Sunday, April 27, 2008

Guest services

Strange word, that, "Guest Services". I was told that was the place to go to for grievances, to complain about medical treatment issues. First of all: Guest? Is a patient at a hospital a "Guest"? I suppose in a very loose way--if you consider a hospital a place to stay, as in a hotel,--a patient is a "Guest". The fact that Stanford Hospital calls its grievance facility "Guest Services" is meant to make it difficult for a patient to find the complaint department. It is meant to obfuscate. It is meant to start the patient on a process that, from the beginning, leads the patient to an odd feeling of not being taken seriously. If I, the patient, can't take the word "Guest Services" seriously, I am not likely to expect much from them.

My husband and I have spoken to "Guest Services" several times. The response was of a "cordial" nature. But did "Guest Services" appear to affect a really sincere response? No, the response appears like a conversation that has not gone beyond the narrow field of those working on the complaint. It is like being in Mobius strip. The actors are never really agents of serious change. They wind up as they started out, dissatisfied and alone. The real problem is not addressed. The people in risk management have arranged it that way. They are happy because they know that dragging things out is a win. It eventually drags things beyond the statute of limitations. Is that a way to treat your "guests"? I am interested in changing things. The statute of limitations has run out a long time ago. And the hospital doesn't even know how little risk there is in improving patient care if they could only break out of that endless loop.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What's in a word: Erethism

Erethism is the constellation of irritability, excitability, anxiety, insomnia, and social withdrawal. Erethism traditionally is seen in the chronic phase of the toxicity.

This definition comes from an e-medicine website under the title Mercury. Erethism is essentially one of the manifestations of mercury poisoning. This condition is easily recognized when you know a person who has it. It is not benign and it is a catastrophe for the family who has to deal with a person afflicted by this.

The main difficulty is in the diagnosis because mercury poisoning has been and is a condition that is not being taken seriously. It's more likely that the chronically mercury-poisoned person is considered a mental case, and since mental patients go to psychiatrists, they don't get taken seriously when they ask their doctor to look for a physical condition.

Alcohol poisoning is such a condition. It expresses itself as a mental derangement, and because everyone knows that a person who is under the influence of alcohol, will have all the mental signs of alcohol-poisoning: slurred speech, lack of balance, and, when it gets bad, confabulation, that means telling stories that are on the face of it lies, but not perceived as such by the person telling them.

Since alcohol can be measured in the blood, there is physical proof. With mercury poisoning, proof is not so easy to come by. The only time when there is real physical proof of mercury poisoning, is during the first couple of days after exposure, or when the dose is so high that there are not enough places for the mercury to attach itself to tissues in the kidney, the liver, brain, skin etc. Another way to find out about the real status of a person's level of mercury is a challenge test with a chelator such as DMSA or DMPS. Neither of those two substances, and the required tests are covered by health care providers.

What I would like to see in the future is at least the option to look for a cause of erethism. Let's hope the time will come when erethism can be eradicated.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A blooming cascade of roses

Beauty comes and goes. My rose trellis spanning the gate appears like a wave over the fence. It's the nature of spring that allows this magnificent spectacle.

The yellow flowers are going to be gone shortly and the whole gate will have to come down. The fence got damaged during the winter storm, and the whole structure will have to be rebuilt. I'll take a picture to keep that memory.

The forget-me-nots and the blue hyacinths and the sour grass are the treasures that wealth cannot buy. They grow there wild. Yes, give me grass with weeds any day. The imperfections of nature are more joy than any money can buy.

I cleaned up around the house; I guess it's called spring cleaning. Some of the cobwebs must stay, though. The spiders must live. I am looking forward to rid myself of a number of tangled cobwebs of the mind. Cobwebs made by ghost spiders are expendable.