myalgic encephalopathy

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, actually. I put encephalopathy on the Ragtag Daily Prompt, but …. my brain is still a bit fuxxy. Yeah, tried to type fuzzy. It’s sometimes annoying and sometimes funny. I have a little trouble with my balance, as if my proprioception is not quite working right. I have not fallen, but that is really my dance chops. All those years jitterbug dancing, I recover my balance very well. However, I am staying off of ladders for now.

The antibodies are annoying. The dopamine ones are down a little, which is a relief. I still spent 20 minutes this am organizing CDs into categories. This satisfies both the ADHD and the OCD bugs. I have four categories: women musicians, rock and blues, classical/ethnic and local/folk. Sometimes I don’t know where the hell to put a CD. Southern Culture on the Skids… hmm. Harry Connick jr…. double hmmm. I now have a pile of movie soundtracks and a pile of DUNNO. I have picked up CDs at garage sales when they are a dollar each. Random. Those are in a separate “listen to it and decide” pile. They could end up in the library box outside if I dislike them enough. There seems to be some rap, I don’t have tons of that. Punk, now, it gets filed with the rock except when it’s more Americana…..

I can lower the antibody levels with a hot bath. Tend to wait until I really have to eat, eat, then with the antibodies start poking me I have the hot bath. A sauna would help as would a hot tub. Dang. Where is my hot tub? I hurt a lot more if I eat gluten or get my blood sugar high. Sugar is bad. Rice is pretty ok, though muscles hurt afterwards. I’ve long since trashed my glycogen stores, so my blood sugar will drop back to ketosis within 2 hours instead of taking 2-3 days. Feels terrible while it is happening. I get really cold and achy and just feel like I am dying. Lie down, wrap up in a really warm pile of blankets. I feel the shift: lights get brighter, sound gets louder and the pain switches off. Then I get too hot and throw off the blankets and have some energy again. I still have to behave: any little thing like starting to trot up the stairs and OW, my chest starts hurting and I get short of breath. I am a little short of breath just being vertical. I am glad I am not bad enough to have to just lie in bed, that would fungking suck.

Hope you are well. Get the covid vaccine: it may well make you feel rotten, but covid 19 does the same thing only more so. I think that if I got covid 19 I would croak.

Ribbit.

Peace be with you.

Pandas and the toughest yarn

After my sister died, I eventually got a box from her home.

People were cleaning it out. My cousin Ko, my friend Caroline, other friends.

Among other things, they sent part of her yarn stash.

What they sent me was the very very fine yarn and the fuzzy yarn. The mohair.

Oh gosh, I thought, they sent me the toughest yarn.

Well, as part of the dealing with the ADHD/OCD antibody annoyance, which makes me wired while the OTHER antibodies make me physically not able to do much, what am I doing?

Sorting my yarn stash, for one. I have a LOT of that lovely fuzzy soft superfine mohair and other superfine yarns. It is tricky to work with because the fine needles are hard on the hands and because if you screw up, it’s hard to take it out. I know some of the tricks: freezing the sweater is one. It makes it easier for the fibers to untangle.

I’ve also been sorting the knitting books and magazines. I have more books. My mother gave me a whole hardcover book on edges and casting on. I’ve used it twice so far. But now I am home, buzzing with antibodies (yeah, sometimes it feels like ants or bees or pins. On the inside.) and so: knit.

And lo, I find this book. Fine knitting. It even has a mohair t-shirt pattern! Awesome, I am going to be knitting up some of my sister’s mohair. Wonderful. I think she’d approve. Also, I plan to be just as glam and sultry as the woman on the cover, heh.

I think I’ll submit this to the Ragtag Daily Prompt: Country Comfort.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Our clinic had a band back before 2009. Me and 4 of the nurses. We were into heavy metal. This was when I was working for Port Townsend Family Physicians. The county let me go and PTFP changed their name. Could not have been because we wore our band regalia to work, right? After all, it was Halloween.

Maybe they were afraid that the songs would catch on.

Little blue pill

Don’t code in the waiting room

Evidence based BM

Probiotics make you psychotic

Better that way

Alcohol is better than benzos

Mr. Sable is Unable

Buprenorphine: better n morphine

EMR means Eat My Rear

The 18 Patient Blues

Idaho Gigolo

I played flute and saw. J played fiddle and air siren. The others, well, you should ask them. I think all the tapes got burned by the hospital. Too bad, so sad.

I can’t credit the photographer. I don’t know who took it.

Quota

Quota

honestly
I feel despair
when I try
to think about the new schedule

Twenty four slots
Of 20 minutes
See three people
For 40 minutes
Twenty on the schedule

Unanswered questions
Wake me on Sunday morning
If I am called to a labor patient
Must I make up that clinic face time?
What of holidays?
The clinic is closed.
Night call is nowhere addressed
Will they hire more and more
Who don’t take call
Until I am the last woman standing
Red rimmed eyes staring
Numb with fatigue

What of my nearly deaf patient
Who reads lips
May we take forty minutes?
All the fairly deaf elderly?
New parents, anxious
Questions pour out like
Coins from a jackpot win
What of the tearful brokenhearted
And anxious?
I shrink at the thought
Of crushing their hearts
Into twenty minutes

And what if I’m sick?
(sick leave & vacation all one)
It’s not a holiday if I’m on call
No make-up day off
If I cancel clinic
For illness
Do I make up those days
A quota of patient face days

I am in the factory
The mines
People are the shirts I must sew
The tons of coal I must load
I must meet a quota

Doctors die younger
Our life is measured out
In patients
I won’t let the quota
Kill my love

Revolution in prior authorizations

I had a small one doc family practice clinic for ten years. Spent more time with patients. The trade off was that if they need a prior authorization, they had to come in for a visit. I would call the insurance company from the room face to face counselling and coordination of care and all that crap. This did a number of things:

1. I could bill for the time.

2. The patient saw how the insurance company treats us and our offices. The rep on the line would try to call me by my first name since doctors rarely call. I would say, “No, please call me Dr. Ottaway.”

3. The patients sometimes had called their insurances already and been told “Have your doctor call.” When I would call, the company rep would sometimes say, “We don’t cover that.” The patient would be outraged and say, “But I called YESTERDAY.” The rep would say, “I only talk to doctors. The part of the company that talks to patients is a different part.” The insurance companies can’t triangulate their way out of that.

4. I would end the call by saying, “This has been a face to face with the patient call, you have been on speaker phone and I am documenting the call and the time in the patient’s chart.” At first the calls took 25-30 minutes. Some companies apparently flagged me, and would say “Yes.” if I called, and get me off the phone as fast as possible. They really do not like it being documented in the chart.

5. Insurance companies sometimes drop patients on purpose because the person has gotten more expensive. I had a snow bird from Alaska whose insurance had dropped him. He said he’d paid on time. I said, come in if you want and I will call them. I spent 45 minutes on the phone where they made multiple excuses, lied (we can’t send you a copy of his insurance because we don’t have a fax after they’d said he was not allowed to leave Alaska and I said, “For how long? What do you mean? You don’t insure him if he’s out of the state? Send me a copy of his insurance contract!”) I finally realize that they have dropped him on purpose because he’s been diagnosed with diabetes. I say “Ok, look, I am staying on the phone until he’s reinstated and I don’t care how long it takes. And if you hang up on me I will contact the insurance commissioner in Alaska and Washington states.”

6. Patients are truly outraged at how a physician is treated when she calls an insurance company herself. I have to give my name, my NPI number, my address, my phone number, my fax number, the patient name, the patient address, the patient phone number the patient insurance number and sometimes have to do it every time someone transfers me. When they see me spend 25-30 minutes on the phone to get a prior auth, especially if it is refused, they are up in arms.

I think it would be truly revolutionary if every doc in the country called an insurance company with a patient in the room and documented the conversation in the chart. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Gonna be a revolution, yeah…..

Connections between Pain, Opioid use, Suicide and Opioid Use Disorder.

Excellent blog by Janaburson: https://janaburson.wordpress.com/2019/01/14/complex-connections-pain-opioid-use-suicide-and-opioid-use-disorder/

The picture is the tree with berries that the robins are eating, outside my clinic window. They clear it from the top down. Deer come too and stand on their back legs to reach up for berries.

Vital signs II

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: vital. For me, vital brings up vital signs. I wrote this poem in 2006. Pain was made the fifth vital sign in 1996. I have written about it here. In June of 2016, the American Medical Association recommended dropping pain as a vital sign. The idea that we should be “free” of pain has not died yet and the latest CDC report says that the overdose death rate for women has risen a horrifying 240% from 1999 to 2017. That report is here: Drug Overdose Deaths Among Women Aged 30–64 Years — United States, 1999–2017. My poem is still relevant and we still have to change our ideas about pain.

Vital signs II

Pain
Is now a vital sign
On a scale of 1:10
What is your pain?
The nurses document
Every shift

Why isn’t joy
a vital sign?

In the hospital
we do see joy

and pain

I want feeling cared for
to be a vital sign

My initial thought
is that it isn’t
because we can’t treat it

But that isn’t true

I have been brainwashed

We can’t treat it
with drugs

We measure pain
and are told to treat it
helpful pamphlets
sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies
have articles
from experts

Pain is under treated
by primary care
in the hospital
and there are all
these helpful medicines

I find
in my practice
that much of the pain
I see
cannot be treated
with narcotics
and responds better
to my ear

To have someone
really listen
and be curious
and be present
when the person
speaks

If feeling cared for
were a vital sign
imagine

Some people
I think
have almost never felt cared for
in their lives

They might say
I feel cared for 2 on a scale of 10

And what could the nurses do?

No pills to fix the problem

But perhaps
if that question
were followed by another

Is there anything we can do
to make you feel more cared for?

I wonder
if asking the question
is all we need

I took the photograph yesterday with my cell phone. It was so gloriously sunny that the water really was turquoise and I did no photoshop changes.

sky

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: slapdash. I can’t think of a photograph of something I want to call slapdash. It feels judgemental today, unless it’s something of mine, and that feels vulnerable. And then I start thinking about the sky…..

sky

Is this a careless sky?

Were the angels in a hurry when they painted it?

Did the clouds come out as heaven wanted?

There is nothing slapdash about the sky.

admit deny

For mindlovemisery’s prompt: opposing forces. The prompts are admit/deny and presence/absence.

The pairs bring up my current sadness right away. I am struggling with the realization that we have a pervasive legal substance that works at the opiate receptor, is all over the US, and I have to send out urine tests for ALL of my chronic pain and opiate overuse and anyone on any controlled substance. You say, “but it’s legal”. I say, “Overdose and death risk. I can’t ignore it.” Here is the resulting poem.

admit deny

admit to yourself you deny your addiction
the presence of the drug means the absence of the one I love

 

from the mist

For the Daily Prompt: forest.

My town is a forest at sunrise and sunset. The trees take over, dark against the sky. And look,  something is rising from the mist.

Medicine is like that too. Did the epidemic of unintentional overdose deaths catch you by surprise? People, including doctors, thought opioids were safe, if taken correctly. And that we should increase them if the person still had chronic pain. But the information is still changing and taking shape from the fog.

I have worked with the University of Washington Telepain service since 2011. I can’t attend every week, but many weeks I spend Wednesday lunch in front of the computer, logged on to hear a thirty minute lecture from UW and then to hear cases presented from all over the state.

I want to sing the praises of the doctors on Telepain and the Washington State Legislature for having this program. Here is a link to a five minute King5  news program about UW Telepain.

https://www.king5.com/video/news/local/fighting-opioid-epidemic-via-video/281-8115411

Forty two different sites were logged on. There are also UW Telemedicine programs for hepatitis C and for patients with addiction and psychiatric problems. The advantage is that all of we rural doctors learn from one doctor presenting a patient and the panel discussing it and making recommendations. We have Dr. Tauben, head of the pain clinic, a psychiatrist, a physiatrist, a family doctor who treats opioid addiction, a psychologist and a social worker. And often a guest speaker! We have a standard form to fill out, with no names: year of birth and male or female. It is a team that can help us to care for our patients.

New information in healthcare rises out of the mist….