I’m not really sure when I started #mondaypleads… I think it was about a year ago. On Twitter (@adamslisa), I got in the habit of nagging folks to go to doctors’ appointments. It started with mammograms. But soon I was sending out tweets gently nagging folks to take care of themselves and their families with a list of things I thought they should be doing. I had noticed that people were good at taking care of their children and their pets, but when it came to themselves– not so much.
At that time I had also become involved with a startup meme called #fridayreads. Now, I guess at this point I should assume that some of you are already wondering why I am writing with the number sign and why there were no spaces between those words. And what the heck is a meme? (that’s pronounced “meem” not “meemee” by the way)
For those who aren’t familiar with Twitter, here’s a brief explanation of hashtags. For a wonderful and humorous lengthier explanation of hashtags, please read Susan Orlean’s piece in her The New Yorker blog entitled “Hash”.1 The hashtag is that number sign (#), and one of the uses of hashtags is as a search tool. You can include a hashtagged term in your tweet (a tweet is a message of 140 characters) so that others can easily search for it. So you could hashtag #cancer or #snowpocalypse or #Egypt and then anyone with an interest in those topics could search for them and read tweets related to those things.
Now, one of the cool things about Twitter is that you can create a term; that is, you can make up a hashtag that will represent your idea. That’s a meme: a concept that spreads througout the internet. So… when my friend Bethanne Patrick (@thebookmaven) of The Book Studio wanted to start a meme to celeberate reading and have people share the book that they were reading with the Twitterverse each week, she started #fridayreads. Now with over 6,000 participants, the #Fridayreads team (through Twitter, an iPhone app and Facebook page) shares one of the things we love most: books.
Once I was involved with #fridayreads I wanted to create a meme to capture the nagging that I was doing and decided Monday was the day to do it. To try to be catchy, I created one to rhyme with #fridayreads: #mondaypleads. (By the way, I also created the #dailynag, a daily reminder for people to take their medications and vitamins. If you follow me on Twitter, you get a reminder each day.)
#mondaypleads has become what I consider to be an enormous success. I have received numerous messages from my followers that they appreciate the nagging, the gentle nudge it often takes to just do something you already know you should be doing. They tell me when they made the appointments, they tell me when they are going, they tell me how they went. It makes me feel good to know that people are listening, and doing.
I’ve even had a few cases where some of my 2000 followers didn’t know they should be going for some of these routine visits. One man read a tweet I made during #mondaypleads about going to the dermatologist for a skin check. He sent me an email: “I am in my 60s and have been a sailor for much of my life. Was there something I am supposed to be doing to monitor my skin?” I told him he should go to the dermatologist for a skin check to look for any suspicious moles and document the ones he has. He made the appointment. He went… and found he had two moles that were on their way to becoming malignant. They were removed before things got more serious. That’s exactly what you want: find things out while you can still deal with them relatively easily.
So… now you know the history. Now, on to the list.
Here’s what I do at home to organize my list: I have a binder of my medical records and reports with a piece of paper in it. The paper lists all of the doctors and specialists and tests I have had/need. I have the date and place that it was last performed and when I need a follow-up (6 months, a year, every 5 years, etc.) Every time I have a test, procedure, follow-up or appointment, I note it in this section. That way I never have to wonder “When was my last MRI and when am I due for another?” or “When did that doctor say I was supposed to come back?” If you have lots of tests, it’s a great way to keep track of what you had and where. If you only have a few appointments it’s easy to keep track of them if you keep them in a file or an iPhone note.
By the way, one of the best things you can do if you take a lot of daily medications is to put that list in an iPhone note (or similar memo). I have a note called daily medications that I update each time my dosage or cocktail changes. That way, when you go to a new doctor or are asked to update your medication list it’s easy to recreate– you just open this note on your phone and copy it. This has been an easy and useful tool for me, especially during the months when certain medications were changing. It’s also handy that a family member can easily access this information in case of an accident or emergency.
Here is a basic list of what I think people should be doing for themselves. Depending on your medical conditions you will need more than this. I’m not a doctor, these are just some suggestions of things I think people should be doing (at a minimum) to keep up to date.
— (For women) mammograms, PAP smears, and annual gynecological exams. Discuss the frequency of these with your doctors, based on your age and medical/family history.
—Dental visits every 6 months.
—Annual physical/internist visit, including vaccine boosters. Ask about tetanus and pertussis boosters; I needed those recently. If you are over the age of 50 ask your doctor about the shingles vacccine. May need to monitor kidney and liver function, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Men should have PSA screenings once they reach a certain age. Discuss the timing with your doctor. Here is a recent article about the guidelines for adult immunizations. There is a PDF for viewing the list in chart form by age.
—Depending on your age you may need a bone density test, especially if you are a post-menopausal woman, went through menopause at an early age, or have a history of breast cancer. Certain drugs and treatments may affect your bone strength. Talk to your oncologist or internist.
—Annual skin check at the dermatologist to document and monitor moles
—Annual eye exam
—Depending on your particular medical conditions, endocrinology visits to monitor bloodwork including thyroid and blood sugar issues, especially if you have weight issues.
—Colonoscopy. Check with your doctor when to start doing these; it will vary based on family history. No one wants to talk about them but they really are not bad, folks. Find any problems early and your outcome will be better. I’ve had two already and so I’m not telling you to do something I haven’t done.
—Make sure your will and end of life directive are up to date. No one wants to think about dying but knowing your wishes will be carried out can be a relief. Make sure someone knows where these papers are and a copy is accessible in case of emergency. Also, adequate life insurance is a must… and best arranged while you are still young and healthy.
— Finally, here is information from Yale on becoming an organ donor. You could save a life by becoming one. Please donate blood, platelets, and get tested with Bethematch.com to be part of the bone marrow registry.
Again, these are the basics. It takes a lot to keep on top of your health. There is no better investment you can make than in yourself. I hope this helps!
p.s. If you have a chronic medical condition have been recently diagnosed, or are a caregiver, my blogpost about organizing your medical records, test, and papers may be helpful. Go here to read “The Must-have Binder: my key to being an organized patient or caregiver.”
- Susan’s Twitter handle is @susanorlean [↩]