Take a pen with you.

Thursday, January 28, 2010
And a notepad.

A friend of ours suggested that I bring this to light for the newbies among us, those who are dealing with the reality of cystic fibrosis for the first time, or are otherwise new to the disease. I liked that idea very much as it is one that has served Alicia and me many times.

We like to research things. Alicia is better at it than I am, and I think that’s because she knows what questions to ask. She’s so good, in fact, that I have her help me develop my questions for any given situation I’m entering. It could be discussing career options with my detailer, ordering a new laptop, or dealing with cystic fibrosis. It doesn’t matter…Alicia is queen of the question.

But that doesn’t matter if you can’t record the answers to those questions. That’s where today’s tip comes in. If you’re going to ask questions, you have to be ready to write down the answers. I can almost guarantee you that you won’t be able to remember everything your doctor says, and that’s if you don’t ask any questions! If you add your own questions to the appointment mix, you’ll never remember everything he or she tells you. And with all the numbers that are thrown out at an appointment (height/weight stats, calorie counts, medicine dosages, treatment stats, etc), you’re just going to need a pen and notepad.

I hope I’ve convinced you that it’s vital to have writing equipment when you go to a CF appointment. It doesn’t have to be big…you don’t need a 3-ring binder or anything, just a little notepad and pen. And when you get home, type your notes onto a Word document or other word processing system. There are three reasons for this.

First, you’ll have the notes in a more legible format. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m sure your handwriting is fine. It’s just that when you’re trying to write down stat after stat and answers quickly, your handwriting might get a bit messy and you’ll probably start some form of shorthand to deal with the amount of information. Typing this into the computer will help you make sense of it immediately so that you don’t go back to your notes a few weeks later and wonder what you wrote.

Second, revisiting them immediately and forcing yourself to think through the notes as you type allows your brain to absorb the information better.

Finally, it’s unfortunately too easy to lose paper. I know that files on a computer can be deleted. Believe me, it’s happened! But if you properly backup your files, this shouldn’t be an issue, and as long as you’re moderately organized, having your information on a computer document will allow you to always have it organized.

So next time you go to the doctor for your child or yourself, take a notepad and a pen. Ask lots of questions, record the information, and type it into another format as soon as you can when you get home! I promise it will save you plenty of frustration trying to remember what the doctor told you!

Any of your veterans have other ideas about recording information from a doctor’s visit that you can share?

Thank you Stephanie for the idea!


3 Ring Binders said...

The use of binders is so much more organized in my opinion, but I still enjoyed reading this article

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

As I read this post I kept thinking - great advice! :) Like you I don't come up with great questions on the spot. So it helps me if I think about questions before an appointment and take a list with me.

And I agree - your wife is "Queen."

Dan said...

Well, while this probably justifies your sales pitch, I have no problem with using a 3-ring binder, but for those of us going to major doctor's meetings every three months, we would best be served by leaving the binder at home and adding notes to it later.

Stephanie, you are welcome to give more advice any time you want!