Journaling, or recording your pain experiences each day, can be extremely helpful. It’s a real-time record of how you’re going and will help you and your healthcare team track your progress.
Record any changes in your condition, the effectiveness of medications you’re taking, how you feel physically and mentally, and your pain and fatigue levels. You can record just the basic information – e.g. your daily pain levels and any medications you take. Or you can add more information so that the picture is more complete – e.g. you might also record your diet and exercise program, your daily activities, as well as the quality of your sleep. It’s up to you.
All of the information you record can help you when you visit your doctor – especially if there’s some time between your appointments. It provides an accurate reflection of how you’ve been, rather than you trying to recall the information when you’re sitting in your doctor’s office.
Keeping a journal can also help you track any trends in your pain levels. For example, every Friday you may spend 3 hours cleaning your house and on Saturdays you find that your pain levels have increased. By recording this information you can see that this happens every week. So you may need to reduce the amount of time spent cleaning in one session and pace yourself, or get some help. Or you may find that your pain levels decrease after you’ve been using relaxation techniques, so you know that they’re having an impact on how you feel.
Journaling helps you see the big picture – which can sometimes be hard to see when you go by memory alone.
To get started, you can use an ordinary notebook to write this information down or there are many apps and templates you can download and use. Some are free, however some do have a fee to access them.
I use the Track & React app on my phone to help keep track of my diet, exercise, pain and sleep. Because it’s on my phone I can always access it, and it’s easy for me to update immediately. – Steven