6/7/2013, How Popular Media is Helping to End the Stigma of Mental Illness


Today, there are nearly 60 million Americans who suffer from a mental illness, and it continues to present a quality of life, household and community issue. While there is reason to believe the national dialogue is evolving, there is still a pervasive discomfort and ignorance that keeps millions of those who suffer from getting treatment, trapped in their own purgatory…

On the contrary, while millions of people are prescribed anti-depressants, only one third of people with severe depression receive any treatment for it. Combine this lack of clinical proficiency with cultural stigmas, misunderstandings, and preconceptions, and there is no wonder why needs of patients are largely unmet…

Mental illness is not a difference of phenotype or sexual preference, so when we frame it in terms of a fight for equality and acceptance we must deal with the fundamental themes of darkness and uncertainty that make it a taboo subject, and that’s where storytelling becomes useful…

Deceased patient’s husband sues doctor (decided 2007)


The decedent, Helene Maloney, was the plaintiff’s wife. She committed suicide on July 18, 2001. She died from an intentional overdose of Percocet. The day before she died, the decedent checked into a motel using an alias. On July 18, 2001, in response to a call from the motel’s owner, the police found the decedent in her hotel room. They also found a suicide note, a check from the decedent to the plaintiff, and five prescription pill bottles, three of which were empty, two of which were partially full.

Throughout the decedent’s life, she suffered from Crohn’s disease, which is a chronic intestinal illness, as well as depression and suicidal ideation…

4/25/2010, The Six Reasons People Attempt Suicide


Given how much losing my patient affected me, I’ve only been able to guess at the devastation these people have experienced. Pain mixed with guilt, anger, and regret makes for a bitter drink, the taste of which I’ve seen take many months or even years to wash out of some mouths…

People who’ve survived suicide attempts have reported wanting not so much to die as to stop living, a strange dichotomy but a valid one nevertheless. If some in-between state existed, some other alternative to death, I suspect many suicidal people would take it. For the sake of all those reading this who might have been left behind by someone’s suicide, I wanted to describe how I was trained to think about the reasons people kill themselves. They’re not as intuitive as most think…

Depression and Suicide after LASIK


Olympic Medalist, Steve Holcomb, Suicide Attempt – Video published 2/4/2014

Preliminary results of the long-awaited LASIK Quality of Life Study have been published on the FDA website. On October 19, 2014, FDA official, Malvina Eydelman, M.D., summarized the study findings saying, “Given the large number of patients undergoing LASIK annually, dissatisfaction and disabling symptoms may occur in a significant number of patients.”

How to get red flagged


This comprehensive list has been culled from several different sources. Some behaviors are “more aberrant” and some are “less aberrant.” All patients should be aware that if you exhibit ANY of these behaviors, you could be denied pain care. A patient who shows any of these behaviors can be “red flagged.” When you are “red flagged” your doctor or pharmacist will not tell you about your “flagged” status and it is almost impossible to have the designation removed from your record…

How to Get Red Flagged:

  • Complain to your doctor when your medications don’t seem to ease your pain
  • Have a preoccupation with getting your medication
  • Report effects like increased energy, raised mood, or euphoria since you started taking pain medication
  • Primarily find oxycontin, percocet, dilaudid, or lortab to be the most effective drug that helps your pain symptoms
  • Express anxiety or depression about your pain when it doesn’t go away
  • Look “unkempt”
  • Have piercings and/or tattoos
  • Talk to your doctor specifically about your medication during more than three visits
  • Don’t tolerate many medications well
  • Don’t get any relief from anything other than opioid medication
  • Fill prescriptions of a similar kind by another doctor
  • Have had problems in work, family, or other important family roles where people have said you have failed in your responsibilities
  • Have problems with close relationships in your life
  • Have a psychiatric history (Done therapy in the past)
  • Have legal problems
  • Have family who have a history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Have family members who suspect that your drugs may make you an addict
  • Have family members who believe you are addicted
  • Use more than 180mgs of opioids per day
  • Prefer one type of medication administration than another (Prefer slow-acting pills instead of daily injections at the ER, or expressing an aversion to having a morphine pump installed in your body, for example)
  • Become angry when your physician refuses to treat your pain
  • Use other drugs at the same time as your pain meds (Including alcohol)
  • Get medication from someone, not a doctor, for your pain
  • Taken someone else’s pain medication
  • Switch doctors until you find one who will treat your pain
  • Call or visit your doctor often
  • Have used more than one pharmacy to get your medication filled
  • Ever miss appointments with your doctor
  • Ever lose your medication or your prescriptions
  • Only see a doctor a few times before you switched to a doctor who would treat your pain and reported that to your doctor
  • Have a previous doctor who believed you are or were addicted to your medications
  • Request specific medication for your pain
  • Request your medication by name
  • Request more medication
  • Report no effects of other medications
  • Have bad reactions to your medications
  • Go to the ER a lot to get your pain treated
  • Believe you might become addicted to medication
  • Have contact with “street culture” or other “subcultures”
  • Raise your dose once or twice before you see your doctor again because of increased pain
  • Use your medication to treat another symptom that you have not previously mentioned to your doctor
  • Save your medications even if you do not need them anymore
  • Refuse some treatments or tests suggested by your doctor

If you or a loved one in is in pain, link to them at: http://www.painreliefnetwork.org/index.html. (Site is for sale — PRN shut down in 2010.)

Verizon, another bane on my existence


Users complained that the tracking number could be used by any website they visited from their phone to build a dossier about their behavior – what sites they went to, what apps they used.

In November, AT&T stopped using the number. But Verizon did not, instead assuring users on its website that “it is unlikely that sites and ad entities will attempt to build customer profiles” using its identifiers…

I have Verizon 4G LTE, allegedly the fastest wireless internet connection.  So when I have excessive buffering, I check how many bars I have — funny, I always have the maximum amount of bars, no matter how slow my internet speed.  And I am constantly having to reset my wireless adapter — like at least once every single day.

Even though my 2-year, very expensive contract is almost over (finally), my only other option in Albuquerque is Comcast.  And from what I read, Comcast is worse than Verizon.

I love my music therapy via videos on youtube, but it’s expensive to watch too many videos.  I tried to figure out when and why I go over my limits, but it’s impossible.  So every month I just write “RIP OFF” in the check notation of my Verizon payment — it’s the only way I’m able to protest the ridiculous rates they charge, especially for mediocre service.

Sure, the tracking thing bothers me too, but I’m pretty sure people are being tracked wherever they go, whether on the internet or walking out the front door.  And we probably won’t even know when that information is being used against us.  Since I’m not an expert on technology, it’s not like it will help if I worry about this issue.

Here’s Where Obamacare Costs The Most


In health insurance prices, as in the weather, Alaska and the Sun Belt are extremes. This year Alaska is the most expensive health insurance market for people who do not get coverage through their employers, while Phoenix, Albuquerque, N.M., and Tucson, Ariz., are among the very cheapest…

Deportation for Possessing a Sock:

Supreme Court Case Reflects How the War on Drugs Fuels the War on Immigrants


In Mellouli v. Holder, at issue is the government’s broad interpretation of already harsh immigration laws related to drug offenses. Mr. Mellouli was charged for possessing four pills of Adderall in his sock…

At yesterday’s oral argument, the Justices again pushed back on the government. One line that garnered laughter was Justice Kagan’s observation:

“He was convicted of paraphernalia here because he had four pills of Adderall, which if you go to half the colleges in America, people ­­ you know, and just randomly pick somebody, there would be a decent chance– ­­”

Of course, the War on Drugs is not being waged on college campuses or in affluent white communities…

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has made noncitizens with drug convictions, including longtime residents, one of its top priorities for deportation. In 2013 alone, the government deported nearly 20,000 people who had convictions for simple possession of a drug or drug paraphernalia, including over 6,600 people who were convicted of personal marijuana possession. Over the last six years, the government has deported nearly a quarter of a million people with a drug conviction.

Brainy quotes on Pride

My pride fell with my fortunes.  William Shakespeare

The rich swell up with pride, the poor from hunger.  Sholom Aleichem

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.  Khalil Gibran

Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.  William Penn

It’s a fine thing to rise above pride, but you must have pride in order to do so.  Georges Bernanos

My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.  William Tecumseh Sherman (American soldier 1820-1891)

Nationalist pride, like other variants of pride, can be a substitute for self-respect.  Eric Hoffer

Jim Crow was king… and I heard a game in which Jackie Robinson was playing, and I felt pride in being alive.  Lou Brock

American history contains much matter for pride and congratulation, and much matter for regret and humiliation.  Herbert Croly

It is not the broken heart that kills, but broken pride, monseigneur.  Gilbert Parker

‘Being green’ is commendable, but I hope that people don’t take too much pride and self-adoration because they shut off the water when they brushed their teeth. The truth of the matter is, conservation alone will do little to save our planet.  Naveen Jain

I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.  Edith Sitwell

‘Born this Way’ is about being yourself, and loving who you are and being proud.  Lady Gaga

Pampered vanity is a better thing perhaps than starved pride.  Joanna Baillie

I am not someone who is ashamed of my past. I’m actually really proud. I know I made a lot of mistakes, but they, in turn, were my life lessons.  Drew Barrymore

Knowledge is proud that it knows so much; wisdom is humble that it knows no more.  William Cowper

Shower Ambivalence

Sometimes, having to leave my apartment to run errands creates the impetus to take a shower; sometimes not. See, I suffer from Shower Ambivalence. Never heard of it? That’s because I name my own disorders. (See Sleep Ambivalence.) Why should I wait for the medical industry to do it?

I don’t sing in the shower; I groan. (And no, it’s not because I have a detachable shower head, because I don’t.) While my aching muscles love the heat in the hot water, the shower experience itself leaves much to be desired. The spray of the water from the shower head can sting, is irritating, and at times, uncomfortable. Plus, my shower head makes this high pitched noise… The whole process of taking a shower from start to finish is hard work. It’s only the end result that makes it all worth it.

There’s nothing more comfortable than the feeling of being clean. And as a chronic pain patient, one has to take comfort where one can find it.

Since it’s winter, you gotta turn the heat up first (in the summer, it’s the air conditioning); controlling body temperature is an important part of managing pain.  Then I add a few drops of fragrance oil to the drain in my shower before I turn on the hot water. Do I want to shave today? The scrape of the razor against my legs and under my arms is not very comfortable (plus, why are razors so expensive?).  But once in a great while, I treat myself to the feeling of smooth skin.

Showers can be full of aromatherapy options: My liquid soap smells like cocoa butter and mangos, my shampoo smells like sun tan oil, and my conditioner smells like Dove.

Back before Unum terminated my benefits (and before I spent all my money in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program), I got my hair cut regularly. But it’s been some time since I chose to spend money on something like a haircut, so taking care of my hair has become quite a chore. I have thick hair, which is heavy, uncomfortable, and irritating. And there is more of it everywhere; hair on my kitchen floor, in my shower drain, in my way. I sure wish I could find someone that gives disabled people free haircuts… (Sorry, I digress, a bad habit.)

After exiting my shower, then comes the moisturizing session. It’s very dry here in New Mexico — when I was young and had oily skin, I would have loved it. And I thought Houston had hard water, but it doesn’t even compare to the hardness of New Mexico’s water. So, now I’m old and I have to spend money on moisturizers…

A perfect opportunity to practice more aromatherapy. Today, I chose Bath & Body Works’ Vanilla Bean Noel.

Brushing my hair isn’t any fun either, and it doesn’t matter how soft my brush is. After brushing my too-long hair, I can still feel that pressure, that feeling of the brush scraping against my head, for some time afterwards. It’s like when I wear my glasses, even for a small amount of time — after I take them off, I can still feel the pressure of the glasses on my face. It feels like I’m still wearing them hours later. The after-sensations of pressure against painful parts of the body is not something doctors usually talk about, but the painful effect is just part of the total package of chronic pain that has to be managed minute-by-minute.

I think I’ll leave the plucking-hairs part of being clean for another day…

As a disabled person, I try to do my part at conserving the Earth’s resources. Plus, cranking up the heat (or the air conditioning) and using all that hot water is expensive. But seriously, it’s all worth it. At least until the next time I suffer from Shower Ambivalence.