Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hey Jo

Every few weeks I get people from University Hospital calling or emailing, trying to get me to pursue further psychiatric care through UIHC. I usually just ignore them. Most recently I received a call followed immediately by this email:

Hi Jamal,

I just left you a voicemail promising to send you this information.

There are several recommendations we have:
·         Follow-up in the Family Practice Clinic with Dr. Perry or any other provider for physical health care.
·         Consider establishing care for treatment of your depression. This can be done in the Psychiatry Clinic or at the Community Mental Health Center. They have a very good plan now for quicker access.
·         The Counseling and Health Promotions area of Family Medicine(CHPS) offers mental health medication management services. This is another excellent option.

Bascially, we are recommending medication management and counseling to provide better support for your depression along with your routine healthcare needs.

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to call me at 384-8994. Thanks! jo

And my response:

Hey Jo, thanks for the email. I know you've tried to reach me previously, sorry to take so long getting back to you. My experiences with UIHC this year have mostly been shockingly horrible, so I haven't been anything close to eager to schedule any appointments I don't absolutely have to. I am particularly upset with the psych department, have filed multiple complaints but obviously don't expect that to make an iota of difference in any way. I do have an appointment with a UI psychiatrist later this month (I don't recall her name at the moment), we'll see how that goes. I can't tell you how tired I am of having my depression treated as the main symptom when overall it's years of chronic pain that have led & continue to lead to a negative state of mind. Chronic pain that the medical professionals are consistently unable or unwilling to treat, sometimes unwilling to even acknowledge. Having talked to others now, I am learning that this is basically standard protocol at UIHC, which certainly doesn't give me any encouragement to seek further "care."

I do appreciate you diligently trying to follow up on my case, that's admirable. Beyond that I really don't know what to say.


That was one week ago, I haven't heard anything further as of yet.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Collection Agencies, Formal Apologies

UIHC has turned my account over to a collection agency. The collection agency calls me most every day, sends me letters in the mail. Today I wrote them back. I wrote this letter quickly while I was at work (I returned to work today for the 1st time in weeks), it's not as complete or well written as it could be, but I hope it gets the point across.

June 24, 2013

To Whom It May Concern:

The fact that UIHC is billing me thousands of dollars for their flagrantly unethical, worse-than-useless practices is offensive & disgusting. I have filed numerous complaints about them, & will continue to file more. When an individual pays for products &/or services, that individual has the right to expect at least some semblance of said products &/or services will be delivered. I would quite literally prefer to die than to pay UIHC thousands of dollars for enduring the various forms of excruciating malpractice they have put me through this year. 

A. J. River

Today I also received a letter from UIHC's Psychiatry Department, responding to the original complaint I filed weeks ago about Dr. Potash & his joke of a psych ward, "1JPW." The letter is less than a page long & basically says, "Thanks for your input." The 1st (tiny) paragraph says that UIHC "relies on feedback such as yours to continually improve upon the care and service we provide our patients."

The 2nd paragraph in its entirety reads "I have reviewed your concerns with Dr. Potash and he expressed his apologies for your less than satisfactory experience."

Less than satisfactory. Like I stayed at a 2nd rate hotel or something. No acknowledgement of the agonizing physical pain & utterly invalidating humiliations I suffered at their hands. Not even an admission of, "Oh, by the way, we were totally wrong about you not having M.S. & making the whole thing up. I guess you really were having constant, relentless nerve pain. Our bad."

Not that I'm surprised. The incompetence, lack of accountability, & complete disregard for their patients' well being seem to be integral parts of the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics composition. Frankly, a brief, patronizing letter is more than I expected from them. Way to exceed my expectations, UIHC.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Re: Disability Benefits

This morning I wrote to Hoefer Law Firm in Iowa City, my 1st effort at trying to begin the process of applying for disability benefits. I'm waiting to hear back.


Jason Knight [from the Community Mental Health Center in Iowa City] gave me your contact info & suggested I get in touch with you about filing for disability. I have Multiple Sclerosis & have had a constant headache/migraine for the past decade. It has become increasingly difficult for me to work, & though I'm still employed for the moment I have missed many weeks already this year & don't imagine I'll be able to keep the job (or my health insurance) much longer at all. I haven't been to work recently simply because the pain has been too severe to manage. My boss is nice about letting me miss way more time than I'm supposed to but that can only go on so long.

I haven't filed for disability yet, seeing as I'm technically still employed, and I was hoping to talk with someone about the best plan of action before completely abandoning my job & its insurance & filing a claim without really knowing what I'm doing. I've been told it's fairly essential to get assistance when filing for disability, so that's what I'm hoping to find.
Thanks much for your time.
A. Jamal River

This is totally new terrain for me, I don't know what procedures one follows. I hope these folks can be of help.

And to you, dear readers: I was surprised to discover how many people read yesterday's blog post in the course of a day, I'm touched. I made that post in a somewhat random, offhanded act of desperate irritation, I appreciate that there are others who wanted to read it. If anyone has questions, comments, suggestions, whatever, I'd love to hear them. I know there are a ton of people out there dealing with daily chronic pain (not to mention wading through the torturous mire of often worse-than-useless medical "services"). I have no idea what the solution is, but if there's any chance at all that we can help each other survive more comfortably, I'm all for it. Thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

New Adventures in Chronic Pain

My most recent letter to the Terrifying Beast that is University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, this time to the "Office of Patient Relations"
June 16, 2013


I'm not sure who to contact but I'm pretty much at my wits' end.

My name is Jamal River & I'm a patient at UIHC. I have Multiple Sclerosis & have had a constant headache/migraine for almost a decade now, as well as various other forms of chronic pain. I've been seen by countless doctors over the years, both at University and at Mercy, and have been put on any number of medications. Mainly for depression, which is interesting because I wasn't particularly depressed before the years of constant pain.

I have been an inpatient twice this year, once in January after a nearly successful suicide attempt, having grown more than tired of the years & years of crippling pain, and once in February, after going to the ER three times for agonizing nerve pain, only to eventually be admitted to one of Dr. Potash's psych wards, where I was treated solely as a psych patient and none of my chronic, excruciating physical symptoms were treated or acknowledged as anything other than "all in my head."

Currently I am unable to work because of the daily level of pain. I don't know how much longer I will be able to keep my job, I have missed a lot of work this year already.

I was seen at the Pain Clinic a few weeks ago, where I was basically told there was nothing they could do for me, & I needed to go see a psychiatrist & physical therapist.

I was given a referral by Neurologist Mishelle Paullus to see Behavioral Health Clinician Emily Santi, but so far have not had in any luck in that endeavor. Not that I actually have reason to believe she could help me, so far I just keep getting passed around.

As I say, I'm really at my wits' end. Thanks for your time.

A. Jamal River

(We'll see what that earns me in hell...)