Category Archives: malpractice

Damn, Life, Knock It Off Please – But Don’t Kill Me, Okay?

I am so anxious.

The ankle has been swollen now for, I think, 3 weeks? And it’s been at least 2 weeks since I saw the Nurse Practitioner about it, and she deemed it “cellulitis”, which I am gonna look up now because I really have no idea what the hell that is.

So it’s a skin infection that enters via a cut or crack. Can be caused also by scratching itches. I do not have a cut or crack and have not at all in that area in the past more than 1 month. I have not been scratching my ankle. So, here are the other things it could be:

But feet and ankles that stay swollen or are accompanied by other symptoms could signal a serious health problem, including:

  • Pregnancy complications
  • Foot or ankle injury
  • Lymphedema
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Heart, liver, or kidney disease
  • Medication side effects

So, yeah. That looks scary AF, doesn’t it? And yet, no one seems to think it’s a big deal. And no one actually believes that I have any kind of concerning issue – except for the NP at Urgent Care, who said, my unexplained body aches and feverish feeling could be indicative of problems with my heart, and that he tended to believe people who insist that it is not a panic attack, that they know what that feels like and this ain’t it.

Given the symptoms – and in addition the troponin test being seriously flawed/giving false negatives due to Biotin intake – if I were a doctor, I would be concerned. My therapist is concerned. She is well versed in anxiety, and, again, this ain’t it.

Also, I got the flu, unrelated to the weird feverish feeling, which was not accompanied by any flu symptoms. And the flu kicked my ass for nearly 3 weeks, as well.

So okay. Did I mention I am so anxious?

I am so anxious.

I have an appointment tomorrow with the GP, who brilliantly, as I watched him write the Rx for my nuclear stress test, apparently called me “Edith Santos”. And checked the right ankle instead of right knee to be x-rayed, right after he’d told the nurse, no, not the ankle – she needs the knee x-rayed. Does this make me trust in his diagnosis? Not particularly. Then there is the hospital’s lab woman who said, of the FDA report, “Well, I am SO GLAD you have that information” sarcastically, after telling someone else that “SOMEONE told her” – meaning me, I am the “her” in that phrase – about the flaw in the troponin test, and I corrected her and said, hey, it’s not SOMEONE, it’s the FDA. A governmental agency. (Has she even fucking heard of it?) You’d think, even if they did not tell me what test was done on ME, which I have a right to know, I believe, they would have at least a LITTLE concern about the fact that these tests are invalid. That they would want to investigate that further. But, no.

I am fucked [image of Gene Wilder meme]

Nevermind that my blood pressure has been normal my entire life and now I have not Stage One but Stage TWO high blood pressure. And high cholesterol. And weigh too much. And have had three cardiac events preceded by intense jaw pain (which hey, that happens to be a heart attack symptom, how ’bout dat?). And now the ankle. But yeah, I am sure a swollen left ankle is indicative of PANIC DISORDER, which is what they all say – the hospital, the Primary Care Provider, the shrink, for fuck’s sake.

I have an appointment with the shrink tomorrow. I look forward to showing him my ankle and saying, hey, check out the panic disorder in my ankle!

Because panic disorder is so totally listed in that list above. See it? Oh, wait, IT’S NOT THERE.

It is easy to believe that I am not being listened to.

Further evidence of this: my floors are caving in. The floor under the fridge POPS intermittently. That is not a good sign. I read an article about a family whose floors completely gave way, and that was preceded by much popping. The floor in the kitchen has a dividing line between the floor that is slanted downward – which would be the floor under the cabinets, sink, stove, and fridge – and the non-slanted floor. It creaks when you walk on it. It doesn’t not feel stable. The bathroom floor has indentations in several areas I can feel with my bare feet and it is not particularly stable – of course I received a work order about the bathroom floor when I reported it marked ‘complete’ when they didn’t even LOOK at that floor.  Not to mention that the living room floors are also caving in – bended and warped and they do not at all feel stable and one of my dressers tilts forward and cannot be put against the wall, because why? The floor is warped, unstable, and in the process of leaving this Earth.

They have known about everything except the bathroom floor since this summer. The maintenance guy said contractors would be out to appraise the situation. But. Has anyone ever come out? Nope. And that completed work order? Said “floor is contractors”. Okay, does that mean that I am supposed to hire a contractor? Because it sure sounds like they are doing nothing about this. To wit: They have been putting lease renewal notices on my door, and they raise the rent each year. It seems to me that they have been in breach of this lease for half a year, because I did not sign a lease that said I agree to rent with unstable flooring. So, they are going to raise the rent, but not fix the floors. They are ignoring the floors. In fact, they have ignored my last THREE emails to them.

And let’s not even speak of the Black Mold that they have attempted to minimize by referring to it as “mildew”. Is mildew black and does it creep through surfaces into other surfaces? Like the picture of my deceased parents which I gave them for a milestone anniversary while they were still alive which they were thrilled by and which was very sentimental to me, and now covered with black mold that traveled through the back of the frame from the wall and further until it is now covering and ruining this picture?

Hi, I’m looking for Horton because I am a dust speck and apparently that elephant will be the only one that can hear me.

By the way – mortality rate on right-sided heart failure, the first thing mentioned on Google regarding a swollen left ankle? Less than a year to five years at best.

For over a month I have been able to count every single one of my heart beats without taking my pulse, because my body throbs in time with them, as if I have just finished an intense workout.

I went yesterday for a nuclear stress test, and after over an hour total, waiting for my doctor to fax an Rx with my actual name on it, I was informed that the insurance company refuses to authorize the test.

At least I got the knee x-rayed on my deformed, turned-the-wrong-way leg from the treatment I received for a broken ankle four years ago.

Also. I have lost five cats this year. Five. Most recently, the love of my life, Milhouse, my smart (though they are all/were smart) extra special guy. Before that, in September, Momo, who I thought would be the last one standing, my also quite special guy. And my heart is broken. I have a mausoleum on my bookshelves of kitty urns, footprints, and the ashes of my parents, representing a huge chunk of my loved ones.

And now I am concerned about Bear. He is not acting right. He is not eating much at all, is suddenly lethargic, seems depressed and not like himself. He needs to go to the vet. So does Tiny – she is a week away from being out of thyroid meds, putting her again at risk for a heart attack due to her sped-up, hyperthyroid-ed out metabolism. And I am a broke bitch. How do I do this?

And all this stress is so good for the heart. Oh, wait…

This is all some fucked-up bullshit, to use a technical term. And I really do not know how much more I can take, frankly.

I have no family to help advocate my cause(s). I am my only advocate. And unfortunately, the fact that my advocate has several psychiatric diagnoses sort of ruins my advocate’s credibility with these people. They just assume that I’m being histrionic, I guess. That is certainly what it seems like.

And. I have not been able to do my work for a month and a half now, because of these health problems and grief issues. So money issues. And big vet bills have been the norm for months now, with most of my kitties dying on me at once.

And ooh, I just noticed that to the right of this rant, there is an article from Science Daily, and the headline reads, “Chronic Adversity Can Dampen Dopamine Production.” Wonderful.

Fuck me running.

I am so anxious.

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Suspended in Amber & Slipping Through Cracks

11 years ago I had a total psychotic break. It lasted for 4 months. I was never hospitalized.

Instead, I ended up homeless and living in a garage where, my first morning there, my adoptive sister tried to choke me out and had to be pulled off of me. This was because I was not able to drive her daughter to the bus stop less than a block away. Because I was in psychosis. I got choked because I could not drive because I was in psychosis and therefore not safe to drive, because you kind of need a sense of reality to drive, at least in some cases.

I lived in the garage for 2 months, sleeping on a couch with bad springs, surrounded by my boxes of possessions that had come from the apartment I’d lost, the nicest apartment I’d ever lived in, the place I still think of as home. It was winter, and the electricity was shut off because this garage was attached to the house my adoptive sister was renting, and she decided to move out. No, she didn’t care that there was an ill person subsisting in the garage. She left, and I was there with no electricity, freezing cold in the dark, still coming down from the psychotic break.

I was given medication that made me sleep over 15 hours a day and gain 50 lbs. There was no therapy. That would come later, in false starts, with bad therapists, including one who would tell me, based on my history of chronic abuse and trauma, “You will never be happy, and you will never be functional”, because that was apparently her version of therapeutic. Those words still haunt me to this day. I wonder, was she right?

I moved from the garage into an attic apartment that was infested by rats that ran by me as I slept on the floor. From there I found an apartment that I was able to afford on disability – I could afford exactly rent and electric and nothing more. My adoptive sister tried to have me evicted from this apartment, by calling and lodging many false complaints against me, saying that she could smell my cats in her apartment next door – she of course did not live next door and the entire thing was a lie – and had a couple of her friends call pretending to be other neighbors with the same complaint. She did this because I caught her stealing my mom’s Oxycontin on Christmas Eve, and I was honest with my mother about what had happened. What would you have done? Protected the person who broke into your mother’s home to steal her pain medication that she desperately needed, or be honest about what happened? I did the latter, and was nearly homeless again as a result.

Over the next decade, a lot of things happened. Doctors denied me my medication. I couldn’t find a psychiatrist – none in the area were taking patients – there literally was not a single psychiatrist taking insurance who would accept a new patient in the entire city. A psychiatrist fired me, because I complained about the therapist who said I’d never be happy or functional (she worked in the same office, and I told the office manager, who yelled at me. I was fired for “noncompliance”.) My adoptive sister systematically brought my elderly parents down with a thousand tiny cuts and several hundred deep ones, a constant supply of stress and threats and ultimatums if they did not do as she wished. My father died suddenly. My mother dissolved into profound grief and heartbreak from which she never recovered. I could do nothing to help, because I was so sick, and because I had no control over what happened to her, no way to stop the machinations of evil that my sister (and now her daughter) perpetrated on my fragile mom.

And I had no financial means to help, either. My father had died leaving only a very small insurance policy that was quickly eaten up by cremation expenses and bills and an ill-fated used car purchase that my mother insisted on making because she wanted me to have a safe vehicle. The car was a lemon. I should never have let her do it. I tried to argue against it. I look back now and I am sickened that I allowed her to spend money that should have been kept for her own well-being on something to benefit me. It makes me disgusted with myself, and ashamed.

My rent increased each year, and continued to increase. Each year the struggle to get by became more difficult.  A dear friend offered to move in to help out. I accepted, giving him the bedroom I never used, because due to my PTSD, I could only sleep in the living room, where the front door is, because what if someone broke in and I didn’t hear it? My hyper-vigilance demanded this accommodation, even though now I really wish I had a bedroom.

Then my mom died. I lost my best friend.

None of the therapists I saw could help me. None of them ever even brought up my psychotic break. You’d think that would be a topic of conversation at some point, but apparently, no. I went therapist to therapist, searching for someone who would understand, and also, for someone who would fucking listen. Because these therapists all shared the same trait: they’d listen to the first part, then assume they knew everything, and ‘give advice’ based on that. Which, you know, first off, giving advice is not really therapy. Anyone can give advice. If that worked, no one would need therapy. Secondly, I’ve been through so many things, and there is so much detail to all of them because of the way my mind has processed these things, that I am like an onion, with many layers, and all of those layers need to be taken into account. You can’t read a few pages of a book and know the story.

They would also try to fit me into some pre-fab notion of what a “normal person” is, instead of helping me to understand and accept who it is that I actually am, and work with THAT person, with the person I actually happen to be and not the person they thought I should be. Any treatment plan based on changing who I am as a person will fail. A successful treatment plan is one that works with my strengths, works on my weaknesses, gives me tools to deal with real situations that arise. A treatment plan based in reality. None of these people had it. One therapist even told me that my treatment plan was “none of [my] business”.

During all of this time, I have not once had the time to recuperate, to heal, to process what I went through. I have not been successful in efforts to build a routine again, to be part of the world again. Because I have been struggling financially, always stressed about how to pay things, how to get heavy things like kitty litter HERE because I have no car, how to supplement the unsustainable amount that has not grown commensurate with inflation. And I have been struggling, every day, with just how to get through the day, when I am plagued by flashbacks of lifelong abuse by so many different people, and jarred by so many bad memories, and self-recriminations for things I should have done differently, things I did wrong, things for which I should be and am ashamed. In short, struggling to stay on the planet. To stay alive.

Through this I have been fumbling, trying in vain to create a routine to follow, to do things that are healthy and “self-care”, to right my thinking on my own since I have no professional assistance that is not derelict*; trying fruitlessly to fight the bad voices that make me despair and try to convince me to just give up. I have kept going, my knuckles white from gripping onto whatever might tether me to this realm.

The truth of it is, though, that I have spent 11 years in this living room, not getting better.

I have tried so hard to get better. I have done so many different things. I have adjusted my attitude – as much as someone with severe mental illness can – so many times.

I’m not getting better. I have never had a chance to get better.

I have never heard of someone who had a psychotic break who was not hospitalized. But then there’s me. This makes sense, though. Because I was in a car wreck where I was thrown 75 feet and no one even bothered to check me for a concussion. And all the bad experiences with doctors in general – from psychiatric to medical. A continual pattern of disregard.

Things like this, they give me the message that I really, and truly, do not matter.

I wish more than anything I could have just a few months, where I didn’t have to worry about financial survival, where I could actually and finally focus on getting well, or at least better. Where I could look again for a therapist and hopefully find a good one, and concentrate on going to therapy a few times a week. Focus on building a new routine, a new life. Find myself again, in such a way that I don’t disappear and I don’t fall apart every morning, the way I do now.

Because right now, every morning of every day, I wake up a sobbing shambles, a complete mess, paralyzed, not sure what to do, and haunted by so much bad shit in my brain that it physically hurts. The anxiety is so bad I have to take a benzo and then I have to ingest huge amounts of caffeine to stay awake, and also to keep myself awash in enough temporary dopamine that I don’t just say, “That’s it, I’m done, I can’t do this anymore.”

I’m on all the medication that they can give me. So many pills. It does work. It does its job. But it isn’t enough. You can’t just medicate trauma away, you can’t medicate your brain into processing and parsing things and assimilating them into your narrative in such a way that you can go on comfortably.

They always say, if you are down, ask for help. Reach out. I have done that, over and over again. I have done that to the point where I now wonder, have they changed the spelling or the pronunciation of the word “help” and I just didn’t get the memo? Am I speaking the correct language? Or is it as I suspect, deep down, that when it comes down to it, I really don’t matter?

Eleven years have passed away, been wasted, sitting in this living room on this futon upon which I sleep. I don’t want it to be this way. I am willing to put in the work, and I have been from the very start – ever since I tried to kill myself the first time when I was 8 years old, and no one believed that I was depressed because a person is supposed to pull themselves up by those bootstraps, those fucking bootstraps that every mentally ill person would love to brandish at the people who suggest that the Road to Wellness is merely a matter of eschewing some indolence they seem to think we have.

Motherfucker, if I could pull up some metaphorical out-of-current-parlance item to fix myself, don’t you think I would have done that ELEVEN YEARS AGO? Because who among us wants eleven years of their life to just disappear with nothing to show for them? Who?

I have spent time focusing on small problems in order to avoid the biggest one, the hydra-headed one that follows me around like the dust cloud follows Pig-Pen from Peanuts. But all problems lead to one end, and it is this one. The Big One.

I never had time to get better. And so I never have. And things just keep getting more and more log-jammed, in my head, and in my life, and I am overwhelmed.

I am studying coding, in an attempt to make something of this life. But I know that unless I get the actual Life stuff sorted out, it’s not going to help. I have to be a person who is reliable and focused, not someone who has to put themselves back together every morning from scratch.

How the fuck will I ever get there, when my main focus must be survival? What I have to do to survive, it’s not healthy for me in myriad ways. And better still, people judge me harshly for doing it. A cherry atop the melted sundae of all the thoughts of the potential I had as a child, and the possibility of what might have been.

It’s hard sometimes to hear parents discuss parenting with other parents. They are all so focused on their children’s welfare. Their lives appear to be centered around parenting, and being parents. They think about things like which school is best, and how it will affect their child’s future. Their kids are involved in school activities and have friends and don’t have to lie about the stuff that happens at home. And their kids don’t seem to be randomly insulted by people on the street for no reason. It’s like, if I squint my mind’s eye I can almost see that kind of life, where every day is the same, there is a routine and you follow it, and you make progress in things, and your parents know what’s going on in your schooling, and the idea of you going to college isn’t considered ridiculous or impossible or simply “off the table” but instead a real fucking thing. Where you say “I want to do this creative thing for a living” and you don’t hear back, “You’ll never make a living doing that” as the very first response to your giving voice to a dream. Where you know how to plan out things, because you have confidence that the future you are planning is actually going to happen.

Oh, yeah;. And where no one hits you or beats you with a belt or molests you or psychologically tortures you day in and day out. That, too.  And where you can have friends over and know everything will be okay, that there won’t be some horrible scene coming out of nowhere that will end with someone threatening to throw you out of the house to live on the street. Where you can say, “Yeah, this teacher was kinda a jerk”, and know that later on, no one in your family is going to be calling that teacher and threatening to put a bomb in her car.

My parents loved me. But my dad was psychotic for most of my childhood, and neither he nor my mom protected me from the adoptive sister, who was and is a violent sociopath. And they were so busy reacting to her every fucked-up move, that there was no room for anything, or anyone, else.

I don’t know what else to say. I have to try to figure out how to make this day worth something now. I have been crying all morning. I am surrounded by used tissues and I can no longer breathe through my nose. And these tears and this Everything has fucked up a day where I needed to try to do something to earn some money to pay for the ever-growing list of things that need to be paid for, some of which – like redoing my teeth so my facial bone structure doesn’t cave in – will probably never be possible.

This is the truth about my life. Along with so very much else that remains unsaid.

 

*ETA: my shrink is a good shrink. It is the 15-minute hour, though, and just medication, so I didn’t count him among the therapists and doctors I grouped together as derelict. But I wanted to acknowledge him, and say that without him, I would not be here.

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Mental Illness and fMRIs

Here is yet another study where fMRIs are used to determine particulars about the conditions of the brain in certain mental illnesses and disorders.

I recall a doctor – though I forget her name – who LAUGHED at me when I suggested an fMRI would be due diligence regarding my mental illness. She thought it was a ridiculous notion to scan someone’s brain for such a reason.

Clearly she was not taking advantage of Continuing Education. Also, she was a straight-up bitch.

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Doctors Without Hearts (TL;DR)

doctors without heartsI’m still trying to recover from the year and eight months I was without medication. I experienced so many hellish side effects. And you know, it’s funny, writing that line was really hard, saying I experienced hellish side effects was very difficult, because first of all, it’s an enormous understatement about what I went through. Then, secondly, it was hard to write because my brain tells me that I don’t matter enough to voice that. Because of the way I was treated by doctors and other medical “professionals” during this time, they who refused to give me medication that I needed so badly, and the combined fact that, no matter who I contacted for help, no one gave a shit. No one cared. Now, don’t care about me, that’s fine, I may not be your cup of tea. But surely someone should have cared that I was out in the general population without anti-psychotic meds. No one did. The withdrawal symptoms from anti-psychotics include sudden rage, hallucinations, and other horrors that, when one is in the throes of them, can definitely affect people other than just the person wigging out. So the public cost, you’d think THAT would be worth someone ATTEMPTING to help. But no.

I wrote to the Huffington Post to tell them about the mistreatment I was receiving in various doctors offices – they were doing all these “HuffPost supports the mentally ill” articles, patting themselves on the back. They never wrote back. I called the local news stations, and while a news anchor who answered agreed that someone should help me – “just look at what happened in South Carolina”, he said, referring to the latest shooting at that time – the reporter he assigned to call me back was rude and unhelpful. Just about everyone I dealt with was rude and unhelpful. And I was – and still am – just blown away that people will go into a field where the OATH is “Above all else DO NO HARM” and then be cruel and horrid to their clients.

And let’s look at that word: clients. The word “client” denotes that they are working for me, they were there expressly to help. And instead they did the direct opposite. Not only did they block me from much needed meds, but they were horrible people who said scathing things to me and traumatized me further. And the cognitive dissonance you get when you know you’re right – I KNOW what meds I need, I’ve been in this long enough to know my own brain – but you have someone “in authority” telling you that you are wrong, it’s so fucking painful. The feeling of not being heard. Of actually and literally begging someone to help you and have them not only refuse but smirk and made snide comments while they do so. It’s completely demoralizing and dehumanizing. And it happens to people like me all the time. Other mentally ill people go through this shit too. And sometimes – like in the case of Stanhope and Bingo – someone cares, and is a champion to the person being mistreated, and validates their experience by not only being an informed witness who understands just how damaging this kind of thing is, but by rallying around the person and defending them, by complaining to the “powers that be” and being a voice for the person who is voiceless.

As fantastic irony would have it, the person who dubbed herself the Latin word for “voice” – Vox – does not have one. I have no voice but I call myself Vox, how screwed up is that?

I also do not have an advocate. A spouse, a social worker, a relative – nope. And no one else sprang into the shoes of a Social Justice Warrior, so, you know, fuck me.  It’s like, okay, I get it, my pain doesn’t matter. It still stings nonetheless.

It really sucks when you don’t have that person who rallies around you, who defends you when you are vulnerable and unable to do so yourself, that advocate that says, No Doc, you will not push this person around. Why, no matter who I try to tell, “hey, this terrible thing happened and kept happening and it happens to other people too”, does no one really appear to care? Crazy people can fuck your day up if they are off their meds. Isn’t that something that most everyone should be concerned about? That people who NEED to be medicated can get ACCESS to their medication? I thought so but nah.

The only entity that even tried to help was Kaiser Health News. The editor wrote me a very helpful email with resources for legal aid and patient programs for meds (though I still couldn’t get those prescribed just yet, because of the resistance of doctors who were General Practitioners fearful of my med combo). And I did meet one person online who researched self-pay psychiatrists in my area, which was very kind of that person, more so that I can say. But otherwise, no, I went through this hellish experience apparently all for nothing, because nothing will change for anyone else because no one gave a damn that this happened to me.

That I was fired from my doctor and left without meds for almost two years, my condition worsening exponentially. That no other doctors would help me by prescribing medications that I could easily prove to them with medical records I had been taking. They didn’t care about my records. They never even requested them.

I went into doctor’s offices hopeful each time, like an idiot, thinking that this would be the time someone would help me. Instead I was thrown out of offices for “drug seeking behavior” – apparently asking for Strattera, a non-controlled substance used for ADHD, is drug seeking. That’s so stupid. Of COURSE it’s drug seeking. I am seeking a prescription for a drug. That doesn’t mean I’m going to abuse that drug, which is not a fun drug anyway, it just inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine. Yeah, a real dance party there. And since when do you get high off Abilify? It’s an anti-psychotic. Those types of drugs take AWAY the bath-saltiness of mania and the lunacy of psychotic depression. They don’t get you fucked up. But I was a “drug seeker” because I knew what medications I needed and I asked for them by name.

Although it – here comes another understatement – “hurts my feelings” that this happened to me, what’s really bullshit about this is that it happens to people who cannot even articulate how they are being treated to others. And there’s the problem that when you are mentally ill sometimes you think you actually deserve this sort of heartless treatment because maybe you might hate yourself a little, or a lot, so you might not even tell someone if something like this happened to you. You might not know you don’t actually deserve to be treated like you are nothing. And no one cares this is happening, so these people just keep getting away with it. They keep getting away with firing patients for their own staff’s errors, berating the patient and mislabeling the patient as non-compliant as an excuse when really, the patient’s complied all along, there’s been nothing BUT compliance… they get away with leaving someone without medication they need to take every. single. day. without. fail. They get away with lying and telling grievance committees that the patient never was a patient of theirs (I guess the Doc is in the habit of giving breast exams to people who are not her patients).

They get away with this mistreatment again and again, because no one in a position of strength gives enough of a damn to make them stop.

I’ve been refused meds, thrown out, fired, held illegally against my will, had a gun pointed at me, been laughed at, been yelled at, been threatened with a catheter just out of meanness and told I was a drug addict. On top of everything else that I have been through in life. Treated this way by people who have taken the Hippocratic Oath. And nowhere in that Oath does it say “Make them worse for having seen you”.

I have a wonderful shrink now, at long last. I have to pay cash to see him, and that’s a big hardship. But I don’t have a choice and he is worth it. He is compassionate and he is insightful. And I finally have the meds I need to try to put my life back together. But what of those who cannot go this route? What happens to them? What about the people still stuck in the vicious cycle that kept me down?

How many of them could be saved from homelessness, poverty, suicide, or possible incarceration, if only they had the correct meds and a good doctor?

All I know is that if we don’t find a way to weed out these bad doctors from the healthcare community, it poisons the whole healthcare well. Gross incompetence should not be tolerated in medicine. But for some reason, getting this across in the context of mental illness is exceedingly difficult.

Maybe it would help if I were more concise. Hmm. Yeah, probably not.

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Update on The Denying Doctor

So my former primary care doctor has gotten away with lying, because when I switched doctors on August 6, it wiped the slate clean and retroactively placed me with my new doctor, so the system erased everything back to August 1 and said I was with my new doctor since then. Since I didn’t visit the lying doctor in the beginning of August and only called, everything in the system backs her up instead of me. SO for all intents and purposes, the evidence that I was her patient disappeared despite the fact that I was actually her patient, so she and her office manager are using this technical loophole to make me appear to be a drug-seeking weirdo who was not her patient, and implying I was never a patient.

But I was her patient: from May 1, 2015 until August 6, 2015. She even gave me a breast exam, for crying out loud. I got bloodwork done for her office, so Quest Diagnostics has her listed as my physician on my lab results, which are independently accessible.

Kristen Marsonek was in fact my doctor when I requested repeatedly that she prescribe the psychiatric medications that I was out of and suffering withdrawals from, medications that she refused to refill because she did not “feel comfortable”. Despite the knowledge that I was suffering withdrawal symptoms, including severe depression, anxiety, rage, hallucinations, panic, paranoia, nightmares, insomnia…she refused.

She knew I could not get in to see a psychiatrist for months, but still, she said, “Go see a psychiatrist. Go to a mental health center.” Even the mental health centers had waiting lists. You could go and wait all day and hope you’d be seen, with no guarantee, and no guarantee, either, that you’d be treated with any sort of decency. With agoraphobia and general fear of people I couldn’t chance someone being cruel to me. So many medical so-called professionals had been already. So a mental health center was not really an option. Besides which, the ones I had already visited had refused to prescribe my ADHD medication. (I have been back on it a month, and while the dosage needs to be adjusted, there is already such an amazing difference in my mood and my outlook. It is integral to my medication “cocktail” and to my mental well-being, and mental health centers just don’t get that.) So again, not an option.

I could understand not wanting to prescribe a controlled substance like Adderall so I even gave her the option of Strattera, also approved for ADHD, and not controlled because it is an SNRI class drug. But no. She would not even fill my anti-psychotic. Feel the gravity of that. She would not even keep someone from having a psychotic break. Hippocratic Oath. Above all else do no harm. I feel like this goes beyond not doing her job, and into being a bad person. But that’s just my opinion. You may feel differently. You may never have lost everything to a psychotic break.

And so, after refusing to help me at least try for some semblance of stability or hanging on to what little sanity I possess, so that I might hopefully one day try to start building upon that little block of sanity and make it bigger, she then lies about why she refused me the medication. And makes it sound as if I’m just going through the White Pages or Google, calling up doctors insanely demanding crazy pills. Demanding medication that doesn’t even get you off, for crying out loud. I mean, who the hell gets high off of Abilify?

As if there isn’t enough stigma for being mentally ill, now my records probably have an Elaine Benes-esque mark on them with this lie, which was perpetrated by the office manager, according to the letter from the Grievance Department at Staywell  (whose parent company, Wellcare, apparently SPONSORS THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW. This is who I am dealing with here.) Basically, I was told, I can do nothing. They can do this and that is the end of it. Oh, but wait. If I wasn’t a patient, do I even have records with their office now? Or did they burn them in some skylarking pagan ceremony?

Whatever the case, if they can lie,  I can write this blog post, and have it serve as my review of my experience with Dr. Kristen Marsonek in Tampa, Florida. I find it very lacking in compassion to let a patient suffer, and allow a patient to actually beg you for help, and to not only refuse them, but then, when the patient tells someone, trying to cleanse themselves of this psychic damage that comes from a caretaker being neglectful and unfeeling, actually lie about the patient and exploit that patient’s mental illness to put yourself in a good light is just egregious. It is entirely antithetical to the idea of healing, and it is wrong. This is my honest review and assessment. I would not recommend a doctor who would do that to a patient. I would not recommend a doctor who would allow a patient to suffer and then deny that the patient was ever even a patient of that office. Therefore I cannot in good faith recommend Dr. Kristen Marsonek to anyone.

This is my personal opinion, based on my personal experience. I have a letter from Staywell which backs up that Dr. Marsonek’s office said I was not a patient, and I have proof from Quest Diagnostics and Staywell that I was a patient of her office.

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The Medical Mundane

Picture 115There are, at this moment, at least five scheduled doctor appointments in my future. It is possible that after the next appointment, there will be even more. I received the results of my blood test, you see. It’s amazing that now you can actually view your own test results online before you talk to your doctor, I’m sure doctors are not pleased about this, because they do not, from my experience, seem too thrilled about Web M.D., or any sort of patient education, for that matter. If they could throttle you while screaming “LET ME DRIVE!” and get away with it, it’d probably be protocol. Or hey, maybe that’s just me. It’s probably just me.

Anyway. These blood tests. Apparently my thyroid is so low as to be almost NON-EXISTENT. I do, however, have an abundance of white blood cells, which is not a good idea. And the type of thyroid levels that are low indicate something is up with the pituitary gland, which brings into question that pituitary tumor thing again, which I am not going to get worked up over this time because I am sure it will end up being baloney just like last time. I probably just need some Andre the Giant medicine or something. Yes, that’s it. Give me yet another pill to take in the morning. That will fix me.

All of this doctor monkey business takes up a lot of mental space. I need a lot of time to process things anyway, and time to get used to the idea of things – I’m not exactly what you would call a spontaneous person, that is, unless I plan for it (rim shot) – no, really, though, you can actually plan to be spontaneous, but that’s another post. It’s an anxiety thing, and I think obviously a control thing, even though outwardly I don’t try to control things, inwardly I’m trying to get hold of myself, and that takes a lot of figuring out because my brain doesn’t always fire on all cylinders, and sometimes it fires on too many at once. Thankfully, though, one of these five appointments is a shrink appointment, so there is that.

The doctor who refused to fill my psychiatric meds and let me suffer for months told the Grievance Committee of the insurance company that I was never her patient and that’s why she wouldn’t prescribe to me. I think Monday I will call the Grievance Department and ask them to ask her to refund the money the insurance company paid her for office visits then, and perhaps sue her for fraud, if that’s the case. I’m being facetious, of course. I’m just going to point out to them that they have records that disprove her claim and that I should not have to file an appeal in order for them to finish their investigative process with due diligence.  I cannot believe the nerve though. There is paperwork to back me up. Does she really think she can lie and make me look like some sort of drug-seeker just randomly calling doctors looking for pills?  Senior  Grievance Coordinator of Staywell, you have a phone call coming.

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“Dr.” Noe: The Chain of Maltreatment, Part Two

“Tell me a bit about your family,” she said.

“Well, for starters, my sister was extremely abusive. We believe that she had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome,” I began.

“When was she diagnosed,” she interrupted.

“What?”

“When was she diagnosed?”

“No, um, well, she was never really diagnosed…”

“Then how do you know she had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?” Her tone became clipped.

“Well, see, she…”

“Let me tell you something. I am an expert in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I once diagnosed it in a girl by sight. Just by looking at her I could tell. From across the room. You are not a doctor. You don’t know. Don’t go around throwing medical terms out like you’re a doctor, okay? Only someone who has experience should make that determination. You’re not experienced. What were her symptoms? Did she have a brain scan? Did you look at her brain? Was her head smaller than normal?”

“No, uh, actually her forehead was a bit bigger, my mom said the doctors were always measuring it when…”

“Well, right there… If you knew anything about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome you’d know that they tend to be micro-encephalitic, smaller heads than normal. What makes you think she had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?”

That weird icy rush that accompanies that special blend of being simultaneously deeply hurt and suddenly shocked by someone’s complete and utter rudeness rose up through my chest and slid into my arms and became my upper body. “Um, the fact that her biological mother DRANK THE WHOLE TIME SHE WAS PREGNANT, MAYBE?”

“You don’t need to raise your voice.”

So it went on like this, with the so-called “therapist” who deserved a space between the “e” and the “r”.

Near the end of this, the first session, she said, “Well, you’ll never be happy, and you’ll never be functional. Prepare yourself for that. And you smell sour. I need to tell you that because you have psychosis.”

Where to even start? I had showered and was wearing clean clothes. I was on my period. Was this predatory creature smelling me bleeding in my underwear? I smelled SOUR?

And how about that death sentence: “You’ll never be happy, and you’ll never be functional.”

What is the appropriate response to that? “Thank you” ? Laying down and dying? What?

“You’re going to have to do the work,” she was saying. She kept saying that sentence over and over. About how I was going to have to do the work. Like it was turning a big crank or something. And like I expected HER to do it. I began to wonder why she went into this line of work for about a second, and then my mind went immediately back to:

YOU’LL NEVER BE HAPPY AND YOU’LL NEVER BE FUNCTIONAL.

I’ll never be happy, and I’ll never be functional.

Y’AREN’T NEVER GONNA GET OUTTA THAT CHAIR, BLANCHE. 

I’m never gonna get out of this chair. I’m just gonna sit here and this woman is gonna serve me a pet bird for lunch as “therapy”.

I cried all the way home, her words reverberating in my head. I wondered why I should even bother coming back, if I had no chance for happiness, no chance to even be able to wash dishes or brush my teeth on a regular basis without assistance. Because after all, wasn’t that what being “functional” meant? That you could get along on the daily without special assistance?

And wait – wasn’t therapy supposed to be therapeutic? Wasn’t that actually where the word “therapy” originated?

I suffered much anguish because of this woman’s words. Untold sleepless nights, buckets of tears, suffocating humiliation over being told I “smelled sour”. Missed appointments to the psychiatrist I saw who worked in the same office as her because I was suddenly fearful and avoidant.

I told my psychiatrist about it. “Oh, that doesn’t sound like Debbie,” he said. I insisted that it was, in fact, her.

I told my new therapist. “Oh, I’m sure she didn’t mean it like that.”

How else would she have meant it? And how many ways can one “smell sour”? Quite a few, I’m sure, and none of them are probably very positive.

Finally, my psychiatrist confronted Ms. Noe about this and she said, “I don’t remember that.”

She either did not remember the scars she cut lengthwise down my soul, or else she was copping out on her wildly unethical behavior. Either scenario simply does not bode well nor speak to any sort of professionalism on her part.

But that was the end of it. That and several charges for missed appointments, charges that rankled me every time I received a bill. It wasn’t fair. She traumatized me and I get a bill for that?

I wanted to alert the office manager, so at least this would not happen to someone else. And honestly, I really, really wanted to be fucking heard. I felt like I had no voice, because once she’d said she didn’t remember, she conveniently absolved herself of any personal responsibility, and her colleagues considered the matter closed. No one cared about what sort of cost that kind of sweeping statement from someone in a supposed position of authority would have on a person in my state of vulnerability.

And so I wanted the office manager to understand me.  I wanted the office manager to know I wasn’t just some jerk racking up fees. There was a reason why I had this balance. I felt this reason was important. Hell, I was convinced of it. And I thought that once I explained it, other people would understand, and feel it was an important reason, too.

I could not have been more wrong.

 

To be continued…

*with the exception of “You’ll never be happy and you’ll never be functional” all quotes attributed to Ms. Noe are paraphrased. “You’ll never be happy and you’ll never be functional” is quoted here verbatim.

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A Chain of Maltreatment, Part One – Psychiatric Abuse

This is a tale of psychiatric abuse.

It was December 2005, and my Uncle Frank was somewhere on one of the upper floors of Tampa General Hospital on life support, clinging to what they were calling life but what was not life, not at all, was in fact dwindling-away-from-life, and we were all gathering there to say goodbye as his living will had asked that the proverbial plug be pulled.

As circumstance would have it, I was out of psychiatric medication and had been for some time, having no insurance, and Tampa General was what they called at the time an “indigent” hospital, meaning they would see anyone, insurance or none. So my mother suggested that, since it was going to take some time for the paperwork, I stop by the ER with my empty pill bottle and request a refill of my meds. No big deal.

The doctor that saw  me in the ER, one Raleigh Hackstadt, said, “Oh, I can’t prescribe you anything. I can give you a referral to a doctor.”

I argued that I needed medication.

“I can do one of two things,” he countered. “I can either give you a referral, or I can Baker Act you. And since you don’t want a referral, I’m gonna Baker Act you.”

“You can’t Baker Act me”, I said, “I’m not a harm to myself or anyone else!” The Baker Act is Florida’s legal process for involuntary 72 hour psychiatric hold and being a danger to oneself or another is the basic criteria for such a hold. Paperwork must be filled out by law enforcement, who must oversee the whole process. This is important to note for later.

“Oh, I can Baker Act you,” he said, and walked off officiously. I took off running, to doors that would not open. A nurse who had overheard this exchange helpfully told me which button to push to open the doors (ha) and I ran outside, where I was cheered on by a group of girls in the parking lot, only to be chased down by security officers who pulled their weapons on me and forced me to go back inside.

Once inside I was made to put on a hospital gown but no police officer showed up and they had me sit in an office. A male nurse demanded a urine sample and I refused.

I said, “No, absolutely not. I didn’t come in here with a UTI or acting like I was on PCP. You have no right to a urine sample. I’m refusing treatment.”

A few minutes later a female nurse came up with a form that she tried to trick me into signing.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“A consent form for treatment.”

“I’m not signing it. I don’t consent to treatment.”

Then, Mr. You Need To Give Me A Urine Sample threatened to forcibly catheterize me.

I said, “If you even try I will sue you until you are a husk and nothing more.”

After being held for about five hours with no police officer ever showing up at any point and no Baker Act papers ever being filled out, they said, “You can go”. The “Doctor” Hackstadt gave me a prescription – remember the whole problem at the beginning is that he did not want to give any prescriptions – for a medication I didn’t take, one with a black box ( may cause suicide) warning and sent me off, saying “Don’t do anything stupid now”. I swear he was smirking.

 

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