Ray of Sunshine

No updates this past week because there hasn’t really been that much worth talking about. I did go to my first appointment with the WC doctor at the new facilities. About a month ago they moved to the brand new FMC-connected health care center / emergency room building, from the older medical center directly next door. It’s quite the upgrade. Big open waiting room areas with tall ceilings and tall windows, many more rooms to see patients, and even a few new doctors on the payroll.

But, especially right now, anything revolving around my workers comp case kinda has me anxious – so I did the typical thing the night before, where I couldn’t fall asleep at a reasonable hour and then I also woke up way too early. πŸ˜’ The appointment went fine… they always do… but it also involved going over some things about the rebuttal report that he’s going to be writing for the upcoming IC hearing – and to say that I’m tired of thinking about, talking about, and working on that topic… that would be an understatement.

After not getting enough sleep that night, it managed to shift my schedule to where I’m falling asleep around 8p each night, and then waking up around 3a… while also getting interrupted throughout the night by shitty, stress-themed dreams. (Of which I can’t even usually remember the details.)Β πŸ˜• I’m hoping I can shake things up this weekend and get out of thatΒ rut. Several people I know haven’t been feeling good, a couple friends got some crappy news that they didn’t need, my knee and shoulder are still meh… it’s just been one of those weeks for a bunch of us. 😟 Crossing fingers that next week will bring some positive change.

So, yeah… πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ that’s about it. I mean, there’s been positive things this past week too… got a new mailbox (that I’ve yet to try and install), the little ring of grass around the light post is actually growing, I got the trash cleaned out of my car, completed some random light chores around the house, etc. But yeah, like I said, not stuff that’s really worth blogging about. (I know… when have I ever let that stop me… heh) 😏

World Mental Health Day

(Just got done writing this one. Heh… sorry, it turned out way longer than I anticipated, but here we go…)

Any time you get on Twitter and scroll through your feed, you see any number of people posting something because it’s a “National (whatever) Day” of some sort. Usually it’s not… but it gives folks a good excuse to post cute pictures of their cat, dog, kid, or whatever – but after seeing several posts and doing a quick google, it turns out today really is World Mental Health Day.

It’s meant to raise awareness, show support for folks getting or needing mental health care, and to also reduce the stigma that’s sometimes involved. Often involved, actually. πŸ˜’ For example, a while back at one of my primary care doctor appointments I was discussing some of the things in my life that were causing me anxiety. My disability, pain, the (then) newly discovered cancer, Mom being sick and now having passed, other close friends dying from cancer, dealing with workers comp, etc… 😟 like I told her – stuff that would probably cause anyone to feel stressed. I was just telling her so she’d have the full story, but she said she could refer me to a counselor if I wanted to talk to someone about it. πŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Seemed like a good idea to me. Sometimes just being able to let out your stress or anxiety to someone that’s not involved in your life in any way… it can just take a little bit of the weight off. I saw her like once a month for a few months, and she said she could refer me to their in-house doctor to see if there was any medication that might be able to help. I wasn’t really interested, since I was feeling an appropriate amount of “bleh” in regards to the stuff that was causing it… but I went ahead and took her suggestion.

I now see that doctor about once every six or eight weeks, and I’ve actually got an appointment with him tomorrow where I’ll need to make a decision. πŸ€” Because, despite this feeling like a normal series of doctor visits – just as if I was dealing with a physical health condition – the fact that this doctor gives me medication to help with my anxiety is now being used against me. 😠 And being used against me by the last person that I would expect to further the stigma surrounding mental health care… another doctor. ☹️

And when I say “mental health care” … I don’t even take any type of super serious medication, and I haven’t been diagnosed with any extreme disorders. Until this hiccup happened, I looked at this doctor and my treatment there as “Yeah, I guess it makes me feel a little better maybe… or at least I know it’s not making me feel worse… so I guess I’ll continue going.” Like, in my mind, it was barely a thing, but I continued going since it was now part of my current medical routine.

But when I had to go to the independent medical evaluation for the workers comp system (a week or so before getting that second radioactive iodine dose and scan for my cancer followup) one of the things discussed with that doctor was what medical treatment I was currently getting, and from who. (Regardless if it was related to my WC injury or not, to get a complete picture…) So of course I talked about the cancer doctor and treatment, my WC doctor and treatment, and then my PCP doctor and referral regarding the mental health care.

Now, these exams, they’re initiated by my former employer’s insurer, so of course they’re rarely going to be helpful to my cause. So I expected him to say certain things, but I never expected that being treated by a doctor for occasional anxiety would essentially be “weaponized” and used against me the way that it is. 😟😞 Because this doctor took the names of the two meds I’m prescribed, and picked some of the absolute worst possible reasons that I may be taking them. You know how almost every medication has one “thing” it is known for treating, but then it can also be used for treating a half dozen or more other things?

You could even do this test on yourself. Just grab whatever meds you take, get on WebMD, pick out the most extreme, “worst case scenario” possible uses for each medication, and see how close that sounds – compared to what you’re actually taking them for. 🧐 That’s what this doctor did to me. Taking what is run-of-the-mill, minor anxiety treatment to me, and twisting it into all sorts of implied, speculative, “concerning” mental conditions that could be so severe that they even affect how I interpret / talk about my pain and disability. πŸ˜§πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜  Reading those things in his report was honestly shocking. πŸ₯Ί

The funny thing is, for most people… just the pain that I deal with each day, and the sheer amount of things that I can no longer do due to the disability in my left shoulder and arm… just those things alone are enough reason that a person might want to include anxiety treatment in their normal medical routine. And I was doing it mostly because another doctor suggested it, and it sounded like a “might as well” thing, rather than me desperately needingΒ it or seeking it out. And now it has bitten me in the ass. πŸ™„πŸ˜’

Well, maybe it has bitten me in the ass. (Maybe the commission will see right through it, as they should.) I won’t know how his report will affect my worker comp case until the hearing is scheduled and all of the doctors’ information (from both sides) is reviewed. But now I’m stuck, wondering if tomorrow I should let this doctor know that I no longer need his services. πŸ˜ŸπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ He probably helps me a little bit, but it’s certainly something that I could do away with if it’s going to damage the treatment that I get for my work injury. It’s obviously more important (and logical) for me to want to keep the treatment that keeps my pain to a minimum, which also helps keep my stress and anxiety to a minimum.

Yeah, so anyway, it’s a bit of a clusterfuck… and, unfortunately, anyone that reads my story here… anyone that may have been considering seeing a counselor or psychiatrist for the first time… they’ve now got something to add to their mental “nope” list when it comes to the pros and cons of seeking any type of mental health treatment. πŸ˜’ I don’t take it personally, what the “independent” doctor wrote. I understand that his job is to come up with all of the “worst case scenario” stuff that he can, since my doctors will obviously be talking positively about all of the ways that my current treatment is as effective as the WC situation will allow.

I guess I look at those types of doctors the same way that you might look at public attorneys who are appointed to defend obvious criminals in court. They still have to give that defense their maximum effort, even if it goes against what many people would consider to be “right.” That doctor has chosen that job for reasons only he would know… so I can only hope that sometimes he stops to think about the effect that his actions have on us folks who rely on our WC treatment to keep our pain and lives at least tolerable. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜Ÿ

Happy World Mental Health Day 2019. πŸ˜’πŸŽ‰

Thursday Mission

Woke up stupid early yesterday so I could help out a friend. She’s been in an ongoing custody “disagreement” with her former SO for quite a while now, where they’ve each been representing themselves in court due to how expensive an attorney can be. 😟 And without having a lawyer on her side, while things have been going in her favor, it’s just happening so slowly. With another hearing coming up in about a month and a half, she knew she had to start doing something differently, so I looked up a few places that claim to offer pro bono representation for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

She’s got an aversion to talking on the phone, just like me, but on Wednesday I encouraged her to start making some calls… and by that afternoon she had spoken with someone at SEOLSΒ who seemed open to the idea of taking her case, or at least hearing her out and looking at all of the information to figure out the best way for her to proceed. πŸ™‚ So that evening I printed out all of her case information to date, a ton of things meant to show that she’s the “more ideal” parent, and got it all sorted and organized in a way that would make it easy for an attorney to look through. πŸ€“πŸ“’

So then yesterday morning I picked her up to take her to the closest SEOLS office serving Fairfield County, which is unfortunately way down in Chillicothe. πŸ˜’ I left the house around 9:30a, and by time I got back home it was after 3p. That’s a long friggin’ time (for me) to be out and about, working on a stressful project… even though, obviously, she’s the one bearing the most amount of that stress. I just really want things to go well for her, and being familiar with the frustration of facing hearings with unknown outcomes, the empath in me kicked in and I couldn’t help but feel many of the things she was feeling. πŸ˜•

I didn’t go in with her when she actually met with the attorney, but she said things seemed to go well and that it felt more positive than negative. He made copies of all of the information that he needed and said that he wanted to talk to some folks who specialize more in custody cases on Monday… so while things sounds good, she’s still gotta wait a few more days before she’ll know for sure if they will provide someone to represent her. It was worth the trip regardless, because at the very least they’ll be able to hold her hand through what she should do next, even if they end up not being able to actually be with her on the day of her hearing. I’m gonna stay hopeful though, because having an attorney could make all the difference.

But I was wiped out by time I got home. πŸ˜₯ I’ve done very little “out of the house all day” stuff lately, and especially for something that’s as “high stakes” as this. And of course helping her with her legal stuff kept my legal stuff in the back of my mind… the upcoming WC stuff, that is… and starting off the day so early, with my shoulder already bugging me, all of the time in the car didn’t help. 😣 But it was a small sacrifice to help her with something that could end up being a game-changer in the long run, and I knew that I’d have all day today to recover if I needed to.

Well, my body didn’t wanna wait until today. 😏 Shortly after getting home I knew I wanted to take a short nap, but also not screw up my sleep schedule. But my nap lasted until the evening, and when I did wake up I went ahead and took my evening meds and thankfully ended up falling back to sleep – not waking again until a little after 6a today. πŸ˜―πŸ˜ƒ So I’m just now starting to catch up from messages from all day yesterday, but I’m gonna wait a while to reply so I’m not waking people up as early as it is.

I’ve still got a friend or two that gets concerned if I don’t reply in an undefined amount of time. That’s thoughtful of them, but boy I wish that folks in general would consider that even the most nerdy of humans don’t necessarily get online every day, or multiple times a day… and that sometimes whatever is going on during a particular day might cause messages to be ignored until the next. πŸ˜•πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Yesterday’s situation was based on necessity, but I still do wanna try to take “days off” from the digital world every now and then… a luxury that younger people these days probably don’t really have. Imagine taking a teenager from today and transplanting them to 1985, during summer break from school, living out in the country, with only a landline telephone as means of keeping in touch with friends. πŸ˜…

Heh… another “old fart” thing to add to the growing library of “old fart things” in my head. πŸ™„πŸ‘΄πŸ»

Roll With The Changes

So I tried the Impossible Whopper on my way home from my workers comp doctor appointment today. It’s strange… I don’t know exactly what to say about it. πŸ€” It was different than a normal Whopper, which you’d assume, but not in a way that made it any worse or any better than the traditional kind. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I suppose the only thing that I’d have even noticed, if someone had just brought it to me and let me think it was a regular Whopper, was that it was a little dry / less greasy.

But by the time the cheese, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, etc is added – it’s honestly hard to notice any difference. And if it is legitimately more healthy (or at least less un-healthy)… something which I never bothered to Google… then yeah, I’d probably always order it over the “normal meat” Whopper. I think White Castle has the same kind of “fake meat” in a version of their sliders, so I might have to give those a try sometime as well. I’ve got no problem reducing my meat consumption as long as it tastes basically the same and isn’t detrimental to my health. πŸ„πŸ€ πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

As for my appointment today, again I suppose that I just took for granted that it wouldn’t be much different than any of my other visits with the workers comp doctor. But since it was with his PA (also a “real” doctor, of course) there was a set of “fresh eyes” on all my info. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ”Ž He actually did that because the first time I saw him, many months ago, when I was originally going to be moved mostly to his schedule, I wrote a summary letter for the past decade and said I’d appreciate hearing if anything jumped out at him which may not have been something that me and my original doctor had been addressing.

Be careful what you ask for, though… 😏 It’s nothing bad bad, but having new xrays and scans of the area from fairly recently – he took a good long look at them in comparison to the ones from before / recently after my original surgery, as well as whatever few that have been done between then and now. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ’» It’s nothing that I’ll have to address any time soon, but as always expected… after over a decade of three of my vertebrae being fused, the one above it is just showing signs of eventually needing attention as well. πŸ˜• Nothing horrible, nothing urgent… and since it’s something that I was already aware of as an eventual and likely possibility, having him remark about it honestly just rattled me because it hasn’t been one of the things on my mindΒ lately… not because it’s an “Oh no, a new surprise thing” thing.

But I like this doctor… I mean, time will tell if I like him as much as Dr Walter… but he talked with me a long time today, despite knowing that I’m still somewhat radioactive, and in detail that let me know he’s aware (or at least assumes) that I’m able to understand more than the average patient. πŸ€“Β I think he’s even older than Dr Walter, so I’m not sure why he’s got a PA position there. It could be he does his “real” doctor-in’ on all the other days when he’s not at this particular office. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ But yeah, it’s fine… and if anything, I still think the “fresh eyes” are good… especially since he might end up having to write some reports that explain how my original work injury / surgery is what has caused this newer potential issue – because you can bet your ass that I’m going to do everything that I can to get it included into my current claim for wheneverΒ I might have to start doing things that involve it. 🀨

Tired of This Shit

I’m not sure how this month’s appointment with the WC doctors is gonna go. πŸ˜• I think I’m actually seeing Dr Walter this time, when it was the new guy that I had the in-depth discussion with about the state of my treatment last month. Regardless, since the WC insurer is coming at me with the shenanigans again, the conversation will have to revolve around that rather than the stuff that I started bringing up last month.

I’ve got to be careful, because it almost feels like a “trap” that WC could use against me, but this month I have to start discussing possible alternatives for the meds that I’m taking right now. Because if they are somehow able to weasel out of paying for what I’m currently taking, the cost of two of those medications would simply be too much for me to continue taking them long term. πŸ™ That’s where the “trap” part comes in.

When I start discussing more affordable potential alternatives for the meds I’m currently taking, I want it to be clear with my doctors and in my records that I have no desire or intention to make any changes now… and that the research and discussion is really just to act as my parachute if I get pushed out of the plane. But I can see where my fear of being forced to pay for my own meds, which has made me research cheaper (but likely less effective) alternatives, means that I nowΒ know that there are cheaper alternatives, so they’ll probably think that they have the right to force me to change to them – despite my preference to keep taking the ones that I’ve been taking. 😏 Heh… I know, that sounds a bit convoluted, but it basically make sense, no?

But until I’m able to discuss this with them, I know that I’m just taking barely-educated shots in the dark when it comes to what might or might not be suitable replacements. 🎯😎 I mean, even though I know that Lyrica has very specific actions – at its most basic level I know that it is considered an anti-seizure / anti-convulsant medication… so that’s where I start looking. πŸ€“πŸ“š And now I have four or five medications that I think could be good replacements… but for all I know, even though they’re anti-seizure, they may have totally different actions – and ones that aren’t even close to being applicable to my situation. πŸ˜’

So for now that’s all I can really do… look for “close” meds and make sure there are more positive side effects than negative. Then I’ll just hope that I’m actually on to something, and that information can be put in my back pocket until it is needed. Between now and then I just have to figure out how to condense all of this crap down into a tolerable three to four minutes. πŸ˜³β±πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈ Gotta impress the importance of this on him, while also not rambling so much that my point gets lost in the noise. I’m better at that than you’d think, actually… it just doesn’t seem that way here because I know I can go on and on about something and it doesn’t matter, since hardly anyone reads this blog anyway. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Research

I ended up getting almost 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night, likely thanks to my normal evening meds and a couple Tylenol PMs taken at just the right moment. Sadly, I still woke up tired, at least physically… but my motivation game was strong. I guess this was the right day for that combination though, since it’s the weekend and there really wasn’t much that I could do “out and about” to continue my meager progress from last week.

I’ve looked up a bunch of different doctors and “family practice” offices in Lancaster and nearby cities, so I’ll be able to make some calls and maybe even stop by some of these places on Monday. πŸ™‚ I’ve also researched some urgent care places and narrowed it down to two that may be able to help with the tests that I need. 🀨 That’s my backup plan, should the “find a new doctor that doesn’t have a two month waiting list” thing fail. πŸ˜’ And then on top of that I’ve gotten names and info from our local hospital’s site, so I’m prepared to goΒ there to talk to someone about my predicament if need be.

My main concern (after just getting the “serious stuff” started) is doing this in a way that won’t screw me over when it comes to my insurance and the bills. 😳 I assume it’s always like this, since it’s been this way with any insurance that I’ve ever had, but basically you have to jump through all of the required hoops. πŸ™„ Like, you can’t just go to a heart specialist and ask for an EKG without having been referred to that heart specialist by your “normal” doctor. πŸ€” I mean, I guess you can… but your insurance won’t pay for it without the referral.

So yeah, off and on throughout the day was all of that, and then in the evening I remembered that I needed to make a couple phone calls.Β The first was just returning a call from one of my attorneys regarding their recent court actions on my behalf, and the second was to leave a message for the company that I’ve chosen to trim my hedges and spirea bushes, to let them know that I’m on board.

Tomorrow should be a lazy day. 😏 I can’t think of anything that I’ve forgotten, at least not right now, so hopefully I’ll be able to sleep in for a bit before I go to visit with Mom and Dad in the afternoon. If I don’t get too late of a start, I might even try to hit a couple of thrift stores before returning to Maven, the homestead, and a rapidly-approaching Monday morning.

The Moose Out Front

I swear… life is testing me right now.

Monday:

  • Called my doctor to make an appointment about my thyroid. They said the earliest they could get me in was the end of June. The end of fucking June. 😠
  • Looked around and learned that the FMC-linked clinics in town have “Walk-In Wednesdays” for new patients, people that don’t have an appointment, etc. πŸ™‚
  • Oh, and despite being nowhere around poison ivy when I worked in the yard the other day, I now have a bit of poison ivy on both of my hands. πŸ˜‘ Awesome.

Tuesday:

  • Went to the MRI place to have them print out my results for me. Sat for almost an hour before they were able to get that done. πŸ˜’Β (New computers or something.)
  • Now that I’ve been able to read them myself, they aren’t good, but they aren’t necessarily bad bad quite yet. πŸ˜• A little more urgency for the Wed appt now.
  • Received the determination from my Franklin Co Court workers comp case, which is 21 pages long and full of case law and obscene amounts of legal-ese. πŸ€”
  • The results were in my favor, which is awesome, but my mind is still focused on getting up early to make sure I’m at the walk-in clinic on Wednesday when they open. 🀨

Wednesday:

  • Slept about 4 hours (the same as most nights lately)Β then woke up at 4am and waited until close to noon to head in town and get in line at the doctor’s office.
  • Arrived 15 minutes early to an empty parking lot and a sign on the door that said all of the offices were closed today for employee training. πŸ˜πŸ˜‘πŸ˜£πŸ˜‘πŸ€¬πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ
  • Sat in the parking lot, debating if I should drive around town looking for someone to run down, but decided to go visit Dad instead. (I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide my level of joking on that last comment… heh)

Keep in mind… I’m already twitchy about phone calls and appointments and such, I’m already feeling physically miserable lately, plus I’ve got workers comp shit on my mind. Plus plus I now know what the results of my MRI are, and it’s rather important that a few additional tests are needed sooner than later. 😳

I’m glad that I went out to see Dad though. I had already psyched myself up and found the energy to potentially endure a long, long wait at the doctor’s office – so hanging out for a few hours with Dad, talking, was definitely a better way to spend that time. So I do have those couple of silver linings… the win in court (which, unfortunately, can still be appealed to the Ohio State Supreme Court) and the visit.

I’m taking the rest of the day off now. I’m not gonna think about any of this negative shit for the rest of the day, so that way when I get up tomorrow I can hopefully make some phone calls regarding insurance, cards, workers comp shit, etc. 🀞🏻