Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is It Ethical for the Layperson to Give Advice on Medication?

I read an article about a woman in Australia who was getting psychological advise from an intense self-help seminar called The Turning Point. The leaders had no training in mental health issues.She jumped off a skyscraper to her death. Many times people are advised to buy someone's books or attend a seminar and against taking medication.

It should be illegal to advise someone to either take or discontinue prescription medication. The only permissible advice should be “Talk to your doctor”. This reminds me of a situation when my daughter was in third grade. She daydreamed and refused to do the simplest assignments. The school district psychiatrist wanted her to transfer to a special school. The counselor asked if we ever considered ADD. I took her to a neurologist who asked a lot of questions and said that my little girl was a classic case. Unfortunately, upon the advice of her school counselor, she refused to take the medication. She received counseling from him for two years and it did nothing to help her. The last week of high school, she focused enough to complete some assignments and her teachers passed her. She took the entrance test for community college and almost passed it. It broke her heart that she would have to take remedial classes before starting the normal course work. That’s when she decided that she wanted to succeed in school. She asked me to get her an appointment with a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with ADD and OCD. He prescribed medications which initially caused side effects, but the dosage was continually adjusted until it was something she could live with. She is a college senior, now, majoring in accounting. She has to work harder than other students but she is successful. A combination of therapy and medication is working for her.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Early Years

As much that is good with my life now, I look back fondly upon the neighborhood where I lived as a child. I grew up in the city of Philadelphia. I suppose you could call it a working class neighborhood. It was predominately Catholic, and, as was common at that time, it was all white. The homes were rowhouses with 2-3 bedrooms and a single bathroom. I lived in a 2 bedroom home with my parents and two brothers. It was a neighborhood that was a kid’s dream, you were never bored because there were so many kids to play with. Every day that we were off from school, we were outside playing all day. There were so many kids that we were always able to play tag or red-light, green-light. We could sit on our front steps and play board games or ride our bikes. We were able to form clubs and softball teams (I remember breaking a neighbor’s window on the narrow street that I lived on). Thanks to a girl who wanted to be a nun we could play school. Our local recreation center (the Rec) provided us with a playground, swimming lessons and so importantly (since I was a girl) an all girls softball team. In the winter, I would make an igloo with my friends. We went indoors just to eat lunch or supper (and I guess take a bathroom break).

We had a library that was a couple of miles away, but the distance never stopped me, even during the winter. I would borrow as many books as I could (twenty in the summer) and return them all within three weeks so I could borrow more. Many of the things we needed were around the corner or down the street, like our corner grocery store, drug store, luncheonette, shoe repair, dry cleaner and optometrist. There was a place across the street from the Rec which sold every type of comic book that was printed at that time. There was even an art gallery for awhile, but I never knew anyone who bought anything there. School was so close by that I came home for lunch every day.

It was a neighborhood where only the husbands went out to work, the women stayed home, taking care of their many kids, cleaning, cooking, and watching the afternoon soaps. In the summer, since no one had air conditioning (except for one family), the housework was generally completed as early as possible.

The big event in our neighborhood was New Year’s Eve. We would all go from one house to another, eating, drinking (beer for the adults), and listening to music. Around midnight, we would watch the ball come down, with Guy Lombardo playing Old Lang Seine on TV. Soon after, I would fall asleep at someone’s house and wake up the next day in my own bed. New Year’s Day was special, too. In Philadelphia, many neighborhoods participated in the String Band competition. Although, I didn’t know of any musicians, our local drug store was owned by Joseph Ferko, who was the founder of the Ferko String Band. The store has been closed for many years and I don’t know where the current members live, but the string band is still a major contender in the annual event. Anyway, after the parade, the band, still in their costumes, would march through the neighborhood, head for the mayor’s house (Mayor Tate went to the same church that I went to), and wind up outside the convent, and perform for the nuns who taught at my school. I remember following the band with my friends, doing the Mummers Strut in the streets. I guess it was like a miniature Mardi Gras, without the necklaces and the booze.

I live in a middle class neighborhood in Florida now. I love the weather, looking out at my pool, admiring the tropical plants and the magnificent sunsets. But it’s not a Neighborhood.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hello, World! I'm Back!

It’s been a while since I posted to my blog. I was hospitalized for a couple of days last November due to an allergic reaction to an IV medication. After I came home, I became sick again. I was diagnosed with the flu, which I caught in the hospital. I managed to pull off Thanksgiving pretty much at the last minute.

Luckily, I had recovered enough to travel to London with my husband (non-refundable tickets). After we returned, we attended an employee Christmas party held by the company my husband works for. Since this involved an overnight stay, I not only had to get ready for the party but also pack. We didn’t get home until Sunday afternoon and I had to wash the clothes that we wore to London. On the way to the party, I noticed I was coughing. Monday morning I came down with a nasty “when will it go away” cold.

I went into a lot of detail for a reason. When I was asked to fill out the menu form at the hospital, I did not think it was a good idea to tell them that I wanted 500 calories of protein, a cop of salad and a half a cup of veggies a day (which was the diet I was on).
So I went off my diet, stopped attending meditation class (due to sickness, travel, and the holidays). I had attended a Toastmaster meeting in early November, but did not pursue it. I also had received a couple of invitations from friends in Ninth Wave that I had to turn down. I stopped writing pretty much. I started feeling depressed again.

Once I realized what was happening, I got out my to-do list, containing the minimum things I need to do to feel good about myself. I also added a few things to the list that I needed to remember to do. Now I hard to start over again from scratch with my goals.

I read somewhere that I would have a better chance of success if I started out taking “baby steps”. I added a few things to my list that would improve my health. I made an appointment to get my hair down (three weeks overdue). I am seeing my friends from Ninth Wave and posting on Facebook. I’m not giving up. “Two steps forward, one step back”. Now, I’m concentrating on the forward part.