Archive for the ‘Basic Info’ Category

Thanks Obama/democrats, for making all chronically ill people literally worthless and forcing these rules upon insurers. You are discriminating against all but the healthy – and wealthy.
Background: My husband and I are a middle-class couple, just recruited by AARP (so you know how old we are…). I have health insurance though my husband – he pays almost $10K a year for coverage – his employer, a public school in metrowest MA, has forced us into an insurance plan this year called a “Best Buy High Deductible HMO.” We have ZERO choice in coverage. We had a very poor HMO previously – but at least I could see a doctor and get tests or prescriptions or surgeries as needed. Those days are gone.
What I detail below is what “our government” has “mandated” for our health care – the words of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare customer service, not mine – and what those of you haven’t been subjected to this type of discrimination yet could be in for:
 
I had a “yearly physical” Friday at a Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital primary care facility in Wayland MA. (NOT run by the insurance company – so don’t confuse things). This annual visit is supposed to be FREE to patients under the ACA…..lets see how that works in practice here in Massachusetts….My PCP wanted to order the usual “over 50” tests. Before I could see the doctor, I was asked to sign a form based on the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act basically warning me that certain examinations/tests/procedures “MAY” to be covered under insurance. I will gladly provide anyone with a copy of this if they’d like, if they think I am making this stuff up!! I assure you that I am not. Since my PCP had questions about what he could and could not order, he asked me to call Harvard Pilgrim Health Care insurance Here are a few gems that I discovered during my calls (yes, 2 calls – the first girl I talked to informed me that ” HPHC was not in the business of “physician education” and that I would find out what was covered when I received my bill for the visit and procedures. How nice):
Any “annual” or “wellness visit” MAY NOT be covered (i.e., by coverage I mean paid for) IF anything is discovered that is out of the norm. (So, simply by being in the office and having a genetic issue like EDS, I am already triggering NON-COVERAGE of this visit.) Therefore, any tests ordered during/as a result of this encounter MAY not be “covered.” Even the dreaded colonoscopy. Because I need one under anesthesia (due to a genetic abnormality in my colon – not my fault) if may NOT be covered if the referring doctor and the facility performing the test do not use the “correct” CPT codes. The insurance company is not allowed to give patients these codes, and suggested that someone in your office call HPHC Patient Services to get these specific codes. (I have friends that are doctors – they laugh at these requests made by patients – they bill however they’d like!)
 
So, I have NO way of knowing IF I’ll be charged until after the procedure is processed – and when I receive the bill! A list of limited lab tests provided to me by HPHC ARE covered under “preventative care physicals” – but, the caveat I brought up above takes these tests outside of the coverage umbrella. Let me reiterate and emphasize: Any abnormality found/discussed/noted during a “wellness visit” can/may automatically make the visit and any subsequent testing NOT be covered, and we would be forced to pay 100% of all costs out-of-pocket. Because some abnormalities were found in one of my breasts, my mammogram cost is now 100% out-of-pocket, as the finding of the lumps immediately causes it to be a “diagnostic” vs a “screening” procedure. I can’t mage how expensive this is going to be,,,facility expense, actual test costs, radiologist cost to read the tests….
 
So, if you think that this ACA was supposed to allow people to get care regardless of their pre-existing conditions – you are DEAD WRONG. Sure, a doctor will see you – but it will cost you! And, with all the limitations that are placed on doctors – they are no longer ALLOWED to order certain tests, or prescribe certain medications, as they had been doing, as they were taught…
(It seems something happened to trigger these new untra-restrictive practices effective Jan 1 2016. I won’t speculate here, but I have an idea based on my research…).
 
However, those that have MassHealth coverage do NOT have most of these restrictions places on their care!!!
Why?????
(I can answer this “why” regarding doctor choice – MassHealth can choose ANY doc they want to see that accepts MassHealth, because words contained in the MA general laws that govern MassHealth  – no restrictions can be placed as to which doctor public assistance recipients can see because doing so VIOLATES THEIR “PATIENT RIGHTS!”
So, since no MA legislation protects those of us that work hard, pay taxes, and pay for our insurance coverage  – we have NO patient rights.)
Oh – and a MassHealth patient  – plenty of whom are not even living in the US legally – pay only $4 per visit to see ANY doctor!!! Me, I have to pay 250-$550 per doctor visit. Prescriptions cost them $1-$9.  Don’t get me started on MY costs for prescription medication. As a Massachusetts resident, I greatly miss the “Romneycare” we had before Obama ruined things. We had coverage for health care, and pre-existing conditions were not allowed to be a determining factor of whether or not we got that care. It worked wonderfully.
Remember all that frantic worry about “death panels” before the ACA was enacted?? The current government has effectively found a way to to glean those with chronic illness and genetic abnormalities out of the population through these regulations!!
They have built-in these regulations so that they can “legally” refuse to care for patients l
like me unless we are very wealthy and can pay for out of our pocket for any care.
Period.
No money=no care=early death=less people the government has to care for. 
[NOTE: I do feel badly that doctors have been forced into this corner by these insurance rules, as are unable to practice medicine as they had in the past. It really puts the doctors in a difficult position, burdening patients financially, and creating more stress for all parties involved.]
 
Let the flames begin.

REMEMBER THIS:

Don'tUnderestimateMe

Radical acceptance isn’t supposed to be bitter. It is supposed to bring peace.

So, I will now continue along my path, knowing, thinking, and noticing.

I don’t know what else to call this set of emotions that have lead me to say, “I’m done.”

I am just frustrated beyond words over  being marginalized by my healthcare providers, and really, just people in general.

I’m tired of the fight getting me nowhere.

I recently read something by Australian historian and author. Tim Flannery (The Eternal Frontier) that made me take serious pause: one person cannot change mass behavior that they believe to be inappropriate or immoral. By bringing such things to the attention of the majority, it creates hostility against the person. So, in other words, accept the bad/poor/inappropriate behavior and keep quiet. Accept it. That’s just the way it is. Morality never wins – the mob wins. (this is a paraphrase, not quote)

I have been unsuccessful at creating or joining a mob that can truly make a difference.

So, I am DONE.

Done doing my due diligence just to be ridiculed and then, ignored- not treated – told that I should “get used to getting older.”

Done doing this – what ever  you want to call “this.” Trying to gain acceptance as a human being, trying to get someone to care enough to try and help me, trying to teach people to advocate for themselves as I have tried to do… Maybe not forever, but for now, I am DONE.

WHY?

Maybe this is the straw that broke this camel’s back: I don’t think that the things that are going on with me now (like a sudden 10 lb weight gain; almost daily, debilitating migraines; hair loss; very easy bruising) are something I should just “get used to.” (Thanks for that sage advice, Doc.)  Just because simple blood tests show me as “normal” – isn’t it quite obvious things are far from normal? Example: I have had a bone infection for at least 4 months – it was discovered on a routine dental X-ray 2 weeks ago – but – it HAD been noted on an MRI in April. But, did ANYONE bother to address it – NO. I asked about the radiologists comment and was told not to worry. Who’s worrying? I just want such weirdness to addressed. Or should I just “radically accept” my conditions? (no, I’m not leaning towards the “church” of Mary Baker Eddy!)

Now, I am working on radically accepting that I am not going to get the care, attention, treatment, testing, concern and compassion others may be fortunate enough to get.

[If you are reading this, and are getting these things I listed in the previous sentence, please be joyous. Seriously.]

I am also trying to radically accept that my absence from the fight will not make one bit of difference on this overcrowded, selfish planet.

Now…I am DONE.

InvisDisability

My current medical symptoms would send the average person to the ER…crushing chest pain, blurred vision, difficult breathing, unrelenting migraine headaches, inability to eat normally, tachycardia or bradycardia, high or low blood pressures, insomnia – oh, and the back pain I can’t find any specialist to address because I have already had 6 surgeries, and now, the shoulder that already has been repaired twice is painfully shredding its way out of its socket…I really haven’t had a “good day” in about 12 years. But I don’t LOOK like I’m sick so people think I am a malingerer, just looking for attention, or faking my symptoms.

I guarantee I haven’t developed the magical ability to manipulate my blood tests, MRIs and various other medical tests so they come back abnormal.

I have had a difficult time learning to accept my medical issues. I have many symptoms in many systems that cannot be classified into any particular category. I have most recently been dumped into the category Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (but not any particular type, of course) as this seems to at least catch-all the symptoms I display in some way. All of my official diagnoses have the letters “NOS” after them – “not otherwise specified.”

It really stings when people are just plain callous about my health issues – and it is the worst when these people are the doctors that are supposed to help me. I have had to had to do a lot of my own research within professional resources (Medscape, PubMed, etc.) and advocate strongly for myself. This has meant seeing many doctors in an attempt to find one willing to take on my complex issues and try to piece together the puzzle that I am. I have been treated quite harshly by many health professionals due to my complexity. I understand that they may to want to take on a patient they cannot easily figure out. It would just be nice if they could not be so abrasive in their dismissal of my symptoms and test results.

Because of the unpredictable nature of my symptoms, I have lost what few social connections I had. I spend much of my time alone, at home. I used to find solace in online forums, but I have found many of these are similar to real-life support groups that tend towards a circular discussion of hardships – and never achieve any growth or change. What would be helpful is a directed, online resource or app that provides guidance and education in the management of chronic illnesses and the psychological challenges people like me experience. Can such a thing become a reality?

I have always had to be a survivor – my Type A personality and perfectionist tendencies helped me through the cPTSD (complex PTSD) from 14 years of sexual abuse, rapes, and general cruelty from classmates. I found ways to cope – all on my own. I never really had much of a support system. Now, to be sidelined from so many activities that used to define “me,” was – and IS – quite distorting to my thoughts and feelings about life in general.

Anxiety has replaced what used to be stoic resolve.

Anger and resentment that I was formerly able to tap into as energy to push through rough situations – to make myself physically stronger in the gym, or mentally tougher in the workplace – now comes to the surface in staccato bursts, and those closest to me (my husband, primarily) suffer the consequences.

It took me about 6 yrs to be able to say the words “I can’t.” This is NOT pessimism. It is pure, unadulterated realism. And with the myriad of undiagnosable conditions I live with, I HAVE TO be realistic. To think any other way is deleterious.

I know this goes against the “rainbows, unicorns and fluffy bunnies” mentality that most self-help resources (and professionals) seem to think is THE ONLY WAY is the way to overcome hard times. But, with the help of a therapist that specializes in treating people with multiple medical issues, and, a good PCP that is a realist, I learned that I HAVE TO say the words, “I can’t.” It’s really a no-brainer – but 99% of people just don’t have the comprehension of how their body actually works to really understand. Simply, it protects me – and others – from injury. An example of this would be not getting behind the wheel of my car when I am having certain symptoms.

Don’t misunderstand me, it doesn’t ever feel comfortable to say “I can’t” – and many people don’t “get” this way of thinking at all, nor do they even bother trying. This leaves me feeling isolated and rejected by society. I might as well be some alien life form. And, if I had a dime for every time I have ben offered advice about supplements, yoga, qi gong, tai chi, Reiki, acupuncture and whatever new “complimentary therapy that Dr. Oz has been touting of late, I’d be one a rich gal.

People need to learn that not all disabilities are visible ones. Not all of us that have difficulty getting about are in wheelchairs. And, not everyone with life-altering conditions look or acts “sick.”

The sun going down on me. Photo by Lori Schneider.

The sun going down on me… Photo by Lori Schneider.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The myriad of health issues I have are now battling for center stage with my failing relationship with my only real-life friend, my husband. OR it is most definitely contributing directly to it.

[But that is another topic in and of itself  – one that doesn’t belong in this blog. It just would be REALLY great of my husband, and alleged best friend would understand these things, and want to work on our relationship. But his lackluster responses to my pleas for us to work on this don’t give me much hope, nor reason to be. At times he acts as if nothing is wrong – yet I know deep down that he knows what our relationship has become, aided by my mysterious health issues and consistent issues finding medical care, is not much more than coexistence. BUT – what do you do when your partner in life doesn’t make the effort to try to improve your relationship? Ouch.]

These health issues stole my career paths and any options I had within my fields of expertise. I tried for years to do something from home – to use my  skills and experience to help others – for free.. But, no one wanted my help  – this devalued what I had made of myself, who I was, what I had accomplished, and what I thought I could do that would be meaningful.

Every day, I never know what symptom or issues will pay me a visit and hang out to make me question the validity of my existence.

Ahhh, and how these things – I mean things that used to annoy me, or cause me psychic discomfort – have changed me. I have lost myself. My raison d’être, my sunshine, is disappearing. The sun is going down – on my life.

For 40 years, things that got in my way were motivating to me. They made me fight, they made me strong,

Now, these things paralyze me.

Literally.

I often will just plop down on the floor where ever I am when these feelings hit me, and just stare at a fixed point.  (It is a grounding technique – in more than one way. Ha Ha.)

No longer can I throw myself into a project, a creative endeavor, a research topic. I find that these distraction techniques/coping mechanisms just increase my physical symptoms. And of course, these involuntary reactions just increase my doubts about my ability to survive this predicament.

What I need now is the me from 5 years ago – before I lost my self to this hell. But alas, she is gone. Yup – thrown in the thrash, compacted and burned. A deep “thanks” to all of you – you know who your are – all of you so-called patient advocacy groups that made promises that I could write for your website/journal, all of those false friends that hurled criticisms at me, and all of you “health care providers” that violated that basics of that all important Hippocratic Oath by failing to treat me as a human being – you all helped do this to me.

One person can only fight for so long – alone – before all these things take their toll.

“He who has a why can hear with almost any how.”
so goes the famous Nietzsche quote.

I have lost my WHY.

And that makes it hard to find that HOW.

Abandoned...like a polar bear on an ice floe

This is me.

I’ve literally been abandoned by my last remaining health care providers.

This is exactly how I feel as another boot strikes the edge of my ice floe. I float out farther into the icy waters, towards a slow and certain demise.

Each of those boots belong to a health care provider – a staff member of a hospital – even a “Patient Advocate” at a world-famous hospital in Boston. Names will follow. I will not go silently into that good night. They will be decloaked. Stay tuned.

Who put me on the floe?  I was forced there by the medical “professionals” that refuse to be proactive. They can’t be bothered to pick up a phone and call a colleague to see if they can help me or even ask, perhaps, if they know someone who might.

They can’t be bothered to do a simple internet search to find out how to treat someone with my rare and complex conditions.

(I’ll even tell them where to look…Medscape, Mayo Clinic, NCBI, Vanderbilt University, Google Scholar.)

It takes seconds.

If I do that, I will be labeled and ostracized (remember the “Seinfeld” episode where that happened to Elaine Bennis?) and my fade-out into black be hastened by their turned backs.

They forget I’m intelligent. They forget I have medical background and medical training and decades of experience advocating for myself and my mother.

[How tragically sad it is when I think about how poorly she was treated. I am being treated just like she was, so she ended her suffering. She too was shoved onto an ice floe. And suffered for 9 years despite of everything i tried to do to help get her some “care.”]

These so-called experts don’t and won’t even pay attention to any of the recent FDA approvals for treatments that could help me.

They won’t pick up the phone and reach out to specialists in the area to dee if they are interested in helping me.

They mindlessly throw out referrals to random places that I have already been (they don’t bother to read my record – to learn about ME), They tell me to “learn to meditate” or “do yoga.”

I have. I did. I am unable to do so.

Then, they insult my counselor. They tell me to talk to her – or that I need to find a new one.

Read my file. (Oh no – that would take time! Doctors are far too important and busy to read a patient’s file. “Only 5 minutes” – “only 2 questions” – “what ONE condition do I want to talk about today?”

Learn about my medical conditions. Read my file. Care about me. Please. Someone just CARE.

Don’t treat me as if don’t matter, as if I am a waste product – isn’t the first line of that all important oath that you take, “First, do no harm?”

Well, your acts and omissions ARE doing harm. Wake up. Pay attention. Realize what you are doing.

Every time your shove me further out into the icy waters, away from you so you won’t have to deal with me, you hurt me. You hurt my husband.  You hurt human beings.

As in the excellent movie, “Gattaca,” I am reduced to the status of being an “in-valid.” One that is not worth the time to help; to waste resources on; to listen to; to treat. A lesser part of society. Disposable.

Shove my floe again. Go ahead. Perhaps you will get lucky and YOU will be the one to cause me to wither and die sooner and the you will not have to be bothered with another patients like me. You can spend your time treating sniffles and GERD and Type 2 Diabetics. Tell them to meditate their problems away and be mindful to help their conditions improve.

But one day, your inattention to patients like me will catch up to you. I promise.

I intend to be on that list of those that YOU ignored and let languish on our ice floes.

Any talents and contributions I had the ability to make to the world will vanish as my floe heads farther out to the horizon – out of sight, out of mind. Good riddance.

I will expose you for your acts and omissions –  that will be my last act. That will be my legacy.

TOO harsh?  Well, that is too bad. This is how I feel.

I have been kicked out of the human race, shoved out into the cold, icy world alone to slowly die. All the boots that have shoved my ice floe farther into the icy waters – my former PCPs, my PCP’s practice, my former orthopaedic surgeon, my anesthesiologist, my former autoimmune doctor, my former cardiologist – all have turned their backs on me and returned to their warm and spacious mansions and forgotten about me. I am just an insignificant blip in the world. After all, there are 7 billion others (and counting – God help us…) Why care about just one?  Especially another one over 50. The world belongs to GenX and the Millenials. Those of us that are Boomers, well, we are just wasting the resources that should be reserved for THEM. the sooner we perish, the better.

I am disposable and useless.

At no time in my life have I felt this hopeless and alone.

I have been forced to return to scouring the web to find any information about my chronic conditions and any doctors that may be interested in seeing a 51 yr old with 4 chronic issues and multiple drug resistance genes. No one is interested. Not a single doctor in the Boston area.

You would think I live in Antarctica. No. I live in Boston. Great medical care?  Cutting edge medical care? Bullshit. Not when I actually have to explain to a physician what an :Autonomic Nervous System dysfunction is, and I watch them blink-blink-blink with wide doe-like eyes during my explanation. Are they even listening to me? Or are they just thinking about buying another Berkin bag or the color of their next Bentley.

Angry, arrogant doctors not interested in listening to a patient with tangible and complex conditions? Yes. Boston is their Mecca.  Don’t believe the hype. Listen to the patients that suffer because of their omissions and arrogance.

I am a compliant patient  – but there reaches a point at which it should be (SHOULD be) apparent these “conservative” (seems to be the latest buzz word) treatments aren’t working. I think 17 years should be good enough. No matter how many times I repeat these “conservative” treatments, costing me thousands of dollars, I get no better. In fact, I often get worse. . But that doesn’t matter. The quicker  I get out of their office – out of their sight – the doctors feel as if they can justify their actions – they have done their job. (Yes, I see you looking at the clock and glancing at your watch every few moments. Thanks for the disrespect. If you would take the time to read my file, I wouldn’t have tor repeat myself very single time I see you. If you would communicate with specialists before you refer me, I wouldn’t be wasting their time, boring them with a life story they don’t want to hear.) HOW RUDE.

Thank you, dear physicians,  for hastening the arrival of another cadaver for the next entitled overachiever to pick apart and insult in their gross anatomy classes. 

 

Made by me on someecards.com

Made by me on someecards.com

I recently posted that received a course of TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) to knock back a major depressive episode.

However, I failed to mention that I experienced several other changes in symptoms  – symptoms other than the “F5 tornado.”

There HAS to be a connection between whatever the TMS does and the symptoms from which I experienced relief…which leads me to believe that the doctors are missing a serious connection between all my weird symptoms that make me the zebra I am.

So, what changed during treatment?

1.  Much fewer migraines….

2.  My odd and unexplained breast regrowth ceased – along with the pain that went along with the growth. (I had a reduction Nov 2013 due to the major and PAINFUL increase in size of my breasts from a 34DDD to a 34I in 4 yrs). My reduction was “supposed” to bring me to a 34C. HA. I quickly (and PAINFULLY) grew from that alleged size to a 34DDD in 4 months post-reduction. NOTE: all hormonal and endocrine levels always test “normal” – even though any bachelor’s level bio student knows endocrine levels can change on a moment-to-moment basis, the doctors that order these tests seem to stand firm that everything is “normal. Yeah…right. As the Ghostbusters always said – “we are ready to believe you.” NOT.

3. An increase in dreams. Some good – some bad – but all were vivid and memorable.

4. Longer periods of deep and restful sleep (I wear 2 “life trackers” that monitor sleep because of my weird sleep history (See my prior post on DSPS  – delayed sleep phase disorder).

5. A marked increase in sensitivity to medications: Clonidine (a BP medication), and MSIR (morphine sulfate immediate-release).I had to completely STOP the Clonidine as the effects that it caused during the TMS were debilitating – I literally would be unable to wake-up for 14+ hours if I took even half the smallest dose.) I take the MSIR for chronic back and leg pain I have had for 16+ years  – and the 6 surgeries I have had have failed to completely resolve the pain. During the TMS sessions, I required a lower dose of the MSIR to get pain relief, and, for the first time, I experienced side effects (a bit of nausea and extreme sleepiness) from my usual dose and had to reduce it by half.

6.  I had far less incidents of low blood pressure (associated with my Autonomic System Disorder – I have many posts and links to others’ posts about this condition on my blog.

What has happened with these symptoms since I ceased treatment one month ago?

1.  I am once again being awakened by migraines – with nausea, photophobia and positional increase in pain. I am getting 2-3 migraines per week.

2. My breasts are sore, lumpy and swollen. Gads, I hope they are not growing again. I just bought new bras because I though the growth had ceased.)

3. I am still dreaming, but less frequently. And they “loop” – much like they did before the TMS.

4. Problems getting to sleep AND staying asleep. (And, I cannot take any sleep aids due to the side effects I have from any meds used to sleep since this odd Autonomic Disorder I have kicked in back in 2012.

5. I have had to increase my MSIR dose back to pre-TMS Levels. I seem to have more pain in my back as well.

6. My BP and heart rate are becoming much more labile (variable) again. I have had to take additional beta-blockers recently to address the increase heart rate and chest pain.

Sooo….what is the connection? So far, none of my doctors have tried to solve this mystery. Why not?  A simple Google search can provide clues….

Which is what I did. It didn’t take long at all. I am an experienced researcher with decades of research experience so I know how to word my searches to get the best results. I am sure that diagnostic research was covered at some point in medical school.

What did I find out?  All of these things are connected in some way to DOPAMINE levels, and are things that are effected by what is known as the HPA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal) Axis. (Check out the link for hundreds of images from sources that could provide clues to my doctors….note the 3 words I used for the search…real rough, huh?)

HELLO? Can someone PLEASE tell me why a single medical professional cannot take this information and try to help me?  Doesn’t anyone care about me and the quality of my life???

This is NOT going to be another rainbow, unicorns and bunnies post on using some natural substance, or some new form of yoga or meditation or voodoo acupuncture.

This post is about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). I will not bore you by droning about how it works and the successes it has had treating major depressive disorder (and migraines). You can do that here, an update here (this is a Medscape article – it may require signing in, but I’m sure that anyone reading this blog would have the sense and chutzpah to already be a free Medscape member! – or, here’s one last link from the company that made the machine used during my treatment course.

My depression is pretty much just the usual chemical state of my brain – BUT – this baseline depression has been grossly intensified by some exogenous events of late. My depression over the past year feels as if I was trapped inside of an F5 tornado.

An F5 tornado (photo source unknown)

An F5 tornado (photo source unknown)

Imagine that for just a moment. Try NOT to pay attention to all those things whipping around your head at impossibly high rates of speed – the heavy, black debris that keeps you from seeing anything but what is swirling around you – and try NOT to feel the fear, anxiety and despair about your precarious situation.

Now imagine someone trying to “snap you out if it” with platitudes, CBT, affirmations – or telling you to meditate to feel better. (I’ll bet you’d like to imagine crashing into them with that F5 tornado, huh???)

[Just a hint, people – never tell a depressed person to “snap out of it,” “grow up,” etc. It is a thoughtless, selfish act of cruelty to do so. See this link from psychcentral.com for a more complete list of things NOT to say to a depressed person.]

I have tried at least 19 different antidepressants over the past 30 years. I have tried every alternative therapy. Nothing has worked, or, I had horrid side effects  to many medications, or, how my body processes them (due to several genetic mutations I have known as “MDR” – multiple drug resistance). Hey, I didn’t choose my genetic makeup. My apologies to the medical community.

So, when it became obvious that I had to do SOMETHING about how depressed I had become over the past year, I was given 2 treatment choices (covered by insurance): TMS or ECT (electroconvulsive shock therapy). Of course, I chose TMS after much research into its origin, efficacy and safety. (And, I have never met a person that went through ECT that came out of the treatment course with their personality and intelligence intact. Nope- not the treatment for me.)

Bottom line: the TMS worked!!! I was a new person in about 4 weeks. Seriously, I can’t EVER remember feeling as good and as “normal” as I did – and it was awesome!!! My sleep and appetite improved. I wanted to do things and go places. I was even able to tolerate my chronic pain a bit better as well. And, I had much fewer migraines!

What is the treatment like???
It’s 36 sessions – 30 of them consecutive (5 days a week for 5 weeks), then 3 per week for the next 2 weeks.
I sat in a reclining chair, a cross between a big dental office chair and one of those used in blood-donor labs. I had to put those squishy ear plugs in my ears since the decibel level of the treatments can be loud. White paper tape was placed on my forehead to mark the positioning of the contacts. The portion of the machine carefully placed against my head was relatively small, and had 2 contact points, one on the left side of my head, the other a bit towards the right side.. A chime sounds to let me know the magnetic pulses were about to begin. (I liked that – with my startle response I would have jumped out of my seat if the pulses just started up sans warning!)  I will be honest. The treatments  – 4 second “trains” of magnetic pulses, followed by a 32 second respite in-between – were quite “uncomfortable” at first. It was not a “tapping” sensation as described in the research literature. It felt more like a repetitive bee sting – or a woodpecker with a large, sharp beak pecking at my head for those 4 seconds. As the treatments progressed, I grew accustomed to the feeling. Each session lasted about 50 minutes. Watching TV or chatting with the nurse during the treatments helped me acclimate to the weird feeling. I am grateful I had such kind, engaging nurses to monitor the treatments.

The issue with this treatment is this: the effects don’t “stick” with everyone. After less than one month of being without treatments, I already feel that tornado approaching again.

Twice weekly maintenance treatments are recommended by advocates of the therapy – and I now can completely understand why now that I feel the effects wearing off – but insurance doesn’t cover them. Of course not.

Each 50-minute treatment is $350 w/o insurance coverage. There is no way we can even consider maintenance.

Well, at least I got to know what it was like to feel “normal” for about a month. And, my husband had a happy, fun wife for a brief moment in time.

I’m grateful for that time, and to my TMS doctor for helping me decide to try the treatment, and helping to get the treatment approved by the insurance company

I honestly think the insurance company would just rather see me dead. There really is no alternative for someone like me. I CANNOT take any drugs. 30 yrs (off and on) of talk therapy hasn’t done much more than give me something to do on a regular basis.

As the tornado envelops me once again, I will try to remember what “normal” felt like. I imagine I will be way  too busy dodging self-hatred and anger at myself for being this “in-valid” person, like before. And – mustering the strength to “put on the mask” so others can’t see my pain.

If insurance companies would cover maintenance treatments, think of how much money they would save, not having to pay for the traditional care of someone like me…all that useless talk therapy/group therapy, etc….and all those medications that were useless or caused more problems… I think about how much better my life would be. And how much better my husband’s life would be. And it makes me even more depressed knowing that I make my husband miserable because of my health conditions.

Based on what I have read about others’ experiences with trying to get coverage for TMS maintenance treatments, the insurance companies pretty much stop short of saying they hope we will just off ourselves, as that will save them money.

If I can’t fight that tornado anymore, I hope that Harvard Pilgrim health insurance throws a party so they can celebrate how they selfishly helped one more person leave the planet. I want them to know that if they weren’t so ignorant about people with conditions like mine (just another zebra), I would be alive, and be a happy person with a happy family. But thanks to the judicial-esque decisions of their “death panels” (just an affectionate term for their grievance boards) – they will decide that I’m simply not worth it. My demise will be their fault. They left me with no other option. Oh, and thanks to the US healthcare system as well for supporting their ignorance.