Setting healthcare goals for 2024 — and sticking to them
Managing PH and other chronic illnesses requires planning and organization
While most people who home in on their health at the start of a new year think about gyms, diets, and a “Dry January,” I’m focused on my oxygen levels, doctor appointments, and exams. These are needed to manage my pulmonary hypertension (PH), something I’ll be committed to doing in 2024.
For me, a key aspect of any health-management plan is listening to our bodies. The more we’re in touch with our bodies, the more we can be active participants in our care.
Since Thanksgiving, I’ve weathered both a viral respiratory illness and COVID-19, in addition to having regular PH flare-ups. This has forced me to start listening to my body to ensure I get the care that I need. I’m doing better now, but still recovering.
When fighting a respiratory illness, it’s vital that I monitor my oxygen levels. If my oxygen saturation frequently dips or drops below 90, a condition known as hypoxemia, my body is telling me that something isn’t right.
During my recent bouts of illness, I regularly communicated with my pulmonary care team about my symptoms, including my oxygen levels. We discussed the next steps I should take, as well contingency plans if my condition worsened.
Sometimes PH feels like a tornado ripping through my body (and my life). I might not be able to get out of its path, but I can get organized to mitigate some of the chaos. I’m lucky to have my first quarterly checkup at the end of January, which requires organization and proper planning.
For my first doctor appointments in the new year, I want to ensure that my insurance information is up to date. I need to check if any documents require a renewal signature. I’ll also make sure I’ve completed any tests, screenings, or lab work my doctor requires before the appointment.
I know that might seem obvious, but it’s easy for things to get lost in the wake of the holiday season. Because I was sick in December, I forgot to schedule a transthoracic echocardiogram, which takes moving images of the heart. (PH can strain the heart, so it’s important to monitor it.) I didn’t think about it until I started to get my ducks in a row in early January. I did manage to take care of it before my checkup.
Although I’ve been managing this disease for nearly eight years, I can always be better organized.
I use a variety of apps and other tools to manage various aspects of my medical care. Google alarms sound three times a day to remind me to take my medications. The MyChart app tracks upcoming appointments, provides test results, and serves as a communications channel with my care team.
While I know I can get organized, I intend to stay that way throughout the year.
Saving up for a stormy day
I’ve written previously about how the high costs of healthcare in the U.S., particularly for those of us with chronic illnesses. While it’s only January, I already have medical bills to pay, and I’ll have more after my checkup.
PH is expensive to treat and can burden patients, caregivers, and families. I’m grateful to have quality healthcare coverage that keeps the costs down, but I know that might not always be the case. Thinking about how expensive treating a progressive disease is can be frustrating, so I’ve started planning ahead, in case a stormy day arrives.
Listening to my body, getting organized, and saving for the future are three things I intend to do this year. I’ll also track my success in meeting these goals, and perhaps add a couple more along the way.
What are your goals for better managing your PH this year? Please share in the comments below. You can also follow me on X (formerly Twitter): @mnaple.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.