Waiting to Live: Fighting an Insurance Company for a Life-Saving Surgery

Photos: Maria Palladino, Our Labor of Love, Maria Palladino

Photos: Maria Palladino, Our Labor of Love, Maria Palladino

By Kirsten Ott Palladino

I felt a lump in my throat as I padded down the stairs, having just kissed my darling twin toddlers goodnight. “I love you, Mommy,” my youngest called after me. “I love you, too, sweet boy. Get some rest,” I replied rather hoarsely, as my throat was swelling with a wail I couldn’t let out. “I’ll see you boys in the morning.” But would I live that long?

That is the question I lay awake with until the wee hours of the morning, unless I self-medicate with over-the-counter sleeping aids. And even then, I toss and turn, sitting upright to check my pulse on the heart rate monitor my wife insisted we purchase the day our insurance company decided it wasn’t going to cover my life- saving surgery.

On Jan. 2, I was diagnosed with Brugada syndrome, an incredibly rare genetic heart disease that sharply increases my chances of dropping dead from sudden cardiac arrest. That’s when your heart suddenly stops beating—not like a heart attack, where blood stops pumping to your heart and you’ve got some time for someone to bring you back to life. With cardiac arrest, someone must be performing CPR within mere seconds for you to have a remote chance to survive. That’s a lot of pressure for my twin 2- year-olds and my graphic designer wife to live under. And it’s quite a heavy wet blanket of fear for me to try to exist under. Though I’ve managed to face most days optimistically, I must admit that it’s been a struggle to keep that oft-seen smile throughout this ordeal.
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Two-to-One: Americans Surveyed by RMU Would Have Preferred A Bipartisan Effort on ObamaCare

More than half of Americans surveyed by Robert Morris University would have preferred that the Affordable Care Act – aka ObamaCare – be passed into law with bipartisan support. The survey of 1,003 adults was conducted by the RMU Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media.

Sixty percent of those who responded said they do not anticipate having to get a new doctor or specialist as a result of the law, and more than half (53.3 percent) do not expect that they will have to change health insurance plans.

“Considering the Affordable Care Act is a market-based reform with key elements like the individual mandate taken directly from conservative proposals developed two decades ago, I think the majority of respondents wishing there had been more bipartisanship in the process may reflect dissatisfaction with how the polarized debate played out in the media during the law’s passage,” said Joseph Angelelli, director of the Health Services Administration program at Robert Morris University.
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Partners in Self-Health

Headshot 1_dr_fabrizio_mancini_01_LoResEnlist Your Doctor, Your Family and Yourself for Wellness

By Dr. Fabrizio Mancini

In our society, we are bombarded with messages that healing comes from sources outside ourselves. Patients are told that taking these drugs or having these medical procedures will make them well. As a result, many people have turned over responsibility for their health, to a large extent, to medical professionals.

Fortunately, a growing number of people are taking responsibility for their health, acknowledging that true healthcare begins with each person. This does not mean turning away from healthcare providers, but making them partners, along with ourselves and our families, as we unlock our bodies’ natural healing powers.

A new study from the University of Oregon shows that patients who take an active role in their health have lower medical costs. Researchers found that the average health care costs of those with the highest levels of motivation, knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their own healthcare were 8 percent to 21 percent lower than those with the lowest levels.
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More Than 400 Innovative Medicines in Development For Top Chronic Diseases Affecting Older Americans

John J. Castellani

John J. Castellani

Two Reports Show Progress in Treatment Options for Chronic Disease

America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 465 new medicines that target the 10 leading chronic conditions affecting seniors, according to a new report and overview released today by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

With the population of Americans over 65 on the rise and life expectancy climbing, chronic diseases remain a principal threat to the health and productivity of older Americans, as well as to rising health care costs. Innovative medicines have led to major advances against many chronic diseases – and the robust discovery pipeline of new medicines portends continued progress for seniors and our health care system.

“Our ability to prevent, manage and treat chronic diseases has progressed dramatically in recent years, due in large part to the discovery and availability of new innovative medicines,” said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani. “But we can’t rest on our laurels. The more than 400 medicines in the pipeline for diseases prevalent among older Americans have tremendous potential to improve and extend the lives of seniors, and reduce costly emergency room visits, hospitalizations and surgical procedures.”

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Fear of Speaking Up in the Doctor’s Office Costs Lives, and Money

Evan Falchuk, Best DoctorsBy Evan Falchuk, Vice Chairman, Best Doctors

“Shy” isn’t a word you associate with Americans, but when it comes to talking with our doctors, it seems like it’s the best word for what we are.  A 2012 study in Health Affairs found that patients were afraid to ask questions – and often regretted not being more assertive with their doctors about their concerns.

Now, we could dismiss this finding as an odd quirk of American culture, or maybe an example of how doctors sometimes are seen as intimidating.  But this isn’t what really matters. Published studies show that anywhere from 15-28% of patients in developed countries end up misdiagnosed in that office visit – causing needless suffering and wasted dollars.  Importantly, this same research shows that asking questions – the thing patients seem most reluctant to do – can have some of the greatest impact on getting a diagnosis right in the first place.

You can understand the dilemma facing a patient and his or her doctor.  Our healthcare system is designed in a way where doctors often see a hundred or more patients a week, and are able to spend just a few minutes with each.  Studies – and common sense – tell us in many cases that this isn’t enough time.  The sad irony is that doctors today are the best trained and educated that they have ever been, and yet our system values their insights so little they are unable to practice the medicine they were trained to do.

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Consider the Conversation: A Documentary About Unintended Consequences

Consider the Conversation, a documentary about unintended consequences, takes a hard look at how we treat people at the end of life.

Inspired by the Wisconsin Medical Society, the producers of Consider the Conversation, a documentary on a taboo subject, zero in on the doctor patient relationship.

The film will focus on the tension between patients wanting their doctor to inspire them to believe that they can beat the odds while also wanting their doctor to be honest that this may be the end and that they should consider thinking about how they want to live at the end of their life.

Watch the video below.

Are You At Risk for Heart Disease?

Watch MDTV Medical News Now to learn if you are at risk of Heart Disease. What can you do to detect and treat Heart Disease?

Diabetes – The Link Between Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

By P., Piero D.D.S.

Diabetes affects about 24 million Americans or about 8% of the population. It is a disease that is characterized by high levels of blood sugar caused by malfunctioning insulin production. An insulin resistant individual becomes diabetic when the pancreas can no longer put out sufficient insulin to lower the blood sugar and the organ becomes exhausted.

The pancreas is controlled by hormonal feedback mechanisms. Acute and chronic infections create hormonal chaos in the body. Periodontal disease is the most widespread infectious disease on the planet, consequently provokes a great deal of chaos.

The sugars found in the mouth aid in gum disease. The constant introduction and presence of sugar in the mouth (like a sippy cup with juice), feed the bacteria that leads to periodontal disease.

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6 Parenting Lessons Learned from Cancer

Listen as these amazing moms with cancer talk about how the disease changed the way they parent. Click on the image below.

Uncover the Many Benefits of a Healthy Nurse and Patient Relationship

By Melanie Bowen

When nurses work well together with their patients, a positive relationship is cultivated and this benefits both the nurse and the patient.  It can be very trying for each party to be open and trusting towards one another because nurses are under a lot of stress and patients have their own worries and concerns.  Developing a positive and healthy nurse/patient relationship will be the best approach for the patient in recovering more efficiently and may help the nurse to do his or her job better.

Nurse and patient relationships can be highly therapeutic for the patient if the relationship is one that is built on care, honesty and trust.  Honesty may seem like an unusual term to use in regards to a nurse/patient relationship; however, this is one of the single most important aspects of this type of association.  If a nurse is not honest with a patient when a patient asks a question regarding his or her health care or treatment, the patient will lose trust and respect for the nurse.  In turn, the patient may not be honest about problems or concerns the patient is having.

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Surviving Mesothelioma Cancer

By Faith Franz

Mesothelioma – like any other cancer – has the potential to shorten a patient’s lifespan. However, with the right blend of innovative treatment and determination, patients can beat the odds and become a mesothelioma survivor.

For mesothelioma patients, this may seem like it is easier said than done. The disease is relatively rare, yet aggressive. The cancer typically remains asymptomatic until it has reached its later stages, and most patients receive a stage III or IV diagnosis. This generally limits the available treatment options, and most patients receive an average prognosis of one year from the time of their diagnosis.

Although mesothelioma statistics can be discouraging, patients must remember that the stats are only a prediction and that survivors are continually beating the odds. Some of these survivors beat their prognosis by months or years, with a number living more than a decade after their diagnosis.

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How to Support Someone With a Serious Illness

7 tips detailing ways to support someone who is dealing with a serious illness

By Donna Cardillo, RN 

When someone receives a diagnosis of cancer or other serious illness, some friends and extended family members sometimes distance themselves from that person and his/her immediate family. The reasons may vary but some folks simply don’t know what to do or say, so they avoid contact altogether. This reaction causes pain, sorrow and a sense of alienation for the person who is ill and his or her family.

Here are 7 ways to support someone during serious illness.

1. Let them know you’re thinking about them but respect their need for space and privacy. Constant calling for updates can sometimes be intrusive and overwhelming. Some family members and people with serious illness use online programs such as caringbridge.org to keep interested parties informed.

2. Send an occasional card or e-mail just to let them know they are in your thoughts or prayers. But don’t expect to get a response or acknowledgement. Many people make contact upon first hearing the news but then fall away.

3. Consider sending a gift basket of appropriate and practical items such as relaxation or music CDs, lotion, a journal, note cards, fruit, etc.

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Myths and Facts about Concussion

By Warren J. Potash

Concussion management for all athletes has changed in recent years. This information is meant to inform. Only a doctor can diagnose and advise on each individual case. All parents, coaches, and trainers of female (and male) athletes need to become familiar with the current research, State laws, and who makes decisions about return to play. Teachers need to be aware of a concussed athlete.

“Suppose your son or daughter has just been brought home from an athletic field with a concussion, complains of being tired and wants to go to sleep. Should you let that happen”?

“There was a time when it was considered life-threatening to let someone suffering from a concussion fall asleep,” said Chris Hummel, a certified athletic trainer and clinical associate professor in Ithaca College’s Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences. “But current research shows that sleeping is actually the best thing for a concussed player. Getting physical and mental rest helps an athlete recover from a concussion. But athletes should not be left alone the first night and should be seen by the sports medicine staff the next day.”

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Good Grief Center Offers Conference on Grief, Bereavement Skills, Strategies

The Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support (GGC), a new division of Ursuline Senior Services,  is offering a one-day conference, “Business of Bereavement: Insights on Grief,” from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, at the Twentieth Century Club, 4201 Bigelow Boulevard in Pittsburgh’s Oakland section.

“This conference will help professionals and others build skills and gain a better understanding of grief and loss so they can have more meaningful conversations, provide greater support and a compassionate response to the needs of the dying and grieving among their patients, clients, employees, families and communities,” said Executive Director Anthony Turo. “It will help to promote the special awareness, needs and communications of the grieving and bereaved.”

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7 Ways to Advocate for a Hospitalized Loved One

How to become proactive and advocate for your loved one when they are hospitalized.

By Donna Cardillo, RN

When someone you care about is in the hospital, it can be stressful, confusing, even overwhelming for you as well as the patient. But by becoming proactive in the process and learning to advocate for that person, you – and they – can feel more calm, confident and in control.

Here are 7 ways to do just that.

1. Ask the Registered Nurse in charge of your loved one’s care questions such as:

  • What is their allowed physical activity (e.g. can they get out of bed, use the bathroom, walk in the hall)?
  • Do they have dietary restrictions (e.g. can they have water, food brought in from outside, is anything off limits such as salt, sugar or caffeine)?

This will help and empower you to facilitate the health-care process. Understand that this information can change from day to day, so ask daily if there have been any changes.

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