Keeping a diary which records your endometriosis symptoms is a very useful tool. One of the best ways is to compile this diary as a visual chart so that you can very quickly get a 'snap shot' of changes in your symptoms.
Plotting a visual symptoms chart
You can use graph paper or a spread sheet, following the 28 female cycle, not a calendar cycle. Headings are the days of the cycle 1 to 28.
Under each day plot the symptoms you want to chart each day. You can simply use a colour code/block of colour for each symptom and this will give you a quick 'at a glance' view of your symptoms.
When I did this I charted the 5 main symptom that I wanted to keep track of, using a column of 5 blocks, one for each symptom, and used a different colour felt pen to colour in the blocks in a different way to define what happened.
I then worked along the rows, day by day, and a clear visual chart would appear. This enabled me to do a quick ‘view at a glance’, to see how things were going and to see what patterns in my symptoms were developing.
The main symptoms I charted were:
· Monthly cycle - days I had periods, using red felt-pen
· Bowel movements - using brown felt-pen (if bowel movements were non-existent, I would leave a blank, if they were a bit light I would only colour in half the block)
· Pain symptoms - using purple felt-pen (if I was in a lot of pain I would colour in the whole box, if I had average or light amount of pain, I would again, only colour in half the box)
· Sleep pattern - using black felt-pen (if I slept OK I would colour in the whole box, if I slept lightly/badly I would colour in only half the box, if I hardly slept I would leave the box blank)
· Energy levels - using light blue felt-pen (if I had good energy I would colour the whole box, if I had low energy I would only colour in half the box)
I also left a space at the bottom of each colour block to write in simple notes of specific events i.e. the days I took homeopathic remedies, the days I started with any supplements, days in which life had been crap, days in which life had been good, whether it was a full-moon (because I am susceptible to the full moon), appointments with the doctor/medical profession, when I was away on holiday, and so on.
After a few months I could start to see any patterns emerging and I could then easily view how things were going and how life events were affecting my health.
I could keep an accurate record of my menstrual cycle - I even put in the notes, the time of day that my period started. If I had a bad bout of Irritable Bowel, I would note down what I had eaten to give me a guide of what had triggered it off.
These visual notes can be taken to your doctor, gynaecologist or any alternative practitioner you are seeing. It is a quick, simple and concise record of all your health symptoms and is a valuable tool for them as well as yourself.
I highly recommend you start to chart your health now; it may give you more clues than you realise. I kept mine pinned to the bedroom wall, above the dresser, with the pot of pens on the dresser. Using different colour pens, and colouring in the blocks, is quick and easy to do, and is much easier to read afterwards, rather than flicking back and forth through a diary.
Resources to monitor symptoms
Some of you may be using an app with your phone to track your symptoms, and there are a few versions available. These apps are pre-set and can sometimes be inflexible as to which symptoms you can monitor.
Some people are more 'visual' and may prefer the old-fashioned method of pen and paper. I have put together a simple pdf Symptom Tracker for you to download and print to help you monitor your symptoms. There are spaces on the chart to monitor supplements taken, medications taken and any special notes. This gives you the option to be more flexible with the data you wish to record.