I know a lot of people are excited over the fact that the Oscars are on tonight, but I am left quite cold about it. I don't believe I've seen any of the movies nominated and I KNOW I have never even heard of most of them. And I really don't mind. If I get interested, I'll just watch the movies I want to when they make it to HBO, Showtime, etc. I have a few other things on MY mind tonight. Now on to the TMI...
Already I have started my prep for my colonoscopy tomorrow morning. Oh, yay. Ten years ago I had my first one--it was done earlier than a 'normal' baseline colonoscopy is done because there were some 'issues' that needed checking out. So, here we are, years later, getting ready again.
I began my 'prep' five days ago. The first thing that I had to 'give up' were some of my meds and supplements--namely, the baby aspirin I take and my iron pills. Then, three days ago I had to stop eating anything with 'bulk'--fresh fruits and veggies, whole grain foods, etc. I have been on only liquids since midnight and won't be eating any solids until after the procedure is done. I WON'T go into more details about the prep other than saying it involves taking pills and drinking Powerade that has powdered laxative added, in ENORMOUS quantities. Needless to say, I'm not going anywhere until I leave the house to go to the hospital in the morning. I KNOW this prep is different than the one I did before and I'm very pleased that it is a bit quicker than the last one. And I keep telling myself, "Tomorrow at this time it will be ALL OVER!"
The other day I was thinking about when I had this procedure the last time and couldn't remember the name of the doctor who I saw. Actually, he probably isn't even in the area any longer--the turn-over rate for some doctors in this town is astounding! This, of course, made me start thinking about how I would even find out who did the exam the last time and it got me remembering something that I found out at my PCP appointment in January--and this is where the FYI comes in...
Over the last several years, I have had to find new doctors a few times. I have had some difficulties in getting my medical files transferred to the new MDs and I STILL haven't found my GYN files. While talking with my PCP this year, she asked me a question about what my last doctor prescribed and why. I assumed she could just look up the info in my file, as my old doctor had been in this same office before he moved on. Come to find out, this office only has my medical records for the last 5-8 years--or whenever it was that he moved in from his LAST office. He was not allowed to take my records with him, as the last practice 'owned' them. I wasn't aware of the fact that medical practices 'own' your records and don't necessarily move with your doctor if s/he goes into another practice. While I THINK you can get copies of your records for yourself, I don't think I want to pay what would be charged for 35 years worth of medical records. And this is assuming that I could find all of my records. It's unbelievable to me that there is that much private information about me, SOMEWHERE, and I don't have access to it--and I don't know WHO has access to it.
When I got a bit upset over the 'losing' of my GYN records, I was told by the doctor (or nurse, I don't remember) that it REALLY doesn't matter that they don't have them: They only worry about looking at the last couple of years worth of records and don't bother with the rest. (And this is the main reason why you shouldn't 'doctor shop' and should find one MD and stay with him/her--as s/he knows you and your issues.) While I DO realize that the pain in my right foot that I had 25 years ago probably isn't relevant to anything going on with me today, it doesn't necessarily mean it ISN'T something that the doctor should be aware of. For example: Almost anything that occurs during pregnancy--gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, etc--will show up as a medical issue at some later time in your life. I do think it would be a good thing for your current MD to know exactly what the MD had to say about the issue that many years ago. (I KNOW that doctors talk differently to their patients than they do when dictating their notes--so records are going to be more relevant to another doctor than what a patient might have to say.) And frankly, I have no idea what some of the meds are that I have been on over the years--and I'm talking about all antibiotics, anti-depressants, pain meds, etc. How many of us have a list of all of the meds we've been on? Don't we just assume our MDs will take care of knowing this?
With all of this, I will now give my advice. If you haven't started yet, write yourself a medical history that you can update as time goes on--and put as much info into it as you can, with dates, if possible. A few years ago I did just that and keep the document on my phone. I am amazed at how many times a year I am asked "Did you get a flu shot this year?" or "When did you have your last tetanus shot?" My memory is getting so bad that I can't remember the answers without them being written down. Also, it is hard to remember exactly when these every 5, 10, 15 year procedures have been done. For the last four years I have been 'sure' that the doctor was going to send me for my next colonoscopy because 'it's been at least 10 years since the last one.' The memory just isn't good enough to rely on it if you have to give some (potentially) life threatening information. We are constantly told that we need to be good health consumers and being able to have relevant information at hand when needed is a good start.