Monday, May 1, 2017

SmartAss ProTips: Your Med Backstory

I want to have some resources here for you to use if you want or need them. While writing a piece on Go Bags, I realized that I had not talked to you about putting together a basic medical summary. This is the first thing you want in a hospital/medical BugOut/BugIn bag, or any travel bag for that matter.

Nissi (a black pitt) and Lucky (a tawny Chiwowow) keeping the neighborhood safe by sniffing a suspicious tree.

We will get into what Go/BugOut/BugIn Bags are, why you may need one, and a guideline of things to consider when making one. But before that, and Go Bag or not, you should have a MedStory!

MedStory is my own term for a unofficial medical history. Anything written my you will be considered unofficial - remember, patient reporting is considered the least reliable source of information around by docs, etc - but that was before "fake news." 

Even if you are not doing the whole Go Bag thing, you should do this. Even if you are healthy, you should do this. Keep a copy in your bag, in your car... You know your life best, so keep it where you know it can easily be found in an emergency. Since this will be too big to fit in the typical wallet, a note near your ID that indicates where your history is stored could save your life or the life of someone else if you are a organ donor.

I am going to give you what I think would be useful, and you can use or change it as you see fit for you and your family. We are going to cover information personal, medical, and medicinal. If you have a suggestion to add, please comment below and we will all benefit!

When you write your medical summary, imagine the conversations you normally have with medical professionals, only this time they need to know and you are unconscious with no family or friends present. There is a lot of information to think about here. You do not need to let yourself be overwhelmed by it. Take each suggestion one at a time. 

Ideally, you will have a summary for each family member. Even if you are around for your spouse, kid, or parent experiencing medical distress, this stuff is stuff you want to just hand off and not worry about - you will have enough worries.

Start with the basics: your name, address, phone numbers should be at the top. Another very important piece of information is your emergency contacts: their names, addresses, phone numbers. Who is your next of kin? Who is authorized to receive and act on your medical information? Do you have Advanced Directives (also called DNR orders). Do you have a medical power of attorney? You should have a copy of that in here, along with a notation of the location of the original, should it be necessary. Are you an organ/blood/marrow donor or on a registery?

While the rest of your medical information is covered below, next you should list your allergies, whether you think they would be an issue or not. Example: an egg allergy could really mess you up if you are given certain vaccines. So list them all is my advice! Make a note of each allergy & severity. Iodine makes me itchy, but penicillin will kill me.

You also need to mention any conditions, illnesses, or whatnot. Some people will list psychological diagnosis, and they can be important, but others are not willing to disclose them without establishing, personally, that it is pertinent and that they feel safe doing so. Sometimes an illness can be figured out by the meds you take, but do you really want people guessing at that moment?

You also want the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any health care practitioners you are currently seeing or have seen recently (last couple of years). If you have seen a specialist, you will always get asked why you saw them, so list that too (example: saw a pediatric gastroenterologist for stomach pain that resolved on its own or a physical therapist for SI joint dysfunction that improved with a completed course of PT). 

Now you need to detail what you are normally putting into your body. List any over the counter (OTC) or prescription medications you take, no matter how innocuous it may seem to you. If you take ibuprofen for occasional headaches, they say so. Please keep in mind that many prescription medications are used for more than one application, so list the reason you are taking it. Also list any herbal or homeopathic intake. 

I want to say if you are taking anything illegal, you should put it here because sometimes your docs really do need to know, but you have to make that call for yourself. 

So that is a good start. I will update this article as experiences or conversations make me wiser. If you have a tip, let us know below! I am considering making a Google form or something, what do you think?


  1. This is a great reminder. I put together something like this for myself recently, but this post reminding me of several things I missed. Thanks!

    1. Glad it was helpful! This was me kicking myself into gear to update mine, too...


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