorized but I should still have a list to take to the doctor in case something would happen or I could forget a medicine.
I will show you how I organized my binder and how I plan to use it. I think talking about it on here will keep me accountable to take it to my doctors.
This is what my binder cover looks like. I just got a white binder that we had at home. You don’t have to make it fancy. This is just paper I taped to it and wrote my name. You can decorate it however you want.
I have quite the paper trail here. I will give you an inside look coming up next. Also just a little tip I think when you show up to the doctors with a medical binder it sends the message that you care about your health and that you know what you are doing. It may send the message that you are serious about managing your disease. Just a thought. I will have to test this theory out.
So here I will break down how I organized this. I got the tab dividers from Walmart I think. I got the kind that has a pocket on each divider also. So first I organized it with my primary care physician since I see him the most. I keep just the medical summary from the appointment there and any notes we take. The second tab is Rheumatology, in that tab I keep my visit summaries and notes from Cleveland Clinic. I also had the notes from the rheumatologist I saw locally until he retired but I still keep the papers in because they are very relevant. The third tab is organized by the other specialists I see less frequently. So I have my nephrologist, eye doctor, cardiologist, and neurologist. Again in that section it’s notes and visit summaries from these doctors. The next tab is labs. I organized them by date so you can track the trend of my labs as well. While most of the apps my doctors use have the lab results, but this is easier to read and see. I think it’s important to include labs because it seems like labs always come up. They want to know if you just had the lab draw or if it was a long time ago. Then, the last tab is where we keep all the bills. So everything that involves medical things is in this binder which is helpful and easy to spot.
I also suggest taking a notebook or iPad – whatever you use to take notes. My Mom comes to all my appointments so I usually listen to the doctor and answer questions and my Mom writes down the instructions or any info and tips the doctor has given. This is very helpful a month later when you don’t really remember the doctor appointment, you have this to look back on. We have used this a lot. By putting it in the medical binder it’s just easier to remember since you’re just grabbing a binder.
That rounds up on how I (will) use my medical binder and how I try to keep that all organized. Now I will show a few different things I use also. These are all apps from the App Store.
These are the apps that my doctors use. My favorite is MyChart and Healow because they are so easy to use. It’s a good thing I like these two because they are the ones I use often. They both have a message feature which is so nice, plus you don’t have to wait on hold forever to leave a message. You send it and they answer back in 1-3 days. It’s basically like facebook or instagram messenger. You ask a question and they answer you. It’s also a good way to check in and let them know of any changes like a diagnosis or medicine change. The FMH app and HealtheLife app are both nice and easy to use but they don’t have the message feature. All of these store visit summaries, results from labs, vital signs, etc. For these apps, your doctor has to be signed up for them. The office usually gives you a paper when you first visit or if they recently got it.
I also use the notes app a lot on my phone. I have had to keep track of my blood pressure recently. I have to check it when I’m having a cluster headache. I also type a new symptom I experience so I can make sure I talk about it with my doctor.
I hope this helps you feel a little bit more self confident when you take this to your doctor. I also hope that this relieves stress because keeping all this memorized or all over the place can be stressful especially when your doctor appointment is coming up. So, is your favorite to use apps or have a medical binder? What are you willing to try? I like my medical binder and using apps with it.
“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” -Psalm 116: 1-2