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Movin' on Up...

Tuesday May 27, 2014

With a shout-out to the Jeffersons... About.com is movin' on up!

This is just a quick heads up to watch for some major changes in how About.com Patient Empowerment looks, beginning sometime in June (specific date to be determined.) We're moving on up! We'll be rearranging the furniture, cleaning out the closets, and decorating with an all new color scheme, different ways to navigate the site, new ways to discover new and interesting content within our health channel, and outside of health, too - all in all, a facelift for About.com Patient Empowerment.

You'll see lots more and larger photos, and you'll see a slightly different approach to articles, too. No more blog posts, per se - at least not in the format you've seen them for the past 8 or 10 years.

But don't worry! I'll continue supplying you with the best and most usable information I can. I'll continue to question the healthcare we're getting, I'll pat folks on the back when they deserve it, but mostly I'll keep finding lessons in everyday happenstance that show us why we must be constantly vigilant about the healthcare we're receiving, must stay proactive to get the best care, and must take responsibility for our own care, our loved ones' care, and for the political environment we find ourselves stuck in, trying to find our best outcomes.

If you'd like a preview of what About.com Patient Empowerment will look like soon, you can get a sneak peak at Dr. Peter Pressman's Neurology site.

Pretty spiffy, right?

I have no control over when the changes will be made to this site. Further, I'm not sure how much control I'll have over exactly what you see when it happens!

So I ask you to hang in there, expect it when it changes out, and then to be patient, please, while we iron out any kinks that may occur when it finally does.

No marching bands, no floats, no grand celebration.... but hopefully an improved experience as you continue to pursue ideas and current thinking to help you be the smartest patient you can be.

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Photo (c) Getty Images - John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive

The McDonalds Approach to Becoming an Empowered Patient

Wednesday May 21, 2014

Here's your trivia for the day: The first McDonald's playland was opened in Chula Vista, California in 1973. McDonalds introduced Happy Meals in 1979.

Now, you might wonder what this has to do with patient empowerment - fair enough. The answer lies in understanding WHY McDonalds opened playgrounds and began serving Happy Meals.

The reason is, because they realized that if they could get young, playground-loving, happy children to beg to go to McDonald's then they would be creating a brand preference for life. Children love french fries, and little toys, they love slides and climbing places; in short, it took no time at all for children to begin recognizing those golden arches as McDonald's Restaurants - even before children could ever read.

If you were a child of the 1970s or later - do you remember loving McDonalds as a kid? And if (like me!) you're older than that, do you remember how much your own kids, or your grandkids have begged (continue to beg!) to go to McDonalds? Calories and fat content aside - who doesn't love McDonalds?

Yup. It works. Marketing to young children, by marketing to their delights (french fries and playing!) - gets them to WANT to go somewhere.

So what does that have to do with being empowered patients?

I've long thought that teaching kids to be smart, responsible patients early in their lives would help them become smarter, more engaged adult-patients when they grew up. Early in my patient empowerment work, I made inquiries about what it would take to get some basic patient empowerment built into the seventh grade health curriculum. (Even those inquiries turned out to be daunting tasks, not something just little-old-me could do on my own.) At one point I engaged with our local Girl Scout Council to discuss the possibility of creating a Patient Empowerment badge. But again - it's a project that went on the shelf because there just aren't enough hours in my day. (If you're interested, the tasks girls would need to complete to earn the badge would be things like learning to make lists of questions for their doctors, learning to read the labels on prescriptions then look for potential conflicts, learning how to find good, credible, useful information about their health and challenges online, and more.)

Now, granted, it's quite a leap from children begging to go to McDonalds to getting them to want to go to the doctor. My theory is that helping them better understand the experience would at least make a doctor visit less intimidating. And that's where all of us come in....

As it stands now, what children learn when they are very young is that going to the doctor is a very negative thing. Other, very sick kids are found in the waiting room, perhaps crying, even screaming. When they finally arrive in the exam room, they sit with a worried, anxious parent - and children pick up their parents' vibes. If you're worried and anxious, then they are, too. Little they would consider as "good" comes from the visit. Either nothing happens (from their point of view), or they are given something they don't like - like a shot, or they are isolated for a CT scan, X-ray or MRI.

It's no wonder we are all so intimidated by doctors when we finally grow up and have to make these kinds of decisions or arrangements for ourselves!

So what if we took a bit of that vulnerability out of the engagement... What if we actually teach our kids how to get ready for a doctor appointment, encouraging all those good empowered patient traits, helping them feel less overcome and more in control? Granted, for each age and stage, the information would be taught to them differently, but if approached this way, I think kids would grow up to be stronger, more capable determiners of their own health and medical futures. Understanding how to ask a doctor questions, or to look up credible information online, or to double check prescriptions - all of those aspects of being empowered that we know are positive and good...

If we start them young, then it becomes as ingrained, as much a part of life, as Happy Meals and playgrounds - a preference for their futures.

What children do you have in your life? Can you teach them the basics, realizing you're giving them the gift of being smart patients in the future?

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Photo (c) Calgary Reviews from Flickr

The Wall Street Journal Misses the Mark on Doctor Rating and Review Websites

Tuesday May 20, 2014

I'm usually a fan of Sumathi Reddy's personal health column in the Wall Street Journal, but her most current article misses the mark - dangerously so. And if you don't understand the nuances, you might get the wrong impression, and choose the wrong doctor.

Her article this week is called, "Doctors Check Online Ratings From Patients and Make Change" - which, taken at face value, sounds like a positive thing. And - if it were generally true, I would agree with that. Unfortunately, that's not really what the article is about. Further, the impression one gets from reading the article is that doctor rating and review sites could actually be useful to patients who use them.

Not so! Not only aren't they useful (yet) - they can be dangerous.

First, let me state that if doctors are making changes to their practices based on feedback from these sites, then I applaud that - all good. But I suspect that real adjustments to practices are few and far between. One is cited in the article. But there are almost 900,000 doctors practicing in the US. That's not even a blip on the lousy-doctoring radar.

Next, the article states that the assumption that most doctors have is that it will be only disgruntled patients who write reviews - that's true - that IS what doctors think. The article correctly points out that most reviews are positive... but rather than exploring the positivity and whether that's useful, the article stops there.

There is a problem with mostly positive reviews in that - no one is asking what they are positive about. If I go to Vitals.com and search on a doctor's name - it asks me first to rate the doctor myself by choosing the number of stars I think he deserves. It doesn't ask me anything else, in particular nothing about the quality of the doctor's care, although it does allow me to opt-out if I check off that I've not seen this doctor.

So - how do I answer that? If I visit the doctor who misdiagnosed me, I see he has 3.5 stars (out of 4.) What did he get those stars for? He's an arrogant SOB who cost me all my savings, and almost my health for the rest of my life - but no where can I add that information anywhere. There is no place to rate him for accuracy, or personality, or to describe his true passion in life - making money at the expense of his patients' health.

Now let's take a look at HealthGrades. At least they ask me more specific questions like how easy it was to schedule appointments, how long I waited, whether he and his staff were friendly, and how well he listens.

But again - there is no place to rate his ability to be right or accurate or to recommend the right treatment. I guess none of those aspects are important to HealthGrades.

As we've discussed before - most ratings are based on who is nice, and who is quick - not who is accurate, recommends the best treatment, and keeps his or her patients safe. Nor does the doctor's track record affect the ratings. A doctor with a pleasant demeanor and a friendly staff, one who has short waiting room times, could have 5 stars even if he has been put in jail for doing fake surgeries, bad subscribing, fraudulent billing or even malpractice.

So - Wall Street Journal - you had an opportunity to really teach patients the what-for about these ratings sites and you missed your opportunity. A big disappointment. I wish you had asked me.

But - since I wasn't asked, I'll provide some reading to help you here:

Tragic Reminders of the Uselessness of Doctor Ratings

Smart Patients Don't Rely on Doctor Reviews

Reviews of Physician Directories and Ratings Website

Rate Your Doctor - How to Write an Online Review

How to Choose the Right Doctor for You

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Photo (c) screenshot from Vitals.com

Nobody Who Can, Really Wants to Cure Cancer

Thursday May 15, 2014

microscope and dollar bill

Today's blog post is really just a vent. Maybe it will give you an opportunity to vent, too (in the comments - below). So thanks in advance for bearing with me.

Let's begin by asking: WHO really wants to cure cancer?

I'll start by pointing out that there is a difference between wanting to cure something (taking the steps required to research and develop a cure) - vs - wanting to BE cured of cancer - or any other disease for that matter. Patients diagnosed with difficult and challenging diseases ALL want to be cured, of course! But they aren't typically the ones who are working on those cures. That's left to the researchers and scientists.

We could also ask the same question about any disease. WHO wants to cure Alzheimers? or WHO wants to cure diabetes? While I'm sure there are some exceptions, the real answer is that there is no reward system in place for any individual or organization to develop real cures.

(I should also point out the difference between curing and healing. Healing can take place through mechanical means - a surgery or procedure. A cure requires eliminating disease - a different aspect of medical care.)

This very sad and frustrating realization comes from two online offerings I learned about this week:

The first was a ProPublica article, "MIA In The War On Cancer: Where Are The Low-Cost Treatments?" - which points out that the only research being done for cancer cures is the kind that results in huge profits. Quoting one researcher, "What is scientific and sexy is driven by what can be monetized."

Those of us system-cynics know this. Follow the money. The first time I wrote about it was in my book, You Bet Your Life! - when I show why medical research is not about developing cures. It's about preparing for the next income stream - the next grant or profit-motive drug.

All the same, reading about it in the mainstream press is even that much more disheartening.

The second reference came from my friend and patient empowerment colleague, Pat Elliott. Pat has dealt with a form of "chronic cancer" called CML (Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia) for many years. It's considered chronic because there is a drug that can fight the cancer over many years, longer than what would make CML to be considered a terminal cancer. It seems that last week, a leading researcher's PR team announced that CML had been cured - at least until the CML community took loud and vocal umbrage - and the claim was tempered. It turns out that the doctor who had been the lead developer for that drug was ready to move on to research of other drugs. He was hoping to claim the CML cure in order to entice investment in his new research.

The problem with his supposed "cure" - is that the drug, called Gleevec, which must be taken for the rest of a patient's life, is either not covered by insurance, or is a Tier 4 drug (meaning, the insurer only kicks in with a small percentage of the cost and patients bear the rest of it). For some patients, it costs $10,000 - a month! That's no cure! That's hostage-taking!

The point to both of these examples is this: There are potential curative drugs and other treatments that require research to prove their efficacy that will never be researched - because even if they are found to be 100% curative, not enough money can be made by developing them. There are a few examples in the Pro Publica article cited above, including the use of aspirin. Other examples include many of the complementary and alternative treatments that have existed for thousands of years, and which mainstream medicine will tell you don't work, but that's because it will cost too much money to accumulate the evidence to prove it, and not enough money can be made by promoting it even if, like mentioned above, they are 100% curative.


Additional frustrations stem from knowing that the many disease-focused advocacy groups - those non-profits that claim to want to find cures and who could fund research on inexpensive cures (because they aren't trying to make a profit from them) - but won't fund this research either. Why not? Because despite their non-profit status, they are still focused on raising as much money as they possibly can (CEOs of the large ones make into the millions of dollars in salaries). Where does that money come from? Pharma - pharmaceutical companies that look to those non-profits to help them promote their drugs.

Researchers may intrinsically want to cure something, but their pharma employers won't let them. Insurance companies might be interested in less expensive cures, but their under-the-table deals with pharma won't let that happen. Doctors might want to cure their patients, but if the patient keeps coming back for more treatment, that's a reason not to. The government is the only objective body that could do research and produce inexpensive cures, but budget cuts (think Congress people like Ryan, Rubio and others) won't make room for medical research in the federal budget.

Once again - it's all about follow the money. There are NO incentives in the system to cure anything unless the "cure" will continue to produce lots of income for months and years to come.

So - with apologies - as I said when I started, today's post is really just a vent. Call it an awareness post - making you aware that if you are hoping and praying for a cure, you will never find it, that is unless it costs a fortune and you can afford to pay for it. More likely you will instead find yourself with something intentionally chronic, because that's how a system of private medical care survives.

Ironically - the system is its own disease that cannot be cured.

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Agree? Disagree?

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Photo (c) Getty Images, Tom Grill

Arrogance and Intimidation - When Is It Time to Push Back?

Wednesday May 14, 2014

arrogant doctor

We've all met "that doctor" or "that surgeon" - the one who comes across as thinking he or she rules not just their own world, but ours, too. Who acts as if we are lucky to be in his or her presence. Who wants us to think he or she is God.

Thing is - depending on our circumstances, and perhaps that doctor's or surgeon's specialty - he or she may be in that position. That is, the position of being able to save our lives, or improve our life's quality. We may have to put up with that attitude because we really do need to work with that doctor either because we have no additional choices, or because timeliness is critical.

Lisa Esposito, writing for US News & World Report, tackled this subject in her article "Managing the Power Dynamic Between Doctors and Patients." (In full disclosure, I was interviewed for, and am quoted in the article.) It raises a number of issues involved in the imbalance in too many doctor-patient interactions, and goes back and forth between good advice for patients to follow, and good advice for doctors to follow, with the intent for both of them to improve the communication.

Respect. Understanding. Efficiency. Sticking up for yourself. Pushing back, but only when necessary, and non-confrontationally.

Lisa has linked a number of great articles from hers - take a look. When to Fire Your Doctor, 5 Tips for a Smooth Doctor Visit and others.

If you'd like more information about dealing with difficult medical providers, try these, too:

How to Deal with an Arrogant Doctor

Share Your Experience with an Arrogant Doctor

Should You Complain to Your Doctor?

How to Complain about a Doctor or Other Healthcare Provider

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Photo (c) Getty Images - Cultura Science/Sigrid Gombert

Testing 1-2! About Recording Your Doctor Visit

Wednesday May 7, 2014

A few weeks ago, I shared with you an account of a woman who, at the beginning of her doctor appointment, asked her doctor for permission to record the session. The doctor went off the deep end, belittling her and berating her for even suggesting such a thing.

Then, last week, I was a part of a panel discussion on misdiagnosis. One of the audience members, a patient, shared her story of asking the same question. Her doctor replied with a flat NO, saying it was against his practice's policies. (Stay tuned to find her solution - actually quite simple and brilliant!)

This morning, I read this article from KevinMD, written by Dr. Deep Ramachandran which provides us with a bit of insight as to why doctors react with such negativity at the idea of being recorded, and gives us the information we need to make the activity of recording a conversation acceptable to both parties.

Let's look at each of these instances in reverse order:

Dr. Ramachandran's piece is actually written for doctors, not patients, and points out to them that when patients ask to record a visit, it's not because they are trying to pull one over on their doctors. How sad that he even needs to point that out! He goes on to explain that there are reasons a recording is a good idea for both patients and doctors. It helps patients follow instructions, it helps them understand explanations better, it can save time because the patient will have the opportunity to listen back (and won't need a lot of repetition during the appointment), and more.

But do you see his point? Too many doctors assume the worst - that if we want to record a conversation, it's because we are trying to amass evidence that could be used in a lawsuit, or for blame. Ouch. Where do they get that idea? Have they made so many mistakes that they are afraid that will happen? Or do they lack so much confidence in their own skill sets that it's a fear they live with? Or, heaven forbid, have they been sued so many times before that they think patients are out to get them? If any of those things are true, and if that's why they are so vehemently against us patients recording visits, then honestly my fellow patients - we need to find another doctor anyway.

So my first advice is to doctors and practice managers: EMBRACE the idea of permitting your patients to record their sessions with you. It's WIN WIN! Read what Dr. Ramachandran has to say about it - and believe me when I tell you that patients want to be cooperative, they want to understand, they want to learn, and they want to get well. Their chances will increase exponentially if they can listen back to your conversation. It's a GOOD thing when patients and their caregivers care enough to take the trouble to record!

Next, the woman in the audience at the misdiagnosis discussion I was part of last week (I'll call her Angela), who spoke about her experience when she asked her doctor about recording her session, made me want to stand up and cheer!

Many of you, my readers, know that I work closely with private, independent health and patient advocates... they are near and dear to my heart because they are on the front lines helping patients find better outcomes every day....

Angela has had numerous conversations with her health advocate as she and her husband make their way through the system with a variety of problems that need addressing. She and her advocate had discussed the idea of recording the session, including asking the doctor for permission to do so. When the doctor refused to allow it, Angela simply told him, "But my health advocate told me it was perfectly legal!"

The doctor backed down immediately and simply replied, "Well, all right then." And they moved on with the appointment, Angela's recorder (her smartphone) along for the ride.

And so that's my real point to you, today. That is: do not allow yourself to be bullied or denied by any doctor who would tell you NO in response to a request to record your visit. Here is how to address the subject with your doctor:

Don't ask permission so much as make the statement: "Doctor, because our conversation will be important, with a lot for me to remember, I plan to record today's appointment. I hope you agree it's a good idea." As I've said before, it's easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. In this day and age, it's foolish for a doctor to say no - so don't give him the chance to do so. But do give him a heads up - that's fair and right.

And if he or she balks? Simple. Tell them your health advocate told you it's legal and acceptable.

What...? You don't think you have a health advocate? Sure you do! I'm a health advocate, and I'm telling you - it's legal and a great idea!

My hope is that, within the next few years, this idea of recording your appointments will be the norm - not a discussion at all. We'll then chuckle at the idea that it was ever a problem at all. And doctors and patients will have one more important point to agree upon - that is - that providing a tool for patients to use to better collaborate with their doctors is a good idea for us all.

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Agree? Disagree?

Share your experience or join the conversation!


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Photo (c) Getty.com - Klaus Vedfelt

Will Obamacare Deny Cancer Care for Seniors Over Age 75?

Thursday May 1, 2014

In Patient Empowerment News: May 1, 2014


"I heard because of Obamacare seniors over 76 would not get coverage for cancer treatment. Is this true?"

That was the question I found in one of the reader posting areas of this Patient Empowerment site from a reader named Pete.

Here's your answer, Pete: NO! It's not true! (or should I say, HELL NO!) Glad you asked....

It gives me one more opportunity to cast aspersions on those (Republicans) who are telling TV viewers and email receivers that this is true as a way to make them hate Obamacare (like so many Republicans do.) They (Republicans) are LYING TO YOU when they say this. Don't believe them. They are using their own political agendas to scare people into submission. Don't let them scare you!

The real fact is that Obamacare says nothing at all about the rationing of care to anyone - not for cancer, not for Seniors, not for any treatment you need whatsoever. Further - the bill that's cited as the source for Senior care rationing (cancer, or any other kind) never even became law! That bill was HR 3200. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was, in fact, HR 3590. But even then, there was no such provision in either bill.

It seems that this assertion came from another scam email, based on comments a judge supposedly made to a local newspaper. But as it turns out, that judge claims he never said any of that anyway.

Here is the truth: You need to review these kinds of claims to determine their veracity. There are many ways to do so. There are websites like FactCheck and Politifact that give you all the evidence you need to decide for yourself. Here are those resources, and how to use them.

Don't believe me? (No, I don't!, say the Republicans who hate Obamacare and are trying to scare Seniors and others).... OK - then believe these references:

From Snopes: Judge Dread (Kithil)

From Politifact: Will seniors be denied cancer treatment under Obamacare?

From FactCheck: Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200

From Forbes: Will Obamacare Really Prohibit Active Medical Intervention At Age 70

Remember, just because you see something on TV, on the web, or in your email, doesn't mean it's true! Be a smart patient, and a smart citizen by checking them out before you believe them, especially if you plan to send them on to someone else.

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Agree? Disagree?

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Photo (c) Getty Images - Peter Hince

Are You Kidding? When Doctors or Surgeons Are Jerks

Sunday April 27, 2014

In Patient Empowerment News: April 27, 2014

Two reports this week just dumbfound me, but sadly they don't surprise me, and just make me so very angry...

The first comes from my own local news - just appalling on many levels. It regards an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Michael T. Clarke, who, once his patients had been anesthetized, would slap them on the buttocks and call them derogatory names. He hit them so hard that in some cases, he left red marks and handprints! Clarke's practice focus is hip replacement and resurfacing, so we have to assume most of his patients were in their 60s and older... how totally humiliating and how very wrong!

It's not bad enough that he did that over the course of a few years to dozens, hundreds or thousands of patients.... what is just as disturbing to me is that it took at least a year before anyone blew him in to the hospital administration by filing a formal complaint. There have to have been several others in the OR each time he did that... what took them so long to report him? (How could they sleep at night?)

Clarke has now left the hospital where these incidents took place. That hospital, according to this article in the Syracuse newspaper, now faces sanctions and docked pay - as well they should for allowing such behavior to continue. Unfortunately, Clarke has simply moved across town to another hospital - which had better keep a close eye on him and dismiss him at his first transgression. Any doctor who thinks that behavior is acceptable isn't going to change his stripes. Just appalling.

The second report came from a patient advocate friend named Gary. In 2006, Gary's wife Lyn was diagnosed with bone cancer in her spine, found incidentally after she had a car accident. They were referred to a neurological surgeon, Dr. Sagun Tuli at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who convinced them she could help Lyn. Desperate to improve Lyn's cancer status, they agreed to the surgery. Unfortunately, the surgery left Lyn in far worse shape than she was pre-surgery and Lyn eventually died.

To deal with his grief, Gary reached out to the Tuli in hopes of having a conversation to better understand what had gone wrong. Tuli refused to meet with him. So, in need of a catharsis, Gary did what many do - he blogged about the experience...

...at which point, Sagun Tuli insisted (through her lawyer) that the blog be taken down. Trying to focus on forgiveness, Gary took the blog down right away. A few years later, despite the fact that he had removed the blog years earlier, Sagun Tuli SUED Gary for $100,000 for defamation. You can read about the lawsuit in this Boston Globe article.

So - Tuli loses points for two things: refusing to talk to her patient's husband post surgery and then suing him when he shared his experience online.

(As an aside.... Tuli seems to make lawsuits a real revenue stream. She also sued Brigham and Women's Hospital for gender discrimination a few years ago. She won that suit to the tune of $1.6 million and is no longer working there. Her lawyer must be a very rich man.)

It appears that, as of 2014, Tuli relocated to the Miami - Ft. Lauderdale or Ocala areas of Florida.

Beyond simply shaking our heads, what can we empowered patients do with this information? A few things:

1. Remember that most surgeons are professional, caring, and are focused on doing well by their patients, no matter how heinous these stories are.

2. But remember that we don't know which are which. That makes it incumbent upon us to research these doctors ourselves. There are ways to search for information about doctors and surgeons that can reveal malpractice - or even whether they are just jerks. Granted, jerkism doesn't indicate skill level (in neither of the cases described above were there malpractice lawsuits involved). Regardless - would you want to take your chances? I'll bet some of Clarke's patients think he did a good job on their hip replacements, but can't figure out why their buttocks were black and blue after surgery.

3. As I've pointed out in previous posts, here are two more examples of why we cannot trust doctor's ratings sites.

They both come out looking pretty good from those ratings site. Unfortunately, if you believe those sites, you truly do just take your chances. I, for one, am not willing to do that.

My best advice is to trust your intuition. Research for publicized problems, of course. However, in addition, trust that inner voice of yours to help you sense when something just does not seem right. That may be your first indication that something is awry.

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Photo (c) iStockPhoto.com / Cimmerian

Spring Cleaning Time! Get Rid of Those Unneeded Drugs in Your Home

Thursday April 24, 2014

In my neck 'o the woods, we enjoy active recycling initiatives that provide us with great ways to get rid of things that we no longer need or want, and in doing so, we help the environment, too.

We have a Shred-O-Rama Day when we can take boxes of shreddable paper (think your 1999 tax return records!) and get them shredded and recycled for free.

We have Electronics Recycling Day when we can take old TVs (you know - those monstrosities that used to take up 1/4 of your family room?), old computers, monitors, wiring - outdated electronics that can be broken up and used for parts.

And we have Take Back Your Drugs day which is actually a federal initiative put together by the US Drug Enforcement Agency and the US Department of Justice. This year's Take-Back Initiative is Saturday, April 26, 2014.

Drugs? What drugs?

We all have them in our medicine cabinets, or dresser drawers, linen closets or kitchen cupboards - drugs (prescription and over the counter) that we never finished taking. We might have suffered side effects and stopped taking them, or maybe they were pain drugs that we no longer needed. Perhaps they are old cold or flu remedies that are outdated, or birth control pills that - well - oops! We forgot. (And now we're sending that one off to college?)

Disposing of these drugs can become problematic. Just flushing them has a huge, negative impact on the environment (have you ever seen a two-headed fish?) If you just throw them away, then they can be retrieved from your trash by someone who's looking to get high. Even your own kids could be popping them without you realizing it.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) twice annually holds it's National Take Back Collection - an opportunity to safely and legally dispose of unused drugs. This weekend, Saturday, April 27, 2013 is one of this year's collections.

So it's time to round up all those extra drugs - pills, tablets, capsules, liquids, lotions - any drug! - to take it for collection. That way you don't have to worry about whether you are disposing of those drugs properly or not - because the DEA will take care of them for you.

Get rid of 'em! Give them back to a place that will take care of them safely and responsibly so you no longer have to deal with them!

Here is more information about the initiative from the DEA / USJ website.

You can search for collection locations near you.

Learn more about proper disposal of drugs (and needles and sharps) if you've missed the collection date or won't be able to participate.

Not sure what that drug is? Don't want to toss it until you know? Here's a way to identify pills, tablets and capsules.

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Share your experience or join the conversation!


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Photo (c) Getty Images - Jonathan Kantor

Channeling Bob Dylan - How Does It Feel?

Tuesday April 22, 2014

OK, you children of the 1960s... it's time to channel some Bob Dylan...

How does it feel? How does it feel?
To be on your own.... with no direction home, like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone (love that harmonica!)

So where is this coming from?

I've been working on a presentation about patients, their medical challenges, and how they feel about them. And you know... I'm just kinda stuck.

So I thought - who better to ask than you, my intrepid readers!

When we have scary symptoms, or we're diagnosed with something difficult or lifelong, or we are told we need some sort of difficult treatment (surgery, chemo, radiation) - we all have feelings about that new knowledge.

Some possibilities:

  • fear
  • anger
  • doubt
  • relief
  • sadness
  • melancholy
  • .... what else?

So - you might ask - what else is new? Well - we know a few things...

We know that any feeling that comes about is natural and appropriate. Just like Kubler-Ross's stages of grief, some can even be anticipated.

We know that it's not wrong to have any feeling at all - it's just a feeling. I could be wrong to act inappropriately based on a feeling, especially if it hurts someone we love (or even ourselves) but even then, there is wide room for interpretation.

What is less known is the effect of our feelings on our abilities to cope with our illness or condition. Further, we know that our feelings can affect our abilities to heal - but to what extent, we aren't sure. Very difficult to measure.

Please! Help me put together the rest of this presentation... Please share YOUR feelings! Tell us what they are, how you deal with them, what effect, if any, you think they have had on your medical status...

I'm so very curious to see how you answer Bob.... how DOES it feel?

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Share your experience or join the conversation!


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Photo (c) Photos.com

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