Maria Yeager

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The American Health Care System – How Do We Fix It?

Until about a year ago, I was totally uninterested in politics – those subjects were my absolute least favorite in school. So, I am surprised that today I watch the news on almost a daily basis. I don’t know what changed. Maybe it’s all the chaos surrounding this administration. But, at age 51, I am finally paying close attention to what is happening in the United States…and I don’t like it one bit.

When Obamacare was passed, I was concerned. At the time, I only watched Fox News and I was a Republican, so you can imagine what I thought at the time. Fox News did bring up many concerns regarding Obamacare …and those concerns were justified as there are serious problems with it that need to be addressed.

When Trump became President, I wasn’t happy at all even though I was a Republican. I lived in a highly narcissistic environment for about twenty years, and I saw the exact behaviors in this man that I saw personally in my own situation. This concerned me greatly. I tried to warn people about this man, but I was attacked on social media for daring to question Trump’s behavior. Since that time, I have watched on a daily basis the chaos in this administration, mostly a direct result of his narcissism. I shake my head in frustration all the time, and I am disgusted with Washington in general. During this time, I contacted my senator, Mark Warner, and my Congresswoman, Barbara Comstock, on several occasions about my concerns. I never thought I would contact a Democrat, but I am so glad I did. Mr. Warner responded every single time I contacted him. I never heard from Barbara Comstock (she is a Republican). That speaks volumes.

A few months ago, I decided to become an Independent. The Republican party as I knew it years ago has changed. This party no longer represents my beliefs as I don’t condone the behavior that I have witnessed in this administration. I have watched Mark Warner as he drilled members of the current administration about possible Russia collusion. I am very impressed with Mr. Warner, and he will always have my vote in the future because I believe that he truly wants the best for this country.

Now to healthcare. John McCain is my personal hero. Although I do have issues with Obamacare, the “skinny bill” was a “disaster”, as Lindsay Graham put it in his speech before the vote. It would have left 16 million without insurance if it was passed into law. It also would have hiked insurance premiums 20%!! If that doesn’t anger every single American out there, I don’t know what will! Thank you so much, Mr. McCain, for voting your conscience. You have no idea how many Americans consider you their hero today.

Here’s the way I see it – if you want to bring down the cost of healthcare, lower the cost of prescription drugs, medical supplies and insurance. DO NOT take it from people who barely have anything (Medicaid)! Specifically, I would love to see caps put on the salaries of the CEOs and other senior management of pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

I used to work for a pharmaceutical company, so I have an idea of how much money these companies pull in and how many “perks” employees receive. I also worked in the medical field as a laboratory technologist. We used to joke about how aluminum foil in a medical supplies catalog cost something like $50 per roll when you could go to Food Lion and get the same thing for $2…I’m not kidding!

The following is a list of the highest earning CEOs in the pharmaceutical industry (per research done by Tracy Stanton of FiercePharma.com) :

  1. Len Schliefer – CEO of Regeneron, $41.97 million
  2. Jeffery Leiden – CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, $36.64 million
  3. Brent Saunders – CEO of Allergan, $36.61 million
  4. Martine Rothblatt – CEO of United Therapeutics, $33.21 million
  5. Lamberto Andreotti – CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb, $27.06 million
  6. Heather Bresch – CEO of Mylan, $25.82 million
  7. Kenneth Frazier – CEO of Merck, $25.03 million
  8. Alex Gorsky – CEO of Johnson & Johnson, $24.99 million
  9. Robert Hugin – CEO of Celegene, $24.24 million
  10. Ian Read – Pfizer, $23.28 million

That is just the top ten!

These salaries are ridiculous. No one needs to make this kind of salary when we have American citizens out there that are struggling to make ends meet every single month. Personally, I am on disability because I have had three back surgeries and live in constant pain. I also have fibromyalgia, and just in the past month, I learned that my right knee has almost no cartilage behind the knee cap (due to 25+ years of ballet, jazz and hip hop dancing). I am in physical therapy and have received an injection, but it is highly probable that I will need knee replacement surgery in the near future.

I have Medicare parts A and B. I also bought extra coverage through United Healthcare to help pay the 20% that Medicare doesn’t cover. I am on Savella and Lyrica for pain/fibromyalgia. Six months into this year, I received a notice from United Healthcare that I was in the coverage gap for these medications which means more out-of-pocket costs for me. Well, the cost was too high for me, so I had to drop my Lyrica to one-half of what I was taking during the first part of the year. I now live with increased pain and will have to deal with this until the end of the year.

It angers me that Mitch McConnell and most Republicans put forth a bill to make drastic cuts to Medicaid while doing nothing to reduce the costs of health insurance and pharmaceuticals. There are millions of Americans who are suffering and are barely able to make it month to month while these CEOs are pulling in a salary of $20 to $30 million per year! This has to stop!

Why won’t Congress address the gross mishandling of funds in these industries? How can these executives rake in this kind of money, knowing that there are people out there who are struggling, and sleep at night? Come on, congressmen and women!! Someone get a backbone and take up this issue. John McCain stood up last night, and it was great…will he or someone else have the balls to finally take on these companies?? Mark Warner, will you take the lead on this?

My suggestion for the American people is to vote out those senators and representatives that are on the extreme left and the extreme right. Get moderates in Congress on both sides so they can sit down TOGETHER and hammer out a COMPROMISE (not doing things in secret behind closed doors). I also urge Congress to come up with some kind of law that puts a cap on the salaries of pharmaceutical, insurance and medical supplies executives. Putting this cap in place should redirect the money back to the consumers and drive down these ridiculously high prices. There is no need…EVER…for someone to have a salary of $20 to $30 million PER YEAR when other people are struggling to survive.

A copy of this blog will be sent to my senator and representative. Please feel free to send a copy to your senator and representative as well.

 

 

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Trump’s Environmental Policies May Hurt Women With Adenomyosis

A post from my facebook page….please share:

I have to speak up today. I will be doing this on all of my pages as this is an issue near and dear to my heart. I do not agree with Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Although there are many reasons to be upset by this decision by Trump, my personal concerns have to do with adenomyosis and endometriosis. As most of you know, I have written two books on adenomyosis. I have done a ton of research (numerous scientific studies through the NIH) and have learned that xenoestrogens (man-made chemicals) in the environment have been implicated in many reproductive disorders. This is not speculation – this has been shown through well-controlled scientific studies. There is great concern that these xenoestrogens, which raise estrogen levels dramatically, are one of the possible players in adenomyosis and endometriosis. Trump’s decision today will more than likely lead to more and worsening cases of these two disorders. Chemicals in the environment are already linked to increases in cancer – ovarian, breast, and endometrial are just a few. I was so disturbed by his actions over the past couple of days that I posted my concerns on his twitter account. Within an hour of posting, my comments could not be found. I posted again, and again they could not be found an hour later. I have since learned that people are being blocked from his twitter account if they post something that disagrees with his views. I also wrote a letter to my Republican congresswoman, Barbara Comstock, detailing my concerns over this administration’s environmental policies and explained in detail how these decisions could adversely affect women with adenomyosis – hoping that since she was a woman, she might be more empathetic. I did not get a response. So, I am posting this here and on all my pages to let women know that this administration does not seem to care one bit about women who are suffering from adenomyosis and endometriosis. They also don’t seem to care at all that there is science backing these concerns. They don’t want to hear it. I tried my best to get my point across, but they prefer to turn a blind eye to it. I am incredibly disappointed and upset that this administration has made it so much harder for women who suffer from adenomyosis and endometriosis by promoting policies that will increase xenoestrogen levels in the environment which may lead to an increased incidence of adenomyosis/endometriosis and worsening symptoms of those already suffering from these horrible disorders..

I Am A Survivor…And You Can Be One Too!

You know, strength is not just physical. Someone can be physically strong but emotionally and mentally weak. I know people who fall in to this category. However, today I am going to talk about emotional and mental strength…something that is not recognized very often. Going through rough times make people beautiful by strengthening their resolve. You know you can rely on these individuals as nothing will bring them down. I have been through it myself, and I have persevered due to the love and help of God. I want you to know that you can persevere as well.

It’s been a while since I have written a blog, and there is good reason for that. I have been dealing with some medical issues again. After receiving some disturbing news yesterday regarding my health, I thought back on everything that I have been through in my life. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, so I decided to write this blog to let all those who are suffering know that there is always hope.

My health story begins in 1986 when I suddenly came down with an acute case of appendicitis. I was brought into emergency surgery in the middle of the night, and it turned out that my appendix had ruptured. I stayed in the hospital for six days and was told that I was lucky to be alive.

Around 1990, my whole ordeal with adenomyosis began. The severe pain and extremely heavy bleeding lasted for seventeen years before I was finally diagnosed at hysterectomy. You can read my other blogs for more details on my adenomyosis journey.

In 2009, I woke up and was unable to stand as my right leg gave out from underneath me. It turns out that I had a herniated disc in my lower back and a broken vertebrae. This led to my first spinal fusion. Five months after surgery, I learned that two of the screws broke, and I needed a second surgery.

In 2010, I had my second spinal fusion. Sadly, this fusion also failed, and a third surgery was done in 2012.

In between my second and third back surgeries, just by chance, I learned that I had a brain aneurysm. I had no symptoms. The aneurysm was picked up when I had a head CT scan that was needed prior to a CT myelogram for my back. I was stunned! I had surgery, and the doctor placed a coil and stent to block flow to the aneurysm. Thankfully, the aneurysm is now stable.

While recovering from the coil and stent surgery, I found out that my husband was having an affair. I was an emotional wreck as we had been married for almost twenty years. One month before my third back surgery, we separated and he moved out. We are now divorced.

After my third spinal fusion, my left hip began to hurt. I was unable to sleep on my left side at night. This was the beginning of hip bursitis which plagues me to this day. I get occasional cortisone injections to help ease the discomfort.

Although the third surgery resulted in a fusion (yay!), I still live with chronic daily pain in my lower back. The pain still sometimes radiates down my right leg. Not a day goes by now that I’m not is some degree of pain.

In the last year, I began to have severe upper back pain. An MRI showed four bulging discs in my neck along with a couple of pinched nerves. I haven’t had surgery for this yet. I decided to go to a pain management doctor, and I have had many shots – epidural, facet joint, medial branch nerve blocks, etc. These have all given me minimal relief, so my doctor suggested I try radio-frequency. This procedure deadens the nerves that go from the spinal cord to the brain which block the pain signals. I had this procedure done, but it deadened the feeling in the middle of my back while the pain continued in my shoulders and upper neck. I actually am in more pain now than before the procedure. Sigh…

In the meantime, I have had knee, shoulder, and ankle pain, and at times, my knee and hip lock up and give out. Since so many of my joints were hurting, my family doctor suggested I see a rheumatologist. On my first visit with the rheumatologist, they took eight tubes of blood from my arm.

Several weeks later, I had my follow-up. I was shocked to learn that I had a positive ANA test. This test detects autoantibodies which means that there is an autoimmune process of some sort occurring in my body. I couldn’t believe it. So, the doctor ordered more tests, and I had eight more tubes of blood drawn.

Last week, I had yet another follow-up with the rheumatologist. This time, the blood work showed that I had high levels of cardiolipin and beta-2 glycoprotein. This means that I have a clotting disorder! She told me to start taking an aspirin a day for now, and I have to repeat the blood work in several months to see if the levels are still elevated. If they are, I will be diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome.

The most shocking thing about antiphospholipid syndrome/high levels of cardiolipin and beta-2 glycoprotein has to do with pregnancy complications. Apparently high levels are associated with a high incidence of miscarriage. While I was married, there were times when I was quite sure I miscarried. Until now, I thought it was a result of adenomyosis, but now I wonder if these high levels played a role also. By the way, I have no children. I wish I had this information thirty years ago! It doesn’t really apply to me now as I have had a hysterectomy. However, these levels put me at an increased risk of stroke or heart attack, so I definitely need to address it, and the rheumatologist needs to keep an eye on it.

My rheumatologist believes that my aches and pains may be due to fibromyalgia, and I have been put on Lyrica. So, for now, I live with chronic pain…pain in my lower back, pain in my upper back, pain in my shoulders, pain in my hip, and sporadic pain in my knees and ankles. I hope the Lyrica will help.

So…I know what it is like to hurt physically. I know what it is like to hurt emotionally. I know. I get it. I’ve been at that place where you think there is no way things are going to work out. I’ve been at that place where I ask God, “Why me?” But I’ve made it this far with God’s help, so I know I will make it in the future. No matter how bad things get, you will make it. Ask God for His hand, and He will guide you. With His help, you can move mountains. Nothing is impossible with God!

 

Faking Cancer

 

I have to admit that I do watch The Real Housewives of Orange County. I have been glued to the television this season as Meghan King Edmonds took on Brooks Ayers and Vicki Gunvalson regarding the whole cancer story line. I think the reason that I was so intrigued is because I went through something similar in my own life.

About five years ago, a family member on my ex-husband’s side of the family told us that her daughter had malignant melanoma. Now, I should share with all of you my background. I have a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, and I have worked in the field of cytogenetics for close to twenty years with the majority of my work in cancer cytogenetics. I have seen so many incredibly sad cases of people who have fought cancer for years and have suffered the pain and side effects of chemotherapy. Especially vivid in my mind are memories of the young children who have undergone repeated bone marrow biopsies because they weren’t responding to chemotherapy.

When I was given the news that this two-year old had malignant melanoma, my heart just about stopped as I knew that this was the deadly form of skin cancer. I told the mother that this was very serious, and that treatment needed to be started immediately. She told me that the doctor wasn’t going to do anything for several months and was just going to “watch” it. I was stunned. I proceeded to explain that any good oncologist would not delay treatment on a two-year old child with malignant melanoma. She began to tell me that it really wasn’t a big deal as she knew people who had skin cancer, and they just had the cancer cut out (she was referring to friend of the family that had sarcomas cut out of his arm). I realized at that point that she was confused, and I explained to her that there are different forms of skin cancer, most of which can be treated just by “cutting it out”. However, malignant melanoma was not one of them. If not treated aggressively, this little girl could die. I went on to explain that there wasn’t an oncologist out there that would delay treatment on this little girl if she had malignant melanoma. I was very suspicious that the mother wasn’t being truthful. Either she was flat-out lying, or she was confused.

After this phone call, the entire family became eerily quiet. I repeatedly explained to my ex-husband the severity of the situation, but there wasn’t much of a reaction. One day, I asked my ex to sit with me and watch a video on malignant melanoma, but he refused. He didn’t want to talk about the situation. I knew for sure at that point that this little girl didn’t have the deadly form of skin cancer. She was never treated for malignant melanoma.

While watching The Real Housewives of Orange County, I was able to identify so closely with Brianna. I understood everything she said, and I felt like I had been in her shoes. One thing is for certain – never try to fake cancer to someone with a medical background, especially someone who has worked in the cancer field. Brianna, being an ER nurse, knew what she was talking about as was Meghan King Edmonds who was dealing with terminal cancer with Lee Anne, her husband’s ex-wife.

Those who fake cancer should be completely ashamed. Not only have I worked in the cancer field, but my father also passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. Brooks certainly didn’t fit the description of someone who was suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. There are people out there who are hurting….really hurting…emotionally, physically, and mentally from this horrible disease. Those who fake it will surely have it come back and smack them square in the face when they try to pass their stories on to those of us who know better. There is nothing more evil than to lie about something like that when there are real people out there dealing with real cancer!

 

Problems with prescription drug approval process

I’m back!  I’ve been so busy with Thanksgiving and Christmas, and took a break from writing after November’s National Novel Writing Month.  I certainly hope everyone had a wonderful holiday 🙂

Today I am reposting a blog that I wrote on my adenomyosis website a while back.  I just had a discussion with a friend about problems with the drug approval process in the United States, and I thought reposting it here would be a good idea.  It’s time for us to stand up to the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry and tell them that their drug approval process is seriously flawed.  Click on the link below to read my post.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year, and I look forward to writing more soon!

Adenomyosis Information Network. Promoting research and support for the uterine disorder adenomyosis

via Problems with prescription drug approval process.

Current Ebola Scare – Is Fear Warranted?

Well, my answer to that question is both yes and no.

I decided to write this blog since I have a B.S. degree in Microbiology and over 20 years experience working in a medical laboratory.  As I watch the media news coverage on this topic, I have had mixed feelings.  One minute, I hear someone who, in my opinion, is talking very intelligently about this situation, and the next minute, I hear something that makes me cringe!  So……here are my thoughts.

First and foremost, it is important to know that if you haven’t been directly exposed to the bodily fluids of someone with ebola, your chances of getting this virus are very, very slim.  Why isn’t it a zero chance?  Because nothing in medicine is impossible.  The experts say that it is not transmitted through the air.  I take that with a grain of salt.  Right now, we are facing the biggest ebola outbreak of all time, and in my opinion, we just don’t know enough about this virus to say that anything is impossible.

Secondly, it is extremely important to remember that ebola can survive for short periods of time outside of the body.  This means that if someone with ebola vomits, and it splatters on a wall, floor or doorknob, the next person to touch that area can potentially be infected.  I think it is important to know this, and the media hasn’t really addressed this issue from what I’ve seen.  Not only is it important to completely shield yourself from the actual patient, but it is also vitally important to completely sanitize any area where they have been sick.  I am extremely impressed with the way that Frontier airlines has handled this situation.  They have completely sanitized the airplane and even removed carpeting and seats from the area where Amber was seated.  It might seem like an overkill to some, but it really was a wise decision, so kuddos to Frontier!

It is also important to keep in mind that viruses have an ability to mutate.  Just because ebola behaves in a certain way now does not mean that it will always behave that same way.  Viruses and bacteria have the ability to change and find their way around our defenses.  Many bacteria have mutated and become resistant to certain antibiotics.  This has now become a major concern in the treatment of many bacterial infections.  Although we should not become panic stricken over this, it is important to remember this and not just assume that ebola will always act in the same manner as it is acting today.

As for me, I place the blame for the mishandling of the ebola situation in the United States squarely on the CDC.  Of all of the health care institutions in America, the CDC knows (or should know) exactly what to do in a crisis such as the one we are facing today.  Many, many inexcusable mistakes were made during the handling of Thomas Eric Duncan’s case, and in the end, it all falls directly on the shoulders of the CDC for not ensuring that the proper protocols were being followed.  I do not agree with much of what Dr. Tom Frieden has done in handling this crisis, and, in my opinion, I believe he should step down.   The following is a list of reasons why I believe there needs to be an overhaul at the CDC:

1.  Dr. Frieden doesn’t seem to want to put a travel ban in place, stating that he feels it would backfire by not allowing medical care to get to the ebola ravaged countries in West Africa.  Stopping casual flights into and out of those countries while still allowing medical flights to continue is something that can be done.  It’s not rocket science, but just a matter of organization.

2.  There was a clear failure to train hospital personnel in Dallas on how to safely handle Thomas Eric Duncan.  There are many different types of personal protective equipment, which can range from just gloves and a lab coat to a hazmat suit that covers every inch of the person’s body.  What type to use depends on the pathogen involved.  Ebola requires complete coverage from head to toe, and the report that the nurses at Dallas cared for Duncan while having their necks exposed is indefensible.

3.  Self monitoring of people directly exposed to Duncan, especially health care workers, was not sufficient in taking control of this crisis.  These people should have been quarantined for 21 days and not allowed to travel in my opinion.  But the worst part was the CDC telling Amber Vinson that she could travel with a 99.5 degree temperature.  In a previous blog post, I talked about how medical professionals need to “think outside the box”.  This is a perfect example.  More than likely, whoever Amber talked to at the CDC looked on a list and saw that the cutoff for a fever was 100.4 degrees and told her it was OK for her to fly.  But, if that person would have “thought outside the box”, it would have become clear that Amber should have never gotten on that flight since she had also been involved in Duncan’s care in Dallas.  As someone on the news stated a few days ago, “common sense has taken a vacation”.

The CDC needs to take responsibility for this mess.  The steps that are being taken now to ensure the health of the American public should have been taken the minute they found out that Thomas Eric Duncan had been diagnosed with ebola and was in the United States.  Too little, too late.

So, in conclusion, I believe that we shouldn’t panic, but we should be aware.  Know the truth about ebola and viruses in general and just be careful.  Fear has come about by the failings of the CDC and the assurance that ebola wouldn’t enter this country.  In this country, we do have the capability of controlling this virus, but it doesn’t do us any good if the ones who are in charge won’t do their job properly.  We need for the CDC to step up and start ensuring that the medical professionals are properly trained in ebola and are given the proper personal protective equipment.  Just my opinion.

 

 

 

Wake Up Call to the Medical Community

Yes, these do actually exist!  They can be purchased at your local CVS pharmacy.  You will understand as you read through this blog.

It looks like I am turning into a Patient Advocate with my history of health problems and working in a medical lab.  I saw the report today about a man who traveled to the U.S. from Liberia and fell ill after he arrived here.  When I saw this story on FOX news, I decided to sit down and write a post even though I am dealing with my own health issue right now.  This news story today goes along with the idea I had for this next blog, and I think now is a good time to publish on this subject.

For those of you who don’t know the news story, a man from Liberia boarded a plane last week, flew through Brussels and Washington D.C. and finally arrived in Dallas.  He felt fine during the flights.  However, several days after arriving in Dallas, he began to feel ill.  He went the the ER where he told the nurse that he had just traveled to the U.S. from Liberia.  Now, a red flag should have gone up in the nurse’s mind immediately, but it didn’t for some reason.  This information was never forwarded to the treating doctor.  As a result, he was given some medication and released.  He came in contact with quite a few people while he was symptomatic.  His conditioned worsened and he returned to the hospital where it was finally determined that he had the ebola virus!

Clearly the nurse dropped the ball on this one by not putting two and two together.  Liberia is being ravaged by ebola, and this patient should have been put into isolation immediately.  Of course, he should have never been allowed to leave the hospital in the first place.

Now, let me tell you the story of my medical nightmare over the past several weeks.  As I said in a previous post, I have been dealing with some back pain.  It turns out that I have what appears to be a urinary tract infection.  During my first visit to the ER (I went three times…..yes, three!), they talked to me, assumed I pulled my back during a workout and sent me home with pain meds and a muscle relaxant.  About a week later, I notice cloudy urine, and I was feeling worse.  I went to CVS, bought some AZO test strips, tested at home and found out that I had a urinary tract infection.

Commentary:  First of all, this was a misdiagnosis in the ER.  I diagnosed myself by going the the store and using an over-the-counter test.  So, I spent probably several hundred dollars to go to the ER and get a wrong diagnosis, and I went to the store and spent $10.00 to get the correct diagnosis.

Continuing with the story….I went to my doctor’s office and a urinary tract infection (UTI) was confirmed.  I was put on Cipro.  I took that antibiotic for a week and didn’t improve.  In fact, I was having worsening back pain and extreme weakness.  I took another AZO test strip which was strongly positive, so I went back to the ER.  This time, I had a very young doctor who talked to me about my symptoms, pushed on my back and lower abdomen a few times, and determined that I needed to change antibiotics.  So, she put me on Levaquin.  She left, and a few minutes later, the nurse came in.  She gave me a Levaquin to take and made the remark “Even if your urine comes back normal, she wants you to take this Levaquin now.”

Commentary:  First of all, Cipro and Levaquin are in the same class of antibiotics.  Both are fluoroquinilones.  If the infection is not responding to Cipro, would it be the best choice to switch me to Levaquin?  Probably not.  If the bacteria is resistant to Cipro, there is a pretty good chance it’s going to be resistant to Levaquin.  That’s not for certain, but a better antibiotic could have been chosen.  Second, the nurses remark about if the urine “comes back clean” was absurd.  It was strongly positive about an hour prior to this remark, and it had been positive repeatedly for about a week and a half.  Does she think it’s just magically going to disappear into the sky somewhere?  Or does she think I’m lying?  When she came back into the room, she told me that “yes, you do have a bladder infection.”  I responded, “I know.”

Back to the story.  As I talked more with the nurse, she proceeded to tell me that she had never heard of AZO test strips.  I had to explain to her that you could test your own urine at home with these strips.  This conversation started to give me a headache.  Later, as I was being discharged, she decided to tell me how to deal with back pain.  She asked about my mattress, and I told her I had a tempur pedic.  She looked at me with a blank stare and told me she “didn’t know what that was”.  I explained to her that it was one of the best mattresses on the market today.

Commentary:  Now, I can understand the average person not being aware of AZO test strips.  But for a nurse in a hospital ER to not be aware that you can test your urine at home is scary.  Secondly, if you are going to give out advice on back care, it is a really good idea to know what you are talking about.  I left the hospital that day with all the symptoms I had plus a migraine headache.

I woke up the next day feeling the worst I had felt during this whole ordeal.  After talking with the doctor on call,  I once again returned to the ER determined to find the cause of my problem.  This time they took me a bit more seriously, and I finally received care from some exceptional nurses and an excellent doctor.  First of all, they took me off Levaquin as the doctor noted that both Cipro and Levaquin were fluoroquinilones.  “Thank God,” I thought to myself.  “I finally got a good one!”  A bunch of blood work was done along with a CT scan.  It was determined that I had an infection confined to the bladder (thank goodness) that was resistant to Cipro and Levaquin.  I was put on Macrobid, which is in an entirely different class of antibiotics.  I am still struggling with this infection, and I will see a urologist in the next few days.

Commentary:  I have to give my kuddos to the team that worked on me during that last visit.  That is how patients should be treated!  But, I couldn’t help but think how much money and time was spent on me during this whole ordeal.  Being a microbiologist, a thought came to my mind that made my laugh, although it is actually sad.  I know how to grow microorganisms just like they do in the lab.  And believe it or not, it can be done at home.  All the materials needed can be purchased at your local grocery store.  The only problem that I can see is in the actual identification of the microorganism.  So, I thought to myself, “Even though insurance will cover quite a bit of this, I have probably spent a couple thousand dollars trying to get a diagnosis here.  But I could have done almost the entire thing myself for about $50!  After all, I diagnosed myself with the AZO test strip.  It would probably cost about another $40 to get the plate, gelatin, sugar, etc. needed to grow the culture.  I really would just need a microscope and a few other items, along with a doctor’s signature after I go into the office, tell them what bacteria it is and what antibiotic I need.”  I shared this story with a few friends, and we were laughing so hard…..I mean belly laughing!!

OK, so my point is this:  We, as patients, have to weed through some of the bad doctors/nurses to finally get to the good ones.  Book smarts are great, and thank goodness that we have smart people around to help us.  But what really makes an exceptional doctor/nurse is his/her ability to think outside of the box and to really listen to the patient.  Don’t think that since someone doesn’t have the “classic” signs of a disease, then they aren’t sick.  I have seen more missed diagnoses than correct ones. Here are a couple of examples. Thirty years ago I went into the ER extremely ill with nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain in the center of my abdomen.  I was diagnosed with the flu and was about to be sent home when the doctor went on his gut instinct and ordered some bloodwork.  Turns out I had a ruptured appendix – not just inflammed, but ruptured!  If I had been sent home, I wouldn’t be here now.  And then there was my dad who went to the ER for back pain.  He was given pain meds as they assumed he pulled his back.  It turned out that he actually had lymphoma.  But the worst was that it took 17 years to finally be diagnosed with adenomyosis…..yes 17 YEARS!  According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, the average time for a diagnosis of endometriosis is 10 YEARS!

Pay attention to your patients.  LISTEN to them and write everything down, even if it sounds unimportant to you.  If that nurse in Dallas had done this, we wouldn’t be looking at multiple people being possibly exposed to the terrible ebola virus, and panic wouldn’t be setting in across the nation right now.  Think outside the box.  Do the necessary tests the first time around, and don’t make the patients return over and over again to the ER.  By doing this, we actually can reduce the cost of medical care….and I am quite sure you will be hard pressed to find someone who is against that idea!

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