apple day 225It is essential today for each of us to assume responsibility for our health. It should never be as important to someone else as it is to us. Does this mean everyone should be in perfect health? Not necessarily. Many of us are battling disease processes that have genetic or familial bases. What it does mean is that whatever the state of your health you need to take responsibility for it. Not blame, responsibility. Not excuses, responsibility.

In this new regular column, we will look at the multitude of issues facing our quest for health and look at a grass roots level to see what can be done to take responsibility.

Let's start with the basics.

  1. Who is your healthcare professional? For most this means who is your family doctor? However it could also be a Nurse Practitioner or any Alternative Heath Professional. Do you know their address and phone number, remember someone may need this information when you are unable to speak for yourself. Write it down! Are you aware of their role and charging practice. In future columns we will look at the health professionals' roles and responsibilities.

  2. Are you aware of the exact nature of any diseases from which you suffer? Do you know what causes it, what makes it better, what makes it worse. This is not a time for complacency. Write it down!

  3. Do you know your allergies? Please don't rely on physicians, ERs and pharmacist to know this. You need to be aware and speak up. Write it down!

  4. Do you know the medications you are on? For many years I was an ER nurse and you would be surprised how many patients came expecting me to be able to define their medications, or worse yet, “the wife takes care of that”. Not only do you need to know the name but also the dose and the number of times you take it. Needless to say you need to know what the medication does and what the side effects are. Too much to remember...write it down! See the theme here? The colour of the pill means nothing to anybody. Do you know how many little blue pills there are?

  5. Who are your ICES contacts. ICES...in case of emergency, numbers are vital in situations not only for health care but for safety officers as well. Write them down! Include their relationship to you.

In case you have missed it you need to have, close to your health card, this information written on a piece of paper. Both should be in your wallet. I know everyone enjoys this electronic world but in the time of crisis, passwords are forgotten or not known and your electronic device may have been damaged.

All of the above information should be important to you for obvious reasons, but it is critical and often life-saving information when you are not able to talk for yourself. It therefore needs to be up to date. Review it on a regular basis. Like changing your smoke detector batteries. Don't get me started on that!

I hope you found this helpful. I can assure you that those needing to care for you will find it vital.