Answers to More Questions

Family physician prescribe lithium Medicaid


        Family physicians should not be prescribing lithium.  It can be a very helpful drug but it is tricky to use and requires proper monitoring. Most psychiatrists do not properly monitor lithium, so it is unimaginable that a family physician would know what needs to be done.

        If you are drinking a lot and peeing a lot then you need to stop the lithium immediately:  you are experiencing a kidney disease called nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.  If you stop the lithium in time then you can make a complete spontaneous recovery.  If, like me, you have a terrible physician and follow her orders then you will end up with permanent kidney damage and you get to die of renal failure.

        An informed patient is a healthy patient.  Know what you need to do to protect yourself from bad medicine and bad doctors.

        To the best of my knowledge, lithium is not used for the treatment of anything except bipolar disorder.  The proper drug treatment for bipolar disorder is a mood stabilizer and a mood elevator.  Mood elevators are antidepressants.  Mood stabilizers are lithium, Depakote, Neurontin and a couple others.  Your family physician probably doesn’t know that.  Lithium should be the drug of last resort, not the first choice, because doctors don’t manage it properly.

        Medicaid will pay for it.

My mother is emotionally abusive to my father, brother and me.  She stole his money and placed him in . . .

        If you, your brother or your father has a psychiatric diagnosis, then contact your local Legal Aid office.  Ask to speak to the PAMI attorney—that’s Protection and Advocacy for the Mentally Ill.  In other words, if she’s made you nuts then get legal help.  Legal Aid was set up by Congress to provide limited legal services for poor people.   Legal Aid also will help you if you are the victim of family violence even if you’re not poor.

        Go on-line, or call information or your local Bar Association to get the number of your nearest Legal Aid office—and do it right now.  Abuse is terribly damaging to its victims, and you should have protection.  You don’t want a doctor, social worker, or police officer:  you want a lawyer.  Let the lawyer deal with the doctor, social worker and police officer.  Get legal help right away.

Can elderly disabled be transported state to state?

Of course they can.  What is the nature of the disability?  Is it a mobility disability or something else (sight, hearing, etc.)?

Medical transportation is hideously expensive but it has the capability to transport via stretcher or wheelchair.  Some interstate bus lines have the capacity to carry wheelchairs.  Manual wheelchairs can be folded up and put in cars, buses, trains and planes.

        Do not be confused by the so-called “portable” power wheelchairs.  They’re about as portable as your kid leaving for college.  A power wheelchair weighs about 250 lbs. and is basically broken down into two pieces.  It takes at least one strong man with a tool kit to reassemble a portable wheelchair.  If you are so wrecked that you need to use a power wheelchair then you also are so wrecked that you can’t port it yourself.

        Elderly is irrelevant.  Age is not a factor in travel; disability is.  Elderly people are more apt to be disabled than younger people but the issue is one of disability, not age.

        “State to state” suggests that this may not be an issue of physical capacity but of legal jurisdiction and who’s going to pay.  I don’t know what the options are with private insurance, but with Medicaid you would have to allow about two months before travel to get all the necessary paperwork done, and then Medicaid will only transport you out of state for medical care.

        Of course, money solves all transportation problems.  Hire a limo.  If you’ve got the money then you can always find somebody who’ll do the job.  Start with “medical transport” in the yellow pages or on-line. 

How can I convince an elderly person to go to the hospital?

        Why would you want to?

You probably just want somebody else to take the responsibility that you don’t want.  Well, tough noogies.  Hospitals don’t exist to take you off the hook.  You do not have the moral right to hospitalize someone against his or her will.  Nor do you have the right to bend their will to your liking.  If a person doesn’t want treatment, they have the right to refuse it.

Why should an elderly person go to the hospital?  That person has lived long and knows what s/he wants to do.  If s/he doesn’t want to go the hospital then let them stay home.  Hospitals—particularly psychiatric hospitals (which is the line your question came in on)—are terrible places that are worse than jails.  They are not good for people.

If hospitals were good places then people would go voluntarily.  Nobody ever argued about going to the Plaza Hotel.

        You do not have the moral responsibility to take care of someone who is being irresponsible.  Make sure the person has safe housing, the heat is turned on and paid for, and deliver groceries on a regular basis.  Clearly explain the probable sequence of events if the person doesn’t go to the hospital, for example, “If you don’t get that wound healed, you may get gangrene in your foot,” then step back.  If the person cannot take care of him/herself, then he/she has to face up to that or die.  It’s a choice.  S/he’s going to die anyway, just maybe a little bit sooner than you think is right.  It’s not your choice.

        My neighbor was an alcoholic, had cancer and wanted to die at home.  The building manager called a social worker who called the cops who sat outside the fellow’s apartment all day waiting for the judge to sign an involuntary commitment order so they could handcuff him and take him to the hospital.  The judge, bless his heart, refused to sign.  The man died at home three days later.

        Freedom means you choose if you want to go the hospital or not.  Hospitals are optional, not mandatory, and they exist to provide medical treatment, not to solve social problems.


About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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