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Never Give Up

Never Give Up

It is not often that I write about societal disturbances. It seems as if there are hundreds and hundreds of tragic events occurring daily, not just in Memphis or Tennessee, but around the world. As our society's ability to communicate globally continues to improve, it appears that we are being bombarded with bad news. When I sat down to write this blog this morning, I read about another police officer who was gunned down by ambush in Houston, Texas while filing up his police car. He was shot in the back several times, and as he laid on the ground, the shooter stood over him and shot more rounds into his lifeless body.

As I opened the Commercial Appeal, local headlines read Teen pleads guilty in 2013 murder. JP Shelley, a contractor, was meeting with a construction worker to discuss refurbishing a home when three men approached them. JP and his worker were robbed and then JP was shot in the neck and died. Another headline on the same page Deal for car ends in $20K robbery. This disturbing news was related to a Craigslist scam.

All of us have either been a part of or know someone who has been a part of some tragic event that altered our lives forever. What appears to be happening, is that these events are occurring more and more frequently, people are becoming more and more reckless and human life is being devalued at an alarming rate.

But it is not just happening in the criminal element of our society, it is happening everywhere. I called ATT to get a repair person to come out to my home and fix the annoying static in my line. The first attempt lasted 30 minutes, all the while the company was apologizing for the wait because of unusually high call volume. I decided to make several calls at odd hours: 7:00 am, 7:00 pm, 9:00 pm, 10:30 pm, 12 midnight, 1:30 am. You guessed it, there was unusual call volume and delays no matter what time I made the call. The recorded message constantly push me to go to the internet and connect to their ATT website to process my repair order. When I did just that, I found that typing in a simple request for repair was not so simple. I went back to the phone, called again and ultimately filed my verbal complaint to an automated voice activated system. I felt like I was speaking to a robot. I was told the repair would be made in the next three days by an electronic voice which was trying to be female. No human interaction whatsoever.

How many times have I tried to speak directly to a physician and got an automated phone system to take my request? Hundreds. How many times have insurance companies required me to have a peer to peer review as a part of a prior authorization process in an effort to determine whether an imaging study or a blood test are actually appropriate for the patient's illness? Hundreds. At the writing of this letter, I have called a physician several times in New Jersey to discuss a patient's disability claim and all I get is his voice mail. He is never available to talk. His message relays how important my call is to him and that he will call back as soon as he can. But he does not call back. The woman's disability benefits are on hold until he speaks with me. When our patient speaks to the insurance agency, they assure her that her physician (me) is the one holding up the process. Their medical expert has made several attempts to call us at 7:00 am CST. Our answering service has no record of his calls and we are not open for business before 8:00 am. I suspect the patient is about to explode. She may think that my office staff is incompetent and I am not attentive enough to help her complete her disability claim.

Once patients enter the judicial system to solve a problem such as a simple divorce, it takes months if not years to get a resolution to their problem. Their attorneys create a mountain of paperwork, fuel the conflict between the plaintiff and defendant and then delay taking any action on the subject at hand. As a result, our patient's health goes to hell and a hand basket. Sometimes the opposing counsel tells the patient that their social support and healthcare systems have to be abandoned or those therapists may have to be deposed. That makes it even tougher on our patients. The threats and constant tone of anger creates physiological disturbances of a first order. I have seen fairly rugged patients broken down in to a crumbling biomass. After the conflict is resolved, we have to rebuild everything from hormone deficiencies to food plan adjustments.

When someone is in a psychosocial hurricane, it's no time to plant flowers. We just have to patch them up to get them through the storm. The problem is there are so many storms on the horizon and most of them come without warning. People could be playing a simple game of tennis in a public place and gunfire erupts because three or four young men are having a bad day while dealing drugs. Stray bullets fly everywhere. Some innocent person could get hurt or even killed. If you read the news, we are faced with these kind of traumas every day. And the more it happens, the more we hear the bad news, the more we are isolated from human interactions, the more we find that we cannot get a simple answer to a simple question, the more people are faced with unforeseen tragedies not of their own making the more we become less and less human. The stress that accompanies dehumanization is massive. Depending on how our bodies react to the stress, we either develop autoimmune phenomenon, chronic intractable infections or cancers of every variety. Sometimes patients develop all three.

It makes no sense to continue to grow our human culture into absolute primitive chaos that is a result of everyone being self serving. We have a duty to others to listen and share knowledge. We have a duty to have compassion and try to create meaningful social interactions that can heal and transform us into someone worth knowing. Our wanting desire to industrialize of the judicial system, the medical system and the educational system to make a profit has greatly diminished the quality of personal interactions and increased the level of frustration each of us feel in our daily lives. The whole purpose behind creating computerized technology was to reduce the burdens of daily activities, ultimately allowing us to lead fuller, more enriched lives. Instead it has isolated each of us, taken our voices away and in doing so, made illness and medical care expand beyond our personal control. Our biggest blunder as a species was domesticating animals and introducing farming ten thousand years ago. Clean water and antibiotics were the two greatest advances we made recently as a culture to help heal the mess that resulted from over population and mass impoverishment. As a culture we have never been so ignorant even though we are living in the golden age of knowledge.

Every day I challenge you to take time to feel the grass on your bare feet, take a look at a full moon and enjoy the warm sunshine on your face as you stroll thru nature. Be authentic and true to yourself and others. Speak kindly and thoughtfully to those who happen to engage you in a conversation about life in any dimension. Never lose your sense of humor. And be mindful that everything that makes life easier can also make life miserable. Put down your smart phones and sit quietly with no interruptions for a few minutes. The world will still be there when you turn the phone back on again, probably spewing bad news and tragic life events that happened somewhere while you were quiet. Keep trying to help those who need your help and leave those who abuse your helpfulness.

And never, ever, ever give up or give in. That's when the chaos takes over and illness flourishes.

Doc
Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:40 AM
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