Don’t Fight The Good Fight


Do you remember the old song that had the lyrics: “I fought the law and the law won”….

Well, I sort of feel like this…not exactly that I have been fighting the law, but a similar looming entity in America that, to me at least, now just feels like a gigantic monster that no longer has the capabilities, abilities or desire to do what it originally was set up to do.

Can you guess?? It’s health care. For months now I have been trying to schedule a routine mammogram and have been getting nowhere. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I have been lead down the dark alleyways of jargon, insurance codes, doctor referrals (or refusals to do so), authorization and the inability of one organization to speak to another –therefore leaving me, the patient, in the middle….

….With no idea what anyone is talking about. I’m in the unfortunate situation of being on Obamacare (or not, depending on how you see this), so the waters become very murky;more shady than usual. No doctors take it where I live, so most everywhere I go is an out-of-pocket expense.  I have it mostly for my one medication. But my understanding was that a routine mammo was covered…. So, I was determined to GET it covered!

After fighting with my doctor, and central scheduling, then trying Planned Parenthood, then central scheduling again, then speaking with Blue Cross at least three times and getting three different stories (all of this over and over)…. and this all after having three appointments scheduled and canceled over a period of months—I decided enough.

Healthcare? I was losing my mind. This all was causing me so much stress; I couldn’t sleep. I’ve had a concern too and really needed this mammo yet was getting nowhere! Only two people I spoke to on this entire messed up journey were actually sympathetic. Most either could barely speak English or just read off a script, and contradicted each other. One I actually spoke to her manager to compliment her because I had to talk to her so many times; she at least seemed to care.

So finally, I made a decision because I could see the fight was leading me to a dead-end and draining me of energy. It would be yet another out-of-pocket expense… I would just have to pay for the thing myself. And miraculously I had an appointment the next day!

I guess the moral of the story is that they wear you down until you succumb. Maybe this is part of the plan now. Read the small print…. If they can drive you crazy and stress you out bad enough over enough years, maybe you will die sooner.

So anyway, I fought the healthcare system and I lost bad….

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Doctor Doctor


With all the medical stuff going on in my life and in my Mom’s, I decided to make a quantum leap and step out of the norm and change Doctors. This is always an interesting decision to make, and sometimes hard, but in this case it was a piece of cake.

Since I have moved to this part of the country I have been even less impressed than usual with the health system. I’ve never been that impressed to begin with, but here and there one can find a decent provider. My doctor from where I moved had a relationship with me for 18 years or so, and while it wasn’t perfect, I did like her. She still was very traditional, but she did seem to care and listened…for the most part. But she had her great limitations based on the Western tradition of medicine.

Leaning toward a different way of life than most, and being an outside the box person, sometimes I test the patience of Doctors (and many people I meet). This is something I am not ashamed of, actually I’m quite proud of it, although I’ve come by this with some tough moments in life.

Being the odd woman out is not always easy and often leaves one feeling alone or odd, but I’ve come to embrace my differences and see them as good. And those that embrace me for them, I consider special and wonderful friends. And those special Doctors who understand that I don’t fit the mold of a ‘normal’ patient (and I don’t mean in this case that I have mental illness–although some may think I do)–I simply mean that I don’t embrace the typical style of medicine we see now…especially these days.

The more I am around Doctors, hospitals, providers and caregivers–the more I see folks that don’t much care about an individual, I see youth and immaturity, often rude and harsh behaviors, cut corners and people without true listening skills or compassion. Not always, but generally. It’s very, very disheartening. And when this happens with patients that can’t advocate for themselves, or don’t really know what to expect–it spells disaster.

Patients forget they are the customer and deserve the attention and care their money is buying. They feel that anything a Doctor says must be true because they went to school for so long and paid so much for their educations. But sadly, this isn’t always the case. We all have the right to question something if we feel, in our guts, that it isn’t right for us–even if a Doctor says it is–or even just to ask a question. It should be team-work, not a dictatorship. And there should always be a sense the Doctor truly cares.

So in this vein, I decided to find a new, more holistic approach to my health care. No more typical Western approach: sterile waiting areas, answering systems where no humans answer the phone, lost faxes and Doctors looking at computers instead of you. I’ve had it with this type of care! I remember the days when a Doc came to my home to see me. This is a far cry from those days…

A quick search found me a holistic Doctor right near my home. I called the office, left an easy message (there were no thousands of mailboxes I had to press 1 or 2). My message was answered the next day promptly, and I had a lovely conversation with the office person Carol the next day–we spoke for maybe 15 or so minutes about our respective lives! It was refreshing. And appointment was made.

When I came for the appointment, the office smelled wonderful: of incense and herbs. The office was lovely with beautiful music (not Muzak). My visit was one hour-long (a couple of times the Doc went out to see others) and we spoke about what the plan was for me and what I hoped to get from our relationship together.

I’m going to do acupuncture, herbal remedies and maybe some other modalities to help fix some chronic issues. Honestly, I’m really very healthy most the time, so I may not even see her that much. She respects that I may need to see some Western Docs for certain things, she’s cool with that for sure. And if I have a bone sticking out of me someday (hopefully not) that I have to go to any emergency room anyway. Of course! But she said she helps her patients getting ready for surgeries with special things so they heal faster and without scars.

I came away feeling very positive. Hey, 1000 years of Chinese medicine can’t be all wrong. And certainly I have not felt right about what’s been going on with my treatment thus far, so why not? Anything is worth a try. She seemed caring and positive and very attentive. I felt comfortable and peaceful.

And best of all: she spoke to me directly and not into a computer!

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Back Of The Queue


Having been in healthcare in the US for 20 years, I know what a poor system it is and how one must really know how to navigate within it or get lost. Plus one must be an advocate for ones-self or have an advocate, or simply get lost.

Luckily my Mom has me! The elderly in this country are forgotten about in more ways than one, and within the healthcare system is one BIG way. As a friend said: they get pushed to the back of the queue. No-one cares…not really. Many can’t speak up for themselves, have poor insurance (and we all know it comes down to money) and don’t really know what’s going on anyway.

But not only am I a healthcare provider, but I have a big mouth. A bad combination if someone isn’t doing their job. Hey, I’m the best patient  or advocate in the world, if the people are treating patients like they are supposed to do. That’s because I know what it’s all about: how hard the patients can be, the thankless hours, the endless paperwork, the nasty co-workers and crappy management/jobs. I get it all. So I tend to be very nice until you cross the line of not caring or not doing what you are trained to do.

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So when someone gets sent home and everything is still wrong, the person is still way too sick–we have a problem Houston! When the home-care RN comes and finds actual data to back this up and tries to call the Doctors and no-one returns phone calls…. well, you can darn well believe this ex-healthcare provider AND daughter is going to be making some phone calls herself.

And they ain’t gonna be pretty!

Come on people! Are you serious here? Is it really only about the money or what? Does anyone care anymore??

So after a rather FIRM, shall we say, discussion with the doctor’s secretary…she said in a very meek tone: hold on please. Oh, yes, I’ll hold on alright. And then I was put through…imagine that!

I finally got a PA on the phone. And finally some resolve. No, Mom won’t go back to the hospital…ever again as a matter of fact thank you very much thanks to all you people! No, that wasn’t an option. And I don’t blame her one little bit. But after much convincing, she did agree to go tomorrow (instead of waiting until Tuesday) to see her Doctor that did the procedure. Thank goodness… It took some doing because she’s fed up with everything, but I was firm with her too. There is just too much going on and she deserves more. I won’t let them turn their backs on this patient.

She was the boss for a long time, but I am now.

You can bet I’m going into that room tomorrow too. And this time, I’m calling the shots!

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A Good Doctor


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A moment of chillin at work last night.

One good thing about evenings is the occasional personal conversation with someone because it’s quiet.

It was my incredible good fortune to talk with the very orthopedic surgeon I had decided to use for my rotator cuff surgery. He was just hanging out at the desk waiting for a case so I told him my situation.

Much to my surprise and delight, he said surgery should be our last option! He directed me to call his office so we can discuss all other non-invasive options first.

I love this guy! He immediately understood that I can’t afford to be knocked out of my life for months. Everyone else was doom and gloom, but not him.

So now I am much more hopeful that maybe with good therapy, some shots, grit and good guidance that I won’t have to go under the scope.

My arm actually feels better already!

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You Never Know….


Well, sometimes things don’t go the way you expect, but they go the way they are meant to I suppose.

On my way into work my Doctor’s office called with the results from my MRI of my right arm. I’ve been suffering from lots of pain, loss of movement and lack of sleep. I honestly feared the worse, but as a typical healthcare worker, I have been in avoidance mode. It’s my right arm, my dominant one, and the thought of being out of commission for any length of time is so scary to me!

But, I could wait no longer and went. And the results were in: deep tissue tear in my rotator cuff and degenerative scarring in my bicep . In other words, not good! And most likely surgery–rotator cuff surgery. Blah.

So with this news, I drove to work ready to give my notice–knowing that I would lose my insurance. Double blah.

I left the letter anyway, because mental health is important too! And I’ve suffered there enough. With all the support of friends, family and you bloggers, I was prepared to do what I had to do.

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My immediate supervisor got my ‘love note’ as she called it and brought me into her office. She asked what prompted it and then got the big boss in too. I just ranted about all the stuff I felt: the disrespect, the yelling, the complaining etc. And about the good job I do. They agreed that none of the bad stuff should be happening and that I DO a good job. She wondered why I hadn’t called her when it happened the other night…

Hmmm, I didn’t know I could actually, and would it have changed anything? She assured me they have a zero tolerance policy for this kind of behavior from Doctors or anyone. They agreed to take care of it.

Will it help or will it be worse with that particular Doctor now? I don’t know. But what I do know is that losing my insurance at this juncture would be devastating financially. I’m not sure if these people really think I’m so all fired terrific or if they are just really desperate for employees to sit at that front desk. It’s a pretty rotten job and not a lot of people want to do it.

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They are putting me back on days next week which is good. I like it better and my desk mate is much easier to work around. It’s also better for my pets and me. So that will help. So for now, I take it one day at a time and see what happens…

And while I can still type, I say: thanks for all your support! xo

Clicks


It was never my style to belong or join. I never really wanted to fit into one particular group or click back in High School when the real clicks were beginning to take shape and when we were starting to learn who we were and where we ‘belonged’. That’s when I started to get a sense that maybe I didn’t belong anywhere or maybe I belonged everywhere.

Somehow I found myself with friends in all the social groups, from the college-bound, the athletes, the future farmers of America to the most popular. It didn’t really matter to me. The boundaries were fluid to me and I moved in and out of them with ease.

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Future Farmers

Of course I had better friends from some groups, but really, over all I was probably ultimately introverted even though you wouldn’t have called it that then. It’s only now that I can define it.

But it’s also more than that–it’s a tolerance that has grown in adulthood–for all people, and an acute distaste for aligning myself with any particular set of folks…just because. And just because I’m adult now, moving in an adult world, doesn’t mean these clicks aren’t still very apparent and in full swing all around me! It’s quite funny to see. One would think people would grow out of it, but no, here it is like HS still.

One can almost pick out the popular kids, the nerdy kids, the unpopular kids, the cool kids, the followers, the leaders. And where do I fit in now? Well now I have the good sense to simply sit back and observe for the most part. I still have no need to belong to any particular group–in fact, less so than I did 50 plus years ago.

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Always the odd one out!

Interestingly, I still have the knack for getting along with many types of people though. It’s nice to have the years and a little wisdom under one’s belt. To be able to sit outside the little shows that go on and just watch. I can almost see the players from long ago.

Even though we are all older, we never really outgrow our true selves. Those personas just morph into an adult, and maybe more subtle (maybe worse), version of who we were back in the day. The mean, nasty Doctor now, might have been the HS kid that was the brunt of everyone’s joke–the Valedictorian, the geek that no-one liked back then. He thinks he’s having the last laugh by treating everyone like crap now! But he forgets karma.

And the gossiping group at lunch outwardly bashing someone in front of others, were they the girls in school that were either insecure because they weren’t popular or they were too popular and used to having it their way? Either way, they continue the childish behaviors.

Or the guys that just love to goof around–all the time. Or just the folks desperate to be in the popular crowd!

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I’m way too cool for you all!

Ah, it’s lovely to finally be of an age where none of it matters anymore. Where you can fade into the shadow and half the time no-one even realizes you exist. I will continue to feel that I am a woman unto myself. I’m autonomous. The bounds between groups/clicks for me will always remain nebulous and I hope to always drift between them. A friend is a friend no matter who they are or what group they may align with–as long as they are decent and kind, they are OK in my book.

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Shadow me and my best group buddy 🙂

Seeing Red


Today was a day of ‘seeing red’ as they say…

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It started when two nurses at work today were the subjects of two surgeons unpleasant and mean behaviors today. The Doctor’s fire hot tempers flared, which is not unusual in an operating room, and they took it out on these two very nice nurses. The cone of energy built, their stress and bam–they blasted whoever was near!

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The red eyes I saw after this uncalled for behavior made my heart hurt. It was a very sad thing as these two people have been very helpful and nice to me. I’m not sure why this is tolerated. One doctor did end up apologizing eventually–a big step for him. He’s blown up at me numerous times, but I’m way too below him to ever get an apology.

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And then my manager found me helping these two very same nurses and felt that I wasn’t doing it the right way. Instead of politely explaining to me to do it her way, she did it in such a way, that I was flushed with the red heat of humiliation. It is never what we say, but how we say it after all…. There was no chance for me to even begin to explain my part. Put in my place like a child.

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Finally, my own flush of frustration and the warm umber of perpetual misunderstanding speaking with Verizon service representative. Why must they just repeat the rote script and not really listen to what you say to them? They talk in circles…Gads I wanted to scream after the woman said the same thing about 10 times! Lady, I’m not stupid here…I heard you the first time. Are you hearing me? Red, red, red….

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Red was the color yesterday…it was the symbol of Valentine’s day. Funny, but I didn’t celebrate that at all. Sadly I missed that red. Red is such a powerful color. Never given to anything lightly: love or well….the opposite. Red.

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Someone once said to me: you can never be unhappy if you’re wearing red shoes. And seeing the world in rose-colored glasses, well is that good or bad?

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Today I saw red a lot, but it wasn’t really good red. It was angry red, sad red, humiliation red, frustration red…

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Maybe tomorrow it will be love red?

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Only A Job


Some jobs it seems set you up to fail. And it seems that management has no idea how important it is to do their job to retain new and old employees. Before I left my old job, I did a lot of reading on what constitutes a good manager, but now–in a new job myself–it’s quite apparent some obvious things that would be helping me.

First of all, in order to help your new employee to feel empowered to be learning and grasping their new position, it’s imperative that you must have a decent training program! Having one that is haphazard or ‘on the job training’–especially when one works in an extremely busy and stressful atmosphere, is almost certainly spelling disaster and IS setting up the employee for failure.

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Gee, I thought she told me to do it another way…

Having three or four different people teaching the person the same thing, at first with conflicting information, and then expecting the person to grasp the concepts, is unreasonable and unfair. If no manuals or written material is given, only verbal instructions while the normal, busy work day is going on around the new employee, it may be very hard for this person the grasp concepts. And when you pile onto that, short-tempered and rude people demanding things from the new employee that they don’t yet know how to do, you might as well expect this new person to walk out.

That new person should not be put on the front lines until they have a comfort level with enough things that they don’t end up feeling discouraged every day after work. This only will lead to immediate low self-esteem and a poor attitude. If an employee is instead trained properly and is prepared correctly and hits the ground with all the tools he/she needs, then they will have the confidence to do a job well.

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Ahhh, I’m so frustrated!

Today I also heard in my first staff meeting the nurses complaining that they must work all day, then take call at night, then come back the next day. One of the RN’s who had been there a long time said that new hires had been lied to in the interviews and were told there were ‘night crews’. During their orientation they found out they had to take call and that they (like everyone else) were considered the night crews. So they promptly quit–before they even started!

Honesty with employees is another vital key to management’s success. I never felt that in my last job. It is better to simply tell the truth, whatever it may be, than to make up stories. If they want their employees to be truthful, then so must they be. This goes along with integrity in my opinion.

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Hmmm….I’m taking night duty!

Another important tool is fairness–treating all employees equally. They can’t think that the nurses are more important than the front desk people. One management person did say I was doing a good job today and it meant a lot. I see a lot of the RN’s getting praised–especially the new ones. I’m sure this is because they are so short-handed. But if I walk away they will be in a bad way too. I see how that front desk runs (or doesn’t run really). It’s chaotic. They would do well to make sure I stay honestly. It’s not a job most people would want to do or could do.

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I may just waddle away…..

There are a million things I read on the list of a good manager but I’ll wrap it up with this: trying to have a sense of humor and keeping calm.  They must keep their heads when it hits the fan and not place blame immediately. Taking a breath, get to the bottom of things first and stand up for their people. Remembering we’re all a team. It makes you want to work for them more if you know they have your back. If you think they’re ready to throw you under the bus, well–why work too hard. And if they can laugh and keep it light, even when it’s tough, you know they have the real priorities in life straight.

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I feel very calm today!

Because after all–while they may more money then we do, it is still, only a job for us all.

 

All The Players


The one quite interesting thing being at a new job is laying low and observing all the new players. And goodness knows in this new place there are quite a few! Working now in the Surgical Department of a fairly busy hospital, we have some interesting personalities. Between the surgeons, nurses, scrub techs, transporters, Xray people, the Reps and all the other folks who make up the team–well it’s a non-stop crew around my desk. I’m a front end person now, having ‘retired’ from my paramedic position. I figured I’d take a nice relaxing job…well, no that didn’t really happen. But it’s quite fun now not being a central figure and being able to sit back and watch the kids in the sandbox.

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We have many very high strung types given this is a high stress environment. Making sure all the cases are booked and the procedure all go off as scheduled can be a nightmare. People call out sick, then OR (operating room) teams are short, doctors are late, cases get cancelled–tempers can run short! And some folks aren’t good at being Zen–just sayin’!

There’s lots of loud, demanding types and everyone wants their stuff done now! They don’t care that phones are ringing and someone else is talking to you. It’s actually quite comical to experience. Some folks have a great sense of humor (thank goodness) and some are just grumpy. Some seem always even tempered and can handle it all and some run around talking as though everyone is deaf.

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Some doctors act like I’m a human being, but many like I’m a bug on the wall……which is fine by me, because at my age I know we’re all the same when it comes to bodily functions (if you know what I mean!! )

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But the best part of this production is that I’m a brand new player. No-one knows my script yet, hasn’t seen me in any performances and have not read any reviews from  my past shows. So I can be any character I want this time around. And the thing is: I learned from my last gig. It’s really good to sit back and just observe for a while. Get to know who’s who. This group is pretty transparent. I’m not going to make some of the lethal mistakes I made last time. It’s OK to be friendly, but not to be too involved. Don’t take part in the gossip (oh there’s plenty of that). Be kind, but not foolish. Say yes to things, but draw boundaries.

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It’s time create this new me. Stay in my bubble. Let work be work–maybe find a friend eventually, but I will be careful and selective this time around. I have time to be the silent audience and not one of the players just yet. It far more amusing to just watch the production dance out around me and quietly laugh at the parts I find amusing….

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Waiting


How many times in life do we wait? If we think about it, we probably spend most of our lives waiting for something! Sometimes good things, sometimes bad things–but it seems like minutes, days, weeks are spent simply waiting….

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  • For the bus or a friend to take us to work; or our car to warm up.
  • The divorce papers to go through or the wedding date to arrive.
  • Nine months of wondering what sex the baby will be or wading through the adoption proceedings, or if the in-vitro took.
  • Wondering if the kid will ever be potty trained and then if they will ever grow up to be respectful, loving adults.
  • For vacation to come–or even the weekend.
  • The doctor’s call with results of the tests.
  • Months of treatments and sickness to be over.
  • One more minute of sobriety turning into years.
  • Enough money.
  • Your birth family to show up one day.
  • Morning to arrive and a glorious sunrise/bedtime after a grueling day.
  • The kids to all get along.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Waking up every day with joy and no worries.
  • Never looking back.
  • For your dog to actually talk.
  • The end of that triathlon, marathon, 5K.
  • Life to really begin.
  • The perfect blog piece.
  • The yelling to stop or the bruises to heal.
  • Summer to come or maybe winter if you like snow.
  • A miracle.

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How many more? What are you waiting for…? We wait for so much!

It feels like we’re often standing on the edge of a cliff and we don’t know what’s down below. But as we get closer, our heart thumps in our chests and peering over can be the death of us. So, we must just stand back and be patient–something that is not a virtue of mine!

Today I wait to hear the final word on the new job. Nothing huge really in the grand scheme of the list, but for some reason I feel nervous. Sleeping will be hard tonight–I’ll be up tossing and turning and, well, waiting. Why couldn’t they have emailed today?

But such is life: dots of doing little things connected by endless moments of waiting. So that, my blogging friends, is what I will continue to do…..

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