Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for the ‘healthcare’ Category

Chronic Illness Recovery-One Step At a Time

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Today I emptied the dishwasher and I filled it all at once. First time, in ten years that I did not take a 20 minute rest between the two tasks. It is now one task again. This is not to say that when the humidity is high or my back screams to me that I need to sit down, put up my feet and read a book I will not listen. I will and once gain feel like the slow tortoise I have become.

Still, I think I took a good step forward-no longer facing the task with dread, but with the knowledge I can do it.

Ten years ago, I had a massive heart attack and three strokes. I had no use of my left side. I could not walk. I could not feed myself. I could not negotiate going to the bathroom by myself. Before that point, my husband and daughters were told I had a negative 17% chance of living. I had been unconscious. I had not responded to light or to many other triggers used in assessment..

I don’t tell this for sympathy, empathy or anything else but simply to tell you that I understand the struggle people have when recovering from heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Yes, cancer. During all of this, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Luckily, it was a very early detection so that learning to walk could come first. Then, I could wait the 90 days needed to recover from the heart attack and participate in cardio rehabilitation so that I would be stronger when the surgery happened.

All of this background leads me to today when I accomplished something that many of us take to be a given- unloading and loading the dishwasher.  It does us good to remember to be grateful and thankful for what we have every day of our lives because in a wink of an eye all that can change.

My point is not to be depressing but to let everyone know that should a chronic illness come your way it is not necessary to stop living or stop working toward goals. When you look back to yesterday, and believe me, look back one day.  Do not look to what “used to be”.

Your normal is a “new” normal and yours alone because each person’s backpack of a chronic illness is unique to themselves. For some people, recovery comes quickly up to a point and then, it seems to plateau. For others, the path is filled with rocks and tree roots and the time it takes is much longer.

I tell people that heart disease is customized and each person’s list of symptoms is unique. It is the same with strokes. I regained my ability to walk. I eat with my left hand once again. I type using every finger on my right hand and my pointer finger on my left.

Today, I used those six fingers to share that I can now do one more thing that has eluded me for ten years. I know it probably doesn’t seem like much, but in my world, it proves that I can still achieve more.     

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 9th, 2018 at 4:33 pm

The Whys and Wherefores of “I Will Buy Your Insulin Test Strips”

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For months,maybe years, my husband Tim and I have been seeing signs plastered on utility poles that say “I will buy your Insulin Test Strips” around the neighborhood with a proliferation of them around the MetroHealth Campus.

Today, I finally thought to ask my Facebook friends to help me out with the reason why. Thanks to those friends and others I now know a bit more of the story behind the signs. It appears there is a black market for insulin test strips. Some diabetics may need to test 5 to 10 times a day to help them control the disease. It would be my supposition that some one needing to test that frequently may be what is called a “brittle” diabetic but may be not. According to my sources, it is not uncommon for these test strips to bring $1.00 a piece on the black market.

So, who sells these test strips on the black market? Apparently, many people do-relatives of people who have died, criminals who steal them from friends, neighbors and relatives who need them, and others who should use the test strips themselves but find the reselling of them too lucrative to pass up. Imagine my surprise to find out that this black market item is as lucrative as prescription  pain medications.

There is a bit of misinformation out there that I believe needs to be cleared up-“Medicare and Medicaid patients can get all they can use for free”.  I have a friend on Medicaid whose doctor requested that she get the number of test strips needed to enable her to test twice a day. Medicaid denied the request allowing her one a day. Now, Medicaid usually follows the lead of Medicare guidelines so although I do not KNOW what medicare allows or does not allow, I do know that not every Medicaid patient gets whatever amount they need and if I were a betting person I would probably bet that Medicare probably has strict guidelines as well.

I understand that Medical Mutual is a company that will ship strips, glucose tabs, and other testing stuff quarterly if you sign up for one of their programs and you dot the i’s and cross the t’s just so. I am sure other insurance companies have similar plans, but many of them, as some of my sources say, are very expensive.  There is also the option of going to the company involved directly. Pharmaceutical Company Foundations will often supply prescriptions and supplies to people who do not qualify for other help in getting the medications they need.

 

But back to the issue at hand, the unsuitability of these signs on utility poles in my neighborhood.  Kate Dupuis, an employee of the Stockyard, Clark-Fulton and Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office has declared war against the unsightliness of these signs as well as “Free Roofs”,”We Buy Houses Cash”, “Poor Credit, No Credit We Have Cars”.  Take a photo of the sign, its location, the utility pole number if possible, and email it to Kate at kdupuis@dscdo.org.  She is compiling a list to bring to the City so that action can be taken against the parties responsible.  There is a fine for each sign posted. If we can multiplying the number to make the fine significant, action can and will be taken.

Somehow, a black market for test strips seems so wrong given the recent event of a 36 year old man dying because he was unable to buy insulin when needed because his prescription expired.  http://www.wkyc.com/story/news/health/2015/02/11/emergency-insulin/23276399/  We live in a messed-up world, and it is up to us to change it.

Overused, but no less true .    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

–Margaret Mead

Written by Gloria Ferris

February 16th, 2015 at 8:41 pm

February 1 Go Red For Women

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Go Red for Women

Tomorrow February 1 is designated “Go Red for Women”. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. One in every three deaths of women in 2013 will be caused by heart disease. It is said that this is approximately one woman every minute.

Those of you who know me well are aware that on November 17, 2008 I suffered a massive heart attack. Within the next week, I also suffered three strokes caused by complications from the heart attack. I thank God that my husband over my protests called EMS immediately so that I received the care I needed quickly and efficiently. At first, the first time responders thought I had the worst case of flu they had seen so far, it became apparent to them when they took the EKG in the ambulance that I needed to get to MetroHealth ASAP.

I suffered the heart attack and the strokes in the hospital, and therefore, received the care I needed immediately. Even though this was the case, I lost 21 days of my life due to the severity of my condition. My family and friends were told that there was little if any chance for survival. Almost sixty days later, I walked out of MetroHealth on my own two feet. There had been some doubt as to whether I would ever have the use of my legs or my left hand again.

Today, I am grateful to say that I am still getting stronger every day. Because of my own heart journey and for those who have lost their struggle with heart disease I am asking my friends and loved ones to PLEASE WEAR RED on February 1.

Please help raise the awareness of the severity of heart disease in women. Make sure the women you love get regular checkups and know the warning signs of a heart attack. Please understand that women often do not get the classic heart attack symptoms. For instance, the classic “it feels like an elephant on my chest” may be a nagging back ache that just won’t go away. Many women experience EXTREME fatigue for as much as two weeks before a heart attack or flulike symptoms that instead of getting better get worse.

http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/7-signs-youre-having-heart-attack

Written by Gloria Ferris

January 31st, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Act F.A.S.T.: Face, Arms,Speech, Time

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A little less than a month ago, when I was feeling like the kitten that had cream for supper, I was jerked back to reality and had a small stroke. As usual, my knight in shining armor, Tim in case you were wondering who that could possibly be, was right there by my side not letting me fool myself into thinking that the extreme weakness in my right arm would simply go away with a good night’s rest.

My fingers were so weak I could not lift them from their position on the laptop keyboard. So off we went to the ER at MetroHealth. Sure enough, the CAT scan showed that I had a small stroke but within 24 hours I was showing a sign of returning strength, my speech was no longer halting, and the heaviness and tingling in my right leg was tolerable.

It turns out that the tripping up steps, stumbling, and the feeling of always stepping on a rock was my first clue of a stroke that I ignored. You see, when I had my strokes in 2008 I still had I had the heaviness in the leg, the constant tingling and that “stepping on a rock” feeling that has a specific name but I NEVER remember it when I was released from the rehab center About eight months ago, “the rock”, the heaviness were simply gone and the tingling was only intermittent. That Monday when I was doing the laundry walking up and down the basement stairs they all came back with a vengeance including an incredible weakness in my hip and my balance was none too good. My neurologist told me one out of two’s not bad, but in the future any CHANGE is what you look for which would have meant not ignoring symptoms that had gone away and were now right in front of me.

As usual, I lived and learned. And again, I am sharing Act F.A.S.T.: FACE- Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop? ARMS-Ask the person to lift their arms over their head. Does one arm drift downward? SPEECH-Ask the person to repeat a simple sentense. Are the words slurred? Can she/he repeat the sentence correctly?TIME- If the person has any of these symptoms. Call 911. DO NOT DRIVE yourself or have someone else drive you there. And if you are with the person having the possible stroke do not ask them if they want to go to the hospital YOU make the decision. The last person who should be decision making is the person who may be having a stroke.

I waited to post this latest health incident until after I talked to my cardiologist and the Neurologist Nurse practitioner. I am cleared for beginning to exercise again which I plan to ramp up gradually. My cardiologist and I have a plan for continuing my cholesterol numbers to continue downward because I cannot tolerate statins so it makes for more of a challenge, but it has steadily been improving even though I have been off statins for over a year. If you are wondering what caused my stroke, we do not know. It could have been any number of things or a combination of things. When the recovery from a stroke begins quickly, 40% of the people who have them do not have a definitive cause. I’m okay with that because I am extremely thankful that my symptoms are continuing to go away.

Many of you have asked me about this event so I thought I would post about this latest adventure in the continuing Health Saga of Gloria Ferris. In the words of Rosanne Roseannadanna: “It’s always somethin’.”

Written by Gloria Ferris

September 9th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Be A Good Health Advocate—Start With Yourself

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Since my heart attacks, strokes and cancer two years ago,  I have paid much more attention to the role vitamins play in good health. Recently due to problems with muscle weakness and muscle pain, which I believe is due to a serious side effect from the statins—crestor and Lipitor, I have been taking. I have become very aware of Vitamin C’s role in heart health.

Now, today,  I read this article on Vitamin D’s role in cancer prevention, heart health and diabetes control.  At my six month check up, my primary doctor and cardiologist both said that my vitamin levels, enzymes and cholestrol readings were at good levels.  Next time, I intend to ask questions about the meaning of that sentence “What is good?” and “how could we enhance those levels”?  Vitamin K and I are already very good friends since the control of my intake of that vitamin is vital to my INR level remaining stable.  INR readings are used to make sure that your blood level stays within an acceptable range for clotting, and too much or not enough Vitamin K can alter those readings.  Obviously, Vitamin C and D are very beneficial to the health of the human body as well as the mind and spirit.  Optimally, getting Vitamin C thru diet is an option, but the “sunshine” vitamin not so much.  How could supplementing our bodies with these vitamins hurt us? Other questions I will ask my doctors’  are: What is the role of  the enzyme COQ10 in heart health  and how can I boost my body’s quotient?

May I suggest you ask your doctor these questions as well?  Granted, we have life giving drugs that can help us when  we are gravely ill,  but shouldn’t “healthy lifestyle” questions be part of every conversation with our doctors as we strive to become healthier and less dependent on “our drug culture”? It remains a mystery to me that our vitamin levels are based on studies made in the 30’s and 40’s when our society was much more agrarian in nature and the need to supplement vitamins was probably not the same as today in a fast paced world with little time for the outdoors and well balanced meals.  If this is not an endorsement for the ”local food” economy, I am not sure where else we could find one.  If we are to become the “healthy” society we can be, it starts with our conversations with our doctors and nurse practitioners.   I’m not sure that I am comfortable with a government agency relying on studies of sixty years ago and pharma companies dependent on the drugs they sell for revenue deciding how my doctor and I should control “my health”.  Are you?      

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 2nd, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Heart Attacks, Strokes, Recovery and More: My Perspective

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Two years ago today I started a journey that not only changed my life, but also the lives of my family and friends. Looking back, it seems hardly possible that two years have passed since that eventful day.  When I woke up in December after spending 20 days in ICU, I could not walk, use my left hand, or stay awake for more than a few hours.

Days, weeks, and months went by and I although some days the steps seemed very small I continued to progress . My amazing friends and family have stuck by me the whole way.The staff at MetroHealth everyone included still tell me at every opportunity that if anyone was going to pull through they thought it would be me because of the wonderful support group that called, visited, and sat by my side during my recovery.

And, that brings me to the perspective  of my post today—friends. Before going further, I want to explain that family are friends and friends are family.  The two have been interchangeable all my life.  My mother fostered that mindset from the time I was small. Since I was an only child, she made sure that I was surrounded by cousins and friends on weekends and in the summer so that I would not become bored and the handful that I could sometimes be.  Ask Tim, he can tell you a few of m “brat” stories as he call them.

When facing a health crisis, I cannot stress enough how important a support system becomes and is.  I am not going to chronicle those important people in this post because I wouldn’t do anyone justice, but I am sure that through the coming years I will write about many of them and those i don’t will know that the reason I do not write  a vignette about them is probably because the connection is cherished in my heart and I feel I do not have the words to properly express the encounter.

Being a friend to someone who is facing a chronic illness can be a challenge, but not if we each realize that one in three of us will face such an illness or be a bystander to someone we love faces the challenges of a health crisis.  Dropping a card in the mail, stopping for a visit at the hospital, taking a meal for everyone to share when the patient comes home , many, many things that take a lot of time or just a smidgen of time can make someone’s day brighter and sunnier.  I know because my days have been much fuller and richer by the random acts of kindness that I have received from friends.

Two years later, they are still supporting me with words of encouragement, conversations over coffee, and including me in projects and decisions they are making so that I can forget my limitations and focus on the possibilities of my life.    

Written by Gloria Ferris

November 17th, 2010 at 9:31 am

Rally for Humans and Health Today 12:30 pm

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The kickoff rally for the health and human services Renewal Levy will be12:30 pm at MetroHealth today.  This is a renewal and will not raise taxes but will continue services at  the  current level.  This levy is essential for people who need the miraculous services of MetroHealth (me),  the Alcohol and Mental Health Board,  reentry programs,children’s services, and too many others to name here  

Being a child of the Sixties, I have aged with this Hubert Humphrey quote in my mind :

“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

and  The Golden Rule: 

12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

   I believe all religions  have a form of  The Golden Rule , and therefore, religious or not, we should be able to come together to support  our brothers and sisters that need us myself included.

I will be watching to see which county council candidates rise to the occasion and support a large chunk of the core mission of county government, not with words but with action.

Written by Gloria Ferris

February 12th, 2010 at 10:52 am

Mental Illness and Treatment: Topics That Should Be Center Stage in Health Care Reform Debate

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I don’t think quoting the last paragraph of Glenn Close’s article on Huffington Post detracts from her insightful writing and knowledge of an illness that needs to be brought out of the darkness and into the light if we are going to find a solution together. Here it is in its entirety.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by the year 2020 mental illness will be the second leading cause of death and disability. Every society will have to confront the issue. The question is, will we face it with open honesty or silence?

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glenn-close/mental-illness-the-stigma_b_328591.html

We have certainly been aware of the magnitude of the mental illness issue for some time now.  When states agreed with human rights organizations and others that the bulk of patients locked up in institutions had no place there and could take their places in society, it was not out of compassion and the understanding that care would still be needed for these individuals outside ivy-covered walls, but rather it was seen as a cost-cutting measure to states’ budgets.

At the same time, insurance companies’ saw that mental health benefits were a back breaker to employer-backed insurance plans. Insurance plans with mental health benefits were almost nonexistent for individuals. Health care for mentally ill individuals  and support for their families became more and more elusive while our prisons often became the place of last resort because treatment options are so finite.

A caregiver at MetroHealth told me recently that a person who should be admitted to the psychiatric unit of the hospital must  have insurance, be rated, or have Medicaid BEFORE admittance.  It is the only area with such a requirement.  So, when a mental illness issue is identified, the person is instructed to come back to the hospital for a rating, and then, they will be admitted. How often do you think that person returns, gets a rating, and is admitted? What if you were the family member that finally convinced the person to seek help? How do you think everyone copes? 

Almost thirty years later, mental health budgets in the state of Ohio have taken direct hits as a budget cost-cutting measure. We as a nation continue to push this real issue back into the darkness as national suicide rates soar. In reality, the violence of mental illness is usually self-inflicted.  Rarely, is it focused outward and seldom do wives”blow away” the  “perp”.

Written by Gloria Ferris

October 21st, 2009 at 4:02 pm

New Recipe For Healthy Eating

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One of the challenges for someone who needs to watch each bite that enters her mouth is to find recipes that are low fat,low in sodium AND controls the amount of Vitamin K she eats.  Basically, dining has become eating, and eating has become BORING.  Just recently I have been able to cook some again myself which is a great relief to Tim.  He has become rather tired of his “Martha” role.

Tonight I decided to try something different.  I went to the refrigerator to see what we had.  I found skinless chicken breasts, a tomato, green pepper, onions, mushrooms.  I then walked over to the computer and punched in the ingredients plus recipe.  It came back with a recipe for a saute recipe .  I am not competent with “top of the stove”  cooking yet, but my chopping skills are actually better than they were before my strokes.  So, I improvised.

I am sure this still could be “top of the stove, but my baked version at 400 degrees 45 minutes was quite tasty-stir once. I added a few herbs to the basic recipe to make it a bit spicier.  I am sure that you too could use some of your favorite herb combinations as well.

4 skinless Chicken breasts, one large tomato reserve two slices, one large green pepper, one medium onion, one pound mushrooms

Chop all ingredients into large bowl.  Drizzle three T Light Olive oil over top.  Add 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. pepper,1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. minced garlic, 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, Six tsp. basil dried or 2 sprigs fresh basil.  Toss together mixing well.

Spray 9×13 casserole with Olive oil lightly. Place in oven.  Prepare your favorite rice.

Cook’s note:  You could use 1/3 cu. chicken broth reduced fat or low sodium or both for liquid but it is not necessary.  Veggies without are more grilled like.   Fresh garlic would be a plus for someone who can eat fresh garlic.  That is not me.

  Remember the two reserved tomato slices.  Chop and add as garnish before serving.

I am actually looking forward to leftovers tomorrow.

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 7th, 2009 at 8:07 pm