Archive for the ‘Medical Care’ Category

Service of White Coat Syndrome: Hooray for the NYU Langone Emergency Room

Monday, March 25th, 2024

Some of the Peanuts gifts I’ve received–and love. The socks made it into this post.

I have a thing about pickles—they must come from a barrel and never a jar. I love the Peanuts gang, and I am petrified of—though grateful for—doctors and all things medical. You know this if you know me.

I flew in the air and crashed down on the sidewalk last week and for the next three days watched my foot increasingly resemble a blue balloon as the swelling from ankle on down began to hide my toes. Friends pleaded with me to get an Xray or to do something. I kept thinking that home remedies like ice, Arnica, Tylenol and leg-in-the-air under pillows would improve things, but they didn’t.

On Sunday morning I was horrified by what I saw. [I couldn’t look at my skinned other knee.] I called my friend DK, who dropped everything—she had plans–to come to my rescue. As luck would have it, we couldn’t get to an Urgent Care office for an Xray because of a mini marathon that had overtaken my neighborhood. So, we walked/hobbled, to the NYU Langone emergency room about six blocks away.

An emergency room visit for me has been my worst nightmare. My heart was beating so hard that the staff taking my vitals gave me an electrocardiogram. They were darling, patient and kind. One lowered his voice when I mentioned white coat syndrome and said, “Relax! We’re not doctors!” And they kept telling me, “Take deep breaths.”

I won’t put you to sleep with too many more details because I will resemble a grandmother boasting for 10 minutes about her three-month-old grandbaby, a future Yale graduate for sure, who smiled at her for the first time.

The emergency room experience was nothing like what I expected. In the waiting room there were no patients dripping with blood or passing out from fever. I hardly sat down before the admitting process started. Waiting for my Xray, after I met the Emergency Room doctor whom I liked, one nurse advised me how long he thought the wait would be. He subsequently brought me a blanket because it was freezing. A volunteer dropped by and asked if I needed anything. Nobody so much as hung my tote bag on the hook behind me on the wheelchair without first asking if it was OK.

The doctor didn’t just ask me to “take off your sock.” He said, “Please take off your Snoopy sock.” That put me at ease in a strange way. The very young hospital transport staffer who took me back from Xray was lovely. To explain what her colleague, who passed us, had told her– “It’s gotten to be like a Monday out there” — she said that the now bustling waiting room had filled up with mini marathon runners.

My badly sprained foot is still a mess—much uglier and more painful than when I broke it 10 years ago.

I don’t think I’ll ever overcome my out of proportion fear of all things medical. On my return home I went up in the elevator with a fellow tenant—a stranger. I raved about the hospital. He smiled and said “I’ve just returned from 22 days at that hospital. The doctors are wonderful.”

Do you have irrational fears about medical or other things that most others appreciate and/or take in their stride? Did you also experience a great emergency room visit?

View from my balcony. NYU Langone is on the left/East side of First Avenue, starting at the blue buildings.

Service of Don’t Count on Others to Do Their Jobs Well—or An Apology for Dropped Balls

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

Kids going home after school

Several friends shared stories of others dropping significant balls without owning to or acknowledging their mistakes, much less apologizing for them.

This ducking blame trend is longstanding and goes far beyond issues with significant repercussions. Have you noticed that some baristas or deli workers will blame the customer for mistakes? “You did—or did not—ask for milk or mustard or multigrain bread.”

So Taxing

The IRS contacted one friend this summer about a large outstanding balance–that she had already paid–plus interest/a late fee. She called her accountant who said he’d get back to her. He didn’t. She assumed all was well.

Last week she received another letter from the IRS and the original $260 had jumped to $420 reflecting more interest on the late fee—that shouldn’t have been charged to begin with. She called the accountant who claimed that they had discussed this. Nope. The fault, he said, consistently steering the conversation away from his mistake and the issue, was because she wasn’t paying quarterly.

Testy

Another friend discovered that a test that the school should have administered to her child last year had not been. The school psychologist did not respond to her query, so she copied the principal in her follow up. The test was to be given every three years. She finally heard back from the psychologist with no apology.

Read the Small Print

A pal takes medication for a chronic condition. She also has high blood pressure. Before checking her record, a social worker suggested she try a new medication. A side effect of the new meds? High blood pressure.

Do you count on others to do what they say they will or what they should?

Service of Robots

Thursday, April 13th, 2023

Image by Erik Stein from Pixabay 

I’m a fan of robots. A crack surgeon used one to operate on my husband years ago in the technology’s infancy. At the time there was such a line of doctors wanting to use the device that for the doctor to schedule a spot we showed up so early on a Sunday morning the surgery was spookily deserted.

Robots are increasingly accepted in the medical world. The jury is out with some skeptics as a surveillance device for a city because of privacy issues. More about that later.

In “Meet NYC’s New Robot Cops,” New York Magazine’s John Herrman wrote: “Mayor Adams, joined by NYPD leadership, announced the acquisition of twoDigidogs — Boston Dynamics Spot robots, to be specific — at a cost of $750,000.”

According to Herrman, “They’ve been adopted elsewhere by bomb squads; the NYPD suggests they could be useful for surveillance or in hostage situations. It is still, in practice, an unarmed remote-controlled robot dog with limited range, a profoundly weird vibe, and a top speed of about three miles per hour.”

In addition to the Dididogs, New Yorkers visiting Times Square or a subway station may come across a K5 “autonomous security robot,” wrote Herrman, that will be tested with a police officer in tow. One official described it as resembling a robot vacuum. What alarms some is that the surveillance device, manufactured by Knightscope, “is capable of sucking up a lot of data wherever it goes.” Private clients use them to patrol unattended areas—warehouses, sidewalks, garages, parking lots.


We should be familiar with uber surveillance by now. Most of us receive all sorts of adverts in our social media feeds and email boxes after we’ve Googled a product or disease and sometimes even after a mention during a phone conversation. And as worker shortages continue, robots will increasingly be in our future. Won’t it be fascinating to see how effective they are and how else they will impact our lives?



Image by Eduard Reisenhauer from Pixabay 

Service of the Impact of Being Deep-Sixed: A Forecast

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

Hold on to your hats: Here’s a forecast of a few changes that will cut off some from access to crucial services and might put others out of business.

On the Road Again

Was NYC always so discriminatory?

I’m happy with my MetroCard that New Yorkers use for bus and subway rides. It’s easy to add money and is featherweight.

By the end of next year it will be extinct Anna Rahmanan reported in timeout.com. We’ll all be using OMNY vending machines that take money from a swipe of a smart device or a contactless chip credit or debit card. OMNY stands for One Metro New York.

This sounds great if you own the proper device and welcome a link between your smartphone, smartwatch or fitbit and your credit card or bank account. No such links for me. By next year I assume that all credit cards will be updated with a contactless chip.

Will the OMNY machine know who is eligible for half priced fares? What about those who don’t want to use their credit and debit cards for this purpose or don’t own the devices or cards? Does NYC have a contingency plan for them? One can only hope.

Attending to Business

Alex Harring predicted in The Wall Street Journal that traditional business cards are being replaced by QR codes, jewelry with business details or implanted chips. He calls the traditional cards germ swappers.

He reported that “The technology chief at Boingo Wireless Inc. had a chip inserted, between his left thumb and index finger, that carries his contact information. New acquaintances can use their phones to download the details.” If the recipient doesn’t have the app installed on their phone the technology doesn’t work. Oops.

Harring continued that some use “physical cards with QR codes, scannable digital cards or chips embedded in physical items that allow people to share contact details with a tap.”

The technology had best be flawless and operational wherever people network. Maybe a person should carry a few germ swappers just in case–yes?

What Did You Say?

What’s going to happen to the audiology business now that the FDA has approved over the counter hearing aids?

Woof and Meow

As soon as New York Governor Kathy Hochul signs the anti puppy mill bill there will be no more pet store sales of dogs, cats and rabbits here. Future pet parents are to go to breeders. According to abc7NY.com, “‘The Puppy Mill Pipeline legislation would allow retail stores to partner with area shelters like Bideawee and like ACC and rescues to adopt animals,’ Bideawee CEO and President Leslie Granger said.” Full disclosure, all my pets have come from animal welfare agencies and shelters except one who was rescued by a friend from an abusive home. Are legitimate pet store owners in New York State expected to close the door and walk away from their investment of time and treasure?

The questions for this post are highlighted in each section.

Service of It’s Not Over Until……….

Thursday, August 25th, 2022

If you are of a certain age and you grew up in NYC you may have fond memories of conversations between strangers especially on the bus. I learned at my mother’s knee; she was an expert. Such chats happen today but not nearly as often.

This week I was on a bus–they still require passenger to wear masks–when I heard juicy hacking coming from the only person without a mask, the woman in the photo above. I jumped out of my seat to move back.

Meanwhile another passenger called out to the cougher: “Put on your mask!” The entitled woman claimed she wasn’t sick but found a mask and put it on, mumbling as she did.

The proactive passenger and I started speaking about stores we liked and states we enjoyed visiting–and as I was about to get off she told me that she was on the way to get chemo for kidney cancer. She didn’t have to explain that she couldn’t afford to catch a cold or worse. The selfish or lazy or clueless fellow passenger clearly hadn’t thought about others who were sharing her space. Maybe she found the mask uncomfortable. Too bad.

Bus drivers no longer enforce the mask issue.

The nyc.gov website reports: “There are currently high transmission levels of COVID-19 throughout the city, so you should continue to take the following precautions: Wear a high-quality mask in all public indoor settings and around crowds outside. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations.”

Does the pandemic appear to be over according to people you know and see when you’re out and about? What prevents people from thinking of others, concerned only with their comfort?

Service of RSVP–Literally

Monday, August 1st, 2022


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

In 2015 I wrote “Service of Silent Guests,” about the folks who don’t respond to invitations or who do and then don’t come or who don’t and arrive unexpectedly. Never forgot the time several lives ago I tried to introduce two people. The male, a friend of my then husband, showed up at our dinner party with a date he’d neither mentioned nor asked if he could bring. This was tricky on many counts starting with the scramble to make room for another person at a very small dining table.

EAM, who comments on this blog, suggested another spin on RSVP. If you take the acronym literally–Répondez s’il vous plaît–it applies to all sorts of situations. In a world of “rush-rush” some seemingly catatonic actors can drive crazy those waiting or hoping to hear from them. Instances range from a doctor sharing test results and a vendor or repairman with whom you need to make an appointment to a reporter, editor or prospective employer you’ve reached out to repeatedly. Invitations to join a Zoom conference or to meet for lunch with a choice of several dates frequently seemingly land on deaf ears.

If you’ve chosen a mutually convenient date the next thing to be decided is the time. A response “Yes,” to the question “2 pm or 3 pm?” doesn’t do the trick. Nor does “OK” when you’ve asked for a piece of information or whether the other person wants to make the next move–or do they want you to do so.

It can help if you keep texts or emails short and if you need an answer, never address anything else in the communication. This tip isn’t perfect as some people don’t read. I’ve had some success by claiming an overactive SPAM file and would be grateful if they’d send the information again.

Enter an elevator in my apartment building and you’re almost shocked if a 20-30- something tenant replies “hi,” or “hello” to my greeting. As a kid, the first time I passed a stranger who greeted me in a hotel hallway I was taken aback but replied in kind following my mother’s lead. Guess such recognition is out of fashion even if you’re sharing a roof with others for much more than the length of a vacation.

Are there instances in which you are irritated by silence when a response is in order? Any tricks to get a reaction from someone you need to hear back from?

Service of Who Decides–Doctors or Dollars?

Monday, March 7th, 2022

I feel increasingly insecure and cynical about who makes decisions that are crucial to my life and welfare because so many are not up to the specialists such as doctors and scientists, it’s the judgment or ultimatum of those who hold purse strings. For years I’ve shuddered at countless examples of insurance companies determining how long a friend or relative stays in the hospital either after a procedure or to recover from a disease. Insurance companies OK the medicines they’ll cover, consistently ignoring a doctor’s recommendations about patients’ requirements.


Now, with business interests–not science–to back it IMHO, NYC Mayor Adams has removed proof of vaccination and face covering mandates starting today, with the speed the Covid pandemic overcame us to begin with.

I was delighted to show my Covid-19 Excelsior Pass Plus proof-of-vaccination to the guard on the street in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art last week. Everyone was wearing masks inside. I felt relaxed while visiting my familiar picture friends and new visual acquaintances.

What clearer example do you need to illustrate that money, not science, is in charge when you read the first sentence in Emma G. Fitzsimmons, Sharon Otterman and Nicole Hong’s New York Times article: “The day after announcing that he planned to end New York City’s mask mandate for public schools and a proof-of-vaccination requirement for indoor dining, gyms and entertainment venues, Mayor Eric Adams smiled broadly as he rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.” [I added bold.]

I still have my hopes pinned on Adams but I fear he’s being pushed by business to jump the gun to open up the city. I don’t blame him his mission and hope that it is not at the cost of the health of its citizens. Why can’t he do it one step at a time: Evaluate the result of removing the mask mandate and wait before lifting the one requiring vaccines.


Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Face coverings are still required on public transportation, in taxis, nursing homes–all health care settings– prisons, and homeless shelters.

According to The New York Post: “Private establishments such as restaurants, shops, museums, gyms and entertainment centers can also still require patrons and workers to mask up. For example, theatergoers are still required to be vaccinated and wear masks while attending Broadway shows at least through April 30.”

The Times reporters shared city data that 87 percent of adults are fully vaccinated and 56 percent of children 5 to 17. They wrote: “Asked about concerns that visitors from other places, particularly those with lower vaccination rates, could spread the virus, Mr. Adams said he was not worried: ‘We want tourism back. It’s a major economic boost for us.’”

So do we know what the vaccination rate is among tourists? What will the cost be if we end up back where we were at the height of Covid-19 or its super contagious, persistent variant?

“’We have been fooled too many times, and I would like to wait longer, at least until more of the world is immunized, or we have a good sense of where these variants are headed, because we absolutely do not know what the next variant is going to look like,'” said Dr. Stephen Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center. This might be in another month or two he told the Times reporters.

“Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes, dean of the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health, said that ‘now is as good a time as any’ to lift mask mandates. But he was skeptical about lifting vaccine requirements at the same time.”

Have you ripped off your face coverings for good? Are you unconcerned about the vaccine status of others in restaurants and entertainment venues you plan to visit? Does the inconsistency give you pause where vaccines and masks are required to attend a Broadway show but not in other entertainment venues? Will you retreat to your home until you see how the lifting of major pandemic restrictions goes? Is your preference a prudent one, to experiment first to see whether there’s an uptick in the virus after removing one mandate before letting go of the second?


Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay 

Service of Who Are You Fooling?

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021



Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Astonishing how some are willing to harm themselves, and others in some cases, believing harum-scarum theories over science or thinking they are clever to cut a crucial corner and cheat at their own and others’ peril.

Don’t Horse Around

A Facebook posting this week made me laugh: “Anti-vaxxers who ingest horse dewormer Ivermectin shall hereby be referred to as neighsayers.”

But it’s not funny especially because politicians have given the dewormer credibility as a potential cure for Covid-19 in spite of FDA warnings. According to Dominick Mastrangelo on thehill.com: “Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) suggested researchers are not pursuing ivermectin as a possible COVID-19 treatment because of their disdain for former President Trump.” Reminder: Sen. Paul is a physician who should know that when it is prescribed for humans, it’s often in a head lice lotion.

Steve Benen wrote on msnbc.com: “Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas also pushed ivermectin at an event late last week.” He quoted a CDC health advisory: “Clinical effects of ivermectin overdose include gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Overdoses are associated with hypotension and neurologic effects such as decreased consciousness, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, coma and death.”

Wrote Mastrangelo: “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned Americans last week not to take ivermectin….. “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,’ the FDA said in a widely shared tweet.”

Dangerous Fake ID
What about the essential workers who populate hospitals, nursing homes and schools who endangered those they are entrusted to care for as well as themselves? They–some 250 in all–paid $200 to Jasmine Clifford for fake Covid-19 vaccine documents. Molly Crane-Newman wrote about this bunch in The Daily News in “13 charged with paying ‘AntiVaxMomma’ for fake documents to avoid free vaccine, say Manhattan prosecutors.” The “AntiVaxMomma is Clifford’s Instagram pseudonym.  She promoted her scam on this social media platform.

For $250 more, reported Crane-Newman,  a collaborator who worked at a medical clinic entered false proofs-of-vaccine into New York State’s official Excelsior Pass database system, the smartphone passport to enter New York restaurants, sporting events, gyms and the like. They found 10 of these.  

“The DA charged the 13 essential workers with felony criminal possession of a forged instrument and conspiracy, a misdemeanor,” she wrote. “Prosecutors also accused one of the 13 with offering a false instrument for filing, for paying the extra $250 to be entered in the Excelsior Pass database.”

Manhattan DA Cy Vance, Jr said “We need companies like Facebook to take action to prevent the fraud happening on their platforms. Making, selling and purchasing forged vaccination cards are serious crimes with serious public safety consequences. This investigation is ongoing.”

What makes people believe in untested ivermectin and not the Covid-19 vaccine vetted by scientists and taken safely by millions?

What twisted minds think they are getting away with anything by cheating about having taken a life-saving vaccine? More important, have they harmed their charges?




Image by Katja Fuhlert from Pixabay

Service of Unmasking the Honor System: Do I Trust My Fellow Citizens?

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

Image by Spencer Davis from Pixabay

The business of removing face masks indoors in public, permitted in most states if you’ve had both vaccines, got me to thinking about the honor system. Do I trust my fellow New Yorkers to cover up if they’ve chosen to pass? Can they be trusted to be true-blue and wear a mask until they change their minds? It’s small comfort to hear, “don’t worry about getting sick if you’ve had both vaccines–you won’t be hospitalized and you won’t die, most likely.”

In a New York Times opinion piece “Just How Dishonest are Most Students,” Wake Forest professor Christian B. Miller claimed that honor codes are “surprisingly effective” in curbing cheating. “But many schools and programs, from elementary to graduate level, take their honor codes seriously. And for good reason. Empirical research has repeatedly found that schools that are committed to honor codes have significantly reduced cheating rates compared with schools that are not.”

The operative words are “significantly reduced.” Is that enough where health is concerned?

Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

Professor Miller wrote: “Donald McCabe at Rutgers Business School and Linda Treviño at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State found a 23 percent rate of helping someone with answers on a test at colleges without an honor code, versus only 11 percent at schools with an honor code. They reported impressive differences as well for plagiarism (20 percent versus 10 percent), unauthorized crib notes (17 percent versus 11 percent) and unpermitted collaboration (49 percent versus 27 percent), among other forms of cheating.”

Cheating in Academic Institutions: A Decade of Research,” the study to which Professor Miller refers, begins “This article reviews 1 decade of research on cheating in academic institutions. This research demonstrates that cheating is prevalent and that some forms of cheating have increased dramatically in the last 30 years.” The article was published in January, 2010.

There is no honor code for society at large. The percentages of cheaters in the study above for 2000 to 2010–49, 23, 20 and 17–if anywhere near what happens with the public in general, give me goosebumps. This is a city with $215 million worth of fare-jumpers [in 2018] according to Jay Willis in an article in gq.com, not that sneaking in bus or subway for free means that you’ll take off your mask when you shouldn’t.

Do you think that vaccinations for any killer virus should be required for entrance in public venues? Vaccines are already required in some instances. According to the New York Department of Health, “Children attending day care and pre-K through 12thgrade in New York State must receive all required doses of vaccines on the recommended schedule in order to attend or remain in school. This is true unless they have a valid medical exemption to immunization. This includes all public, private, and religious schools.”

Do people brought up in schools with honor codes remain honorable or do they need honor code booster shots after graduation? Will you trust that the man or woman near you at a store, a wedding, in a theater or religious institution has been vaccinated because they aren’t wearing a mask? Do you plan on wearing one indoors at least until 70 percent of the population in your city or state are vaccinated?

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Service of Plus ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose–Redux II

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

I interrupt my planned post for today to write this morning about a serious state of affairs regarding Corona-19 vaccine distribution: money can put you at the head of the line. I heard about it this morning.

Money impacted Vietnam War deferments. Sons of the wealthy who sought them got them. That was nothing new: deep enough pockets to hire the canniest lawyers have always plucked scoundrels off the hook for crimes committed.

How naive I was to think this wasn’t the case for today’s crisis. Here’s why:

Thousands of New York City Housing Authority development residents have been given the vaccine so for once, while I and my computer-savvy friends are struggling to wangle an appointment online, some with few resources or ability to do this were being served first. I was glad.

I admit that my requirements restrict my chances. I want to walk to my appointment–5 miles my limit–and a trip, alone, to dodgy neighborhoods, as many friends have suggested, is out of the question.

Simultaneously thousands of appointments have been cancelled in NYC this week for lack of vaccine. On his weekly segment on the WOR morning show today Arthur L. Caplan, Professor of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center, reported to hosts Len Berman and Michael Riedel that people were paying to jump the line. I hadn’t heard this before.

What’s worse: There are no punishments to thwart them he said. Dr. Caplan warned Len, who has a vaccine appointment for next week, not to count on it. He cautioned that it might take a month to sort out the clog in the system. The three men shared anecdotes of people–even from Canada–flying to Florida or lying about their ages to be vaccinated.

To make matters worse, the outgoing administration left no plan with which the current one might run to help sort things out at local levels nationwide.

Do you feel all’s fair in an emergency and people with money deserve to go first because they’ve earned the right? Can you think of additional instances where money overrides first come first served?

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