Easy Tools to Gather Medical Records

Our entire health is laid out on pieces of paper, or transcripts on a computer. It is sprawled out in a form that makes all the impossible work that we have endured over the past months or years seem so little, exposing every detail of our physical self. We have sought out help within the health care system to continue to seek help, understanding, and find a resolution. All of it is written down in detail on a platform that is divided, searched over and often looked at with a magnifying glass by others within the health care system. It is a way to try to connect all the unknowns, lay out what has happened thus far within the process of our health, and show all the details of what one health care system have discovered.

 

Often we don’t even see what occurs on our medical records unless we ourselves request them. Usually, we receive visit summaries that give a very brief description of what is occurring overall within our medical records, but this is so dumbed down in a way and shows little detail of what actually is happening to us. There are many reasons or purposes for gaining your medical records. Some of these reasons include; access to our own personal information, gaining information for when we transfer health care providers or facilities, gaining proof for social secretary or state disability, gaining information for a medical lawsuit, etc. If you have been to see any kind of health care provider, you have a medical record. This post is to help you find easy tools for gathering your medical records, along with answering the questions we all wonder about regarding medical records.

 

Why does Nuanced Living use the term “health care system?”

For this article and other articles, the term “health care system” will be used several times. With certain aspects of medical care, such as medical records, there is not a specific location or formula from where you can get them. Our medical records can come from many sources in different offices, which means there isn’t a particular name for where to get our medical records. Sometimes we get our medical records from clinics themselves, sometimes from general organizations, hospitals, or medical universities, or there are even times if you are working with a larger system where there are clinics and hospitals you may receive your medical records from a general business office. The term “health care system” allows for the multitude of different potentially places to be simplified for the purpose of this article and other articles on Nuanced Living.

 

A new packet called the Medical Records Packet is now sold on the Nuanced Living Shop for only $2! It is an instant download once purchased for you to print right away to be a helpful tool to organize your medical records more easily! (Note Packet comes in standard and large font!)

 

 

What is the formal definition of medical records?

Medical Records:

A chronological written account of a patient’s examination and treatment that includes the patient’s medical history and complaints, the physician’s physical findings, the results of diagnostic tests and procedures, and medications and therapeutic procedures.

 

Why is it so important to gather our personal medical records?

Gathering our medical records can seem like a daunting task, and somewhat questionable based on if it will really help. Its importance is greater then you may know. Medical records can help with having control of your health care by knowing exactly what is in it, seeing if there are misdiagnoses or streamlined diagnosis, ability to ask questions from doctors, and creating the knowledge base of what you need to know about your body, along with your health. Chronic illness is a lifelong relationship with not only yourself, but with your health care providing team, so having the knowledge is important. Knowing your medical records and gaining access when certain situations require your medical records, helps you understand what your path has been, and the possibilities of the future.

When is it important to get my medical records?

Medical records are important to gather when needed for personal reasons when requested by your health care providers (usually if you are transferring or switching health care systems), or requested by state or personal lawyers under your permission. There are some situations like stated above in the article, that are crucial to gaining knowledge for yourself and the participating parties. For example, if you apply for disability or need your medical records in any form of a lawsuit. You don’t need to have a reason to gain access to your medical records, but within the listed situations I highly recommend that you gain your medical records.

If we don’t have anything “major” on our medical records, does it matter to gather them?

Yes, it is very important for you to gather your medical history no matter how big it may be, because you may have important details within your record that you don’t even know about or may undermine.

How far should we go back within your health history?

It is important to gather as much information as possible about your personal medical history, so go as far back as possible. You, along with your doctors can learn so much about your health and what potentially is happening based on your medical history. If possible gather as far back as possible.

 

There potentially could be multiple locations you will have to gather your medical records from, which is why Nuanced Living Shop offers the Medical Records Packet for only $2, to help make the process of gathering and organizing your medical records a lot easier! (Comes in standard and large font!)

 

 

What is the process to get access to your medical records?  

Note: Each step may vary depending on the exact health care system you are going through to get your medical records.

Step One:

If you don’t know the direct phone number to gain your medical records, contact your health care providers office. This way they will either; tell you the process with their office directly, direct you to another phone number to call, or assist you to a specific website.

Step Two:

No matter where you are directed you will have to print off a privacy form that states why you want to gain your medical records, along with dates of records you’d like to obtain, what information you want, disclosure stating you will pay for the medical records copy, etc. This form will either be emailed to you, located at a doctors office, or on a specific website to print off.

Step Three:

The form will have to be printed off. Usually, you will have to fax it to a specific location and wait a period of time. This process can take 30 to 90 days. On the form, you will have an option if you want to pick up your records, have them emailed, or sent to the address you stated.

Step Four:

Once your medical records are ready, you will have to get them based on the option you choose. This is the point you will pay for them and receive them. Pay may vary depends on the requirements of the health care system itself. Sometimes the cost is by page, while others it is a cap of a certain amount. Also, the form of your medical records will vary depending on the size. Depending on the size of the file, they may print off your medical records, or put them on a compact disc from.

 

Note: You can write off the expense of medical records as a medical expense on taxes. Nuanced Living Shop has a Medical Expense Packet to help with your Medical Expense right offs. (Comes in standard and large font!)

 

 

Key pieces you should know about your medical records?

– Once you receive your copy of your medical records know that everything past the date that you submitted your form to the office will not be within your records. So make sure you get additional information every once in awhile to keep your files up to date. On your request form you can state the specific dates you want, so you don’t have to pay for everything over again.

– No matter what form you receive for your medical records, make sure you always have a personal copy.

– The only people that should have access to your records are your health care providers, their personal team and you. No one should be able to access the information unless you personally give them the ok to access it.

– If you have questions about your medical records contact your healthcare provider.

– Really look at your surgeries notes, test notes, and diagnosis, so you understand what was seen and make sure you know for yourself what information is key when moving forward.

– Go to Nuanced Living Shop to grab your Medical Record Packet to make it easier to organize your information.

 

Question for you:

What is the most difficult aspect you find when getting your medical records?

 

 

T r u l y ,   L i n d y

How to Find the Best Caregiver

 

When our life is turned over by health issues, we grasp for someone close to help us with the unwanted and most likely unknown journey that we are about to embark on. We often turn to our spouse, parents, children, or even siblings to be our caregiver. We don’t know what our journey is about to look like and we have less understanding of what our caregiver’s path will look like alongside us, but we tend to seek of someone who we connect with the most.

It can be a great solution to turn to a family member, but it doesn’t always have to be the only solution. You may have a close friend or a neighbor that can be that constant partner within your new health journey. To ask someone to take on the responsibilities of a caregiver should never be taken lightly. Sometimes we get so focused on the whirlwind of what has happened to us that a caregiver just comes out of that storm – someone who just keeps showing up, this may or may not be the right person by your side. So how can we really find the best caregiver for your journey, to make sure that your journey is the best for you? Below are some aspects that make up a great caregiver.

Know that it is so important to find one person who can be your person through this journey. If you don’t feel comfortable or feel that you have that one person in your life, there are other alternatives to keep you standing and moving forward to the best of your abilities. Some tools or resources include; transportation, counseling or support groups, financial advisors, and much more. No matter your choice in how you pursue a healthcare partner within this process, make sure that you are able to find the right fit for you.

 

What is a caregiver?

The formal definition of a caregiver;

Caregiver – Someone who can regularly provide support, care, guidance, and assistance to someone who is in need.

Caregivers can be pulled from all different aspects of your life, but typically you have one or at most a handful of people you can rely on a hundred percent to be a part of the intimate details of the journey you are walking along with chronic illness. A caregiver is someone who is willing to provide what you need them to within this journey. Some roles that they may do include: going to appointments with you, providing transportation to places for you, being an extra set of ears, depending on your situation providing shelter and food, offering support for your decisions, and a continuous amount of work they play into each step that I couldn’t write down. Depending on how much they can give, along with what you may need from them, will create a different definition of what a caregiver is to you within your life. Depending on the journey you come upon you may need them to play different roles, during different parts.

 

What are some characteristics of a great caregiver?

When seeking out who should be your caregiver or health partner within the journey of chronic illness there are certain aspects that should be considered. Note you may not agree with all these, or have additional ones to add, so please let me know your thoughts in the comment section of this article! Below is a list of some things to think about when finding that right person for you!

Great caregiver qualities:

Someone who has the ability to recognize that it is your health journey. Meaning that their insight is greatly appreciated and considered, but ultimately they do not have control over your path and process.

Someone who is willing to take the time to do things right, rather than just getting it over. Along the journey there will be times when a wait is required, therefore having someone who is patient is important, because even if you can’t be they will be that for you

Someone who is willing to disrupt their regular routine to take care of you. Within the health care process, there will be certain moments that require your caregiver to be available to you. No matter who your caregiver is, chances are they have other aspects of their life they need to maintain and take care of, so figuring out someone who is willing to work with those other life demands will be helpful to make your process and their contribution to the process a lot smoother.

Someone who is financially able. Depending on your need of the caregiver not only could you need them for certain financial reasons, but also no matter the process will cost them on some level. They need to figure out if they can pay for the things you need, which may include; time off from work, expenses of transportation, housing, etc. You may be in a situation where you could also pay for their expenses to help you. This is potentially an ongoing discussion that you will have to have with them, about what they are willing to offer and what you can provide.

Someone who is doing it for the right reasons. I hate to say it, but not everyone has the best intentions if they are doing it to be an advocate for you make sure that you trust them completely with your life.

Someone who can be a great advocate for you. Depending on the role you decide your caregiver to play they may or may not be in the doctor visits with you. If you choose for them to be a voice within your health care it is important that they have your best interest, by listening to what the doctors say, able to understand their language and to be able to ask the right questions and make sure that they can be that partner to have a conversation with you rather than for you.

Someone you are comfortable to talk in front of about your most intimate details of life. This is the hardest part because sometimes going to the doctor you feel that you are placing all your faults or life details on the table. With a caregiver in the room, you will be sharing it in front of them, potentially more than once with some of the most unflattering details of our life. Never underestimate what you may share. To help prevent a complete discomfort with some topics within the room, maybe talk about it with your caregiver pre-visit so they don’t have to deal with the shock while they are supposed to be helping you by paying attention to the doctors. Some things, of course, don’t have to be discussed and it is purely based on you, which goes to our next point.

Someone you can set limits with. Decide if you want them to go in with you to appointments or just drive you. Have someone that you can change your mind with at any point and trust to do so. This is your experience and your path with health care and figuring out what your life looks like.

Someone who can step up to the plate. This is harder to ask than you would think because we don’t all know what this looks like. Your caregiver needs to be someone who can put their anger or upset or whatever aside when at your appointments and the short time you get with this process. No matter what happens they need to be able to come to the present fully and be a part of figuring out the best path for you.

Someone who is able to take rejection. You can always choose a caregiver and have a trial period with it. No matter what your relationship was with this person prior you should be able to change if you don’t feel that they are best suited for the position, no matter how long they have been your health care partner.

You ultimately need to find someone who is the best advocate for you, alongside you.

 

What can we do for our caregivers?

Caregivers are an amazing part of our lives, but you are one piece of their life, meaning they also need to take care of them and the world that is around them. Set up boundaries with your caregiver that not only are great for you but great for them making it a relationship that is good for both of you. Although we rely on them more than we like to admit, we each need to be taking steps to take care of our self, including our caregivers.

 

Conclusion:

We don’t need a caregiver until we are ten steps within the journey already. The person who you decide to be your caregiver is key to how your journey will go. Take your time and continue to keep the line of conversation open between you and your caregiver(s). Always make sure to ask questions and be open with them about what you need, figuring out if you two are suited for your health care journey. You deserve the best care and your caregiver is a key part of your journey!

 

My question to you!

What is the most important character trait of a caregiver to you?

 

T r u l y ,   L i n d y

 

photo source: @LindyJacoby

What Is Chronic Illness?

 

Each word that we come across we seek its meaning through personal experiences, through reading, through everyday conversations, even through all our senses. Some words are easy to roll off our tongue and we crave them to be a part of our lives (i.e. happy), but others we come across can carry a unique weight that we really don’t want in our lives (i.e. disappointment). When words have a negative gravity to them, we tend to continue to seek the understanding of what it means not only as a word, within life to ourselves and to others. As a result, we often find ourselves trying to resolve the word, because of its meaning, or we push it as far away as we can. Some of us can leave certain words behind and get a general gist of what they may or may not mean, while some of us are involuntarily affected, knowing the meaning of the word in a greater depth than is desired.

Chronic illness is a term, two words that holds negative weight to many people within this world. It seems to be a word that is sought out to learn in depth what it means, or it is considered unimportant and unnecessary to others knowing only its existence. Yet no matter how you view it, almost everyone you ask will tell you a different definition of what it means to them. Why is this? It is a word that can take a hold of someone’s life in such a unique way. It is an umbrella term. It not only explains what someone is going through in a general sense within their body, but it also shares the burden of the nuances chronic illness has on their everyday life. It is a term that describes what is happening to them overall, a term that links to the definition of their personal body health, a reminder of what is going on not only within me but along side them within their life.

Two simple words of the human language that holds a vast spectrum of burden, health, hope, lack of hope, the thought of dreams lost, life altering circumstances, trust in unknowns, and so much more. It tends to be a negative piece of our lives that change our lives forever. But our lives don’t shut down. Not for a second. We press forward, we try to go through all the motions and we seek to have the best life despite what we were given within this world, under that term. This blog was created to look at all the nuances of the weight that now our lives hold, the realities, and the new formulas to make sure that we can create our best lives within the unwanted, but given circumstances. It is a term we have and can personalize within our own lives, based on our experiences, our conversations, our senses.

Nuanced Living will bring a spectrum of topics that can help you and learn with you to be the best advocate for yourself within chronic illness life. It is so important to me have Nuanced Living be a constant resource, so please feel free to contact me if you have anything you want to share or have questions about!

So what is chronic illness really? What does chronic illness mean? Why is the meaning so different to each of us?

 

What is the formal “definition” of chronic illness?

Chronic– continuing or occurring again and again for a long time

Illness* – an unhealthy condition of body or mind 

Chronic Illness – an unhealthy condition of body or mind that continues or occurs again and again for a long time

 

What are some types of chronic illness?

To all those who are dealing with chronic illness or walking alongside it let me take this moment to tell you I may not directly point out your specific chronic illness.

What does chronic illness look like?

Technically chronic illness is a “disease” or “sickness,” that is constant. This means it is limited to a specific type of sickness or disease, along with the fact that you can have multiple illnesses at once. Chronic illnesses comes in all kinds forms that are very different from one another, that can literally affect every single part of your body. It is a general category of illness that can’t be treated one hundred percent by any source of medical treatment. It can be lessened, or even be in remission but it will never fully leave our bodies. It can affect a piece of our body or the entire whole.

Chronic illness is diagnosed by a doctor, which they will be able to tell you if it is something that is chronic or not, along with all treatment options. They should absolutely be upfront about every aspect of the process and what it means that they or another doctor can provide within your life.

What are some specific examples of chronic illness?

Honestly there are too many to write down in one post.

Chronic illness is a general term to cover a category of individuals suffering from a number of different types of illness, but it is a very broad term, like talked about early.

Next there are general terms that break down the categories in a second level. These terms give a more general idea of what is going on with you, but don’t describe it specifically. A few examples include; autoimmune disorders, autonomic disorders, cancer, chronic pain, etc. These terms are typically given when doctors are trying to figure out exactly what is going on, but know what part of the body it is affecting, but not specific. It is also an easier way to describe what is going on with you to others, because often time people are familiar with the specific medical name for what is going on.

Lastly there is the more detailed medical name for specifically what you have. This is the term the doctor will give you. Note sometimes even within these categories there are even more breakdowns, but not always. A few examples include; breast cancer, cervical cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), lupus, migraines, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), ehlers-danlos syndrome (EDS), etc.

Note: The list above is not limited to any source or regulations of what individual states consider chronic illness for disability benefits.

What is my personal experience with chronic illness?

You probably are wondering by now, why is Lindy writing about this topic and how does she really know what it means? Chronic illness is a tough topic and oh I hope I do it justice! It is something I live with and have for a while. Although it doesn’t define me it affects my life daily. I have multiple chronic illness. Some of my personal chronic illnesses (not in order of how I suffer from them) include; postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), several different heart issues, migraines, chronic venous insufficiency, chronic pain, endometriosis, autonomic issues, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and several more. A few of these I have had most of my life, while others I only have had within my adult life. I feel that throughout my experience there are some things we can all relate to, even though the way we relate to them may be very different then one another. Nuanced Living was formed in hopes of creating a great resource to be the best advocate for ourselves under our circumstances. I am learning to find my ever shifting new normal and I would love to hear how you do it! Please feel free to contact me or comment below because I would love to learn from you!

 

 

What does chronic really mean to you?

Who is affected by chronic illness?

Everyone can be affected by chronic illness. It can affect anyone, anywhere for a multitude of reasons. Also if you have some form of chronic illness it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t get another form within your life. I promise this is not to scare you, it just means that we are equal and fundamentally the same and it can affect anyone.

It is something that can come from any number of sources such as; an injury, genetics, exposure to something, because your body is formed differently, and so many more reasons.

If you at all are having any health issues, I highly recommend seeking a medical perspective.

How can chronic illness affect us?

Chronic means that it is a forever thing. Since there is such a range of chronic illnesses, there is a range of how this can affect any one of us on a regular basis. Sometimes it happens in segments, days on of having issues or days off from having issues, sometimes it is a constant thing with the possibility of going into remission, sometimes it is constant with worse symptoms during certain times, or sometimes it is completely random on how it shows itself. With these different affects we create our own new patterns within our life based on what is happening with our body.

No matter how it may show itself it is a aspect of health that you carry. When diagnosed we are put within different categories (like discussed above), these groups allow you to see how other individuals who have similar diagnosis live their lives, what treatments have worked or not worked, and a hypothesis of what your journey may look like. These groups can be very beneficial at times when understanding what is going on, along with surrounding yourself with similar people and the right doctors, but it is good to know that each individual is still going to have a very different journey along the process. Nuanced Living is here to help you find whatever your journey may be, and making it go as easily as possible.

What is the process if you or a loved one is diagnosed with chronic illness?

Within the idea that we feel something is wrong with our body, seeking a doctor to get information and a diagnosis will be the first step. You may or may not be diagnosed with a chronic illness. It may even take a while at times to figure out the right diagnosis for you. Once a doctor has diagnosed you with a specific diagnosis they will create a treatment plan, sometimes seeing if you might go in remission or not, along with seeing if the treatment plan they created will work or not, adjusting if needed. During this process you will personally start the path of trying to take care of your life and your body as much as possible. This process will be an ongoing conversation here on Nuanced Living.

Why is it so important for everyone to know about chronic illness?

No one with chronic illness asked to have chronic illness rather it is something we constantly ask to have taken away. But yet it affects our lives in every single aspect and reshapes it, but it doesn’t define us. It makes us carry its weight and displays private aspects of our body despite the unwilling part of our soul. It can be connected to anyone at any point within their lives. There is no stereotype or box to define what happens when we have chronic illness, other than we know that our lives have forever changed.

It is so important for everyone to know about it for several reasons. The patient needs to be aware of what is happening to their body and how can they take care of themselves as much as possible within the new circumstances to be able to live their best life despite chronic illness. The caregiver needs to understand, as much as they can within their limits about, what is happening to the person that experiences chronic illness and how to be the best health partner. The viewer of ones life, the passersby, friend or family member needs to understand that this person within their life has had a drastic change within their life and what does that mean for not only the patient, but also themselves. The person who has no experience with chronic illness, the out of body experience person, one who never realizes they see it, needs to understand on some level the significance of how chronic illness shapes the world around them without them even knowing it.

We need to understand our environment, our culture, the people that live within this world that hold a depth of this term “chronic illness” that no one really understands and the patients themselves are trying to understand. No one will ever grasp, even a fellow chronic illness patient, the body you are now living in and every piece of what that means, along with how it truly is to be a serving steward of yourself despite what is happening. It is important for all of us to know as much as we can to have an awareness and ability to see the nuances of life within chronic illness.

 

 

Conclusion… So what is chronic illness?

Thank goodness we are all different, I wouldn’t like to think that one person is the same as another, we are all supposed to be uniquely beautiful! Unfortunately when it comes to chronic illness, those differences may seem overwhelming and nerve racking when trying to figure out what now happens within our lives. Nuanced Living is here to make those overwhelming differences be more manageable and making the shifting changes beautiful. So in the end what is chronic illness? Something that has affected your body, your health, your life, but something that will never fully go away.

In a very simple description of chronic illness; it is a health issue that affects your body and your entire life.

 

A question for you!

How would you best describe the term chronic illness? Are you living with it or amongst it?

 

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Know you are not alone and I look forward to getting to know you and learning with you!

 

T r u l y ,   L i n d y

 

 

* Sources: definition of chronic and of illness: Webster dictionary

image source: @NuancedLiving