Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Unemployment and Dante's Inferno

I've been contemplating the beginning of Dante's Inferno quite a lot lately. You see, in the beginning of the Divine Comedy Dante finds him self trudging along life's path to suddenly realize he's lost in a "yellow wood." Lost and alone he comes across a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf. After all these trials he is rewarded with a guided tour though Hell.

And here I am...I find myself for the first time in a year to be unemployed (more than I can get into at this time). I am Dante, only I faced the beasts to get where I was, and now I find myself lost in a Yellow Wood.

I'm faced with the terrifying aspect of not being a "traditional" paramedic. I haven't allowed myself to entertain this thought since I made the decision to have my amputation. It has sent my entire life into a tailspin. Not only my life, but honestly my family's life as well. I find myself constantly asking myself "now what?" sadly, I can't answer that. I could return to college and try a different degree...but what in. This is all I know. This is what I'm good at; it's where I feel I belong. I ache for the speed and bright lights. I'm at my best when others are at their worst...that doesn't really translate into a 9-5 office setting.

That being said, I have to weigh the option that I may have to move on. I just don't know where or how at this point. I've thought about becoming a prosthetist, making prosthetics for others, but that is a long tedious process. Honestly, I just don't know. I'm not sure...this is a feeling I don't know what to do with. So here I am...lost wondering in dark yellow wood, just waiting for my Virgil to be my guide and show me the way out.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Optimism for Activism

As the high from Medicine X comes crashing down I am left with an unbridled spirit of optimism. An optimism that the lofty goals set out by a few can be accomplished to help the many. Most of us never think about what would happen if we were to come down with a catastrophic illness or suffer through a debilitating injury. The problem is that this happens daily. There are roughly 185,000 new amputations each year in the US, that breaks down to roughly 5 people out of 1000. Go to a any professional sports game, there are roughly 25,000 in the crowd, that equals 25 of those people gaining new amputations for various injuries. The issue we have is that if you're unlucky enough to be one of these 25 people and live in one of the 30 states that does not offer prosthetic fairness then you should be prepared for an uphill battle. I know because I fought this battle. Amazingly, I fought this battle and won. I won because I had the power of social media behind me. For those who are new to my blog a brief synopsis. I was denied my prosthetic by an insurance company who does not cover microprocessor knees. After blogging here about my plight, the readers and my brothers and sisters in public safety took to my fight. Together we fought against the insurance juggernaut and forced a change in rhetoric. I am odd in this...sadly, this is not the normal way these stories pan out. No...the way this story normally ends is that the amputee is given a substandard knee that allows them to "function." A word I have come to hate. me this word says that it will work, but barely. If you had a car that just functioned then you'd probably look for a better car, one that not only functions but has the bells and whistles you need to enjoy your ride. So, why wouldn't you want that with something as vital as a prosthetic. No functioning doesn't lend itself to living.

If you look at most insurance protocols for prosthetics you would see that they lump them in the same category as bedside commodes and crutches; they call it "durable medical equipment." Most cap the spending on these items at $2,000, sometimes more, sometimes less. If you're lucky your insurance company will cover a prosthetic but limit you to two for a lifetime. If you have a child who happens to suffer an amputation, depending on age, they could need 10 times the approved amount. This is unacceptable.

Now, lets counter this with a state with prosthetic fairness. Your physician writes you a prescription for a prosthetic that matches your activity level. You get that prosthetic. It's as simple as that...well there will be hoops to jump through. You have to prove why this prosthetic will benefit your life. Trust me. It will and it's easy to prove.

I know. It's not free. It will take some input from everyone. In Kentucky, we looked at the financial impact such a bill would have on the taxpayer. In Kentucky, it would equal out to somewhere between 5-8 cents per person. A negligible increase on your premium.

Now, my goal is not only get this passed in my state, but to get this into the national spotlight. This needs to be passed nationally. We need to come together and push. Call your Senator, Call your Representative, Be proactive...and as I learned at Stanford...Stories change things. Patient stories will be the shoulders that carry this bill. Our voices will be heard, our voices can change the world...

Until next time.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Medicine X...A world of Changes sparked by a new idea!-

I've been home for a few days now. Slowly, I'm making my way back into my normal life...but that's the difference. It's not my normal life. Something changed. I discovered a passion, a spark, that I did not know I was capable of. I have called myself an "accidental activist," I quite literally fell into standing up for others in my position. I didn't not plan on taking this path, and I acted as such. I wrote my blog, I spoke out when I could, I did what I could when it was possible to work that into my schedule. In Palo Alto, California I discovered that I need to me much more active. As I wrote before, I was most taken aback by being included in the same company as these titans of advocacy. I still can't believe my name could be brought up in such company.

These were not the only lessons learned. I gained a new respect for "Participatory Medicine." The thought that a patient can be, and should be, the expert of their own care. This education often comes at the patient's own expense. Not only through personal expense, but mental anguish, personal strife, and in the best of cases personal triumph. Triumph was what I heard most while at medicine X. Patients of all socioeconomic backgrounds, encompassing a myriad of chronic illnesses. These people are more than survivors. Surviving lends itself to barely making it through. No, these amazing advocates are truly living, not in spite of their illness, but in conjunction with it. Then I had an epiphany. Amputees ARE chronic patients. When looked at through the traditional sense, a chronic illness is just that. An illness that doesn't go away, often with increasing complications as time goes on and no currently known cure. As an amputee, there is obviously no cure, the only difference is I wear my medicine. My medication is my ability to interact with the world, I display it proudly, a badge of honor that I am not a survivor, but I am living.

I was able to interact and network with some amazing physicians, leaders of industry, and various other caretakers. Hearing of amazing innovations, new viewpoints of the patient/physician interaction, and ways to track your own healthcare data. What I enjoyed most about Medicine X was that the patient was front and center. We held a prominent place at the front of the room, able to directly interact with the various speakers and presentations. Every aspect was to show the importance of the viewpoint of the patient. Increasing awareness of the various chronic illnesses, but not actually focusing on the illness itself. No, for the first time in my medical career, the patient was more than their respective ailment. We were once again people, our ailments only a portion of who we are, fully integrated into our lives, but not dominating it. The way the healthcare experience should be...the way Medicine X convinced me it could be with the right education.

I'll have more later, I'm still digesting the massive amount of information.

Until Next Time...PM