/ Patient Stories

Ode To a Folder

Organization has never been my forte which means I’m probably a little too proud of my health folder. We’re talking about an actual manila file folder, filled with actual papers, that has made it with me through my 20s and into my 30s, across 5 apartments and 2 cities, and between 5 different Gastroenterologists and almost as many GPs and nutritionists. A few recent events have me thinking that maybe its time to do something new with the old health folder, something like actually using it to organize my medical history. So I start digging around, and folks, I can not tell a lie. This stuff is incomprehensible.

The first thing I can’t help but notice is that my trusty health folder, which purportedly has stored 15 years of medical history, seems to have a few holes. Ok, a few gaping chasms. College is pretty much missing completely, but that’s not so bad considering I was healthy back then. More worrisome is the state of documentation, or rather complete lack thereof, from the 2009 - 2010 era, years which I vividly recall involving more than a few doctor visits.

"The only way to get your medical records is to remember to ask for them."
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Of course this changes nothing as far as my pride goes. The only way to get these papers is to remember to ask for them. This sounds easy, but remember that this has to happen while you’re in with the doctor. She’s asking questions in rapid succession, probing around in strange places, and generally trying to get out the door. In my experience, more urgent matters, say along the lines of “Why does it feel like I just stood up too fast all the time I’m standing up” will tend to take precedence. Maybe you’re thinking, "I can just wait and ask at the front desk for copies." I totally get why that seems like a good strategy. But it isn’t. The nice lady will have to track down my doctor to ask permission and will stop being so nice. It also assumes I even remember that I had blood drawn on my last visit.

Health really isn’t the part of your life where you want big, free forming black holes, periods when you can only vaguely piece together what went on. The health folder hasn’t really done its job. I guess that means neither have I. Still, not so bad for a stack of papers that have had to travel with me across the continent. At least that’s what I tell myself.