Health Bullet Journal
In my everyday life at work, at home, for food, I make countless lists in a desperate bid to organise my life when cancer dictates where I will be and what I will be doing and feeling on a daily basis. I organise my time to the best of my ability, many of us do and I love the concept of a bullet journal and took it one step further to manage my mum's health and care. The health bullet journal is so important for carers as we are regularly quizzed over the minute details of someone else's life and asked for dates of vaccinations 2-3 months past. I don't even remember what I had for dinner yesterday evening! The journal is also good for those with an illness or even just on a diet or have unexplainable symptoms. For example, if you feel persistently bloated, make a note of it in your journal and record how many times a month you have this feeling.
The health bullet journal is an A4 ruled book, think about the relevant sections you'd want at the front and back of your book for example:
- Key details and information such as:
- NHS number
- Medical reference numbers
- Blood type
- Key contact information
- Your GP
- Your oncologist
- Triage assessment number
- Your local hospital
- Your CNS nurse
- Statistics such as weight, blood pressure etc
- An updated list of medication and allergies
- Medical milestones
- Date of previous chemotherapy cycles
- Date of surgery
- Date of last blood test
- Date of last scan
At the back of our health bullet journal, we've documented and taken notes from any appointments.
The health bullet journal should preferably be spiral bound. The spiral binding is important as it allows a pen to be stored with the notebook constantly. Nobody enjoys searching at the bottom of your big bag for a pen and I can guarantee you there will be none there when you walk into that all important appointment. On each date, write the date and then write the hour of a 24 hour clock on each line. Insert a column on the right hand side of each page with the heading "Food/ Water".
You can enter as many columns as you wish. For example, if medication or diet is important to your daily lifestyle, then tailor in accordance to your requirements.
We find the health bullet journal especially helpful during hospital admissions to keep track of what medication has been administered and symptoms such as nausea or pain. Things that we rarely remember about ourselves let alone someone that we are caring for. It can be intimidating asking nurses what the blood pressure and temperature is and then writing it in your book but you are only doing what is best for everyone to aid the person you care about. It also shows dedication, interest and commitment to a speedy recovery. Care and support is being there to hold someones hand and listen to them but also to assist with the administrative tasks in their recovery.
It's also good to make notes of questions you want to ask the oncologist prior to an appointment. Document things that were discussed. So much information is shared, thrown at you that it's almost impossible to digest. I found finding a place to sit, coming out of the appointment and documenting everything that was said a great way to calmly collect our thoughts and remember the details that you forget soon after.
We've been keeping our journal now for five months since diagnosis and things such as symptoms, activities and progression. Things change so quickly that sometimes its nice to look back and reflect how far you've come. 3 months ago we celebrated when my mum walked round the block and the thought of walking 1 mile as she did today a distant and unimaginable dream.
Lastly, we've decorated our latest notebook or my mum's grandchildren have graffiti'ed it with well wishes and notes of encouragement. As she takes it to all her appointments its nice to feel she has family and support constantly by her side.