Splain it to me Lucy: Articulating your medical condition is as easy as putting on your reporter’s hat

Yesterday, after completing my 16th ½ marathon (I began running 6 years ago. My time for this run was not very good – but I had not trained for the run – I will elaborate more next post) my friends and training partners were talking about our health (yes, that seems to be a common topic when you reach 60).  My one friend stated that he had a “funky heart rhythm”.  When I probed a bit further about what was a funky heart rhythm, he was not able to articulate what that meant and shrugged it off.

Putting on my healthcare professional hat, I began thinking ….What if I had a patient that I was meeting for the first time and they told me they had a “funky heart rhythm” and that they had been see in the emergency room for this problem – but it was “nothing”.   My Sherlock Holmes hat would have to dig to try and find what that meant and determine if it is important. (lots of time used to try to figure the mystery out and it could be important or not important)

Is it not our responsibility to know what that “funky” means?  Could it be a life and death piece of information to know? Maybe,or maybe not –  so how do you “splain it?   bill-wegener-280985

Let’s break it down and use a reporter’s techniques:  Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?


Here is an example  (please note, this is just an example)


  1. Who – that’s easy – it’s You!

  2. What – I had a problem with my heart, my doctor said it was xyz

  3. Where – It was discovered during a stress test

  4. When – in 2001

  5. Why – I was having a stress test because I was feeling skipping in my heart and my doctor thought I should have a stress test to find out more.

  6. How –  (let’s change this to NOW) They told me it was just some premature atrial beats and it should not cause concern.  I haven’t had a problem since.

It helps to have the descriptor of what it was, even if you don’t know the medical term. This will make the questions that are asked and the direction your healthcare provider takes much easier.  Even better – have it written down in your wallet.

example: I have premature atrial contractions (PAC’s)  which were discovered in 2001 via a stress test, there was no treatment and no medications were required.  My doctors checks this periodically.

Interesting Factoid:

The 5Ws + H formula has been attributed to English rhetorician Thomas Wilson (1524-1581), who introduced the method in his discussion of the “seven circumstances” of medieval rhetoric:

Who, what, and where, by what helpe, and by whose,
Why, how and when, doe many things disclose.

(The Arte of Rhetorique, 1560)

Reference: https://www.thoughtco.com/journalists-questions-5-ws-and-h-1691205


Author: turning60andbeyond

Sandi Feaster is a registered nurse and health educator. She has worked in the corporate world as well as taken care of people with chronic health conditions. Sandi is convinced that we can improve our lives by educating ourselves and learning how we can curate the life we want. It may seem simple, but exercise and eating healthy food is the foundation of a longer, healthier and engaged life.

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