mad skills

What are your mad skills?

My maddest baddest skill, shared with my younger sister, is reading hidden emotions. Children of alcoholics and addicts learn that one young. Or die. Or start drinking/drugging to numb young.

Our culture is bloody weird. Emotions are stuffed like turkeys until people are near bursting. I swear that half my clinic time was letting people talk about emotions and then saying, well, those seem like pretty reasonable feelings in view of the insanity going on in your family. There would be a silence while the person thought about the horrible terrible feelings being reasonable and then I would say, “You said you want an antidepressant. Do you want to discuss that?”

Often people put it off. Once the feelings are OUT and present and looked at instead of stuffed/contained/terrifying, the person would say, “I don’t know. I don’t know if I need it.”

“Do you want to schedule to come back in two weeks?”

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If they wanted to start an antidepressant, I would caution that the recommendation was to stay on it for six months minimum if tolerated. Also, if they were starting it in June, I would say, “Don’t stop it in January. Wait until the sun is back. Here that can be July 4th. At least wait until spring.”

The plants are all thinking about spring now. My magnolia would like three more days of sun and then it will burst into bloom. The plums are budding and close to exploding. My camellia is usually first, but I trimmed it at the wrong time of year and so it is not blooming. It looks healthy, though. It is sort of sulking for a season. I would like to sulk for a season too.

Why is our culture, the US, so terrified of emotion? We think everything should be about logic. Emotions are both hormonally and electrically mediated through nerves and blood and they are INFORMATION about our environment and each other. We should let emotions roll through us like waves, and not worry about them so much. I think of myself as an ocean. The emotions are the weather. They roll through. Ok, big storm. Then rain, and lightening. Then low clouds and some fog. Then sun and a beautiful day to sail with a light breeze. But the deeper currents change slowly and the weather is not really that important. I reside in the depths.

The furor over rising prices seems ridiculous to me. The roaring twenties has begun already in housing and buying stuff on Amazon. I have bought two things from Amazon in the last two years. I like to buy local. One order was for my future daughter in law’s wish list. I think people are buying so that they do not have to feel. It is cultural mania. Everyone is rushing around trying to make money instead of grieving. Yesterday I thought, if this keeps up, we WILL have a depression like 1929.

Don’t do it. Don’t buy stuff to avoid the stuff inside. Sit still twice a day, for at least five minutes, and just listen. Try to listen to the depths.

practicing grandmother

My sister sends me a t-shirt years ago.

It said, “I don’t know if I am the good witch or the bad witch.”

I burst into tears and put it in the trunk of my car. I never wear it. I am the designated bad witch for half my family. We won’t go into that.

She gets a shirt too. Hers is the green one. Mine is black.

She is dead, in 2012, breast cancer. It’s hard to describe the fallout. Toxic and radioactive. But… I have decided not to be a witch.

Instead, I am a practicing grandmother.

Really I’ve been one for a while. There was a young couple who lived down the street with two children. This was in 2014. I was a Facebutt friend, so sometimes noted what was happening. The father has to travel for his job. The mother is trying to care for two kids and work and so on… been there.

In 2014 I am recovering from my third round of pneumonia. This third round it takes six months before I can return to work. Short of breath and coughed if I talked. The state medical watch doctors went to disable me but I fight them tooth and nail. I win.

I wander down to the neighbor and offer my services. She already knows me. She is instantly grateful and two year old T is introduced to me, again. He doesn’t really remember me. She explains that he is coming to my house for a little while and then back home.

T and I walk towards my house.

A nuthatch calls.

I stop and reply. In college I took ornithology and the teaching assistant could do a barn owl call so well that the barn owls would do a territorial fly over at night to see who had the weird accent. Marvelous.

The nuthatch and I went “enh” back and forth. T is amazed. This woman talks to birds. Then we see the nuthatch! I point out how nuthatches come down a tree head first. “If you hear that call, it’s a nuthatch. Look for it.” The nuthatch is very cooperative. Magic.

We get to my house. T is clutching a book. “He’s taking it everywhere,” sighs his mother. “I’m not sure why.”

So first we read the book. It is a board book about a farm. Each page has a central picture and then there are pictures around the edges with the word under each picture. On one page T says, “Haaaaay.”

“Oh!” I say, delighted. “You can read HAY!”

His face lights up. An adult who gets it! Yes! He can read HAY!

On another page he says HAY. “Oh,” I say, “That is straw. Straw is a lot like hay but it’s not exactly the same.”

He is very serious absorbing that information.

I show him my closet. There is a stick horse. Only it isn’t a horse: it’s a unicorn dragon, with a forehead horn and wings. When you press a button it’s eyes flash and it roars.

Ok, that’s pretty scary. He wants the closet door closed and he does NOT want to play with the dragon.

Next is pouring. I get out a towel and put it on the kitchen floor. I get out a rather nice expresso set. Bright colors. Orange and green and yellow and blue. I fill the coffee pot with water and invite him to sit on the towel. “You can pour the tea.”

He looks at me with surprise. He picks up the coffee pot. He looks at me again. “Go ahead. It’s ok.” He starts pouring into a cup. He pours until the cup overflows and the saucer overflows and he keeps pouring. The coffee pot is empty. He looks at me a little warily. This is technically spilling and he knows it.

“Would you like more in the teapot?”

He nods.

I refill the coffee pot with water and he starts again, with a different cup.

When I return him to mom, after two hours, he’s damp. “Sorry, he got a little wet, but it’s just water,” I say cheerfully. Mom is too harried to do much more than look resigned at a change of clothes.

Next time he comes with a change of clothes and his large stroller, in case he goes down for a nap.

And first off, he goes to the closet. Time to hear that dragon roar again.

Roar

R for roar and rant and rats in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge

We have to buy new computers for the clinic because of ICD10. ICD-10 is the list of diagnosis codes. The list will increase from 17,000 diagnosis codes to codes to 42,000 and is a major pain in the butt. All new, all different, so hypertension is no longer 401.1. My five year old computers “work” but don’t have enough memory for the Amazing Charts Electronic Medical Record update. I need to go ahead and buy new computers because medicare is supposed to be accepting the new codes now (in theory. I haven’t checked if our local medicare provider Noridian really is accepting them.) I need to practice with the stupid new codes until they go full on live in October.

Will this make medicine more precise and give us better data? Well, no. From what I have seen, providers really care about patients and do not care about strings of numbers and letters attached to the diagnosis. At Madigan Army Hospital, the faculty said that they didn’t care about the codes and were not teaching them to the residents. However, medical policy gets based in part on the coding and insurance companies refuse to pay tons of bills because they are “coded wrong”.  I think we will lose even more of the solo providers and small medical practice and medicine in the United States will be even more controlled by big corporations. Why do you care? (That is, if you are from the US. If you are from a civilized country you are laughing at us.) Well, for example. In 2012 I was in my local hospital emergency room. I am a physician who worked for our local hospital district from 2000-2009. The emergency room doctor did a CT scan of my neck. I thought, this is the wrong test, he should be doing a lateral neck film, but hey, I was septic. Maybe I was confused. He put in his notes that he’d ordered a lateral neck film and the CT scan was an error.

They charged me and the insurance company anyhow. I went through my records and wrote to them this year. They paid me back the 900.00$. They say it’s “too late” to pay back the insurance company. If I can figure out which stupid insurance company I had in 2012, I will notify them to bill the hospital.

So read every single note in the clinic and the emergency room if you are a patient in the United States. And ask for the itemized bill. And complain to the patient advocate. Just check out how much they charge for the stupid little socks they “give” you. Fight back.

I wish I lived in a country with civilized healthcare not corporate healthcare.

The medicare website has a countdown clock to the initiation of ICD 10. The main advice to doctors is to have “3-6 months” of overhead money stashed, since they expect it to be a mess and we won’t get paid for 3-6 months. Right. Do the work anyhow and cross your fingers and pray. It’s a bit of a challenge for me, since I was out sick for 10 months. Used up that 3-6 month reserve.

Bet half or more of the doctors/hospitals/clinics in the country have to buy new computers. Watch your bill climb…..

A UK writer asks about ICD-10 international. No, that’s not what the stupid US is going to use. ICD-10 international has 14,000 codes that can be stretched to 17,000. No, we are going to use our own stupider version of ICD-10 with 42,000 codes so that more insurance companies can refuse to pay for more visits. Meanwhile, ICD-11i will be released in 2017.

The stupid US has multiple electronic medical records that don’t talk to each other, so yes, I can sort of code with my computer electronic medical record except I have to look things up in the paper coding book, like “bruise”, aka contusion, and any stupid “cut”, aka laceration, because the search sucks. I was trying to find prehypertension the other day. The electronic medical record lists it as “elevated blood pressure without diagnosis of hypertension”. Great. I have a coding book in each exam room. By October, I will have a massive pile of  coding books in each exam room.

The photo is my father and my wonderful office manager, at the clinic opening party in 2010. My father died in early June 2013. The clinic is due for our five year anniversary…..