Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Handy Little Health Journal - book review

I was sent this book for review. It was timely, as we had an appointment at the Cancer Clinic in Ottawa.
It is authored by Mary Anne Alton and Tania Craan.
Now, having good health is a matter of being aware of what you should be doing, and following it!
We know how to keep healthy: exercise, eat properly, keep active mentally, physically, and socially, especially in middle age. It takes discipline and some awareness and education.

It is important to be aware of what your body does and does not need, and this little text helps.
It's not a large book. It is easy to pop into a purse. And I say purse, because it is a book for women not men. Interestingly, our hospital provided us with a booklet that provided some of the same opportunities: to record medical history, data regarding tests and appointments.

As we sat there at the clinic, filling in forms, I assessed whether this book might help. For, as we know, despite keeping your weight at a good level, watching your diet, and balancing body/mind/spirit, we do get sick. When you do, you truly need to keep track of many things. In fact, the forms we needed to fill out were extensive, and this book would have helped.

There are four sections:

  1. General and contact information.
  2. Medical history
  3. Records, appointments, medications and expenses
  4. Healthy treats
It is chock full of motivational quotes, as well as good ideas, ones I have written about, such as what to bring when you visit the doctor (p. 72) and how to describe your pain to the physician (p. 73), and questions for your pharmacist (p.52). What might be missing is: questions to ask your doctor regarding treatment, treatment plans and treatment options. 

That said, this bookpublished with grants from the Canadian government, is a great way to monitor your health and keep track of data. And we know how many times healthcare professionals ("Primary Care") will ask for answers to these questions. It will take discipline, we know how eager folks are to do homework, but this book you might keep in your purse and read it on the bus, or in waiting rooms. At the back there are great suggestions for wellness (meditation), puzzles for those moments waiting, and recipes for healthy eating. 
There are a couple out outdated notions, such as annual physicals. These have been proven not as effective, as well as PSA tests and new Mammograms guidelines, which both have wide error rates.

The other problem I have issues with is the list of "Cancer prevention foods" (p. 52), for example. People need to realize that just because you watch your weight, eat well, exercise, etc., you can still get cancer. 

From the publisher:
Whether at home, work, or traveling, My Handy Little Health Journal is every woman’s personal wellness assistant, allowing her to track, record, and keep reminders in the palm of her hand. The average woman visits a medical professional six to 10 times a year, but her responsibility extends far beyond that with regular regiments for nutrition, exercise, hygiene, and stress management. With space to record health care providers, appointments, medications, tests, expenses, and procedures, this journal is as useful before a routine appointment as it is in an emergency. Plus, the journal highlights helpful tips about meditation, smart recipes, fitness, and travel—and even includes brainteasers for the waiting room. The result of extensive consultation with women in the medical, communications, and marketing fields, this journal will inspire women to change their health care habits with a broad approach to wellness.

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