Thursday, February 26, 2009

The State of Mental Health Care

First, a disclaimer: This is only based on my own experiences and observations, although most of the people who work in mental health will probably agree with me. And this is not a reflection on my current or past employers, but about the whole mental health system in general.
This is what has been happening in my field of work in recent years. A patient gets admitted to a psychiatric unit today, gets discharged in a couple of weeks, then after a day or two, or a week or two later they are back in the psych unit for the same reason. Most of the time in the same hospital and sometimes in another hospital. So what went wrong? Was the patient not stabilized enough so he or she relapsed so quickly? More often than not, that is not the reason. Its because the system allows it. Mental health patients nowadays are usually covered by Medi-Cal or Medicare health insurance wherein the hospital is reimbursed by the state or the federal government. These patients are usually also collecting Social Security benefits due to being “permanently disabled”. I put those words under quotations because the mental disability of some of these people are highly questionable. The government has decided that they are disabled by one reason or another and its not up to the hospitals to decide if the government erred in making their decisions or not. Workers in mental health can plainly see that a lot of so called disabled patients are scamming the system. Patients go in and out of hospitals when they run out of money and basically use psych units as motels where they can live and eat for free until they get their next social security checks. Its more than just a coincidence that these people want to get discharged on or about the time they receive their social security checks.

To be continued...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Q & A

What type of injury do you have?


What does that stand for?

Posterior Tibialis Tendon Disorder

How do you describe it?

It is when the tendon in the inner ankle over-stretches and can no longer support the Achilles tendon thereby flattening the foot excessively, thereby causing the foot to overpronate or roll inwards.

Does it hurt?

Very much, whether I'm running or not.

If it hurts so much, why do you still run?

Because I love to run more than it hurts, although I am not able to go long distances any more.

Are you nuts?

Very much so. Why else would I endure so much pain if I wasn't?

Maybe you are just a masochist?

Hmm...never thought about it that way.

Postscript: Please read this article about firefighter Matt Long in, its very touching and inspiring:,7120,s6-243-297--13053-0,00.html

WII Professional Level

After a few weeks of playing WII Tennis, I have finally achieved the level pictured above (1993). It appears that the topmost level is 2000 because the game hasn't showed me an opponent beyond that. I'm so happy with my improvement. Yesterday while playing a game, there must have been a point when me and my built-in opponent exchanged about 20 strokes. That was so exhausting and sweat was dripping off my brow. I may have to wear a headband soon to keep the sweat off my eyes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

About rain and running, or not

I was planning on going out to run today but when I woke up this morning it was raining again as is has been in the past few days. My last run was on Saturday morning so I was itching to hit the roads. Alas is was not to be. So I just suited up to do my indoor exercises: stairstepper and stationary bike. In the middle of my stairstepper interval, the rain stopped and the sun came out, so I had to decide whether to continue indoors or stop and get dressed up in warm running clothes, stretch, and step out the door to the wet and slick streets. Well, with my bad right ankle, my balance isn't exactly very good these days. Remember my fall in the bathtub a few weeks ago? So I decided to continue with the indoor workout and live to run another day. I managed to do 1 minute hard / 1 minute easy intervals for 25 minutes each on the stairstepper and recumbent bike. I'm hoping tomorrow will be a better day for running. Time it was when neither a little rain or even a typhoon would keep me from running. I remember a few years ago when I ran for 8 straight days on the treadmill because of the winter storms. Not anymore. I have to make my ankle recover at least a day before I can pound the pavement again. If that is all my ankle would allow me to do, so be it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Listen to the pouring rain

We are finally getting some substantial rain in our area. There has been a drought in the past couple of years so much so that people have been encouraged to conserve water. I have been contributing my share of conserving water by taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet while brushing my teeth and not flushing the toilet after only one pee among other things. Hopefully the three storms passing through here would help alleviate the problem a little bit. Of course the downside is that I can't go out and run outside so I may be confined to using the stationary bike for a few days. The upside is that my right ankle which has been hurting a bit the past few days could use some relief from the pounding it gets from running. I used to have a treadmill until the motor finally gave out last year so that leaves out running indoors. Well thats it for the next few days: stationary biking and WII sports for activities unless you consider watching the rain fall an activity.

An addendum to my own post @ 11 A.M. I ended up doing 20 minutes each on the Stairstepper, Upright bike, and Recumbent bike for a total of one hour. Plus one hour of vigorous WII Tennis. Won 2 matches and lost 2 matches. I am now playing at the 1500 level against opponents in the 1900 to 2000 level. As I mentioned in a previous post, professional level starts at 1000. Hey, I even put my tennis shoes on this time. Normally I play with just flip-flops on my feet.

Monday, February 2, 2009

"Doubt" and Mother Superior

Last week, I watched the movie “Doubt”, with Meryl Streep playing the role of Mother Superior in a Catholic school. One of the scenes was set inside a classroom and on the chalkboard was written a lesson on diagramming a sentence. I remember those lessons from way back when I was in elementary school. I started laughing to myself because, come to think of it, learning how to diagram a sentence has absolutely no practical application in real life.
Based on my experiences as a child going to Catholic elementary and high school, and remembering what Mother Superiors used to be like, I think Meryl Streep played the role of Mother Superior so very well. At my father’s funeral a few years ago, the Mother Superior from my elementary school came to the wake to pay her respects. You wouldn’t believe the reaction I got upon seeing her. Here I was, a grown man feeling nervous all over again like I was in elementary school in the presence of this larger than life woman. Good thing I didn’t cringe or run away to avoid her. Having been in touch with former classmates from the old country and from information gathered from the internet, I learned that Sister Innocencia Saavedra is still the Mother Superior to this day. Gulp.
Meryl Streep can’t compare to the real Mother Superior even with her superb acting.

Work And The Recession

Let me tell you about my job. Last weekend all employees got a letter in the snail mail from the Hospital Administrator. In it was an unpleasant message. Everybody was getting a pay cut of 3 percent. Some managers got as much as a 25 percent pay cut, and a few other employees were also laid off. About three months ago, almost everybody got a 3 percent salary increase after our annual evaluations, so the boss giveth and the boss taketh away, plus more. You see, our health and dental insurance premiums increased, our doctor’s visit copays increased, and mail order prescription medication costs increased too. Bad news indeed, but, is there anything good that can be taken out of this? With the current recession, and the unemployment rate in California running at 9.5 percent (10.5 percent in Long Beach), I am still grateful about having a job. I hope I can ride out the current situation until things get better. If only I didn’t lose so much money in the stock market last year…
I promised myself last week that the Nintendo WII would be my last major purchase for awhile. Anybody reading this blog, please hold me accountable to that promise.
I began asking my co-workers, since we had a 3 percent salary decrease, should we also cut our work effort by a corresponding 3 percent? Maybe instead of going the extra mile to take care of our patients, we should just go the extra kilometer.