Managing multiple complex chronic illnesses is like having a full time job (that I don’t get paid to do). There is a lot to remember and organise but that can be really hard with brain fog. The way I work around this is to use a health planner, so that I have all my medical appointments, symptoms and important information all in one place. In this blog post I will show you what is in my health planner so that you can get some ideas about what might help you. All my planner inserts are from Chasing Planner Peace, I have been using their inserts for many years because they’re really good quality. If you want to know more about how I plan then check out my Personal Planning and my Study Planning blog posts.
I use a an A5 Fuschia Webster’s Pages Color Crush Planner for my health planning. It is made using faux leather, so it is suitable for vegans. Chasing Planner Peace also sells their own A5 planner covers, so you can get everything in the one place if you want to. Inside it I have Chasing Planner Peace ‘be brave’ dashboard, secret garden dividers and inserts. My planner is divided into seven parts, monthly overview, weekly medical treatment planning, habit tracking, chronic pain tracker, appointments, NDIS planning and a gratitude diary. I will show you all of the sections in this post except for the NDIS part, as I am in the process of applying for the NDIS so I haven’t used it yet, and therefore can’t tell you how useful it is. If everything goes to plan, then I am hoping to be on the NDIS in the next few months, and will then be able to do a post on that bundle, but if you know the Australian system well, then you will know that nothing is ever straight forward. If you want to purchase the NDIS inserts before that post, then you can get the full NDIS bundle with planner for $99.90 or just the NDIS planning inserts for $19.90.
The first section of my health planner is dedicated to monthly planning. I like to use the Colourful Month On Two Pages version, but there are other monthly planning inserts if you would prefer something else. Each month has a cover page with an area to write notes, which is a good place to put reminders to follow up tests that need to be done or for appointments that need to be made that month.
To make it easy for me to see what I have happening that month, I use PMD stickers to mark what type of appointment I have one which day, in the same way I do it in my personal planner. I use the Mini Health Icon Stickers in rainbow version. The ones I use the most are stethoscope for any GP or specialist appointments, the brain/head for therapy sessions, the tooth for dentist appointments, the chiropractor symbol for my osteopath or physiotherapist appointments, the glasses for optometrist appointments, the blood vial for blood tests, the syringe for any sort of vaccine or injection and the health symbol for any sort of procedure or operation. I also have the pill icons to mark when I need to refill scripts and the blood drop to mark when I get my period but I’m not consistent with using either of these. I then put a matching icon in the goals section on the right hand size and write down the date, time and what type of appointment it is so that everything is easy to understand.
Weekly Medical Treatment
In the next section I have my Medical Treatment Weekly Planner Inserts. Each week, the left page is dedicated to notes, like what you’re grateful for, self care activities, notes for doctors, medical expenses that week and anything that needs to be done. Then the right page has space to write down what you have on for each day of the week as well as an am/pm check box for medications and a space to write in any help that you’re getting that day. I used a version of these inserts in 2018 when I went to Cyprus for treatment. It made it really easy to write down exactly what treatments I had received each day and keep track of what was happening. I tend to use the weekly pages in my personal planner to plan for my weekly medical appointments, but if I didn’t have a personal planner, this would be perfect to cover the information that I jot down.
When I first started planning many years ago, I didn’t know what to use habit trackers for, but I now know that they are really helpful. The habit tracking inserts are designed so that you use one per month but you can use more if you have more then 10 or so things that you want to track. I have used them for lots of different things, I have tracked taking my medication and supplements, and my dogs medications and supplements – which ends up being a lot when you have both human and animals who are chronically ill. It is especially helpful with medications that need to be taken every second day because I can’t just set up a daily routine to remember those, and checking them off gives me peace of mind so I don’t worry about over or under medicating. I have tracked how often I’ve gone on walks or how often I’ve meditated, but the options are endless as you can track home tasks, like cleaning or laundry, things you want to avoid like caffeine or screen time, or self care tasks like exercise, reading or having a shower. Chasing Planner Peace sells specific Medication and Symptom trackers which are set up the same was as a general tracker, so you can buy those, but I am happy just using a generalised tracker. You can track symptoms by either using a numbering system with higher numbers being worse, or a colour coded system with certain colours representing a certain form that your symptom takes.
Chronic Pain Tracker
When tracking chronic pain, you really need something more than just a standard habit tracker, as so many different things can influence pain levels, that’s where the Chronic Pain Tracker comes in handy. I have Fibromyalgia, hEDS which causes joint dislocations, Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Migraines, along with many other problems, so my pain can be very different depending on the day. It’s only by paying close attention to my pain type and intensity in relation to everything else that I have been able to identify certain things that make my pain worse. Doing this is a lot easier when you have a detailed tracker to write it all down. These pain tracking inserts are designed to be used weekly with space to enter daily details, so that you can figure out what is happening with your pain as everyone is different. At the top of each day, there is a section to write down your hours slept, sleep quality, pain rating and energy rating. I highly recommend getting a smart watch type device to track your sleep as it was very hard for me to know what my sleep quality was like without one. I have the Fitbit Inspire HR with all the exercise tracking switched off, just so that I can monitor my heart rate and sleep quality as that information is really helpful. Under the top box of the tracker are areas to put in details about what hurts the most (be specific here so that you can see how your pain changes), your food intake for that day and what medications or supplements you took. Then there’s a section to mark off your 8 glasses of water for the day and a spot for your daily achievements or self care. The last box is there for you to rate your day, with places to put in pain and energy ratings. On the righthand side of the page is an area for notes, which is good to write in at the end of the week if you have seen any trends in your pain. Chronic pain can be really debilitating so finding ways to reduce or control it can be really helpful.
The inserts that I use the most behind the monthly tracking ones are definitely the Appointment inserts. Brain fog has had a big impact on my memory, which is stressful when there is so much to remember when dealing with lots of illnesses. So I try to reduce that stress and ensure that I have the right information from each doctor by writing down the important points from every appointment. Each individual page of the Appointment inserts has room to write about two appointments, with spots to write down the type of appointment, location, date and time, I also include the name of the doctor I saw here, as they can change in some public hospital clinics. Then there is space to write down any important points or questions from the appointment and a spot to put in any new stats. To ensure that these are neat, well formatted and easy to understand for my future self, I don’t fill them in until after the appointment. Instead I use a note page insert to write everything down during the appointment, and then transfer the important information afterwards. This has been really helpful for me as I now know that all the important information from my medical appointments is stored in one place, and it’s easy to read and understand when I need to look back at it.
Staying on top of my mental health is really important to me as mental health can really affect physical health. I attend therapy regularly to ensure that I am always working through the stress and grief that comes with chronic illness, but I also do things daily for my mental health too. The main thing that I have found to help me in keeping a positive mindset is to list what I am grateful for. I started by doing this in my head at night just before going to sleep, but it can be easy to forget to do, so having physical inserts to write it down in, makes it more likely that I will do it. The current Chasing Planner Peace Gratitude Diary Inserts are stylised differently to mine but they do the same thing. They give you a space to write down three things that you are grateful for daily. When you start doing this, you might find it hard to come up with different things all the time, but it gets a lot easier the more you practice it. Chasing Planner Peace also sell Self-Care Trackers if you would prefer that layout, but I find that most of it is covered by the other inserts in my health planner. If you want to do an overview of your life and what you need to be doing more of for your mental or physical health, then the Life Balance inserts might come in handy. Just don’t be hard on yourself if you find that most of your time is taken by illness, as that’s not something that can be changed.
Other Inserts For Health Planners
As I said earlier, I will be trying out the NDIS planning inserts when I finally get approved, and I can review those in another post if you want to see that. Chasing Planner Peace also sells other health related inserts that I haven’t used like a range of weight loss, exercise and diet trackers. I don’t exercise and it isn’t good for my mental health to track my weight, so I won’t be using or reviewing any of those, but they are there if you need them. There’s also two different sort of period trackers available, one sort that will give you a yearly overview of your period and one that gives you options to write down the details of each individual period. They can be used together or separately, and even in combination with the chronic pain tracker if you have endometriosis like me.
Having a physical planner where I can write everything down about my illnesses has been really helpful for me. It reduces my mental load as I don’t have to remember when every appointment is or what each doctor has said. I still put all of my appointments into my phone calendar with a reminder, just to make sure that I never miss one, but I check my health planner so often, so I always know what I have coming up anyway. The inserts I use the most are definitely the monthly overview and the appointments, but they’re all really useful to have. It can be really overwhelming to be as sick as I am, so anything that helps me to manage it all better and reduce my stress is important to me. Have you got a health planner, if so what do you have in yours? If you don’t have one, which of these inserts would be most helpful to you?
Don’t forget that you can sign up for email updates to get my new blog posts sent to your inbox. You can also find me on social media – Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.