Save your sanity, time & money!

Need solutions for the medication, medical appliances and/or medical travel that you can't afford? READ EMPOWER Yourself.

A Health Information Management professional, I survived a life-threatening emergency with information that only a person of my professional experience would know. And I’m sharing it!

Friday, October 24, 2014


29/30 Tishrei, 5775

My schedule's been a bit unpredictable this week, and full of interesting happenings. Last night I was part of the security detail at a city-wide event. While patrolling the perimeter, a participant called out to me (in Hebrew) "We need an ambulance!"

Someone in the crowd had passed out while standing up and chatting with her friends. 

The pre-arranged and on-site ambulance crew took care of her, and I'm pleased to have been part of the effort. Part of the patient's problem seems to have been dehydration despite our cool weather. Be sure to sip water throughout your day, no matter the temperature. The human body needs fluids 365 days of the year!

 I'm ending the work-week with the 5th and final part of the "Talk About Your Medicines" month blogpost.

You're invited to comment about any of the blogposts. I tend to respond quickly and I look forward to interacting with you.

Here's an FYI about the sponsor of this week's blogpost series:

The American Recall Center, which promotes the Talk About Your Medicines month blogging effort, is concerned about the drug Xarelto. Click the link to learn about that medication.

OK, here's the wrap-up for this week (the highlighted text focuses on medication specifically), another excerpt from the EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge book:


Doctors appointments, insurance papers, calls to make, child care issues, nosy neighbors, relatives who just don’t "Get it," have you seen the baby, meals to prepare, pills and potions to swallow or shots to inject, omigawd we need a really BIG bank account, where are my keys, did anyone see the remote and why is the dog making noise like that?

Ever feel as if your inner PC and its memory banks just went and shut down on you? Read on and find some solutions to the problem.

Many people facing medical crises have so much to remember that their inner filing cabinets overflow. They reach a point where they wonder if they’re losing their minds! Know the feeling? You forget almost everything? Even how old you are?

As you read earlier, I experienced no less than five benign brain tumors and their surgical removal. A human head does not have much space for tolerating all that intrusion and banging around upon soft brains. People who’ve experienced brain injury often suffer memory problems. So can anyone facing any type medical crisis. Stress hurts. And medical intervention messes up the insides of your body even more! I lost some memorization ability after my treatments. I benefited from a rehabilitation program for the brain injured. Students of every age in my program learned many tips for vastly improving our memory power. Here are a few tips I'll share with you:

Keep a reasonably sized notebook or day-planner with you all the time. Record upcoming: appointments, social events, PTA meetings and other important scheduled stuff as soon as you commit to it or even hear of it.

Keep repeating a person's name in the conversation as normally as possible when you first meet.

Collect business cards when offered to you. On the back, make notes of where you met and what they look like, your 1st impressions of the person, anything remarkable they said, e.g., Redhead, skinny, laughs a lot. Met at Joe's celebration dinner

Put your stuff away in the same place all the time. NO LAZY SHORTCUTS! Shoes and clothes go in closets, not in chairs, the wrong room or atop doors.

Kitchenware gets washed, dried and immediately put away. When you're cooking, ALWAYS use a timer to alert you to shut off the heat.

Me, I keep my keys in the front door once I lock it from inside. I wear them on a cloth strap, a key strip around my neck, when I leave home. I never lose keys anymore.

Ever seen the funky new chains for holding your glasses around your neck? Use the one of your affordable choice. No need to feel like a moth-eaten relic. The new styles are super-trendy. And you won't lose your glasses.

Using the above techniques jogs the memory cells. Watch. You'll end up teaching folks who never had tumors, brain injuries or any sort of medical stress how improve THEIR memories!

The human body is full of quirky surprises. Some of them are quite interesting and not life-threatening. Follow the suggestions above and good advice from your therapists and medical team. Not every forgotten thought is a danger sign. Now, on to some techniques for straightening out that mother lode of medical and insurance paperwork…

As you make your way through your medical crisis or that of your loved one, the pile of papers with important phone numbers, addresses and other information will grow. If you fail to organize it, the mess can make a wreck of your get-well efforts.

If you're the sort of person who hasn't yet succeeded at organizing your life, I offer sweet solace with simple advice:

“Habit is habit, and not to be flung out the window but coaxed downstairs one step at a time.” – Mark Twain

Here's my Five-Step Plan to Organization: Some simple suggestions for keeping your papers and yourself organized:

STEP ONE: First: Sort out the papers that you have. Place test results in one pile, with newer results on top and older results at the bottom.

Do this for every health care provider organization and insurance company, prescription, referral, medical payment approval etc. with newer paper work on top and older results at the bottom (I highly recommend photocopying each medical payment, insurance or medical approval and prescription. Do this before a medical or insurance person takes it from you when you receive the relevant medical service or buy your medication).

Second: Separate anything written by your Primary Care Physician from the pile of health care provider organization stuff.

Set aside all papers from the hospital.

Keep all discs of MRIs, CT scans and other tests in a pile of their own.

Third: If you do not own a day-planner, buy one with ample space for recording upcoming appointments, tasks to be accomplished, questions for your doctors, and a contact information area (names, addresses, phone and Fax numbers, E-mail addresses, medical specialty). I recommend filling in each day's updates in pencil rather than in pen. Appointments change and scratch-outs make the pages harder to read. Cleanly erased obsolete notes are a big improvement over jagged lines crossing out stuff you no longer need to remember.

IMPORTANT: Select a blank page in your day planner on which you can record all the medicines you take, how often you take them and WHY. Many people forget (especially when they feel stressed) why they take some pills or potions. De-stress your life with good record keeping. And do take time to list all the questions that you want your doctors to answer. I like to note those questions in the blank space under noted appointments or on a page designated for that purpose.

Decide where it will be smartest for you to record new symptoms that you want to discuss with medical professionals. That way, you won't slap your head and ask out loud to nobody in particular "Oh #@@!, why didn't I bring that up during my appointment with Dr. So and So?"

Your preparations can improve the chances that you will select the right doctor to treat you. You will be prepared to ask relevant questions. Focused discussions will reveal if a particular medical professional A) treats your concerns seriously and 2) has the expertise to deal with your medical situation.

Have you enjoyed this series of informative blogposts?

Imagine what the rest of the book is like, as it addresses moods, self-esteem, packing for hospital stays, how to deal with rude medical professionals, in-laws and outlaws.

Click the title in this sentence, or the book cover above, to buy the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism. 

Feel better again, even if you have an on-going medical or mental health issue.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why Caregivrs NEED to Close their Mouths - Part 4 of Talk About Your Medicines month


28 Tishrei, 5775

The first month of the new Jewish year is almost over. Thousands of people worldwide resolved to improve their mindsets, behaviors and more.

More people will be doing that as January approaches!

But gosh it's hard to keep up the momentum, over time. So, I'll share a charming idea with you. It's the motto of one of my friends, and she's rather spectacular in her dealings with the wider world.

Be the type of person you want to meet.

Nice, huh?

As you work on bettering your very self, here are some tips for protecting yourself and the person you're caring for, from accidental medical harm, Part 4 of this week's Talk About Your Medicines month series (yes, I highlighted text about medication again so you can locate it easily):

Listen to the Person Before You - Lessons for Caregivers

I'm going to address a troubling problem for ill people: rude and cruel caregivers who pay little, if any, attention to the patient’s remarks. I've witnessed this maddening glitch first-hand as a witness to, and as the victim of, someone's failure to listen.

Many caregivers insist that they are noble, correct and in charge when caring for patients be they friends, relatives or clients. HOWEVER... here's how the conversations between some caregivers and the people they're allegedly caring for tend to go (fill in the blanks as appropriate.):

"I know what you need..."

"I want to..."

"Stop talking. Listen to me; I know what's best for you..."

"I'm going to... Now just stop that and let me..."

"I don't want to hear you say 'I can't.' Would you just let me...?"

Did you hear the sick person above the din? Me neither. And far too often that silence leads to a deteriorating patient who's already ill, and an increasingly strained relationship.

The name of the problem is "Inflated Ego." Or what is sometimes called "I Disease." The caregiver is bossing around the ill person, issuing this barrage of "I, I, I, I," messages while genuine medical needs go unmet. This is not a healthy situation. So, I'm providing a reality alert: The caregiver is NOT the most important person in this scene. The patient is the VIP (Very Important Person) here!

Here's the information that's being drowned out, along with the despairing person who needs medical help:

"That's the wrong medication/food you're giving me."

"You're hurting me when you move me around so hard. I'm not a rock."

"You're still holding the wrong medication/food."

"The doctor said not to do it like that. You're supposed to read the directions."

"You bet I'm upset! Please stop talking/shouting/screaming over me and listen. Just listen!"


Ready to close your mouths and find out how to solve the problem? Great! Hold that pose while the ill person in your care expresses their concerns. Next, wait for him or her to ask you to explain what you heard and understood. Only then may you speak. Get it? Conversation is an interactive activity.

When you enter the ill person's room, do not start talking. Smile. Observe the scene: does the ill person seem tired/rested/content/upset/warm/cold/in or out of pain?

Ask the patient these questions, one at a time: "How are you?" and "Did anything change since we last spoke?" "Please tell me if you want something." Then LISTEN without interrupting as the person responds to you, one question at a time.

Do not treat sick people as fools. Do not threaten them. Do not speak in a condescending manner to people who are sick. You might be dealing with neurological or physiological changes that the patient(s) cannot control. This is not a matter of patient willpower, this is a medical reality. You might not realize the level of physical or emotional pain you're unnecessarily causing to that person. You just might damage someone's already fragile health by using the wrong medicine, medical appliance or food item, let alone the wrong attitude.

Ordering ill people to "Snap out of it! Stop acting sad and sick" is cruel. Behave respectfully or have someone else perform the personal care. Your change in behavior just might improve someone's quality of life. Prevent unwarranted suffering. Remember: communication is supposed to be fair and productive. Good communication ends in relief.

One more item on this sensitive subject: study the sick person's behavior and body when hired help is providing medical care. Elder abuse and other abuses in the medical world exist. Prevent and end them by practicing good sense. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart.

Here’s a handy list of caregiver tips, developed from my personal experience and that of some of my Self-Help Coaching clients:
·         Make a chart of all medications used by the loved one you’re helping. Tactfully help him or her to remember to take those medicines.
·         Ask everyone who enters the patient’s room if they have washed their hands. "No" and silence are NOT acceptable responses.
·         Ask nurses to read drug orders out loud and match them to the patient’s arm bracelet BEFORE giving something to the patient.
·         Bring easily portable stuff on visits: a deck of cards, iPODs or other devices for playing music, or something else that the patient enjoys. Coax the patient to use his or her brain.
·         Keep a little notebook with your observations so you can discuss your concerns with medical staff, family and friends in a productive NOT GOSSIPY manner. Write the notes discreetly. Trust me, sick people notice things. And we tend to be easily upset.
·         NEVER give a patient medication without proper supervision.
·         Don’t help the patient in and out of bed unless the medical staff trained you to do this safely.
·         Help the sick person to escape the confines of being ill. A car ride, a day in the park or gentle beach, perhaps a shopping center with comfortable seating areas, a family event, are just some ideas for trips. Cabin fever can slow down recovery and coping processes. Changes in scenery can work wonders.
·         Cheerfully help with housework: cooking, cleaning, child care, lawn care, etc. Find out if meals can be safely made by other people.
·         Allow the person to speak about their medical/emotional crisis. The release leads to perspective, emotional relief and healing. In mental circles, this is called "venting" and wow it's a great help!
·         Chat with the patient about life. Your work, news headlines, funny incidents, something other than illness.
·         Forgive the person for saying or doing something unusual. Some medications affect behavior and memory, let alone body functions. Thinking clearly might be a struggle for someone coming out of anesthesia or taking medications. The challenging medical situation is a hard thing to manage on its own.
·         Bite your lips! Don’t focus on what your loved one can or cannot do. Infantilizing a person facing a medical or emotional crisis is cruel and harmful. DO FOCUS on what the person can do and intends to do. Meeting goals, and trying to do so, is strengthening in many ways.
·         Assist the person in your care when they’re taking medication. Wipe lips as necessary, and with a gentle touch. Remember also, that eyesight might be affected. He or she I might not be able to read the small print on the bottle.
·         Be gracious about sleeping problems. A person facing illness could have difficulty sleeping. Gently and firmly explore what will help the person to relax, to enjoy restful, restorative sleep.
·         Empower the patient. Let him or her make choices, use the television remote and anything else they’d like to do within reason. Offer to help the person to create a list of goals on a paper or a poster-board they can more easily read. Check off accomplishments and celebrate them.
·         Have patience. Be respectful. Know that you cannot possibly understand the illness experience from the patient’s perspective. Some things are hard to convey. Practice a compassionate pose on your facial muscles. Use it often. 

Yes, it's all about "Be the type of person you want to meet."

By the way, have you noticed that The American Recall Center, which promotes the Talk About Your Medicines month blogging effort, is concerned about the drug Xarelto, "... a medication used to prevent stroke and blood clots that has recently shown to cause internal bleeding?"

Click the title at the end of this sentence to buy the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge.  

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism. 

Fill your future, and everyone's, with more compassion. And better manners.


Medication Safety: Part 3 of "Talk About Your Medicines" month


27 Tishrei, 5775

Please let me know your thoughts about the series of medicinal posts this week.

Here's Part 3. Specfic references to medication are highlighted in purple so you can find them fast:

Take a Breath and Review Some Important Points

You've been doing some hard work. I congratulate you for the effort you've invested in saving a precious life. Now I ask that you take a deep breath. It will clear your mind a bit, I hope, and let you review some important points as well as you can.

Among the positive actions you and I are focusing on is protection of your or your loved one's interests. You are learning to guard your physical, emotional and spiritual health or that of your loved one as you make your way past a medical diagnosis and crisis situation.

The most important actions that you must take to preserve your body and mind are threefold:

1.   To do whatever makes you healthier than you are now.

2.   To maintain the most optimal health you can have at any point in time during your medical adventure.

3.   To do what you can to prevent your situation from becoming worse.

At each juncture in this workbook, I invite you to create or to use your own initiatives. Empowerment is the complete opposite of a crisis situation. You can take as much control as humanly available to you in this medical crisis. You will manage it better with every try.

Three Easy-to-remember Things You Can Do to Preserve Your Health:

One: Trust your instincts. Your gut knows what is right and wrong for you.

Two: Follow up all doctor visits with questions if you have any and get all test results in writing. Knowledge equals decision-making ability.

Three: YOU ARE YOUR OWN BEST ADVOCATE. It also doesn't hurt to have someone in your corner. If you are too shy to ask questions or to challenge medical conclusions, an informed, assertive friend or relative can get the job done for you. Be the Chief Executive Officer of your life and delegate responsibility within reason.

The words that follow are many, but they present an important point for you the reader, your loved ones plus the medical staff addressing your medical issues:

When a person already taking medication(s) is admitted to a hospital or outpatient clinic, they usually receive new medications or changes are made to the medication they've been taking all along. That can present some serious health problems for people with drug sensitivities. They might become sicker or their medical problem will not be adequately addressed while they're in the hospital or clinic.

Hospital-based staff members are not mind-readers. Worse, they tend to be crushed by heavy schedules and excessive responsibilities. They can't easily access every - or any - patients' complete medication lists. Communication lines might falter or not even attempted. Medical professionals down the line aren't always able to know of recent medication changes. As a result, the new medication regimen being prescribed during the hospital or clinic stay, then at the time of discharge could 1) Omit necessary medications, 2) Add too many drugs treating the same problem, 3) Cause physical harm or 4) Hold incorrect dosages that simply do not help the patient.

Sometimes the situation happens in front of you the patient as you scream, beg and plead in vain for someone to pay attention and to prescribe the medication you need versus the stuff they want to ply on you.

The patient and the medical staff share a problem called "A need for medication reconciliation." How that is to be accomplished is one serious matter. I've resolved it live on the spot for a few people.

If you are facing the problem, you need to alert all medical personnel of the issues affecting your health. But what if relevant people aren't paying attention to you the patient, or to your loved ones demanding better care? See the LISTEN to the Person Before You: Lessons for Caregivers section in this book. You can print it out, along with this page, and give copies to nursing supervisors, the head of the medical department treating you and anyone else you deem appropriate. 

Here are a few more suggestions: Print out the "Don't Tell Me You 'Understand'" poem on page 7 and hang it over your hospital bed. Practice more patient-protecting ideas. Delegate authority and have loved ones or friend present facts to relevant medical personnel. Learn how to successfully advocate for yourself in dire medical straits. Practice until you get it right.
If the medical personnel before you are rude (be sure that you remain polite 24/7!), here are a few practical suggestions for ending accusations, sarcasm and other negative things hampering good communications:

Respond to a provocative, perhaps false or misleading statement by saying “That's interesting… tell me more.” If things do not improve, ask “Why would you say that?” or “Why would you ask that?” and “Why would you do that?” If at any point you’ve heard inappropriate remarks made to or about you, a neutral-sounding “Oh” just might quell the nastiness coming your way.
Seek out a hospital social worker or ombudsman/ombudswoman if necessary. It’s their job to mediate difficulties and to resolve them to the patient’s satisfaction.

One more thing: Know why you take prescriptions medications. Here are some questions to ask your doctors and nurses when they give or prescribe medication (cremes, pills, powders and all kinds of potions) to you:

WHAT is this medication for and what does it do?
HOW should I use it and what can happen if I don’t use this medication?
WHEN/How soon should I expect this medication to work for me?
WHAT should I do if I have a problem with this medication?
Can I safely take this medication with all my other medications and the foods I eat? Even with my vitamins?

The reason is this: You need information so that you keep making safe decisions with your healthcare. You might know of a valid personal reason for not using a specific medication (drug sensitivities, expenses involved etc.). Alert your medical team members of your concerns and ask all the questions you wish until you're sure you know why you have to use a specific drug, and how to use it safely. Take notes so you can remember necessary information. Feeling rushed, scared, tired or embarrassed can make you forgetful. So can the average day filled with other details.

Avoid harming yourself due to mistakes that can be avoided.Some medications should be used on empty stomachs, others only with meals. Some creams and oils stain clothing or skin. Perhaps you should not expose yourself to sunshine while using specific drugs. Drowsiness might make using certain machines (cars, trucks) dangerous. Be aware of what is involved. Get the facts straight and take notes so you can remember necessary information. Normal people tend to forget details. Notes help you to remember them.

You need realistic expectations of your medical treatments. Know up front if you must be patient for specific effects to occur. Side effects can be surprising but not dangerous. Some can kill. Be alert to the need to reach an emergency room if your medicine makes you worse off than before. Take notes so you can remember necessary information

Some foods, such as dairy items, can limit the effects of specific drugs. Vitamin supplements might not be compatible with certain drugs. Clarify the dietary guidelines. Take notes on answers to all your questions. As a matter of fact, list all your medications in a handy notebook you can study in once glance. That can save you time, money, fear and heartache.

Click on the title at the end of this sentence, or the book cover above, to buy the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism. 

Figure out what you need to do to promote your health.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

“Talk About Your Medicines” month - Part 2!


26 Tishrei, 5775

As promised, Part 2 (I highlighted the part about medicine if you want to focus on it fast):


It is boring to get better. I mean it. Doctors, friends, family and your conscience will tell you (repeatedly) to go at a slow pace, not to overdo things, to take it easy and ... oh, anything you can think of that means dull, uninteresting and crawling up the walls because you have nothing fun or worthwhile to do. And how much fun can it be to count the dust bunnies under your bed or spider webs on the ceiling, or to wait for your next enema or chemo session?

The good news is that the advice is meant to be good for you. Your body is adjusting to a new and stressful reality with its medical challenge or crisis.

Frustration and pain are part of the picture, alright. Waiting for life to get better is maddening. So is waiting for doctors to keep their appointments or for traffic to speed up.  Yearning to be able to go outside and to live your life another way is a BIG frustration. Being stuck indoors is not what many songs are made of. You can find some nifty solutions to boredom below. They’re effective. Psychotherapists kid with me about how their patients don’t call so much after they read this section.

Even though your brain thinks as it always has, your body is not being what is used to be. And when a medically challenged person makes too much demand of a weakened body, then the only defense your poor physique has is to arrest you! Yep, your muscles, bones, blood levels, energy waves and everything else will be so desperate for a chance to heal, you task driver you, that the whole system will up and quit so it can TAKE A REST!

Somebody else will have to do the laundry, drive the car pool, meet a deadline or mow the lawn. Your disappointment is the size of Texas, and we'll deal with that in a bit. First, let's focus on a recess from your busy schedule.

Take a BIG breath, let it out slowly and repeat that exercise until you feel the muscles in your neck, back, stomach, and legs relax. Do some creative visualization if that helps: imagine that you are in a deck chair on a softly rocking cruise ship, sunning yourself on a lovely beach or surrendering to a cozy hammock with a good book, some great music and the snack of your dreams.

Purposely remember how much money people happily pay to be able to do these things on vacation. Then sneak a grin. Smile because you know you are acting like a vacationing hotshot as you select the CDs, tapes and radio stations you're going to listen to as you ease yourself into a dreamy, healing mood in an easy chair, bed or divan/sofa. Gather some good books or some tapes with readings of good books. Famous actors and other mellifluous readers make them for your pleasure. Comedians make recordings of their funniest material on DVD, CD or tape (tape is becoming antique, but if you can get celluloid recordings and play them, by all means do so!).

Give your maxed out muscles and bones something to laugh about when you play these materials for your inner alternative healer. Think of the real life hero in the biography Tuesdays with Morrie. Morrie loved his new, sedentary life and his admiring visitors so much that people flocked to his side though he could no longer teach sociology or do anything to help himself. He accepted massages, assistance with toileting, a good joke and so much more because he gave himself permission to enjoy his new lifestyle. He loved the love lavished on him even though he preferred to have been up and about. You can make the same choice: choose to accept the state of affairs you're in, study the blessings around you and welcome them to your life. When you mold a flexible reality around you, your mind and body will be able to cope in predictable and surprising ways. The delight of it all will ease whatever boredom remains, if any remains, now that you are socializing, intellectualizing, laughing and breathing more easily than before.

Being sick, making a recovery or coping as best you can is not entirely up to surgery, medicine and doctor appointments. Much of it is up to your attitude. Create a pleasant one by filling the time-slots of your post-diagnosis life with a new form of fulfilling things to do.

This workbook is one of the results of my post-operative recovery period. Trust me, as a reporter, novelist and teacher, I found slow, bed-bound and painful physical recovery to be draining my brain cells very dramatically. My cure for the problem was to dictate notes when I could not see, to type when I could see, and to chuckle whenever someone noticed my typos due to my double vision. The productive distraction lowered my pain levels so much I forgot to take painkillers and did not realize it for a while!

And when those inevitable times come and you absolutely must have a nap or rest quietly as you look around you, think over this adorably comforting thought:

"Think what a better world it would be if we all,
the whole world, had cookies and milk about three
o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our
blankets for a nap."

-Robert Fulghum, American author

Click on the title to buy the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge.  

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism. 

Feeling better, yet?

Be sure to read this TAYM blogpost, too.
It can protect the health of anyone 
taking the drug addressed in the message.


Monday, October 20, 2014

It's Talk About Your Medicines Month!


27 Tishrei, 5775

The new year has been filled with blessings and heartaches. Normal life. 

The best way to deal with pain is to focus on things that improve your quality of life.

On that topic, the American Recall Center (see the ARC Facebook page) contacted me, to request that I join selected bloggers "... to bring light to a topic that is not often talked about, medication safety."

I've chosen selections from the the EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge book about the misery of taking medications, the "Why ME?" conundrum, and suggestions for improving compliance with taking prescribed medications. 

Keep coming back to this blog for the 5-day series of posts coming up. 

Here's Part 1:

It’s Hard to Cope

The pressure is on. We want to be heroes at saving our own lives, or somebody else wants us to be heroic. Sometimes we feel like quitting this scary situation. As the mental pressure builds, our minds sort of explode. We might start asking "WHY? Why is this happening to me?"

We don't ask that question because we necessarily want an answer. I suspect that what the question is really about is this: We're accusing GOD of having made a mistake- a BIG mistake. We don't believe we deserve the troubles, tribulations and pain that we're in. I'll return to this line of thought in a bit.

Not knowing the answer to "WHY?" can make a suffering person feel infuriated. That can lead to a sense of guilt. We're not supposed to be angry with GOD; we're supposed to accept whatever He gives to us. Acceptance is a process. A normal person needs time to come to grips with their medical crisis. You are normal. You need that time, too. You're normal if you're ready to move on from the pointless speculation and still feel upset. It means you have courage, the ability to take sound action despite your conflicting and/or confusing emotions.

Let's examine the "Why ME?" question a little more. My hunch is that when people ask "Why ME?" they really want to ask, "How can I get out of this situation?" My personal approach is that I start talking to HaShem (GOD) as if I were talking to Him on the phone. I state my case. I review the facts of my history. I've been basically good. I've messed up here and there. I don't understand how to relate to my suffering. I admit that we mortals are supposed to accept whatever HaShem (GOD) gives us and I tell Him that I'm working on that acceptance. I know that each setback is an opportunity to exercise my strengths and to improve on them. I focus on the reality that my prayers are part of my relationship with GOD. I list the things for which I'm grateful, and tell Him so. And I tell Him what I want to happen to me.

Then I work on accepting the situation as it is. At other times I visualize desired improvements. The bonus is that during the whole painful adventure, I sometimes gain insights into behaviors and attitudes that aren’t serving me well. Some of them, I realize, are counterproductive. So I set goals for changing myself for the better. It tends to be a plan that works. You might have had similar experiences. In any case, focus on what’s not serving your interests, explore ideas for productive changes you need to make, and nurture those changes along.

What if you're a person who feels so much guilt about what you did or did not do in life? What if you're afraid that you DESERVE this medical crisis?

And how can you deal with the searing pain of people who callously respond to your questions with trite clich├ęs such as “Why is a crooked letter (and hence a forbidden question),” or “We can never know ‘why’”?
I have two user-friendly responses to those questions:

1.   You need to sort the issues out with a friend, loved one, effective therapist or sensible clergyman/woman. Then you can use the above exercise.

2.   GOD knows we all have misery in our memories. GOD is a realist. Our spiritual heroism comes from grappling with the memories and going forward with/despite/because of and in spite of them (fill in the word or phrase you prefer to use).

Here’s a caveat to keep in mind with some critics who lack insight or sympathy with your situation (this is not a license to wallow in self-pity!): Remind yourself (perhaps your critic, too) that their condescending comments are fueled by a one-upsmanship point of view. They are not appropriate responses to someone experiencing shock and misery. The critic is coming from a position of comfort, failing to empathize, to see life from your point of view.

HaShem (GOD) does not endanger anyone struggling to become a better person with Double Jeopardy. Once we make focused efforts to stop our troublesome behavior (granted, it might take a few tries to succeed), He then credits us with the efforts and ultimately with our successes. We DO NOT get punished for past misdeeds once our character improvement effort is accepted. We are further appreciated for the effort we invested in ridding ourselves of character defects. Forgiven is forgiven, no two ways about it. One road to self-improvement is to ask “Why me?” It works for people genuinely interested in self-improvement, insight and inner peace. Think of the concept that “I’m not what happened to me, I am what and who I choose to become.”

The “Why me” mindset is most definitely not a legitimate tool for manipulators sucking unwarranted sympathy from other people. Being well-adjusted, even happy - no matter what went on in your life - is a personal matter. You need to do your inner work to make your own life better. It is not everyone else’s job. They have their own lives to live.

Still grappling with the concept of a GOD Who’d “do this" to you? I understand. Life is one lo-o-o-n-g lesson in humility. Acceptance is a process amidst uncertainty. There’s no One Size Fits All way to help all of humanity to love GOD with the individual medical or other crises each of us faces. Here’s my suggestion for resolving the dilemma one person at a time: Consider the fact that GOD created the concept of love.

He/She (Hebrew prayers and Jewish texts describe GOD/HaShem in both masculine and feminine pronouns) knows more about the entire scope of love than we do. We mortals only have a tiny peephole into the cosmos, let alone into our hearts or someone else’s. Our comprehension of reality is therefore limited.

You know that parents must permit painful injections into beloved little children: it’s a means of preventing deadly diseases. The tykes wail and scream bloody murder, but doctors and parents/guardians are heroes for facilitating necessary medical care despite the hot tears and juvenile efforts to run away from the scene. Eventually those recipients of shots or terrible-tasting medicines reconcile themselves with the necessity of discomfort to ward off death or disease. We humans submit to surgery and other uncomfortable treatments in order to minimize suffering. We realize that the medical professionals are not cruel for cutting into us or for filling us with chemicals. They are helping us, though our pain and emotional turmoil are part of that helping process. Doctors suffer emotional torment, too. Their goal is not their pain and suffering or ours; it’s the effort to promote healing and to minimize suffering. Medical professionals know that though they’re hurting you, the medical process can help you. GOD works the same way, to a more spiritual degree.

When you go to your ultimate reward and see that Instant Replay of Your Life video we keep hearing about, the one that the Heavenly Court plays after we arrive for Judgment Day, you WILL NOT SEE your misdeeds on screen. GOD forgives you completely. Your enduring concern touches Him deeply and your commitment to being good is a great accomplishment. You did the best you could under your specific circumstances. He will NOT hold the past against you. Why? Because you created a beautiful future with goodness-oriented life.

Click on the book cover above, or on the title at the end of this sentence, to buy the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge.  

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism. 

Feel the pain, and go forward anyway.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Educate Yourself about Ebola with Facts, not Fiction


18 Tishrei, 5775

Headlines and conversations about Ebola aka Hemorrhagic Fever are scary, and increasingly often.

Rumor-mongers are not improving matters. I suggest that you take their comments with skepticism.

Here are four sensible ways to cope with your concerns about Ebola/Hemorrhagic Fever:

  1. Educate yourself with facts about the Ebola scare, via the World Health Organization Ebola Fact Sheet.
  2. Read the Centers for Disease Control (though some people wonder if Ebola is under any sort of control) fact sheet at Ebola Virus Disease/Hemorrhagic Fever Updates.
  3. Ask your trusted medical professionals about sensible ways to protect yourself and loved ones, and how to behave overall during this frightening time. 
  4. Bolster your efforts with prayers and decent behavior. They can keep you calm. Calmness can help you overall. 

 UPDATE: See WHO's Risk Assessment for Ebola and Arutz 7's "Problematic Questions (second half of the article)".

Epidemiologist Dr David  Dausey declares, in the Washington Post, "Stop the Flights Now."

NEWER UPDATE: Can Protalix Pharmaceuticals produce the CURE for Ebola?

Need to cheer up over some sort of medical, mental or emotional health issue? 

Want to know which worldwide organizations are willing to pay part or all of your specific medical bills?

You need to read the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge.  

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism. 

Fight ignorance with facts.


Monday, October 6, 2014

The Gratitude Challenge: How Happiness can be Achieved!


12 Tishrei

Whew! The 3-weeks-long High Holiday season takes up lots of energy on the Jewish calendar and in personal lives.

I fasted easily on Yom Kipur as usual, and felt more relaxed than I have in decades. Many important personal issues and perspectives are in satisfying order. 

But I prayed hard for many soothing miracles to embrace the earth. What with the Ebola, enterovirus plus other health and safety scares in the headlines, we mortals need those blessings.

Holidays are too often filled with anxiety, anger, misery; Inner and outer pain of any sort. Sometimes the worst comes out in angry, sad or vengeful people just when you want to feel content, safe and secure.

Maybe this can help you to deal with all that:

A real life friend tagged me for The Gratitude Challenge. It's a bit of a game in which a person is asked to name 3 things for which they're grateful, several days in a row.

My Gratitude Challenge schedule is going to be briefer than most due to the High Holiday season (Sukkot begins tomorrow night). 

But some of my thoughts illustrate how, and that, I persevered past some deeply upsetting and painful episodes in my life. I'm sharing a few of thoughts below.

Perhaps they'll help you, too. Please let me know.

I've accepted a Gratitude Challenge (3X daily for 5 days - 2 days due to the Jewish holiday season) though I have a policy of not accepting ANY challenges. PUH-LEEZ don't challenge me with anything, fb friends. This exception to my rule is onl ybecause I have so much to be thankful for that I'm kinda bursting at the seams to let the public know about the bounty.
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Follow the conversation (join it, please!) until tomorrow.

You can even accept the Gratitude Challenge I gave to my Facebook friends/readers.

Grow your sense of gratitude. Read "Refining Silver" in the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge. It can rev up your emotional life.

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism. 

Feel happier, one step at a time. It's a process, not an immediate commodity.