We all deserve the chance to heal; it is not something special reserved only for certain people. If you’re feeling alone in all this, you aren’t.
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” ―Fred Rogers
I’m determined to be prepared for my doctor’s phone call in the morning. I know he’ll call and try to get ahead of me and what I’m feeling/thinking, but I am still very much in a state of shock and betrayal. I’ve considered cancelling my appointments with him for the rest of the year; but that likely won’t be helpful on too many levels.
I do feel composed enough to set him straight, but I’m going to respond to tone and behavior. I should not have to preface everything I say with, “Please leave this out of my medical record.” I’ve seen what other doctors have written in my chart. There’s so much incorrect information, their personal perceptions of me, and even when quoting me, they get it wrong. A lot. Whenever I’ve confronted other doctors, they have vehemently denied what is right there in a file they signed off on. One denied saying something to my pharmacist and turned his back on me when I confronted him. Legitimately turned his back to me, pretended to fiddle with the computer, and would not look me in the eye. Since she was defending me, as a patient, three guesses who I believe. Patients should NOT have to feel like this.
I was voted, “A Strong Voice for the Mental Health Community” a few years ago, and I take this seriously. At the core of who I am, having others respect my voice is truly important to me. If I advocate for other people taking charge and fighting the system, then why should I do any less for myself?
I would love to come back in a few days and say, “Okay guys, I got angry and reacted, but everything is good now.” I’d like to be 100% wrong or partially wrong, except I know I am right in feeling as I do. I know I am right to say, “Re-read your notes and please remove every personal detail you have entered. The personal stuff is for you to remember, NOT for outsiders to peruse, twist to their own benefit, or for me to see and get pissed off at you, because some of this is disrespectful as fuck.” I highly doubt he’d appreciate me going over his head, either, but I’m more than happy to get on a first name basis with the hospital adminstrator. I fucking LIVE for setting these kinds of people straight (According to my brother, who says I should have been a lawyer because I “love to argue”. I don’t, but I will always fight when I am right.), especially since I tend to leave all of them dumbfounded.
Another doctor of mine happened to confess their hate for this person (the hospital admin), and despised that the first thing they did upon taking the job, was choose their own salary. They mentioned how this strips many departments of much-needed funding, and since this is not a gossipy type of person, I take them at face value. Moreover, I know this is how things operate. At the end of the day, hospitals are a business, and in this country, they don’t care if they bankrupt you once a medical bill is in play.
No one needs another overpaid, glorified paper pusher banking on the pain of every single person who enters the main hospital buildings, all affiliated hospitals, practices, medical buildings, etc., which accounts for nearly half the damn state of Massachusetts. I could go on, but I’m tired.
The gloves are OFF. You guys can start a Go Fund Me in case I need to be bailed out. 😉 I’ll keep you posted.
copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
It’s been a rough week. At times, Kitten was my saving grace, curling up next to me to sleep and keep an eye on me. When I rested after my procedure, she didn’t disturb me, as she is wont to do. She often jumps up at my head and scares the shit out of me with her silence. Even if I wasn’t able to sleep, she was hanging out with me. Cat has only shown interest in me today, when I offered up fresh catnip.
If you aren’t a cat owner, I can’t explain the bond of raising kittens (which is what builds trust), but it’s amazing and such a good life lesson. My cats go where I go. That’s always been my rule.
As I approach the 13th anniversary of losing my first (owned solely by me) cat, I feel terrible. She is buried at a small pet cemetery out of state (Obviously, since I’m not from Massachusetts and haven’t lived here that long.), and I have not been back. It’s so painful, and completely breaks my heart. I’ve been reliving her last moments over the past few days and it has nearly killed my soul, at times. I lost her sister over five years later, during an awful time in my life, and when finally given no choice at all, I went against my core beliefs and had her cremated. Her ashes are with me. She is the photo on my laptop screen and the everlasting love I have in my heart. The only thing I have left of her are some photos on my camera, and all the memories of adopting her and loving her right up until she took her last breath. They leave this plane of existence, but they truly do stay with you.
Kitten is her namesake (Her real name is translated out of Old Norse and Hebrew.). My amazing cat, who chose me, taught me how to be a mother, how to love, how to be patent with animals and small children, and she loved me probably as much as Kitten does. They are similar in some ways, with Kitten being less gentle, but I will always have a Tortoiseshell by my side. They are a color, not a breed, but they have these unique personalities and spirits that let me know I was probably once a cat. Kitten was meant to be mine, just as Cat was meant to go home with me and keep me honest with myself.
Today is the first Saturday in a while where I’ve embraced, “Caturday”. I didn’t wake up early and rush out anywhere. I’m hanging out in sweats and a t-shirt, and they are enjoying the sun and bird watching. It’s a low-key afternoon. I’m contemplating whether to cook or order in. The mourning doves are cooing. But I still remember my first “Cat and Kitten” with all my heart. I made promises to them and I kept them, and I made the same promises to these two characters.
They ARE family. Even when they torture me at 4:00 a.m. or harass me for treats an hour after they were given treats. They’ve been happier, a lot more playful, less stressed out, and more affectionate since recovering from the trip to the “evil vet”. 😉 She’s not evil at all, but I know it’ll go better when I can go in with them. They really don’t like not being with me. Dogs have their place, but when a cat is waiting for you at the window or the door, it’s not because they’re trained to do so. Nope. It’s one hundred percent their choice. That individuality is one of the things I love most about cats, but when I see mine waiting for me, it makes me smile. Even if only for a brief moment.
copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Today, I received multiple messages from my treating hospital with information I had never sought out because it was off-limits. However, they are now one of the first hospitals in the country to allow patients to view all of our medical records, respond to comments made by anyone who has treated us, and request corrections to the records themselves. This would not be a big deal, under normal circumstances. I’ve already had that level of access and would have to continually roll my eyes, be frustrated with the lies in the file, and ignore the ignorance and stupidity I was dealing with. Until today, when my psychiatric notes were revealed. I read one note from this week, scanned over it three times, and had to calm myself down because I contemplated breaking my doctor’s hands. Pissed is NOT what I felt at all. Worse, he is one of the people who knows me better than others, so I had a hard time swallowing the bullshit.
It took me leaving, and subsequently deleting, nearly ten messages before I was able to calm down enough to say, “I’m not sure if you have been made aware of the fact that I can now see your psych notes. We need to discuss this because I now feel I will have to edit 90% of what I say to you, and that is NOT how we’ve worked to establish trust as doctor and patient, not once from the first day I sat in your office. I’ve always trusted you, and you have always assured me your notes were clinical; yet THESE NOTES WERE PERSONAL. Without correction, they will follow me for the rest of my life. This needs to be addressed. You know precisely what I have been through with doctors writing their perceptions of me, as opposed to the facts I am spelling out, so we don’t need to talk about it next week, but it must be addressed at my next appointment.” I felt like I left the most honest, professional message I could, under the circumstances, and I changed my tone of voice so that he understood how this made me feel and how it would effect me moving forward.
For example, if I say, “I’m a mess.”, I don’t expect to see my doctor put that into clinical notes as the header of our discussion. Really?! Under typical conditions, I can only see we have discussed depression, trauma, PTSD, anxiety, suicidal ideation, etc. I’m using those topics as an example, not as facts. But to read my words twisted slightly to make me seem like a much different person. it retraumatized me from my previous medical trauma, and immediately made me want to say to him, “Are you OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND?! How stupid can you be?“
Here’s what many people don’t understand about psychiatric notes; they can be subpoenaed in ANY court case. They can be used against you. One improperly written note can be twisted legally into something it isn’t. This has happened to me before; TWICE. He knows this. He knows it has deeply affected my life to terrible degrees, which is why I reacted as I did. I will, one hundred percent, be going through every damn note he writes from now on, and requesting our private discussions be removed from the medical record. They don’t belong there, especially since he processed this as “psychotherapy notes and ten minutes discussing medication”. We actually discussed medication for under five minutes total, with him saying he’d give it some thought and call me in a few days. I missed his call, and he’s damn lucky I did, because I’m not sure I’d be able to have controlled the tone of my voice or the aggression in what I was saying.
I used to wonder how he kept all of his patients lives straight, because his recollections are as precise as my own, until one day, I saw a notebook on his desk at the start of my session, and it’s one of a few he has on me. It’s a nice, leather bound notebook. The kind I’d journal in, and it is filled with his private notes on me. Lord only knows what’s in there! Yet, the actual medical record had way too much private info on me for him to claim he, “keeps it strictly clinical”. I am going to force corrections from 2017 right up until this past week. If he thinks I won’t go over it all with a fine tooth comb, then he’s forgotten the woman who first walked into his office, and declared herself, “A pretty mess.” I have been assured I looked like I was going on a date, but that nothing about what I’ve been through or said could ever be covered up with concealer and properly blended eyeshadow. At my second appointment, I tore him a new asshole for referring to my pulled together appearance as, “a mask” (after he ended the appointment by saying he was leaving in five weeks.), and he admitted I was right and he was wrong. He earned my respect by being a down-to-earth human-being who saw me as a human-being, and didn’t treat me like another annoying mental health patient who doesn’t respond well to medication. But this? This is a deal breaker. It violates everything I hold dear, and now I feel like my entire medical record needs to be turned over to me for review. If I seem like I’m calm, trust me, I’ve got fangs and I’m not afraid to claw those records apart. And I will absolutely hire a lawyer to get the personal information, which is not necessary for such records, completely omitted. He does not want to test me on this.
When my appointments were cancelled due to quarantine last March, it took me three months to get on board with Telehealth. Initially, I felt like other people needed the appointments more than I did. I had weekly appointments for months before I was forced to go down to twice a month. Before agreeing to these appointments, I kept asking myself, “Am I just a pain in the ass patient, am I a challenge for this doctor, will I ever feel better, or am I going to have to look for someone else?” I strongly considered a new psychiatrist because I was confused about how laid back and comfortable our communication is. It has always felt comfortable, human, and safe. It doesn’t feel that way now. In fact, I feel betrayed beyond words, and I wonder how much will require correction.
In this particular moment, I probably need to hear him out first, and then decide if I still want to break his hands. Of all the people I have met as psychiatrists and therapists throughout my mental health care journey, he is the first I have trusted the most. He’s also the first who isn’t completely afraid of me, but probably should be right now.
He won’t hear my message until Monday, and that’s fine. It gives me a few days to cook, read, maybe get in some yoga, do some psychic work, and remind myself that even though he’s taller than I am, I can still knock him out, and by that, I have to say that my message should be enough to make him see reason. As honest as I’ve been here, I will be ten times more honest with him because he needs to know what those notes did and can do.
Anytime there has been an issue between us, he has been good about hearing me out and fixing the problem. On that level, I should consider this before getting upset, but I couldn’t help reading through it and thinking, “Is this how you perceive me?” Because if it is, then there’s a bigger problem underneath it all and that won’t fly with me one bit.
In my message, I made it abundantly clear I might be undermining and/or underestimating my coping mechanisms going into the month of May (If you know, you know. If you don’t, you’ll see what I write next month or you can go through the previous years’ of work. It’s a rough time for me. Period.). I had said, “I don’t think I’ll make it through the month unmedicated.”, and he wants to revisit this discussion because he’s concerned about side effects, even though I suggested a medication I am extremely familiar with. I said this mostly because he will be away next month, during the worst of what I’ll be dealing with and that’s never a good feeling when I have to relive one of the worst months of my life, despite the fact that I have his permission to have him paged no matter what, and also have his personal cell phone number in case of emergencies.
The level of my trauma is a terrible loop and if I block things out, they can (and will) come up out of nowhere and throw me down a metaphorical flight of stairs. It cycles the trauma over and over again, and as he and I discussed this week, “We can’t medicate trauma.” Maybe one day, in the future, this will be possible, but for now, it isn’t. Not being about to help trauma victims and survivors is something the mental health community fails at deeply; in my personal experience.
I wanted him to know I wasn’t demanding the medication, and that I will defer to his guidance, but he also knows I agree to disagree with him a lot. And I do so respectfully. I might be upset, but that’s because this is a relationship I highly value. I’ve felt blessed that someone cared enough to have my back, and today, I felt stabbed in it by the one person who should know better because this is someone who, long before Covid, is the person I spent the most time talking to about the heaviest shit in my life. I will wait to see how this is handled on Monday, and next month when we speak at length. But I’m not going to lie; I am now contemplating dialing my appointments back to once a month and not being anywhere near as forthcoming as usual. As a direct result, I will be searching for a full-time therapist because clearly, if personal things are going to end up in the record, then he is not following proper procedure under the psychotherapy terms and conditions, where every note truly IS clinical and boring as hell.
***On the plus side, the notes state I’m ten years younger than I am, so that’s something he can keep on record. 😉 I’m maintaining the whole reverse aging thing. The fact that a specialist told me this week, “You’re young. You don’t need ANY cosmetic enhancements. There’s not a single wrinkle or mark on your face, and this has not changed since the day I met you.” These are the small things that make me smile while I am going through internal and mental HELL. Last weekend, I stopped into a liquor store to pick up wine and a few other items (I am craving Pina Coladas like nobody’s business! It’s odd. I’m not much of a drinker. I feel like quarantine turned me into a maniac I don’t always recognize.). The second I asked for two small bottles of Jack Daniels (for a recipe I love, but one that is very time consuming and doesn’t require more than a few ounces of JD. I think it calls for a few tablespoons, but I usually eyeball it.), was the moment when, not even realizing I’m behind a mask and sunglasses, the cashier asked to see identification. I could have been anyone. She couldn’t tell my height, eye color, NOTHING. Legally, they have to ask and I always offer, but it amused me. Like I said, these are the small things that make me smile.***
I hope everyone looks into their own medical records for this very reason. Don’t hesitate. Once I calm down, I’ll be tearing through mine like a starving vampire. It’s a good thing I’ve already fired most of the doctors who are in my chart, because they can’t fight me when I ask for something to be removed. It is my legal right. I’d hate to have to do the same with this doctor, so here’s hoping everything gets straightened out. I’d like to think that maybe this situation was a slip on his part, but I won’t ever make excuses for him, and he knows that.
It would be a shame for him to be on vacation with no hands. 😉 I have zero shame in being mean. After all, this involves my life. I should be fully involved in what is written about me, and so should you.
copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Personally, the CGRP drugs I’ve taken have been a nightmare. One of my doctors said, “Your body isn’t a big fan of medication.” Not those that don’t fucking work!