Dr. Google

By now, most people are familiar with the online search engine Google. Yes, there are many out there, so feel free to generalize this information to the one you use. Never before have we had access to this much information at our fingertips. From finding articles for school projects to world events to fact checking the latest satire article, we turn to the Internet for advice. I even use a website to identify actors in movies and TV shows.

The one thing I love about Google is how accessible things are. I no longer have to hope I have the right information about a topic. A 3 second search reveals so many links that I actually encounter information overload. Sometimes the search results are repetitive and sketchy, but they lead me down other paths in my searches, The Internet is indeed the Web that surrounds us all now.

Given my situation, I fondly refer to Google as Dr. Google. I frequently find more information about my medical conditions on Google than I do when I speak with my doctors. Yes, I know Google is a tool and anything read there should be thoroughly questioned before being accepted as true. However, I do know people who self-diagnose based on Internet information.

With the current health threats in the news, people are looking up illnesses and then frantically trying to get appointments with their doctors. In these cases, I think Dr. Google may not be the most appropriate resource. Especially if you are prone to panic attacks.

On the other hand, when you are deep into medical issues, Dr. Google can point you in directions so you can ask more insightful questions. It’s a toll that helps fill in the blanks when you don’t understand everything that has been thrown at you. I use Dr. Google to find explanations of terms that my doctors use, but don’t necessarily explain. It takes some of the mystique out of medical practice, but when used tactfully, many physicians find it easier to talk with patients.

So, to Google or to refrain. It’s what works for you. Always remember that what you read on Google may have been published by someone with something to gain. Buyer beware is an excellent way of looking at Google information. Also remember that people who are deep into medical issues are already receiving tons of information that far exceeds Dt. Google’s. Talking about a disease process that doesn’t affect you based on Dr. Google is annoying at best and potentially harmful.

Your challenge: Be an intelligent consumer. Know which web sites are reputable. With all this information at our fingertips, we must engage our brains and make decisions based on facts and how the decisions affect us. Don’t fall prey to invalid information. And please, don’t Google a disease and assume you are an expert. Happy surfing!

 

Cynic

Sometimes, it’s not easy to see the glass that’s half full. I have my good days and my not so good days. Some days I seem to be the eternal optimist. Others I’m just rolling with it. Still others I’m about as negative as they come. I like to think we humans are all like this. So, most days I walk around with a half full glass.

Recently, that’s not been working for me. A number of things have happened in the last few weeks that make me feel like the glass is half empty. Or even three-quarters empty. There’s been some friendship stuff. There’s been some family stuff. There’s been a whole lot of medical stuff. There have been set backs on so many fronts. None are insurmountable. Compared to many, many other people my problems fall under “first world problems” as my daughter calls them.

So, I’m cynical right now. Faced with yet another health issue, I’m worrying about how things will turn out. Will the doctors listen to me? Will they understand just how stressful this is for me? Will they do what I ask them to do and not get so wrapped up in how things *should* be? These doctors don’t know me and it’s my first experience at this hospital. My Autism is telling me I must have everything planned. I have to know what’s going to happen. I have to know the outcome. But, that’s just not possible. My body tells me that my mind is just along for the ride.

I have people telling me to trust that everything will be fine. I’ve been down this road enough to know that “fine” is a very broad state of being. I have to trust people I will have met maybe once for something that has gone wrong more often than right. Stop thinking like that I’m told. Stop worrying. It will all be fine.

I wish. I really, really do. I wish I could believe that everything will be fine. I wish I could go into this expecting a great outcome. But I can’t. Fear, hope, helplessness, frustration. And, because of past experience, a whole lot of cynicism.

The one bright spot in this current mess is my primary care provider. She’s been working with me since February, when the local military healthcare providers decided to fire me as a patient. She inherited what is now known as a “hot mess.” In 8 months, we’ve come to understand each other. So when I messaged her that I needed help, she called me almost immediately. Her response was to ask what I needed, talk through the options and then handle the need. I must say, I found it encouraging. Maybe, just maybe, things will be okay.

Friends

A friend is someone you let peek into your heart. Some friends only get that peek. Others will find their way into your heart. Both are worth keeping in your life. Both will enrich you in ways you do not know yet.

I see lots of memes about friendship. Some talk about how a true friend is always part of your life. Some talk about letting go of friends when they take more than they give. Yet others encourage us to recognize those who no longer serve an obvious purpose. If I followed the advice of memes, my social media friends list would become very short, very quickly.

Friendships bring out all kinds of emotions. New friendships are giddy with “me toos!” as you discover one another. More mature relationships evolve into friends who see your posts and message you to see if everything is okay. Those message may  not be regular, but you know if you want to chat, the friend is there.

And then there are the ones who disappoint. The ones you thought would work out, but it turns out there is some major incompatibility issues. What to do? You never know how the other person will handle the situation. I’ve had friends who blow up and take every negative reaction within their power to disown me. I’ve had others who quietly agree the friendship has run its course.

Honestly, it bothers me when people blow up. I don’t understand how self-righteous people get and then claim they were hurt by me. What about how I feel? Betrayal comes to mind, especially when social media provides such a wonderful way to see what a person is doing, even if they removed you from their social media “life.” But, it apparently isn’t about me. It’s about all the pain I’ve inflicted on them. And that’s about the time I realized the friendship was just a coincidence. A thing or two in common, but no trust to act as glue.

Your challenge: Look at your friendships. Are you helping/ hurting or neutral in your online life? Just FYI…real life relationships are way easier to deal with since you can actually see the person and make decisions based on interactions. It’s not about who has the most friends. It’s about having friends you can share your path with.

Why are you disabled?

An odd experience today. To understand this, you need to know that I don’t have a visible disability. You would never guess I’m disabled or even sick, unless you saw my insulin pump. Even then you would wonder how diabetes can be disabling. I get it. You can’t see the hundreds of little ways my life has been affected by illness. And, since I don’t wear a flashing neon sign either looks can be deceiving.

Today, a stranger wanted to know why I had a service dog. Not being in the mood to disclose information, I answered because my dog mitigates my disabilities. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have used the word mitigate. It confuses people. The next words were “You can’t be disabled. My cousin is disabled and she doesn’t look like you.” I sure hope not. I have many cousins, but none live near me. There is absolutely no way this woman’s cousin could be related to me.

And I said as much. A bit snarky, I admit. I am tired of people thinking all disabilities “look” alike. Please, tell me what a diabetic looks like. Tell me what someone with vascular disorders looks like. Tell me what someone who can’t eat looks like. Tell me what someone with PTSD looks like. Tell me what someone with Autism looks like. Yeah, you can’t. Because we are not our disabilities. We are people who look just like you.

 

Fear

Always do what you are afraid to do.~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear is perhaps the strongest emotion humans experience. It drives so many of our decisions from getting out of bed each day to choosing clothes to eating dinner and watching TV. You may not realize how much fear affects you until you pause and think about the decisions you make.

Recently, two people were supposed to come for a vacation at my home. I’ll give you that one of them is very ill with multiple disabilities. That person’s fears are very real. I know because I experience many of them myself. The second person is afraid of life. And that is why the trip got cancelled.

Fear of living. Fear of the unknown. Wow. That’s potent stuff. I know many people with disabling anxiety. For some, it is so severe that they isolate from everyone. I get that too as I was once there. Anxiety can be crippling and very hard to overcome.

But a fear of living. A fear of taking chances. A fear of leaving the comforts of home. Wow. I feel sad for this person. All the beautiful experiences they are missing out on. Yes, life is messy. And scary. And painful. But it is also filled with wonder, awe, joy and happiness. When you get yourself caught in the rut of being unable to change, you lose. I think of all the missed opportunities and experiences that happen when you are afraid to embrace life. Wow.

Just in case anyone reading this starts to think I don’t believe in fear/phobia, I do. I believe that fear is as real as any physical disorder out there. I’ve experienced it. Every person I know experiences fear. Some just handle it better than others. I think maturity plays a large role. If you consider a child who is afraid of the dark, it’s most likely a lack of feeling secure in that environment. I know my kids had special routines and stuffed animals that protected them from the night. I can honestly say that nighttime no longer holds significant fear factor for any of my kids. They learned about the night, developed ways to cope and moved on.

I have a fear of being hit by a semi truck on the freeway. It stems from a rather violent crash in 1987 where my little Mitsubishi was crushed by a semi on the I-10 in Phoenix. Thirty-seven years later and I still have a healthy respect for large vehicles traveling at high speeds. Most people would agree that experience would result in fear.

I imagine when your life isn’t where you thought it would be, it can cause fear. I say imagine because my personal philosophy is to bloom wherever I land. It may be the only chance I have to experience something. I embrace my fear and seek for ways to change that fear into knowledge and from knowledge to understanding. I know not everyone does this, but if I chose to remain fearful, I’d never leave my comfort zone either.

Baby steps. That’s how we overcome fears. Leaving our comfort zones and checking out what’s happening in our world help us to understand things so we can process and learn to cope with the changes. It’s a slow process for many, but not impossible. If you never try, then you are denying yourself the opportunity to live.

So, to the one friend with very real concerns about health issues, I’m glad you have found a way to make life work for you. To the other, perhaps you will continue to mature enough to realize that boxes eventually fall apart and when they do, you will have to face those fears. I only wish that you could understand what you are missing right now.

To the other people following my blog…don’t let fear be the only guiding emotion in your life. Don’t miss out on those special-once-in-a-lifetime moments. Know that others are just as fearful as you are. Take those baby steps and see what your world can offer.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance. ~ LeeAnn Womack

 

Equality…yeah sure

Nope. Not talking race. Healthcare. Yes., healthcare. You see, my family has healthcare. It’s a government plan for the military. It’s not horrible a far as coverage goes. It is just frustrating.

I’m trying to locate a provider. I use the “Find a Provider” tool on the website. I start calling. First call that makes it through to a live person informs me that Tricare is a private insurance plan. Apparently if you use Medi(whatever), you can be seen within 24 hours. Because I have private insurance, November 17.

String of voice mails left for other providers. Second live person…refuses to talk to me because I “MUST” have a referral first. Um, no. Called Tricare to confirm the rules haven’t changed. Nope, still the same.

Third live person tells me I have to “sign up” with the business office before an appointment can be made. Seriously! Just drop my name on the calendar at a mutually agreeable time. The paperwork will happen. It always does.

So apparently, all the hype about health care is a stinking pile of manure. I have friends who tell me their Medi(whatever) doesn’t have enough options, they can’t find a provider, etc. I have “private” insurance and can’t get seen. So who the heck is filling up all the appointments? How can we be short doctors if NONE of them are really taking patients?

The funny thing is, I said “fine, I’ll just pay out-of-pocket” to make this happen sooner. They REFUSED! Said since I have insurance, I have to follow the rules. So, even money doesn’t talk.

Yep, On November 6, remember this blog. Remember all the promises. Remember your own experience. Take your frustrations out at the ballot box. Maybe, just maybe, a real live person will hear you.