Posts Tagged With: Medicine

Getting Angry Works

I have to say that a muchly re-written angry letter to the “contact us” form of Summa Health System produced amazing results. And I would be remiss in not applauding them for stepping up and doing the right thing.

In 2015, I had individual (not group) insurance, so I spent much of the year discussing with medical entities the need to resubmit claims to the proper address. I tried to stay on top of these things, but apparently one slipped through the cracks.

I arrived home one day last week to find a letter from a collections agency for 2 (not just one, but TWO) separate bills from LabCare Plus from July of last year. When I called the LabCare Plus number to discuss it, I was told that it was my fault, that they’d submitted it once, that they wouldn’t do it again, that I needed to have my insurance company call them before they’d do anything, and that they wouldn’t remove it from collections regardless.

It took me almost 3 hours on the phone, and at least an hour with my insurance company sitting on the phone with me attempting to talk with LabCare Plus. They insisted that they’d sent me several bills initially, but that they “didn’t send out bills that were past-due” and that they “just sent them to collections”. Even though the gentleman from my insurance company assured them that they would be paid if they just resubmitted the bills, they refused to take it back from collections until it had been paid.

Because of this, I wrote my angry letter. I received a phone call yesterday from someone fairly high up at Summa Health. She could not apologize enough times for how poorly I was treated. They have forgiven the entire debt and will not even bill my insurance company at this point, and they have removed it from the collection company.

While LabCare Plus apparently needs their craniorectal inversion fixed, I can’t say enough in favor of Summa Health.

Categories: Health | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

It’s the End of the World as We Know It!

Or, well…no, it’s really not. Not quite, not yet at least.

But the Zika virus is real, and it is out there, and it is in some of the southern states already.

However, while I am a doctor, I am not YOUR doctor, and anyone who takes medical advice from any random person that they read over the internet may well deserve what they get.

I’m not going to tell you what is or is not to be done. I’m not going to make recommendations about what precautions you should or should not take with regards to the virus.

I am only going to point you to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their page about the Zika virus. It’s one of the places where I get my information; it’s a good place for you to start, too.

Categories: Health | Tags: | 1 Comment

Health Care

It’s that time of year again… No, not when the days get shorter (ok, they are). No, not when the weather gets colder (ok, it is). No, not when the stores start putting out the Christmas decorations even earlier this year (and yes, they are).

It’s time to sign up for health insurance. In past years, it’s been easy. I just looked at the options my hospital gave me, made sure I didn’t pick the stupid choices, and *boom*, I was done.

When I got terminated at work due to the disability in February, I had to venture into the marketplace to find my own health insurance. It was a bit stressful, but it was a lot cheaper than paying COBRA costs, and it was accomplished without tearing out my hair.

It’s actually been more stressful having the insurance, because no one seems to understand that it’s individual insurance (not group insurance), so they send the bills to the wrong address (despite the correct address being right there on my card), the insco says, “We’ve never heard of her. DENIED!” and then whoever tries to bill me for the entire amount. Pretty much every single medical bill since February.

I figured it might not be too bad to renew my health insurance today. Just check the marketplace to be sure that nothing much had changed and proceed.

But wait… My state no longer offers any Platinum plans. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

The next best option is the Gold plan, with my same insco (because none of the others cover my main docs), which is almost exactly the same plan as I have now for exactly (to the PENNY) premium every month.

With one small exception.

My deductible goes from $750 to $1000. And my out-of-pocket maximum goes from $1500 to $6850.

Yes. For no savings in the monthly premium, my deductible increases by 1/3 and my out-of-pocket increases by over 350%. I hit that $1500 pretty fast this year, too. Not looking forward to next year.

Thanks, Obama.

Categories: Health, Politics | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Shooter Self Care at NRAAM

Halfway through 2015 NRAAM… Feet are doing ok so far, I haven’t run out of batteries for any electronics yet, and there’s still lots to see!

I spent this morning taking Ambulance Driver’s Shooter Self Care course for the second year. AD is an amazing teacher; he isn’t one of those who simply reads his PowerPoint slides. He fills in the didactics with stories from his day-to-day experiences, as do the other instructors (each of whom comes from a slightly different realm medical or law-enforcement background).

This course teaches the basics of what to do when something goes wrong while shooting. He approaches it from a very factual and necessary point-of-view, with lots of examples of what to do or what not to do, and a lot of what he mentions are things that are definitely worth planning out ahead of time.

I realized that I know the name of my local gun club and even what street it is located on, but I’m not sure I know the street address off the top of my head, were I to need to call 911 and request an ambulance to be sent.

I know where the AEDs are located in each club building, as well as the first aid kits, but most of what we have is outdated. I was put in charge of updating everything medical at both club locations just last month, but I need to get busy and get it done.

I need to remember to take my blowout kit with me to the range every single time I go, not just when I think about it.

The course this year also had the benefit of a segment from LawDog talking about Critical Incident Stress, including what it is, how and why it happens, and how to get through it.

If AD continues to give this course as a yearly tradition at the NRA (or if he makes it available at another time), I highly recommend it for all shooters.

Categories: Firearms, Health | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Looking Forward

Today, I’m putting on my big girl pants and moving on. There’ll still be days when I may cry for what I’ve lost; I’d not be human if I didn’t miss what I had, but it’s time to look forward now.

I got new hearing aids yesterday. AND THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT!!! Yes, they pair with my phone, and I can control just about every aspect of how they function with an app. (And I will hurt y’all who are already plotting to hack my hearing aids. Just sayin’. *giggles*) It’s amazing how loud the world is, though. I’d forgotten that snow squeaks when you walk on it. Traffic makes noise when it goes by in the road. The turn signal in my truck makes noise. I can even stream music to my hearing aids!

I’m also starting to get things ready for starting school in the fall. I’m getting my home office set up as a cozy study zone, cleaning out everything I don’t need and bringing in everything I want and will use. I’ve started a study course that will brush up my study skills between now and then, because it’s been 20-*mumble* years since I was in school, and studying for the occasional exam since then doesn’t count. I am planning on doing a self-study course in basic statistics so that I won’t start out behind the 8-ball for my biostats course in the fall.

I’ve also got a busy few months ahead. I’ll be spending some time down with family. Looking forward to going to NRA in Nashville. Heading to Alaska for 2 weeks at one point. More family is coming to town (one nephew is baseball crazy and the All-Star game is on the schedule!). A friend is marrying off two daughters and I’m her general dogsbody for both weddings. And somewhere in there, I’ve got new guns to shoot! It’s all gonna be a lot of fun.

Categories: Health, Long-term Goals, Vacation, Work | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Life Is What Happens…

…while you are making plans for what you wanted to do. And somehow, the plans don’t match what actually rolls down the pike.

Today is the day I say farewell to the best job I’ve ever had, the one that I thought I’d have until my working days were done. Today is the day I close the door on the career that I worked 14 years to get to the point of starting, and then only spent 10 years actually doing. Today is the day I walk away from working with some of the best friends I’ve ever had the chance to work with, some of the best physicians and nurses I’ve had the honor to work alongside.

Today is the day I start rewriting my life. With tears in my eyes and rolling down my cheeks.

For the past 18 months, I’ve been battling some wicked crazy symptoms, including losing most of my hearing, a rash that resulted in my hands and feet peeling so deep I lost my fingerprints and all of my calluses, worsening arthritis, and vertigo that randomly comes and goes almost daily. I’ve been on high-dose steroids for most of a year. I’ve been on chemo. I’ll probably remain on immunosuppressants for the rest of my life. And because of all of this, I can no longer safely treat the patients I spent so many years learning to take care of.

I have plans. I’ve been working out where my feet will lead me in the next few months and years. I’m excited about the possibilities. But today is for mourning what I’ve lost.

Categories: Health, Long-term Goals, Work | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Of All Days

Of all days to have seen this in the parking lot at the Big Orange Box Store,

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it seemed very appropriate that today was the day I saw it for the first time. (And yes, I am in and out of there often enough to know that it hasn’t been there for long.)

This day, 70 years ago, was not the only day that the Second World War was fought, but it is one of the days that can be pointed to as a defining point in those long years. I get chills when I think about the young men wading onto those beaches that morning. My breath catches as I read the words that Gen. Eisenhower wrote for the expeditionary force.

I can only hope that we have in our current and future generations the same courage and will shown by the young men on that day and all the days that surrounded that one, the courage and will that it took to overcome the evil that threatened the world of their time, so that we can do the same now and into the future.

Categories: Politics, Wonderings | Tags: , | 1 Comment

NRA…”Shooter Self Care”

Part of the NRAAM that I’d been most looking forward to was Kelly Grayson’s “Shooter Self Care” class. He’d put a post up on his blog, A Day In the Life of An Ambulance Driver, one morning, saying that he’d be willing to teach a 4-hour class on shooter self-care and first aid. He wanted to limit it to 25 or so. Within 24 hours, he had an overflowing class at 32.

Kelly is a fantastic teacher, and I was delighted to finally be able to attend one of his classes. Although I may be an ER physician, when I’m dealing with gunshot wounds and other emergencies, I do it with the backing of a full trauma center surrounding me. It’s not often that I get a chance for an update on the newest theories and practices of how to handle pre-hospital emergencies.

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Medicine is an art as much as anything, so the practice changes over time.
— Tourniquets used to be last-ditch and a “never!” sort of implement; now they’re just about first-line, especially given the advances in vascular surgery and limb repair.
— Basic CPR has changed. There used to be all sorts of ratios between breaths and compressions for 1 and 2 rescuers. Now it’s all compressions, all the time. 100 beats per minute. Hard, fast, and deep. (And if you can’t figure out what 100 beats per minute is, sing “Staying Alive” in your head. Or “Another One Bites the Dust”. They both fit the rhythm.)
— Electricity is key. AEDs are cheap and plentiful and found in many (?most) public places now. And they’re easy to work. I’ve had to use one on a plane before, and THEY WORK.

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I think everyone (save one) really enjoyed the class and got a lot out of it. Kelly doesn’t drone on and on as so many lecturers can (and so often do). His slides are well-organized and neat. His pictures were well-chosen and very representative of the injuries that he needed for us to see in order to be able to recognize what may be there out in the real world, should someone be injured by a gunshot at a range. As someone who sees the gunshot wounds that come to the ER, his pictures were hardly over the top in terms of blood and guts, nor were they examples of the worst that can happen out there. He would have done us all a great disservice had he not had the pictures in his lecture, especially when he was trying to demonstrate the differences between “looks ugly but won’t kill you NOW” and “will kill you RIGHT NOW” injuries.

And to the person in the front row who kept interrupting the class by squealing every time a new picture came up on the screen… Erin, put on your big girl panties. You carry a Glock. You run a prepping blog. You own a rifle and write about knives. What good do you think squealing and hiding your face is going to do when that Glock goes off and someone gets hit? What did you think you were going to see in a class titled “Shooter Self Care and First Aid”? Flowers and ponies? Get real. Life is, and it’s not going to stop for you and your precious sensibilities.

P.S. A huge thank you to Larry Weeks and Brownell’s for the snacks and goodies that kept us going during class!

Categories: Firearms, Health, Vacation, Weapons | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Electricity is Not Your Friend

Last night at work came within a hair’s breadth of getting far more interesting than usual.

I was paged overhead to the resuscitation room. As I ran down the hallway, as I got closer to the room, the air carried a very strong scent of something burning. This is never a good thing in the middle of the night in the ER.

I came around the corner and into the resus room to find a little one with difficulty breathing. The smell of burning was even stronger in the room than in the hallway outside, so one of my first thoughts was “house fire?” but the family only looked confused when asked and denied that they’d been anywhere near anything burning. It’s been far too cold to be at a bonfire, so I crossed that off my list, but the smell still worried me, and it certainly wasn’t helping with the little one’s breathing problems.

Finally one of our security guards came by the room and beckoned to me. He was trying to track down the smell, and it has been narrowed down to this small hallway. I told him that my patient had not been in a house fire, so he went into the other rooms on the hallway.

He immediately came back from the next room over.

Our medication fridge had been arcing from the element on its back and throwing sparks. “Arcing from the element TO WHAT?” “Oh…to the oxygen tank that was leaning up against it. It’s unplugged now, and I moved the oxygen tank to the other side of the room.”

I had just about the entire staff of the ED in that resuscitation at that moment. If that oxygen tank had blown… Talk about “living in interesting times”.

Categories: Work | Tags: | 2 Comments

’tis Better to Be Boring

I’m about fed up with being “interesting”. I don’t really need to be “boring”, exactly, but “run of the mill” or “common” would be just fine with me at this point. (And I do apologize for the rant, but I need to let it out somewhere.)

My new nephrologist told me 2 months ago that she was absolutely delighted that I’d brought her such an “interesting” puzzle to figure out. That means I got poked 4 separate times (including one arterial stick) for blood, had to fork over a kidney stone (don’t ask…please), and had to collect other unseemly such things as might help a kidney doc to figure things out. So I now have at least a partial diagnosis, a handful of horse pills to take every day, and the possibility that this may still end in a kidney biopsy to figure out just exactly what is going on. And my nephrologist is still enjoying figuring all of this out.

My ENT is still trying to figure out exactly why the hearing in my left ear is not coming back. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is most often temporary and generally is helped by steroids. When it is neither, it becomes “interesting”. Well, I’m almost 7 weeks out now from when I lost the hearing in that ear, and it’s not back. It’s not even coming back with the steroid shots (as thoroughly enjoyable as those are). That means more work-up to get it figured out and planning for a hearing aid. I’d really rather it just came back and I became one of the many who could hear just fine again.

My new dermatologist also just today proclaimed me “very interesting”. She isn’t at all sure what is going on, other than to say that she doesn’t think the ER doc in Copenhagen was right. She has some ideas, but none of them fit with the ongoing recurrences, so she’s going to take a tiny piece of my thumb in a day or two, after letting the newest spot get a bit worse…just to be sure it’s bad enough that she can get a proper diagnosis, you see. I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed that it turns out to be something very common, very simple, very easy…that just looked ugly when it popped up.

I’m thinking more and more that boring sounds just fine by me.

Categories: Health, Wonderings | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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