Advocate: A Difficult Day on the Health Quest

Well, if yesterday made one thing apparent… it’s that sometimes answers lead to bigger questions.

And questions often shake our foundations.

I have had an appointment every day this week before work. In the last ten days or so, I have seen my therapist, my personal trainer, my chiropractor (who has a background in physical therapy) and my primary care doctor and one of his new residents.

Yesterday was the latter.

This recounts why I was seeing my doctor. Later in this post, some of this info may be pertinent.

My heart was genuinely excited for the visit as I’ve made a lot of positive health habit changes and my primary care physician and I have a great relationship. Normally my care is a discussion and we work together to resolve my issues.

Since Covid, the practice has seemed much less organized and attentive as usual. They also recently took on some family practice medical residents. I waited in the exam room for 75 minutes.

I went into my phone to record my blood pressure on iHealth. And that’s when I noticed— iHealth has been recording my double support time and my walk asymmetry for a year. (This morning I compared my walking and balance statistics with my teenager’s and her walk is more screwed up that mine! My walk is consistent and consistently “off” but hers gets severely skewed every time she gets plantar warts. Turns out my neighbor has more issues in this area than I do, too.)

So, at 12:15 pm — as I am lusting for a glass of water and breakfast, I had nothing yet but a gargle of purple listerine— the resident enters the room and apologizes for the tardiness. I told her I was about to order GrubHub out of fear they forgot me.

I told her everything about me (as she had never met me before) and relayed that the doctor wanted to see me. I also mentioned that muscle relaxers might be a better fit to ease my periodic pain than ibuprofen or acetaminophen because it might be more due to the stress on my joints and the tightness of my muscles as a side effect of the cerebral palsy.

Now, remember, my anemia started more than 12 years ago with work stress, gaining weight and heavy menstrual bleeding. And I came to my current doctor because my former one refused to look into the source of my anemia. And that doctor made me cry. And I had started having panic attacks.

Now I am back in a similar symptom situation but I have better mental health and a way better doctor.

The resident goes and gets my doctor. I propose waiting several months to see if the anemia improves with the mesures I am pursuing now. He is worried about polyps in my colon. We agreed I will use some stool cards for a home test.

I didn’t feel heard about my request to find solutions for my body pain because then we discussed my mental health.

And he wanted me to visit their new staff psychiatrist to rule out any issues (like bipolar 2) that might require a mood stabilizer.

Now I complete understand why his said this: I had mentioned some dramatic temper incidents previous to some of my recent lifestyle changes, I had asked to restart the prescription for a very low dose of lexapro that had been prescribed for high blood pressure to see if it would even out some premenstrual mood swings, and I had mentioned some highs and lows in the past.

But I also said the isolation of the pandemic gave me the space I needed to deal with some heavy duty stress, and that good things were developing for me and I felt like this was one of the great years in my life. I talked about having rid myself of anxiety and being able to look back at that former period of my life with understanding of myself and pride. And that my therapist and I were finally looking at my childhood trauma as I scored 6/7 on the ACE test.

And he knows I have been in therapy for more than a decade. And that my therapist recommended him. Shouldn’t he let my therapist request that type of referral?

So I felt betrayed and it reintroduced feelings of anxiety and insecurity, not being sure if my medical professional was really paying attention to me and what I was saying. I had just mentioned delving into childhood trauma for the first time in my life. I am having other health issues that I need to address. So now, in my opinion, is not the time for questioning my brain chemistry.

So we agreed to discuss my anemia and my psychological state with my gynecologist (whom I see Monday) and my therapist and revisit the issue when I return in three months to discuss the follow up blood work.

This left me shaken and wanting to scream, “Stay in your lane.” I went to the doctor because he asked me to come discuss my anemia— how did a shrink come into play?

I often think this is how people get misdiagnosed, not by bad doctors, but by doctors trying to rule everything out and in the process convincing patients they need different help that they actually need. Like when people see a commercial for medicine and later “ask your doctor if (this expensive drug) is right for you.”

I emailed my therapist from my phone as soon as I got into my car. By 3:30 pm, he said he disagreed with this assessment— that I should be screened by a psychiatrist— but that we would discuss. Honestly, he is the only person I would trust with a decision like that. We all need to build teams we can trust. And this is how I advocate for myself.

When I got home, around 2 p.m., I finally had my morning coffee and made this— what I would call my “summer vegan sandwich,” courtesy of my stress shopping last week and a Hungryroot delivery. (See the teenager unboxing here.) Lightlife bacon tempeh, Hungryroot lemon tahini, romaine, deli pickle on 12-grain bread.

I didn’t take proper care of the animals (loosing almost four hours of my day to a doctor’s appointment that normally takes one hour).

I QCed 123 fixes, which is far better than the 116 the night prior. When my favorite Stitch Fix supervisor said hello, she asked how I was, I said okay. She looked at me askance and said, “only okay?”

She told me if I needed anything or if there was anything she could do to let her know. But she can’t fix the emotions in my head. So I thanked her and went back to some of my standbys— showtunes!

I listened to the soundtrack of Avenue Q as we used to in the makeshift temporary newsroom of Lehigh Valley News Group, and I can still remember one of my favorite young editors with her big headphones on, fighting her stress and her insecurities with a dose of “What do you do with a B.A. in English/It sucks to be me.”

Apparently this is the whole musical on YouTube. Check it out.

And if you just want the song… Here you go.

Speaking of the newspaper days, I’ve reached out to some Chronicle colleagues for help with promoting the FURR Pop Up Cat Café August 15. The man who hired me for that newspaper (the boss of my best boss ever) mentioned that my daughter has grown up in the blink of an eye (which he has seen thanks to Facebook).

And that brought back great memories as I think the teenager was the only baby born to a staff member during the run of those newspapers. I realized I was pregnant while planning a political debate sponsored by the newspaper in Phillipsburg, N.J.

So yesterday was hard, and I managed to avoid slipping into those old panic-prone mentalities. I am drained today but luckily only have a four hour shift.

Aspire featured on Lehigh Valley with Love

I’m very excited to announce that my dear friend and colleague, Darnell Davis, from Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., “appeared” on George Wacker’s Lehigh Valley with Love.

Episode 113: Lehigh Valley with Love Podcast

George and I worked together at Lehigh Valley News Group in 2006, when he served as editor of the E… oh dear me I am old and senile… I know it was East Penn/Emmaus area, but I can’t remember what the newspaper’s name was… East Penn News sounds right because each paper was named after the school district and it’s the East Penn School District and Emmaus High School.

Sorry to babble like that but it was almost 15 years ago. My teenager was younger than his daughter is now.

I served as managing editor when those papers launched and George always had a certainty creativity and a penchant for thinking outside the box. We had a weekly entertainment column shared by all six of our papers and if I remember correctly George pitched most of our concepts.

So I was not surprised when George developed his own media company and that he’s scooped the main media outlets in town and created some phenomena— google “Lehigh Valley Snow Camel” and know that George broke that story.

Now, like George, Darnell has a big creative energy, vivacious speech, and will not shy away from what needs to be said.

So I wanted to get these two together. And George put a call out for potential guests on his podcast.

Today George shared with me the link for that final podcast. And I’ve very excited to share it. The content may get heavy at times but these guys kept the conversation going in a natural organic manner.

They reference some of the Valley’s food— I won’t spoil it here. But when it comes to cheesesteaks I vote for Joe’s Steak Shop in Phillipsburg and hot dogs would have to be from outside the Lehigh Valley and go with Hot Dog Johnny’s in Belvidere, N.J. A few years ago it would have had to be Charlie’s Pool Room in Alpha, N.J.

Parenting/Opinion: New Life for Old Heroes (2006)

In the Lehigh Valley News Group, every editor had to write a weekly column for their paper. Mine covered everyday life. Sometimes this meant deep topics and sometimes this meant home life.

My daughter had a Superman phase when she was two. We even bought her Superman underoos (the boy kind) that she wore as an outfit. She watched the old black and white TV show. She loved “Toupa-Man.”

One day my husband and I sought out his old plastic comic book action heroes and what happened after that… Well, this column brought tears to my eyes.

New life for old heroes

New life for old heroes

Business feature: Why do people love Wegmans? (2006)

This story ran on the front page of The Bethlehem News in 2006 after Wegmans had made the Forbes list of the 100 best places to work. Again. They always end up on this list. As a fan of Wegmans, I thought I’d do a feature. In ran in all of the Lehigh Valley News Group papers. I wrote the story, took the photos and did the artistic lay out. (Really how artistic can you get with so many columns and rules. I tried.)

In recent days, I’ve noticed lists circulating the internet of why Wegmans is basically a Play Place for grown-ups. I’ve noticed that most of my friends do the bulk of their shopping at Wegmans. People meet at Wegmans. They get coffee at Wegmans. They drool at the cheese at Wegmans. So, why?

For me, it’s a combination of customer service and the goods they carry. When my daughter was two, I tripped and fell in the parking lot of the Wegmans pictured in this story. I’m a clutz. It happens. I got my kid and my groceries into the car. Turned on the car. My arm was killing me. I had fallen on my elbow. The air conditioner whooshed on. I started to black out. At that exact moment, my phone rang.

I couldn’t see. I rummaged through my purse with my hand. Found it. Somehow answered it. It was my friend, Gayle. I told her what had happened and that I thought I was passing out. She called Wegmans. I managed to get out of the car. That’s when a Wegmans “Helping Hands” cart attendant found me, and a manager right behind him. They brought me and my daughter and my groceries back into the store. My in-laws came to get us. They asked if I needed anything. I said no.

My daughter asked for ice cream, but no one heard her. If they had, the staff probably would have given some to her.

wegmans wegmans2

Editorial: Bad Behavior of Bethlehem School Board (2007)

When we launched the Lehigh Valley News Group, the Lehigh Valley branch of Berks-Mont newspapers (a Journal Register entity), I served as managing editor for the five new newspapers and the one previous-existing, The Saucon News. In addition to managing editor duties, I served as editor of the largest of the new papers, The Bethlehem News. We headed into a territory that had been abandoned by my previous employer (Chronicle Newspapers, a division of The Morning Call, a Tribune Company newspaper). In addition to those Chronicle weeklies that had just closed, most of our proposed territories were also served by The Press weeklies, an entity that still continues today.

I attended the school board meetings of the Bethlehem Area School District. After more than five years of covering the Phillipsburg School District, the differences between the two boards fascinated me. Bethlehem was a larger school district, had more schools and more students. But let’s just say the people who sat on the two boards were also different. I’m sure everyone had their good intentions, but the interactions on the Bethlehem board were often tense.

I wrote this editorial after one board meeting where the disagreements between board members, and their unwillingness to move forward after a vote, scared not only me but also drained the color from the superintendent.

BASD board behavior

BASD board behavior

GourMaybe: Should servers depend on tips?

Do Servers Deserve a Real Paycheck?

Do Servers Deserve a Real Paycheck?

 

I have often played with the idea of writing a food/opinion column. I pitched the idea when the Saucon News was still a small local weekly, one that was later bought out and grouped with a series of five other new weeklies by Berks-Mont Newspapers/Journal Register company. That became the Lehigh Valley News Group and at its creation in 2006, I served as managing editor.

But this little opinion column predates all of that, and honestly I had forgotten about it until I recently dug through the crate of news clippings I have in my home office.

I tackle the question: should servers receive a real paycheck? This was at the time that the IRS was considering using a restaurant’s credit card receipts to determine an average amount that each server earned in tips and then use that as a basis for income tax liability.

 

 

Links

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Professional samples available on the web

(In progress. I will add to this post until complete)

My LinkedIn Profile:

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/angel-ackerman/20/3a5/b14

NEWSPAPERS- DAILY

Article from The Morning Call, archived through the Library of Congress and visible on the Open World Leadership Center web site (2003)

Visiting Russians Learn about American Libraries

http://www.openworld.gov/article/print.php?id=27&lang=1

More about libraries:
Meuser Library in Wilson sets out to prove it’s friendly (2007)
http://articles.mcall.com/2007-12-28/news/3941239_1_family-place-library-library-director-small-community-library

Phillipsburg to get first look at library addition this month (2003)

http://articles.mcall.com/2003-03-13/news/3450303_1_county-library-entire-library-80th-anniversary

Morning Call sports feature:

Slate Belt basking in glory of two football teams (2001)

http://articles.mcall.com/2001-11-30/news/3380106_1_championship-football-games-class-2a-game-two-teams

Morning Call municipal news articles about Phillipsburg, N.J.:

Phillipsburg group fails to get answers about reassessment (2003)

http://articles.mcall.com/2003-02-12/news/3455078_1_property-reassessment-town-council-assessor

In Phillipsburg, a neighborhood awaits tax ruling (2003)

http://articles.mcall.com/2003-03-05/news/3451707_1_reassessment-property-tax-tax-increase

Phillipsburg PAL serves up invitation to fundraiser (2003)

http://articles.mcall.com/2003-03-23/news/3448553_1_pal-president-green-acres-dinner

Some Morning Call municipal news articles about West Easton, Pa.:

$40,000 fine considered for missed trash pick-up (2002)

http://articles.mcall.com/2002-08-14/news/3420311_1_waste-management-trash-collection-local-hauler

West Easton, trash hauler argue over fine (2002)

http://articles.mcall.com/2002-10-08/news/3444187_1_waste-management-trash-hauler-fine

West Easton to pay trash hauler again (2003)

http://articles.mcall.com/2003-02-04/news/3456379_1_waste-management-payment-fine

West Easton delays choice on $52 tax (2007)

http://articles.mcall.com/2007-08-20/news/3757592_1_emergency-services-municipal-tax-flood-damage-year-s-tax-returns

West Easton, housing developer try to settle dispute (2007)

http://articles.mcall.com/2003-03-09/news/3450944_1_valley-housing-special-meeting-storm-water

Ashley pulls back from two projects (2007)

http://articles.mcall.com/2007-09-29/news/3780119_1_project-majestic-tax-revenue

Some Morning Call municipal news articles about Glendon, Pa.:

Glendon neighborhood sings the stray cat blues, The Morning Call (2007)

http://articles.mcall.com/2007-11-21/news/3808775_1_feral-cat-colony-neuter-and-return-cat-problem

Glendon residents worry about possible work-release program (2007)

http://articles.mcall.com/2007-10-04/news/3782619_1_work-release-counseling-program-residents

Williams eyes taking over nearly a mile of road in Glendon, The Morning Call (2008)

http://articles.mcall.com/2008-02-08/news/3983055_1_road-repairs-road-issues-mile-road

NEWSPAPERS- WEEKLY

Business article from The Bethlehem News

Crystal Signatures shares the art of glass and pride in Bethlehem (2006)

http://www.crystalsignatures.com/csi/crystal.nsf/news/Crystal-Signatures-shares-the-art-of-glass-and-pride-in-Bethlehem

BOOK REVIEWS

Hippocampus magazine:

My Battle of Algiers: A memoir by Ted Morgan (2012)

http://www.hippocampusmagazine.com/2012/04/review-my-battle-of-algiers-a-memoir-by-ted-morgan/

Becoming Jimi Hendrix by Steven Roby and Brad Schrieber (2012)

http://www.hippocampusmagazine.com/2012/07/review-becoming-jimi-hendrix-by-steven-roby-and-brad-schrieber/

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (2012)

http://www.hippocampusmagazine.com/2012/06/review-steve-jobs-by-walter-issacson/

House of Stone by Anthony Shadid (2013)

http://www.hippocampusmagazine.com/2013/02/review-house-of-stone-by-anthony-shadid/

PUBLIC RELATIONS PLACEMENTS

“YWCA seeks volunteers to help” in the daily newspaper, the Express-Times, contributed photo by me (2008)

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2008/09/ywca_seeks_volunteers_to_help.html

“Sciota shopkeeper honors those who serve,” front page of the daily newspaper, the Pocono Record (2013)

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130614/NEWS/306140346

PHOTOGRAPHY

Some snapshots I took during my time at The Lehigh Valley News Group:

Bethlehem Area School District teachers head down the River (2006)

http://lehighvalleynewsgroup.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=163911&CategoryID=16062&ListSubAlbums=0

Freemansburg 150th/Carnival (2006)

http://lehighvalleynewsgroup.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=161595&CategoryID=16062&ListSubAlbums=0

Blueberry Festival at Burnside Plantation (2006)

http://lehighvalleynewsgroup.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=153308&CategoryID=16062&ListSubAlbums=0

Durkee employee reunion (2006)

http://lehighvalleynewsgroup.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=179836&CategoryID=16062&ListSubAlbums=0