HealthTap is a pretty cool site (and phone app) I discovered a while back and have been using on occasion and also recommending others to when they have health problems.
HealthTap offers a bunch of services – but the one I find most interesting and exciting is the “Ask Doctors” option. They have a huge number of doctors (thousands?) who are willing to answer questions.
The doctors answer the questions for free within a few hours. You can also donate $.99 to a non-profit cause via HealthTap and your question is “expedited.” The doctors I’ve had respond provide real answers – not just, “Go see a doctor.” Though that is oftentimes part of their advice (and they usually suggest a specialist for whatever the likely issue is).
So, if you don’t have health insurance, don’t want to try getting hold of your doctor, and for just b/c you are curious – HealthTap is a great and free option…I’m excited to see where innovative companies like HealthTap will take healthcare in the next few years. I have a lot of hope that innovations will result in healthcare reduction costs and improvements in healthcare that will reverse our trend of out-of-control increases in health care costs.
It has been about a week since I posted a health update…so I figured I’d post another, just to keep anyone who might care to know in the know. I apologize for the infrequency of my posts on topics of actual interest – I am afraid my productivity has been very low…writing posts is a bit of a chore.
You can read my original health update here. I’ll try not to recapitulate what I’ve already said.
I saw a neurologist. He does not think I have a neurological condition, but to be on the safe side ordered an MRI. I had the MRI at St. Mary’s Medical Center. It was torture trying to lay still for the thirty minutes the MRI took. Not their fault – just those stupid legs going crazy.
I went back to the functional medicine doctor, whom I like very much, but who isn’t covered by my insurance and truth is I can’t afford to see him at this juncture…So he gave me a lot of helpful information and I’m doing what I can with that.
The symptoms seem to come and go – well, they never really go – but they get less crippling. This morning I awoke feeling pretty good, but within thirty minutes was nearly crippled, then I felt better for around an hour during church and then again (and since then) have been in fairly severe pain.
The pain now includes my back, not just my legs…but I think this is a result of what it takes to feel any level of sanity/comfort when the symptoms are on me – namely walking. I’ve walked nearly 10 miles some days around my house since this has begun – unfortunately I haven’t been dropping weight. If I put a heat pad on it helps with the back pain significantly.
I’ve been feeling more frequently nauseated. I dry heave a good amount and have a nagging cough that pops out occasionally.
The pain has spread to my head – I’m unsure whether this is the result of further symptoms of the auto-immune disease or if it is a separate illness which has risen up due to lack of sleep and so on. It feels a bit like a cold / the flu and includes aches all over my body, but especially my forehead.
Occasionally I have these very weird experiences in which I lose my equilibrium and feel like I may fall. There is a strange feeling as if air is rushing out of my head (let the jokes begin). I stabilize after thirty seconds.
I have another appointment with my PCP tomorrow morning. I’m hoping they can do something for the pain and fogginess. At this juncture I’d just like to be able to return to work…even if we aren’t able to discover the cause at the moment.
Today I spent 1.5 hours in one of my favorite places in the world – a library – specifically my alma mater and employer’s library – Cairn University. I went in just to pick up a few books on worship for my sermon on Sunday but then walked the aisles of books, finally leaving with two bags packed with books.One of the books I picked up is Jeffrey H. Boyd’s Being Sick Well: Joyful Living Despite Chronic Illness. Why would I be interested in such a volume? Two reasons. First, I’ve suffered from both Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Major Depressive Episodes for as long as I have memories of my existence. Secondly, I work with a church (Calvary Community Church) where a large percentage of our congregation is among the “aging” – many of whom suffer from a number of chronic conditions – arthritis, cancer, bad joints, and so on. It seemed this volume would be applicable to my life personally as well as to my life corporately – that is, how I interact with others.
I haven’t made it far, I’m still threading through the introduction – but I wanted to share a few quotes that struck me and highlight the steps Boyd will further illuminate throughout the volume as being part of “Joyful Living.”
At the start of the Introduction Boyd shares concerning his first wife’s severe and chronic illnesses, concluding, “…Pat’s medical disasters were not her main experience in life. The diseases were often quiet and well behaved. There were long periods of normal life.” (pg. 7) What a beautiful picture! This resonated within my heart. While the episodes of OCD and depression feel as if they are all that exists when I am in them, the truth is that there is more to life. Tonight as I held Charity in my arms before she left for a bible study or now as a little kitten rests upon my legs – these are moments of joy and grace.
Boyd then comments on the prevalence of chronic conditions: “At least 45 percent of all Americans have a chronic condition, accounting for 78 percent of the healthcare budget.” (pg. 8) In other words, one out of every two individuals! It appears that the second half of his introduction will discuss the reasons for these high percentages.
Another soul healing statement comes on pg. 9, “I do not mean to say that joy is always within the reach of sick people. Job in the Bible finds no joy until God rescues him from his skin disease and other catastrophes…Some people who suffer on this earth will find happiness only in heaven, after they die.” Too often we are expected to be so happy and smiling in the midst of our suffering, yet Boyd acknowledges that sometimes, for some people there is no relief this side of eternity.
Reading this book I figured I’d draw general principles, not specific instances – because who thinks of mental illnesses as a chronic illness? But Boyd again surprises and delights me when he writes, “My own chronic illness has been major depression. I inherited it from my father, who had it worse than I. My tendency toward gloom and pessimism has waxed and waned since childhood. It is insidious.” (pg. 10) The author is both aware of and familiar with mental ailments as a form of chronic illness! Something which I am still coming to grips with in my own life (intellectually I acknowledge, practically – I sometimes deny it).
The brief overview of steps which Boyd will address for “Joyful Living” are:
Build up your relationships, create a solid social network.
Decide what priorities really matter to you and focus on them.
Don’t spend all your time thinking about and bemoaning your illness.
Use mental willpower to keep a positive attitude even when things aren’t great.
Avoid disasters in your life.
Use humor, even if it is “gallows humor” to lighten the load for yourself and others.
Take each day individually – don’t be overwhelmed by thinking about the rest of your life.
Exercise as much as you can (grrr).
Use the spiritual resources available to you to cope – medical research indicates that spiritual beliefs are a great source of strength in illness.
Say the Eastern Orthodox Jesus Prayer.
Go to church and be involved in your church community.
Be involved in changing the world – if there is no cure for you, help there be a cure for others.
Take charge of your health needs. You be your main advocate and organizer when it comes to healthcare.
Take your medications religiously.
Keep up hope that a cure will be invented.
Stay busy, don’t allow yourself to withdraw from life.
If you are a caregiver, take pride in your work.
Enjoy the small blessings of life in spit of the illness.
Don’t pay attention to those who abandon you because of your illness.
Use your suffering as a means to help others – Fanny Crosby, though blind, wrote 9,000 hymns!