Monthly Archives: December 2014

Have a Good One!

Happy New Year to all who read this!

Not feeling at all well, and so am not going to regale you with one of those “2014 end-of-year wrap-ups”.  I am going to have an exciting night in, most likely sleeping a lot.  I have more tests on Friday (something came back abnormal).

I hope your 2015 is a good one, full of love and laughter and all good things!

See you next week…I’ll be back to ranting in no time!

Be kind.

Blink…Blink…Blink…

Anyone who has ever sat down at a computer to write something is familiar with the blinking cursor that awaits, as you think of something – something interesting – to write.

And so it is today with me.  But I want to/need to write, as it is good discipline for me and (I think) makes me a better writer for it.  More practice than anything, as I know there are few who read this blog anyway.

It’s gray and chilly here in central PA today, this day before Christmas.  I like snow but I know my friend Nancy has to drive in it, so I am not wishing too hard for a white Christmas.   Still, it seems less festive somehow to not have any snow at all.

Likewise, much of the news today is gray.  “Gray” as in “depressing”.  That will be noted in the news section of the blog, the historical part for the future readers (I will try to be as objective as I can).  I would be lying if I said this didn’t affect my mood.  I am surprised, though, how bad my mood is today.

I was going to spend Christmas with one of my adult children, but had to decline because of the medical issues.  I still think it was a wise decision, because no one wants a houseguest who is sick much of the time.

But I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to spend Christmas alone.  I don’t usually ever have issues being alone, in general, so it’s kind of surprising to me how sad it makes me.  It probably has to do with a couple of things – the natural inclination to miss one’s family, and the unfulfilled expectations of how family life was supposed to be at this time of life.

Everyone has a vision, usually, of how they expect their life to be at different stages.  Mine started out as “stay-at-home mother of large family”, which didn’t exactly pan out that way when I got divorced.

I had never really thought much beyond that, even when I got my degree.  I couldn’t see myself as a university professor (even though I love to teach, actually), yet I had no idea about what it was I was supposed to do, or who I was supposed to be.

My health issues interfered with my work on my degree in Dublin, as did the restrictions on recruiting participants.

Side note: In universities in Ireland, it is considered to be coercive to recruit university students for experiments, even if offering credit for participating.  Had I known this, I would not have taken the position.  Ever try to recruit total strangers on your local city street, with no incentives to give them?  It’s impossible.  This is perhaps why you see very little psychological research involving human subjects coming out of Ireland.

When I returned, degree-less, to the US, I then had to find work.  I naturally tried to get a job running subjects for various medical companies…but to my surprise, they don’t want people trained in experimental protocol, they want nurses.  That still baffles me to this day, and having never even gotten an interview for anyplace I applied to, I was never able to ask the companies “why only nurses”?

So then I turned my attention to counseling jobs.  Easy, I thought.  And it kinda was.  Not particularly easy to get a job, but easy enough to do it when the caseload wasn’t large.  But that’s seldom the situation – counselors are overworked, and carry caseloads that are pretty much impossible to do on a 40 hour work week.

In addition to that, counseling jobs usually involve attending seminars for credit (some kind of requirement at every job I have had), going to meetings at least weekly to discuss your clients with the rest of the “treatment team”, and then there’s the social crap that every workplace wants their people to attend.

This is all in addition to a caseload of, say, 30 people.  30 people that Medicaid and other insurance companies require you see twice a week.  Plus at least one family session.  And all in a timeframe set by Medicaid and the state (treatment plan done and signed by patient within 48 hours of admission, etc).

It is a massive amount of paperwork that is being required to be completed and filed by impossible deadlines.  And by “filed”, I mean input into a computer program that records the date and time of your submission.  This, in my opinion, contributes to fraud by the counselor in order to make deadlines.

I have already seen the back-dating and forging signatures the counselors did at my last job, and I can only imagine what creative ways they have found to get around the computer system.  I will bet it often involves writing up counseling sessions that never happened.

Side note #2: Some places, like Delta Medical in Memphis (the place I left to come to PA for, ever to my regret), actually hire enough people to do these tasks.  It is the ONLY place, however, that I have found that does this. 

Everyone, in order to save money, works their counselors to death.  The last place I worked, it was routine for counselors to camp out over the weekend at the workplace, in order to get their paperwork done.  Unpaid, of course.

But again, I digress into a complaint about the mental health system, about which I have many.

The point is, I went from self-defined “housewife/mother” to “university student” to “therapist”, and still cannot seem to find my place in the world.

About the only things that have remained a part of my identity – or in some cases just resurfaced after an attempt to ‘fit in’ – are a quick temper in response to unfairness of any kind to anyone, a bohemian way of dressing/decorating my living space, vegetarianism, and a tendency to daydream…perhaps too much.

I had planned to have children early in life so that, at the age I am now, I would have time to do things like travel more, enjoy my kids as adults, and spend time with a lot of grandchildren.  The dream always included a set space, a home, some kind of house in the country that was “Grandma’s house”.

I know, it’s very Norman Rockwell, isn’t it?  I even imagined having a front porch with a swing, a couple of dogs, and possibly a horse or two.

The only thing resembling that life is that I have a porch.  In a town that is Norman Rockwell-like in its architecture.

I am not blaming anyone but myself for the fact that I do not have the kind of life I had imagined.  And I am spending this time on disability pondering what steps I need to take to revise my plans and work on a creating a new life.

In 2 years, my student loans will be gone.  I would dearly love to go back to academia and get a PhD in something that would allow me to work with very few restrictions (you know, like the kind that get me fired).  Very vague, I know.

And I do not intend to get more student loans, or even pay for a PhD program – in psychology, the experimental branch at least, one often gets tuition reimbursement and a stipend in exchange for working for one’s professor.

To me, that’s the best bargain going.

It would require that I find a professor willing to take on a “non-traditional” student.  It would also require I find something interesting in a field of research, have a well-thought-out hypothesis I want to test, and find a professor who is working on the same kind of thing.  In a country that allows the participation of college students in experiments, or has a subject pool of some kind at the ready.

It would require that I switch back to experimental psychology.

Not that the thought of getting a PhD in clinical psychology doesn’t interest me – it does.  I could hang out my own shingle somewhere, possibly work with some folks I like who are in practice in the Memphis area, and get back in touch with a few people in community organizations there who are doing some really good things.

That, however, does require money.  As far as I know, professors in clinical psychology do not generally have assistants that they pay a stipend to and tuition for.  And there is no way in hell I am going to take out student loans.  No. way. ever.

I have time to figure it all out.  Heck, these days just about the only thing I have in abundance is time (I hope…).

So, this is what I try to focus on now.  Because anything regarding the past – and certainly anything regarding the holidays in the present – is a bit too painful to dwell on.  This is where my penchant for daydreaming comes in handy, and, now that I think about it, probably the reason I am so good at it is because it is a defense mechanism left over from childhood.

Alice, escaping through the looking glass, or down the rabbit hole.

Have a good holiday and wait!  The obligatory weirdness…

Both of these come from Cosmos Magazine:

“Is Gravity the Force Driving Time Forwards?” (Cosmos Magazine website, 12/22/2014)

Interesting article, it really is.

“Descent into Siberia’s Mystery Crater” (Ibid)

One, then two, massive square-shaped craters have formed in Siberia, and some scientists decided to go down and take a look.  They took pics, too.  The reason for the craters?  They are thinking “earth farts”.  Ok, they don’t think that, it’s my name for the phenomenon.

Recommendations this week?  Even if you don’t subscribe to Hulu Plus, you can still see this on the regular Hulu…

“Deadbeat”, starring Tyler Labine as a stoner and ghost hunter/medium.  It’s really funny!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reefer Madness, Mostly In Pennsylvania

Most of you who are my age or older know about the 1938 film “Reefer Madness”, a ridiculous movie that portrayed pot smoking as something that would make people immoral and stupid.

It was a big hit in the 1960s/early 70s, mostly in midnight shows at alternative theaters like The Biograph in Washington, DC (alternative as in, “I just spent almost 5 hours watching “Scenes from a Marriage” by Ingmar Bergman because I wanted to impress my upper-class friends”…..that kind of theater).

Anyway, people often refer to it when talking about the reactionary, hysterical anti-marijuana lobby, which this week has suffered a major setback:

“Tucked deep inside (a) 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy.

Under the provision, states where medical pot is legal would no longer need to worry about federal drug agents raiding retail operations. Agents would be prohibited from doing so.”  (“Congress Quietly Ends Federal Government’s Ban on Medical Marijuana”, Los Angeles Times website, 12/16/2014)

No more arresting people in the 32 states that have approved marijuana for medical use.

Unfortunately (for moi), that does not include Pennsylvania.  Because in Pennsylvania, illegal drugs mean big bucks for the ‘recovery industry’.  And they were all ready to add “marijuana addiction” to the list of things you could get treatment for – now tell me that wouldn’t result in a huge increase in admissions (money) for treatment centers?

Here in Pennsylvania, a cursory look at “Psychology Today” listings of treatment centers reveals 20 pages of them…run by everyone from medical conglomerates such as “behavioral health corporations” to ‘former addicts’ who create a social service agency and think they are the end-all and be-all of substance abuse counselors because they’ve “been there”.

“Poverty pimps” we used to call those people – people who had no other skills but the ability to con people out of money so they could sit in an office, go to seminars and conferences, and collect a decent salary.  No training, just a cult-like belief in AA (for which there is no scientific evidence), a good sob story, and the ability to bullshit other addicts.

The point is, Pennsylvania has a lot of treatment centers, and they generate revenue for the courts, doctors, social workers, former addicts, and wealthy benefactors who fund them.  When I “left” my last job at a treatment clinic, the powers-that-be were talking about expanding their treatment of heroin/oxycodone addicts to include “marijuana addicts”.

Which, when you think about it, could include just about everyone.

The other part of the equation in Pennsylvania is the conservative, ignorant legislators.  These are people who do not see any difference between marijuana and heroin. They still use phrases like “gateway drug” – no, really, they do.  I have talked to a few who think that way.

In the last attempt to pass a decent bill legalizing medical marijuana, legislators (inexplicably to me) – Democrats – agreed to continue the ban on smoking or vaporizing marijuana, and to delete several ailments that people could get medical marijuana for – including severe pain, AIDS patients, and glaucoma!  (“Politics Eclipses Needs of Cannabis Patients: SB1182 Passes Senate”, Philly NORML website, 10/1/2014) I thought glaucoma was one of the very first things they discovered marijuana actually did help??

According to NORML:

“Only processed forms of cannabis products would be legal for patients to posses under the latest version of SB1182. These include cannabis-infused edibles, oil-based extracts, tinctures, and salves. Whole plant cannabis (the dried, cured raw flowers) would remain illegal and available only underground. Patients who use raw cannabis would still be at risk of arrest and prosecution.” (Ibid)

So…no tea.  Just brownies. Or you could put it on your skin, like a lotion – which doesn’t do a damn thing.  Hey, you can get hemp lotion in Walmart now, you morons!

NORML goes on to add:

“Other problems with the new SB1182 include: Extremely high licensing fees and overly excessive background check requirements for providers; limiting patients to a 30-day supply of cannabis products but not defining what amounts constitute that supply; and forbidding patients from altering their medicine. This means patients cannot utilize any whole plant material to make their own oil extracts, concentrates, or edibles – all of which are perfectly safe to do.”

Whoops! Ok, brownies are still in, but only if the patient doesn’t make them.  Geez.

They also cut the list of qualifying illnesses from 47 to just 10:

“The ten qualifying conditions under the version of SB 1182 that passed the Senate are: cancer, epilepsy and seizures, ALS, cachexia/wasting syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury and postconcussion syndrome, MS, Spinocerebellara Ataxia (SCA), PTSD, and severe fibromyalgia.” (“Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Bill Gutted and Passed by Senate 42-7”, National Marijuana Info.Org website, 10/2/2014)

PTSD would be a nod to the large veterans’ lobby here, ‘wasting syndrome’ is a “see? we didn’t forget AIDS patients” PR move, and…fibromyalgia?  You’re kidding, right?  I have no idea why that’s in there, unless it’s to shut up politicians’ relatives who bitch about it all the time, maybe?

Fibromyalgia is more painful than AIDS?  I don’t think so.  Is it more painful than lupus or other autoimmune diseases?  I don’t think so.  ALS and Parkinson’s are included but not MS?

Is this the old ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’ thing, and people with these diseases just happen to push a little harder and yell a little louder?  Or is it maybe that the people who wrote the bill have relatives with these diseases?  Whatever the case, it ignores science and is really unfair.

Take neuropathic pain, for example.  That’s ‘nerve pain’.  Anyone who has ever had sciatica knows that burning, sharp pain that seems to come and go at will,  It’s common in diabetes and AIDS, too.  It usually isn’t helped by gabapentin (hello, fibromyalgia patients, this drug works for you).  There is a lot of research indicating that marijuana eases neuropathic pain:

“Cannabis for Treatment of HIV-Related Peripheral Neuropathy”, University of California, San Franciso, 2007, study published in Neurology, and reported by the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

“Low-Dose Vaporized Cannabis Significantly Improves Neuropathic Pain”. National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institute of Health (yes, folks, that’s our gov’t agency) website, 2/14/2013.

Those are just 2.  There are many, many others, and not just in the US but in Canada and the UK also.  You can Google “Cannabis and Pain” and find many examples of studies.  So why isn’t it included?

This is why, I think, it’s best to let someone’s doctor decide if medical marijuana is appropriate for his/her patient, not legislators.  I can tell just by this list that those decisions by legislators are not based on science, but maybe some emotional appeals and/or cronyism and/or PR moves.

Medical treatment should not be based on that.  Nor should it be successfully opposed by a bunch of profit-driven, unproven businesses (ie, treatment centers), whose only interest, again, is not in patient care but in money.  If marijuana is legalized, treatment centers won’t be able to expand, unless they actually want to push the “caffeine addiction” and “tobacco addiction” diagnoses just added to the DSM-V.

I don’t doubt that, when they find an ad agency that can manipulate the public into thinking that people need treatment programs to quit coffee and cigarettes, they will expand into those areas.   Bad news for another unproven sacred cow – AA.  Those folks live off coffee and cigarettes.

I hope 2015 brings a more successful year for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.  So that everyone who can benefit from this drug is allowed to.  By the way, I do fall under one of the 10 categories in that bill, so my rant is not completely self-serving.  I just don’t think it’s fair that all these other people have to suffer for, what to me, seems like not very good reasons.

Medical update:  Got more tests yesterday.  Mammogram was normal.  I did not test positive for HIV.  Metabolic panel revealed a sodium problem (not high, but low).  Hep C test not in yet.

I emailed my doctor to ask if the sodium could be a problem, and he emailed back this morning to say he didn’t think so but we could re-test when next I see him (Dec.26).  Is there any limit to this doctor’s wonderfulness? Not only can patients email him, but he even takes the time to email back!!

My completely layperson guess is adrenal issues.  We’ll see.  I am back to feeling crappy and lightheaded even when I am sitting down.  And fatigue, fatigue, fatigue…lack of appetite is back, along with the nausea.  Meh.

Today’s weirdness…well, I didn’t find any truly weird stuff but I did find something in San Francisco…a giant gingerbread house!!  Oh I miss San Francisco at Christmas-time!  I have a lot of wonderful childhood memories of City of Paris, Macy’s, and the restaurant at the St, Francis Hotel.

Anyway, here’s the link and pic: The Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread House.

As for films….anything on Hallmark Channel (which I can’t get but used to love during holidays)..and classics such as “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas” (or “Holiday Inn”, pretty much the same movie), and any of the “The Santa Clause” movies with Tim Allen.  And of course, Muppets!  Anything with Muppets is sure to cheer up even the meanest of Scrooges.

Be good, be safe, be kind.  Do as my good friend Charlie did, and brighten up somebody’s life who really needs it.  No matter what religion you are (or not), that’s the true spirit of the holidays.  And there’s no shortage of people who need a kind word or gesture, so you have NO excuse.

 

 

 

 

Hey, Merry Christmas!

I do tell people, “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Hanukkah!” depending on to whom I am speaking.  No point in saying, “Have a great Yule!” because that means nowt to most people and who am I, anyway?  The holiday police?

Naw, I greet people this time of year in whatever way keeps them the most, well, merry.

I celebrate Christmas, always have.  I don’t always celebrate Yule in the manner I would like, because most of the places I have lived do not have anywhere to burn a Yule log (yep, y’all stole that from pagan folk).

Here is a brief explanation of Yule, by the BBC:

“The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year (21st December) and was celebrated in Britain long before the arrival of Christianity. The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.

It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year.” (“Winter Solstice”, BBC website, 6/7/2006)

And thus concludes this installment of ‘alternative religion and holidays’.

What I want to write about, this week, is something a lot of you probably don’t want to think about – how poor folk might deal with this time of year.

This is my annual plea to those of you who donate to the food bank.

First of all, thank you.  It’s really good-hearted of you to donate, and I hope you keep on doing it.  But I have some suggestions…

You’ve heard of BPA?  It’s not good for you and it’s in most canned foods, especially canned pastas and meats. Apparently it has been linked to cancer.   It’s also in vegetables and beans – the highest amount found in canned vegetables is in green beans.  And green beans, along with corn, seem to be the 2 things most people donate.

Please don’t.  Oh, you could go all “organic aisle” and get canned stuff without BPA,  but no one expects you to do that – that stuff is expensive.  I was just at the store today, and a can of
“BPA-free organic beans” is $2.39!!  That’s ridiculous.

So please, get dried beans and lentils instead.  They take longer to make than, say, popping open a can, but especially this time of year when people are cooking and baking a lot anyway…oh yeah, we po’ folk bake cookies and cook holiday meals too.

Dried milk instead of evaporated milk (I know, dried milk is pricey, but it’s much needed). Tomatoes, soups, vegetables in those box things instead of cans.  Stuff in glass jars is a little trickier, so you may want to ask your food bank if that’s ok.  Think of what you like to eat during the holidays, and maybe toss in a bag of cookies or something.

In Hollidaysburg, it will go to the people for whom it was intended.  Wherever you live, I don’t know – use your discretion.  I have seen people in Memphis and Altoona rip off the poor that way.  One director of a charity thrift shop in Altoona keeps all the “good stuff” in the back (pastries and so on) that the local grocery store donates to them, then sets out mostly bread for people in need to take.

“Well gosh, poor people don’t need pastries!  The nerve!  They’re all too fat anyway!”

Oh, this is turning into a rant.  Sorry.

Yes, I agree that giving is an act of kindness, and “beggars can’t be choosers”, nor should they “look a gift horse in the mouth”…but, come on, it’s the holidays!  Everywhere you look, people are buying things, visiting relatives, getting involved in holiday things, and of course TV has all the heartwarming shows anyone could ever watch.

A percentage of the population hasn’t money to buy presents, may have no family with which to spend the holidays, and/or is isolated and not involved in holiday activities.  Maybe they are ill, physically or mentally.   Most of them wouldn’t dream of asking for anything from anyone…

…which is why I am going to do it on their behalf.  Because I am one of them, and I choose not to use the food bank because I would rather have very little or no food at the end of the month than to eat the canned stuff they give out.

Side note: Hate to belabor the fact, but just in case y’all think people on disability are not poor, the poverty level for a ‘family of 1’ is $11,670.  That’s per year, folks.  The usual disability check is $735/month (that’s the basic check amount), or $8,820/year.  That means a lot of people subsist at a level that is almost 25% lower than the federal poverty line.

I want to drive home the point because I don’t know how else to get it across – think about how much you make, because you are able to work.  Hell, I don’t begrudge you a million dollars, if you can get it –  that’s not the point.  I want you to imagine how you could live on $11,000/year or less.

If you suddenly become poor, does that mean you have no right to at least eat a somewhat healthy diet?  Compare prices in the store sometime, healthy vs non-healthy, and then you can understand why that food stamp person in the line in front of you is buying canned punch instead of real juice, white bread and pasta instead of the whole wheat versions, even soda instead of something more healthy.

Ever try to bring 2 cases of water home on public transportation?  They get really angry if you try it and they threaten to ban you if you do it again.

Don’t you even dare say we can drink “free” tap water.  If you lived in SuperFund Pennsylvania like I do, you won’t even give your pets tap water, it is that nasty, unhealthy, and sometimes you can set fire to it thanks to fracking.  A water pitcher with filter?  Yeah, I have one.  It sits empty because I can’t afford the refill filter.  That, I have to save up for.  Oh, and in PA most renters have to pay their own water bill…and it’s $60/month.  There is no federal or state program to assist you with your water bill. So, tap water isn’t really free.

A Long Post/Rant: What’s the Question? What’s the Answer?

I feel stuck.

Right now, in 2014, I am on disability.  In terms of disclosure I want to make it clear that my disability is based on having PTSD and……horror of horrors, bipolar disorder.  (Eventually they will add the mystery illness and degenerative disk disease, but that’s more paperwork than I can handle right now.)

I put it that way – “horror of horrors” – because I am really reluctant to disclose this.  The reason is because there is still a great deal of stigma attached to mental illness – and if a therapist has been diagnosed with it, it’s pretty much the end of his/her career.

Since I haven’t worked since I lost my last job in 2010, I think it’s probably a bit silly to think it’s going to matter if anyone – or everyone – knows about my struggle with a mood disorder.  After all, I have already disclosed about my experience as a domestic violence survivor, from where the PTSD came.

The bipolar disorder diagnosis is another matter, and I will get to that farther along in this entry.  Suffice to say. I am nearly 100% sure that was brought on by the use of antidepressants.

Side note: Even the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. the book from which all psychiatric diagnoses are made) acknowledges that “antidepressant-induced hypomania or mania will now qualify a patient for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder” (“DSM-V Won’t Solve the Overdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder – But Clinicians Can”, Psychiatric Times, 5/9/2013).

See anything wrong with that?  I do

The drug companies cause the disorder and then treat it as a disease.  And I can tell you from experience, even if you could convince a doctor it was antidepressant-induced, the usual treatment is still adding more medications like mood stabilizers or anticonvulsants.

Or perhaps by adding one of the newer antipsychotic drugs – they are being advertised all over TV and the internet for “when your antidepressant doesn’t work, add this.”

Back to the main idea…

I want to write about some things regarding the mental health system, criticisms mostly, and I feel it only fair that I disclose I now have experience on ‘both sides of the desk’.

Not that this makes my experiences any more valid than anyone else’s, but tell you what – I am really sick of people who have only had the experience of being a client/patient rant and rave against psychology as a legitimate field, because they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Oh! I bet you expected me to say something completely different, didn’t you?  Something like how sick I am of mental health professionals inflicting harm on patients?

I am sick of that, yes.  It’s the main reason I have lost jobs on a number of different occasions.  I have advocated on behalf of patients against hospitals who have not treated them properly, or haven’t treated them at all, or have treated them when they didn’t even need treatment.

I have convinced psychiatrists to release people who did not have a severe mental illness, and were being held against their will, because some admissions person lied about their assessment.

It happens.  Especially in the case of teenagers being committed because their parents couldn’t handle their behavior.  Or in the case of elderly people whose relatives wanted their money.

Another side note: I still have a lot of respect for some psychiatrists I have worked with, who backed me up and released someone against the screaming of the hospital administrators.  Hint: They’re all in practice in Memphis or Mississippi, in case anyone believes the only ethical professionals are in northern states.

I have gone to bat many times for patients – and have gotten fired.

Even worse, in some cases the patient’s family or the patient him/herself filed a grievance against me (!) because they didn’t think I had gone far enough – in other words, I had failed to obtain a discharge and so, because the patient or family didn’t have the guts to blame the hospital administrators and their lawyers, they turned on me.

Minor digression ahead…

I have had parents of patients demand that I lose my job because I had the nerve to suggest the parents might be part of the problem, that I couldn’t just “fix their kid” and hand the child/teenager back to them, all perfect and well-behaved.

Change?  Why should the parents have to change?  After all, they had “tried everything”…everything except consistency, that is.  In other words, they ground their kid “for a month!” then back down when they can’t take the whining, surliness, or other tactics kids use to get their way, usually only after a few days.

All the kid learns then is that they can outwait their parents.  Kids can whine seemingly until the end of time, and they know their parents have a limited amount of patience to ignore it.

In one job I had, I used to have a supply of earplugs I would give to parents, and instruct them to use them with their favorite music…so they wouldn’t engage in useless arguments and debates with their teenagers.

Because, as anyone with a teenager knows, it’s like arguing with a particularly obnoxious attorney. They’ll talk circles around you until you give in – just so they’ll shut up.

I have given parents behavioral charts and chore charts so they can let the child/teenager know what is expected of them (don’t just say, “clean your room,” because your definition of “clean” and theirs will probably be very different – be clear about what you want).  Complete with a point system and meaningful rewards for the child/teenager – not meaningful to the parents, and not “you get an iPhone for cleaning the bathroom on Saturday”.

To that, add consequences to the chart, if they don’t do things.  Not, “pull Jimmy off the sports team at school”, because that is what we call a “pro-social activity” and not something up for debate or loss.  More like, “Jimmy can’t go to the movies that week” or something like that.

If the parents do not see the difference between a pro-social activity like sports/choir/science club and a privilege like going to the movies, I know I have a lot of parent education to do.

Ready to Roll!

If you read my post yesterday, you know I was upset and crying.  Mostly because I still don’t know what in hell is wrong with me, and because during a routine test the doctor found some not-so-good things.

Today, I have a different attitude altogether.

Many of you who read my blog are friends of mine since high school.  You know that, back then, I was often in detention, once suspended (for saying the word “shit” in a speech at school), and more than a few times called into the principal’s office to argue politics (he thought of it as, “disciplinary action”; I thought of it as, “arguing with the fascist administration that runs my school”).  I was a hellraiser, no doubt about it.

Not so unusual these days, I guess, but when I was raising a stink about things, it was 1970.

I was a sarcastic, mouthy, sometimes foul-mouthed little thing who looked at the world in terms of capitalism vs everyone else.   To my friends, I was a source of amusement and a ‘nice, sweet girl’.

Hey, we’re all mutidimensional beings, yeah?

And, in some ways, I haven’t really changed much.

I have dialed down the sarcasm, a lot.  Sarasm can be terribly passive-aggressive, and in a few cases has gotten me in more trouble than it’s worth.  Like, “Ah’m gonna beat yo’ ass” kind of trouble.  That’s a southern accent, in case you’re wondering.

I am not really foul-mouthed, or I try really hard not to be.  I realize I called the anesthesiologist a “bitch” in my post yesterday, but I didn’t call her that to her face (but to be fair, it was probably because I was unconscious).  And I stand by that assessment.  Bitch, and a sadist.

I can get mouthy.  I find that things irritate me at pretty much the same rate they always have, when it comes to people being treated unfairly or unkindly.  The difference is, I don’t get mouthy with people with whom I disagree – it’s just not worth the aggravation.  If all they’re doing is thinking wrong-headedly about something, well ok.

Now, if they try to impose their wrong-headedness on me or on someone they are hurting, all bets are off.  I am going to say something.  Probably not loudly, and definitely not passive-aggressively.  I will address someone straight to their face, in as calm a tone as I can manage.

Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.  It works well in PA because people do NOT expect others to be like this.  But, to be fair, I haven’t seen a lot of Central PA folks trying to impose their wrong-headed ideas on others.  They seem to be, on the whole, live-and-let-live kind of people.  I have had 2 run-ins with people hitting me with sarcastic one-liners as they were walking by (yeah, strangers too, I have no idea why), but in general – ASIDE FROM THE HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS – people have been really nice to me.

So….anyway…I woke up today thinking about that anesthesiologist.  And I got angry.  Then I got an email from the colonoscopy folks, asking me to evaluate my experience (they are all into customer service, don’t ya know).  So, gleefully, I let them have it about the whole propofol/no lidocaine experience, told them I blogged about it, wouldn’t return AND would tell others to avoid them, and by the way was going to file a complaint against her.

Man, that felt good.  I even left my name and phone number, in case they call and I can rail against them some more.  Or find out the anesthesiologist’s name.  Hard to file a complaint if you don’t know their name.  I’ll find out eventually.

This got me thinking about Dr. Manic from State College, and another doctor (whom I have not yet blogged about) who actually made me cry during our appointment.  I made a big stink about him to his agency but I doubt it will do much good.  He is really a dickhead.

You might think, if you don’t know me, that I cry easily.  I don’t.  Well, I don’t think I do, anyway.  I think I cry when it’s normal to cry.  And when someone is putting me down, yelling at me, and/or playing head games with me – and it’s unexpected because I was there to see a professional as a patient – that’s going to make me cry.  After I get over the shock of being treated like that.

I am sick of it.

I am sick of being treated like crap because I am an ELI (extremely low income) person on Medicare/Medicaid.  And it doubly pisses me off because I am physically sick, so at a disadvantage in terms of being ready and able to defend myself.

Look at that – “defend myself”.  Why in hell should ANYONE have to be ready to defend themselves when they are going to a doctor for help or a procedure?  “Defense” shouldn’t even come into it!

No. No more.  I am currently looking to see if there are any consumer agencies in PA near me that I can join.  Because I want to cause problems for these healthcare providers and I don’t know how to do it alone.  Of course, I would guess that 90% of these agencies have a
*wink wink* “adversarial” relationship to the healthcare folks they are supposedly at odds with, so this is why I need to take awhile to find the one right for me.

Like, Minnesota has a patient advocate in every hospital there.  But they are employed by the hospital, so there are limits to how far they will go for a patient.  I know how that works, I’ve been fired enough to know.

Side note: I know that in some ways, Central PA can be really cliquish.  I learnt that when I was job-hunting last time, and when I worked at a local clinic (whose director was the sister-in-law of the business manager for the clinic, and there were other “personal connections” to the home office *wink*), and when I was subsequently fired from said clinic, and my subsequent (but few) attempts to find work in my field after that.  “Cold day in hell” I think is a good way to describe it.  Because they all know each other.

Now that the mental healthcare “community” knows me from the other side of the desk, so to speak (I have PTSD from the domestic violence and job loss), there isn’t one mental health/drug&alcohol agency that will hire me. There is that much stigma connected with a therapist actually going for help with a mental health problem. 

So I know what I am sort of up against.  That’s why I need to look at what agency I contact/volunteer for really carefully, because the last thing I want to do is waste my time and talent on an organization that’s as corrupt as the system I would like to take on.

So the search continues….and I will let you know what I come up with.

The bitch is back.

Today’s weirdness comes from the Huffington Post:

“Pizza Hut’s New Menu Supposedly Reads Your Mind…”

Apparently there is a new menu being tested in the UK for Pizza Hut, that uses eye-tracking software to make a pizza suggestion for you.

And we thought basic research had no real-world uses!  Eye-tracking was just beginning to be a hot research topic when I left the Cognitive Science Lab in 2000.  We didn’t imagine how this would impact the important world of pizza!!!

Movie recommendation, though I haven’t seen it…

“The Imitation Game”, starring the wonderful (Sherlock) Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly (Elizabeth Swann from “Pirates of the Caribbean”), and Matthew Goode (“Masterpiece Mystery: Death Comes to Pemberley” on PBS).

It’s about Alan Turing, how he cracked the Enigma Code during WWII, and how horribly he was treated because he was gay (which contributed to his suicide in 1954).  If you don’t know who Alan Turing was, go here.  If you don’t know how important his contribution was to the future discipline of cognitive science, go here.

I think this will be a good film.  Certainly the acting will be top-notch.

Until next week, or sooner as news develops….