The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Archive for Medicine

Look More Awake for 12 Bucks? Sure!

eyerollerSo, I turned 41 last week… during Friday of Invisible Illness Week!  I remember being one of  the youngest gals everywhere I went… now I am looking at “age defying” make up.

Here is one item I am adding to my arsenal though, and regardless of your age (or gender) if you are in chronic pain and up many nights, you may be interested too.

It’s the new Garnie Nutrioniste Skin Renewal Anti-Puff Eye Roller. You just roll this “massage roller” that has a caffeine gel in it, under your eyes. It helps stimulate “microcirculation around the delicate eye area.” All for about 12 dollars.

I purchased this in August. The coolness of the metal tip of the applicator feels good, regardless of how well the product worked. But I wonder… could it be making a difference? The puffiness and creases seem a bit smaller. So whether it’s helping or having a placebo effect, I’m satisfied.

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Podcaster Seeks Hospice Expert

LAKEWOOD, CO - AUGUST 21:  Terminally ill hosp...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Bridgette Mongeon is a writer/podcaster. She says, “We are saddened to report that we have lost one of our co-hosts to our  podcast. They had entered hospice and it was our first experience with  hospice. We would like someone who can tell us more about what hospice is  and how it works for what may be an emotional podcast. In addition we may be interested in doing a separate podcast on the experiences that have been  viewed by perhaps hospice nurses or others concerning visitations from the  other side during hospice . Much of this happened with our experience.

Please indicate HARO-Hospice information or HARO Hospice-visitation in
your subject line. This is a Christian podcast and a christian viewpoint
is helpful but not necessary.
Please note that I appreciate all response
but the grief is making it very difficult to get back to work. We will
respond to all as soon as we can.

Thank you in advance. You can  listen to other podcasts here http://www.godsword.net/podcastbios.aspx

Email her soon because her deadline is: 01:08am CENTRAL – 28 August

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How Can We Measure Chronic Pain

PET scan of a normal 20-year-old brain.
Image via Wikipedia

Up until now we tried to come up with words to describe our pain: needles, throbbing, aching, numb, etc. The the medical world moved pup to asking you to give them a number or choose “a face” of carton characters. Although I can see how this method makes sense for people in acute pain, I never know how to answer the question when asked some place like the ER.

“What is your pain between 1 and 10?” they ask.
“Uh… do you mean my ankle that I’ here about or overall?”

Even the person asking doesn’t always answer the same. Because I would say the scale changes every 6 months. The pain gets worse but I learn to live with it. What was a “10” 5 years ago is now just a 5 or 6.

I need to express that I am in pain, but I need to leave plenty of room for those days (or nights) that the body flares up so badly I really cannot move a limb or finger.

Well, there may be a solution on the horizon (if you have high hopes). According to a new series of studies that has been studying brain imaging techniques [such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)] have shown “distinct differences between the brains of people in pain and others who are not.” Scientists discover way of measuring pain (7/7/09)

“Pain seems to increase the blood flow to certain parts of the brain, roughly in proportion to the amount of pain felt, and we can measure that activation in a brain scan,” said Irene Tracey, professor of anaesthetic science at Oxford University and director of its centre for fMRI and the brain.

The good news is that when we are trying to find a doctor who believes us about our pain level or a lawyer that believes we have a disability case, a certain amount of our pain may be more verifiable.  But I still wonder if what my brain showed would have the same adjustments as I do now when they ask, “How much pain are you in?”

Would my brain show my actual pain level, or how much better or worse the pain was than 6 months earlier? And would it take into account that my brain processed the pain differently the umpteenth time around and tolerated more?

Food for thought…

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Doctors Try to Ease Financial Worries of Chronically Ill

With the rising costs of medical care, loss of jobs and more I was glad to see how doctors are personally trying to help out this stress.   Sandra Bodman of The Washington Post, writes about this in an article, “Doctors trying to ease their patients’ financial pain”

Doctors are encountering more patients struggling to pay for care. Some doctors have responded by selectively cutting their fees or devising novel payment arrangements; others have taken a harder line on billing and are sending more overdue accounts to bill collectors.

Although groups such as the American College of Physicians do not specify how much charity care members should provide, many doctors say they feel a responsibility to help strapped patients, particularly those with whom they have long-standing relationships. Some say assisting patients pays dividends in the form of loyalty, which will benefit them once the economy recovers. For others, such efforts may stem an exodus of consumers at a time when elective procedures and visits to doctors’ offices are down.

So far, none of my doctors have volunteered to lower their prices, but I have not expressed the need or expectation that they would. Most of my doctors, I believe, are struggling financially themselves.

Regarding those with chronic illness, the articles goes on to address this, explaining one doctor’s solution for now:

Family physician H. Lee Adkins of Fort Myers, Fla., recently launched a novel plan to counter the growing no-show rate among patients with chronic illnesses: a $75-per-month fee that entitles patients to a basic package of services including more than a dozen office visits per year, simple lab tests and many vaccinations. Patients are required to sign a one-year contract. Why $75? “That’s the same amount people spend on a monthly cable bill,” Adkins says.

What has been your experience?

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When Side Effects Are Dismissed

Resized image of Ritalin-SR-20mg-full.png; squ...
Image via Wikipedia

If you have a chronic illness there is no doubt you’ve been on your share of medications. Half of figuring out how to “live” and not just “survive” is discovering which drugs–or combination of medications– can give you the best results, with the least side effects (and with affordability!)

Have you ever told your doctor about some odd side effects you thought you were having however, and were dismissed as “that can’t be because of the medication”? Doctors read the long lists of side effects. If the drug is available it means it has been approved by the FDA and therefore, the side effects listed often may only be for 1 or 2% of the population.

But what about all the medications that are taken for years and then quickly grabbed off the market, recalled… banned?

Here is a cool web site Ask a Patient. It looks simple (no fancy graphics here) but don’t let it its look fool you.

You can

  • Rate your medicine
  • View a Rx report card by drug category
  • Tell others about side effects you’re having
  • Read news and breaking reports on medications
  • Take a poll
  • Find out all kinds of patient info on medications
  • Find lots of the best medicine links around!

The post from e-patients.net stated last week week

A Research Letter in the Archives of Internal Medicine (June 22, 2009) gives the results of a patient survey conducted on the patient site askapatient.com. Over the course of three months, 367 people responded; more than 50 percent reported muscle and joint pain with fatigue associated with bisphosphonate osteoporosis drugs. . .

That is interesting enough, but the real point of the story lies in the contrast with data collected on a Web site frequented by physicians, sermo.com. One doctor posted a case of joint, bone and muscle pain in an influenza-like syndrome associated with a bisphosphonate. When other site visitors were asked about this reaction, more than half said other clinicians had never seen it.

I looked up a couple of the medications I am on. Seventeen people had rated Feldene, an “old” anti-inflammatory I’ve been on for about 16 years. I searched “prednisone” and 272 had written about it.

Just a personal note: remember, when choosing a medication, you have to decide what is best for you personally at this time in your life. No one else can make that decision and just as you can’t stress out about all of the side effects written on the drug inserts, don’t let patient feedback scare you away from a medication you may truly need.

When I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 24 (16 years ago), I was reluctant to take all of the recommended drugs because it said ulcers and such were common.

My doctor at the time took out his pen and drew on the paper wrapper on the patient exam table in the office. His first line was downward. He said, “If you don’t take the drugs, this will be your life. You will also likely end up in a wheelchair by the time you are forty.”

He drew another line that had hills and valleys and said, “We can’t guarantee anything with the medications, but at forty years old, you will likely still be walking.”

He drew a few “X”s on the second line. “Here is an ulcer. Here is another side effect.” Then he pointed to the lines and the X’s and said, “Pick one. Pick which life you want.”

I took the medications and have never regretted it. Rather than having them put me into remission and be able to wean off of them, I had to keep adding to them to keep functioning.

But I’ve never had an ulcer. I’ve been blessed to be able to handle medications pretty well without reactions or allergies.

That doctor and I had our disagreements and I eventually found a rheumatologist I work with better, but I will forever be grateful he helped me get past the fear of choosing to take medication despite side effect.

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What are Your Rights to Your Health Data Information?

Have you ever had difficulty getting your health records? Does the idea of your health records being able to be accessed digitally scare you that anyone with the right access information could know all there is to know about your data? www.HealthCataRights.org says they “serve as the portal for those who wish to endorse and support these rights.”

The organizers of HealthDataRights.org include doctors, researchers, software developers, writers, entrepreneurs, health economists, and many others who share a common goal of greater health data availability.  They launched their web site just June 22, 2009.

Their web site states, “Many of us have personal and family experiences with the health care system that have convinced us that more openness and accessibility to health data about ourselves or loved ones leads to better, safer, and more effective care. Some of us have seen clearly how restrictions on health data and medical records can lead to great pain and suffering—needlessly, in most cases. There is no specific political or economic agenda or affiliation. This is about people becoming more engaged in their wellness and health, and about the notion that access to one’s own health data can be empowering.”

The Health Data Rights are as follows. You can endorse your support at the web site.

  1. Have the right to our own health data
  2. Have the right to know the source of each health data element
  3. Have the right to take possession of a complete copy of our individual health data, without delay, at minimal or no cost; if data exist in computable form, they must be made available in that form
  4. Have the right to share our health data with others as we see fit

These principles express basic human rights as well as essential elements of health care that is participatory, appropriate and in the interests of each patient. No law or policy should abridge these rights.

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Buzzy Brings Relief When Getting Shots

buzzyIf you are the mom of a school age child, it seems like summer has just begun, and yet soon those physicals will need to be scheduled. What does this mean? Sometimes. . . shots!

Who among us have not said, “It hurts me more than it hurts you?” And if you don’t have children. . . all those who LIKE getting shots, raise your hand! (Yeah, I didn’t think there would be many hands held up high saying “me!)

Well, here is a very cool gadget! Buzzy is a FDA-approved plastic “bee” that uses mechanical vibrations to “confuse” nerve endings. The toy bee will distract your child from the pain of a shot, finger prick–even an IV insertion.

(Meaning: if you have a child with a chronic illness, this is MUST-HAVE. I was just talking to a mom of a tween daughter who is on rheumatoid arthritis treatment injections and she shared how painful they were and how badly she felt.) You can even take the sting out of splinter-removal, bee stings or minor burns.

And if your child is freaked out by the fact that it’s a bee (my son is currently terrified of bees)just order the plain black vibrating gadget without the stripes, allowing your child or teenager to personalize Buzzy® into a Pirate, an Astronaut, or leave it black and cool. Below for example are “Buzzy Chix” (Couldn’t we all have a little fun decorating our Buzzys with some craft paint?)

Buzzy’s web site states, “Our goal is to provide options and information about acute pain management, particularly needle procedures. For needle phobia, newly diagnosed diabetes or leukemia, or immunization information, read on!”

You just bring with you to the doctor. Just press on the skin during the shot to rapidly reduce needle pain. Can you imagine the nurses saying, “Where did you get that?” Think of the tears that won’t be shed. If this works as well as all of the testimonials say it does, imagine no longer sitting in the doctor’s room waiting. . . and waiting. . . while your child hears the screams of other children as they get their shots.

Why didn’t we think of this sooner? Well, of course, it took a mom! Buzzy was developed by pediatric emergency physician (and mom of three) Amy Baxter and it effectiveness for kids age 4+ is supported by a bunch of scientific evidence.

Scientists, moms, and nurses may all speak highly of it, but you can’t get a better testimonial than from Jill, Age 5: “Buzzy made my
shot not hurty!”

So, check out their web site. You can even tell your own needle phobia story. After all,who says this is just for kids? After being in the hospital last fall for a week and having them stick me over and over until my entire stomach was purple, I could have used a Buzzy about day 3. Hey, I’m a wimp with some things and not afraid to admit it!

Buzzy is $35 so it’s not a cheap gadget. But gather together a few mom friends and make the investment together.

Visit their web site or call 877-805-BUZZ (2899). You can also watch a video of Buzzy in action.

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