While this post is on keeping a migraine diary specifically, the ideas apply to the keeping of any symptom diary.
It’s such a challenging thing to do. But,
Caring for patients … who have multiple complaints but offer vague or confusing information can be a challenge. Making sense of the disorganized details of the patient’s history is often limited not only by time available at the appointment but also by the patient’s insight, recall bias, and anxiety. One strategy for improving information-gathering during the patient encounter is the use of symptom diaries.AAFP
And it’s true, for me anyways, when I have my ten minute appointment to try to get help, and the questions are how often have you had headaches in the last three months, what was the pain level from one to ten, what medication did you take, did any of them help …
If I had any level of migraine while I was there then my foggy answers were usually ummm maybe a few times a week? level seven or eight? sometimes/it depends? …
Now, I can walk in with exact answers to every question, ideas for what should be changed or tried, and confidence even if I’m not feeling my best.
It’s worth some trial and error to find a system that works for you. There are no real rules. It can be anything from a notes or calendar app you already use, a paper calendar, a spreadsheet, a specific tracking app or a pre-designed printable version. Whatever is useable for you. All are good.
Some of my friends with chronic issues have commented that it would be depressing to see so much negativity documented. Yes, it sure can be. But our assumptions about what a tracker will reveal might be wrong. What I thought my symptoms were compared to the actual results of my tracking was a bit surprising. And accuracy and knowledge have been powerful tools in managing my migraine, even beyond the doctor’s office.
The best way to make things better is to see how they are. And then do something about it.Seth Godin
What started out as a few months’ trial has turned into a habit that’s easy and essential.
- How To Track Your Headaches
- Why You Should Keep a Symptom Journal, EndocrineWeb
- Migraine Apps
- 5 Apps for Tracking Symptoms
- Symptom Diaries in Outpatient Care, American Academy of Family Physicians
Stationery in the Photo
A few examples of migraine tracking/journaling I’ve used:
- top notebook
- “episodic attacks” notebook (DIY cover with these printable pages)
- bottom notebook
- skeleton clip
P.S. You’ve got this.