Gloria Ferris

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

Archive for the ‘MetroHealth’ 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

Ward 14 Town Hall Meeting

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending the first town hall meeting hosted by Councilwoman Jasmin Santana, her assistant, Maranyeliz Miranda, and her volunteers.  It was an enjoyable, informative meeting. I hope,as Ms. Santana said,it will  be the first of many.

This town hall  was a community forum with many city officials as well as non-profit advocates discussing housing issues and solutions with the audience.  This first forum’s participants included:

Special Guest: MetroHealth

Chief of Staff. Jane Platten.  Walter Jones, Senior Vice President in charge of campus transformation accompanied her.

Cleveland Build and Housing:

Ayonna Donald, Interim director Cleveland Director B & H.

Housing Partnership Network, FKA Cleveland Housing Network

Kate Monter Durban, Assistant Director

Neighborhood Housing Services

Mahria Harris, Director of Homeowner Services

Christina Keegan, Land Trust Program Manager

Cleveland Housing Court

Heather Meljkovic, Magistrate

Peter Hotchkiss, Housing Court Specialist

Community Development Organizations.

Metro West Development Organization

Keisha Gonzalez, Managing Director

Tremont West Development Corporation

Cory Riordan, Executive Director

Pastor Gordon Martin, Prince of Peace Outreach presided as facilitator and fielded the written questions from the audience. Since the topic was housing, he informed us  that all the other questions would be handled on-line since people had failed to add contact info to the questions. 

As always, there were a few in the audience who refused to believe that the rules applied to them and they shouted their questions from the floor. When Pastor Martin was unable to get them to understand that the written questions served two purposes-the question topic would be housing and that all others would be handled in writing on- line,  the councilwoman and he handled the impromptu questions quickly and efficiently so that the discussion on housing issues could continue.

There was a lot of useful information exchanged. The housing court personnel handled eviction questions as well as what the procedure is if you end up in court. 

“Who is the code enforcer?” was handled by Metro West’s managing director, Keisha Gonzalez and Ms. Arnold of Building and  Housing  who has  over 20 years experience both in the field and in management.

Ms. Gonzalez shared that Metro West conducts four Code Enforcement Area (CEA) studies a year. When an area  is chosen  for closer scrutiny a house to house outside inspection is conducted. These inspections are to identify potential Building and Housing violations before they become a problem for the homeowner when code enforcement kicks in.

If you receive a letter, call Metro West. There are resources that can help home owners. any people accomplished home repairs which alleviates anxiety and enhances their own quality of life as well as their neighbors’.

Ms. Arnold made everyone understand Metro West, Tremont West or any other CDC does NOT have enforcement authority.

Many questions centered around affordable housing and what programs are available to residents as well as the deposition of the YMCA building on Pearl. An added plus was Jane Platten from MetroHospitals who addressed the new transformation plan for the hospital and how those plans do not call for the displacement of current residents near the hospital. Ms. Platten was glad to be able to dispel the rumors at a public forum.

Rebecca Kempton and I recorded the meeting on Facebook live. It is available in two sections. If you are interested please take the time to watch it. There are two sections I and II. Click on  Gloria Ferris. Scroll down.

Again, I would like to thank everyone who participated in last night’s meeting, but most of all, to thank Councilwoman Santana for using the calls to her office as her basis for the Town Hall topic.

I look forward to the next one.

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

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

Lesson Number #3: Be An Advocate…

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your own, your doctor’s, the hospital’s, in my case, MetroHealth Medical Center, your family’s, your friends’. When I spent those two months in the hospital last December and January, I learned that you need to speak up when you want to know something or you need a change in treatment, environment, or information for peace of mind.

The first time I really employed this advocacy thing was during the incident of the Jumping Bean Bed.  Because of that bed, I was not getting rest and I told my nurses I didn’t know how I was supposed to heal if I could not sleep. They told me to ask my doctors when they had rounds that morning for a new bed. Dr. Shwee said he didn’t see why I couldn’t have a new bed if one was available.  When I arrived back to my room from my physical therapy session, there was my new “old” bed.  The nurses had found a bed and moved everything in and out when I was gone. 

Now, I could have continued to suffer in silence complaining to friends and family, but they could have only sympathized.  By telling my doctors directly,  my problem was fixed quickly and efficiently. It gave me the confidence to ask questions about the drugs I was taking, to discuss the progress of my rehabilitation with therapists, nurses, and doctors.  During my stay at MetroHealth, I learned that this hospital is an “unsung hero” of our county. I have vowed to promote this awesome place of “miracles and hope” whenever and wherever I can. I also ask others who I meet who have experienced the quality care and compassion at this tremendous hospital to join me in my advocacy.

Yesterday, was the Shearer Family Christmas, and I was reminded of my Uncle Gene who was our family advocate. My mother and father divorced after 25 years of marriage. I was an adult but divorce affects any child no matter their age.  Uncle Gene would seek me out each year and ask me “What’s new”? We would chat a few minutes, and then, he would tell me a short story about something he remembered about my dad.  It might be a hunting story or an incident at one of the County Fair horse pulls.  He never failed to mention my dad. This conversation was held at the get together for my mother’s side of the family. Without lecturing or making a big deal out of it, he  would remind a 25 year old woman  that there were good times to remember when we were all together. I’ve never forgotten how I appreciated his attention and his compassion.

I learned from my uncle that too often people simply stop talking about people important in their lives because it is painful or because we think it might make others uncomfortable.  Uncle Gene always considered what was important to the person with whom he was conversing.  I never turned away from him without feeling just a bit better and walking a bit taller.  I work each day to be an advocate for my family and friends as he was.  He is a fine example of how an advocate of others should live.    Be an advocate by accentuating the positive to family and friends. Share stories of loved ones who are no longer with us.  Use those stories to strengthen bonds between generations.  

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 21st, 2009 at 1:15 am

Give What You Can

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This lesson was again learned from one of my parents.  This time my mother was the one who gave the lesson.  My mother had polio as a young child; hence, my concern about her health I mentioned in yesterday’s post. She had coped for many years with a metal plate in her leg and scoliosis of her spine.  Each year our church back home had a big Chicken Barbeque on Fourth of July.  Each year my mother baked many, many pies for this event.

When I was 24 my mother called me to make sure that I would be coming home for the holiday because she wanted my help in baking pies for the church picnic.  I said I would be there to help, and she said good because there were fewer women who had volunteered for pie baking.

Well, at 24, I was not the responsible, reliable, predictable person I am today, and as young daughters will do, I arrived late with a hangover.  My mother didn’t say a word.  She just threw the apron at me and told me to start slicing apples for her famous Dutch Apple pie.  We worked in silence for what seemed like an eternity to me until I finally broke the silence with this question “so, is your leg aching today or is it your back”?

She flew around to face me, and with that look that only a mother can give, she said through clenched teeth “I am in pain every day of my life. This is not about pain, but about giving.  I gave based on what you told me you would give to me—help.  Because you did not see my giving as a priority I may not be able to give what I said I would.  You give what you can and I do but because you did not give what you could I may be short my giving”.  There was little I could say, but I began to work a bit more efficiently and faster, and we were able to make good on my mom’s promise to the other church ladies.

When I laid in that hospital bed for days on end needing help to eat, to dress, to accomplish the most basic of needs there was little I could give.  What I could give was a smile and a thank you which I did often and freely.  It was easy to remember my mother’s axiom of “You give what you can based on what you can accomplish”.

My doctors, nurses, and caregivers told me when I left how much they had appreciated my smiles and “thank yous”. They mentioned that my family and friends never failed to thank them, too.  They told me it wasn’t necessary, but it was greatly appreciated.   Sometimes, a smile and thank you is enough for those who give to you.    

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 18th, 2009 at 11:49 pm

Count your Blessings One by One

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When Monica Robbins interviewed Tim and me a few weeks ago I mentioned that when I spoke at the October Stroke Conference I did three things related my experience,  and shared seven things I learned.  She immediately asked what were they? I of course drew a blank and could only relate five.  I have since found my notes and intend to relate them here over the next few days.

The first thing I learned was to Count My Blessings. Actually, I had learned that years ago when I was a small child, but over the years I had remembered to do it much less frequently. While I was in ICU the nurses would turn on the television for background noise. I don’t know if I listened to the dialogue from “White Christmas”or if I simply dreamed portions of one of my favorite Holiday Classics.

In any case, it reminded me of my father who taught me to “count my blessings”.  When I was much younger I was a “worrywart”.  I worried that my cousin who was in the Navy would get lost in the jungles of Panama, that my teacher would call on me and I wouldn’t know the answer soon enough, that my Dad would go to work one day and not come home again just like my Grandpa, that my mother would get very, very sick. The list was a mile long, and I would stare in the darkness long after the house was quiet with my spinning, worrying mind.

It was shortly after my seventh birthday when my dad walked me into a starlit pasture and told me that I needed to learn to count my blessings instead of chronicle my worries.  That night he showed me how to count on the people who loved me, to count on myself, to count on my strengths, to count on the thousands of stars in the sky. That night I fell asleep confident my blessings outweighed my worries. 

Fifty years later lying in a hospital bed with arms hooked up to too many IVs to count, with a machine to help me breathe,  it would have been easy to have a head spinning full of worries. What if I never walked again, what if I couldn’t use my left hand for eating and writing, what if this and what if that.  I could have spent my hours endlessly worrying, but instead I decided to count my blessings.  It worked. It helped me stay positive on the hardest of days and saw me through long, dark nights.

So just as Bing Crosby sang Irving Berlin’s words to Rosemary Clooney in the movie “White Christmas” so many years ago, I would tell you this Christmas ”when you are worried and cannot sleep try counting your blessings instead of sheep”. It worked for me.

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 18th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

The Time is Near; It’s Almost Here

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Last Monday Monica Robins and her sidekick Patrick spent two hours at the electronic cottage with Tim and me. Earlier in the day, she had interviewed Dr. Dan Friedman at MetroHealth about the health crisis that I personally suffered. 

As you know, two hours will shrink to a  very condensed version of the events.  I do hope that the important place my family and friends hold in the story remains as well as the incredible caring of the MetroHealth Team-doctors, nurses, therapists, LPNS, and all other staff. If it doesn’t survive the cutting room floor, please know that Tim and I thank God for all of you each and every day.

While Monica was here, I mentioned that Kim Wendel had been to our house on October 30th to interview us prior to the November 3rd general election in 2008.  My recollection of that time is fuzzy to say the least.  I do remember that Tim kept asking me why I wasn’t blogging more. Now, we know that I was barely functioning for the two weeks before my heart attack.  What is it they always say about hindsight being 20-20?

I am glad to say that much has changed in the last year. I am getting more energy and feeling pretty good on almost every day.  I now have more GOOD days than bad days. Tim told Father Ralph today that I still spend too much tme in the past comparing myself to who I was and not to who I am in the present.  I did mention though that I am very good at telling others how they should live in the present and not grouse about what isn’t any more.

So, if the eyes stay open try to catch the 11 pm news. My aunt used to say “Please consider me a chip in your woodpile of memories”. Please know that I consider you all much more than chips!.   

Written by Gloria Ferris

November 23rd, 2009 at 5:19 pm