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Trisha Torrey Articles
Posted Dec 1st, 2008 by Trisha Torrey
Mary’s doctor ordered a diagnostic for her. After the test, Mary was told she would be contacted if there were any problems.
More than a week went by, Mary heard nothing, and assumed everything was all right…. Until…surprise!... Ten days later, she got a late afternoon phone call “reminding” her that she had been scheduled for another test early the next morning. And oh, by the
Posted Nov 24th, 2008 by Trisha Torrey
…and how can we use them to improve our quality of life?

We frequently see TV commercials and magazine ads for prescription drugs, even though we can’t buy them without a prescription.

Why do those drug companies advertise directly to us? In short, because it works.

Works for whom? The prescription drug companies that do the advertising. These companies are boosting t
Posted Dec 8th, 2008 by Trisha Torrey
Recently, one of my physician friends told me, “Patients lie.” Lie? I asked her to elaborate. She explained that many patients aren’t completely honest with their doctors. They embellish or withhold the truth about symptoms, triggers, habits, history, or any other piece of information that could help their physicians help them. Mr. Smith walks five miles every day?  Oh, sure he does. 
Posted Dec 16th, 2008 by Trisha Torrey
You’ve broken an arm, or you’re running a fever, or you’ve developed a rash. A visit to your doctor results in an order for a drug, a bandage or cast, surgery, or another treatment plan to help you heal or become healthy again. Or maybe you have a chronic condition or disease, and you’re consistently under a doctor’s care.  At each visit, your doctor reviews your treatment plan and
Posted Dec 22nd, 2008 by Trisha Torrey
Symptoms sent you to your doctor.  Now you’ve suffered through the tests, and you may have been referred to a specialist. You’ve googled the little information they’ve provided so far – and it’s time for the verdict – your diagnosis. "You have XYZ," the doctor tells you. "And this is how we usually treat it." That’s the perfect world – a concise answer, and well-
Posted Jan 5th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
As we round the calendar corner to a new year, it’s a great time to begin stepping up to make yourself a smarter and healthier patient.  Here are some resolutions you might consider to get yourself started: Resolution #1: Develop partnerships with your providers. No matter what medical problems confront you, you’ll have a better chance of weathering them if you work in partnership with your doctors
Posted Jan 12th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
Several supermarkets and pharmacies across the country have announced they will be offering their customers free antibiotics with a doctor’s prescription.  Sounds like a great idea! And it is… with a warning. The warning is one that can affect your health if you overuse antibiotics.  Doctors and researchers have discovered in the past few years that the overuse of antibiotics has led to the s
Posted Jan 19th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
See if this sounds familiar: You experience some strange symptoms, so you go online to see if you can figure out what’s wrong with you.  What you find is somewhat alarming, so you make an appointment to see your doctor. Armed with a few possibilities, and a handful of printouts, you visit your doctor.  Once in the exam room, the doctor asks you what brings you to her office. You tell her, “I f
Posted Jan 26th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
Have you ever noticed all those letters after a doctor or other medical provider’s name? MD, DO, DC, RN, PA, NP…. There are dozens, and when put together, they can spell confusion. Even when we know the words they stand for, we don’t always know what those words mean for our improving our health. Those letters are credentials, indicating the level and focus of a provider’s education. They c
Posted Feb 3rd, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
A prescription is an order provided by a doctor so that someone else, usually a pharmacist, can provide us with a drug or device to improve our health. But note – that someone else isn’t us patients!  Prescriptions, whether they are handwritten or printed from a computer (called e-prescribing) are full of shorthand and acronyms that make it difficult for us to figure out what they mean. That confus
Posted Feb 10th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
Last month, my friend Anna needed minor out-patient surgery and asked me to accompany her. When we arrived for the appointment, she was handed a stack of papers, told to fill them out, sign them, and return them to the receptionist. There were insurance papers, health forms, privacy agreements, and information about who was responsible for paying bills. Then, near the bottom of the stack, she found one that had
Posted Feb 17th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
In 2001, Nancy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  The tremors in her right hand were bothersome, but not debilitating.  The doctor gave her some meds to control the tremors.  Within a few months she began having headaches, so she was given yet another medication.  Over time she began suffering from fainting spells, then seizures. Each time more meds were added. What Nancy hated even m
Posted Feb 25th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
When your stomach is upset and that upset just won’t go away, you make a visit to your primary care doctor.  Your primary care doctor, believing the cause may be more than just simple upset, refers you to a gastroenterologist.  Gastroenterologists take care of problems related to our digestive systems, so seeing a gastroenterologist for stomach upsets makes sense. Now say your symptoms aren’t s
Posted Mar 11th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
A few years ago, a wonderful new drug came on the market which put smiles on the faces of cardiologists everywhere.  Called Vytorin, it was a drug developed to help control two kinds of cholesterol problems, both the cholesterol build up in our arteries that develops when we eat foods with bad fats, and the cholesterol problems some people inherit from their ancestors.    Cardiologists were happy wi
Posted Mar 22nd, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
More and more Americans are finding themselves without health insurance.  For some, getting laid off and the reality of the high cost of COBRA means its time to go in search of alternatives.  Others who may have been uninsured for a long time now realize that healthcare has become a necessity.  That prompts them to look at health insurance options. Still others find themselves getting older, and know t
Posted Apr 1st, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
Have you ever applied for health insurance, only to be turned down for reasons you didn’t understand?  Any form of health-related insurance, including life insurance, disability insurance, even long-term care insurance? Maybe you were laid off and needed to make a new application, or you’ve decided to start your own business, retire early, or maybe you are simply planning for your future and know th
Posted Apr 30th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
This is the tale of two gentlemen who had treatment decisions to make, and found they needed to think not just as patients, but as consumers, too. Jack was told he needed surgery to treat his prostate cancer. Jack knew his neighbor had a similar diagnosis last year, and had opted instead for radioactive seed implants, a less-invasive form of treatment. Jack was a bit perplexed about why his surgeon hadn’t ment
Posted May 11th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
I wish I had a nickel for all the patients who complain to me about how little time their doctors spend with them, too often leaving them with unanswered questions. They feel rushed and frustrated. Reports tell us that actual face time with your doctor may last as little as eight minutes. If you are on Medicare, you might get more like 12 to 15 minutes. When you have symptoms that scare you, or test results that nee
Posted May 11th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
Have you ever taken vitamins or herbal supplements, visited a chiropractor or acupuncturist, taken a yoga class, had a massage, or learned to meditate? If so, you are among the 62 percent of Americans who have invested some of their healthcare choices in alternative or complementary therapies. Why are they called complementary or alternative?  Because they are not traditional, medical, scientifically prescribe
Posted May 19th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, makers of prescription drugs like Lipitor, Lyrica, Zoloft, Norvasc and dozens of others has announced that it has established a new assistance program for people who have lost their jobs due to the recession. If you have been laid off since January 1, 2009, and take any of 70 Pfizer primary care drugs on a regular basis, you may be eligible for this new program called MAINTAIN  (Medicine
Posted Jun 22nd, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
If your stomach is upset over a period of time, your doctor might prescribe Zantac for you. It’s a drug that helps reduce stomach acid, and may even help heal a stomach ulcer. Suppose, instead, you have allergy-like symptoms. Your eyes itch, your nose is runny, and your chest is congested. Your doctor might prescribe Zyrtec, an antihistamine that may alleviate those symptoms. But take a look at those two drug
Posted Jul 13th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
I’ll confess – it’s true.  When I contracted mononucleosis, the "kissing disease," while in college, I expect I really did get it from kissing! But it turns out that mono spreads in many ways, from sharing a drinking glass, to shaking hands, to simply touching someone who carries the germ. So it’s possible I got mono from simply shaking someone else’s hand, or even sitting next to
Posted Jul 13th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
More than cooling your liquid refreshment, ICE may save your life. I’m not talking about wrapping those cold water cubes into a towel to apply to a sprain or sore muscle.  No, I’m actually talking about a phone number. Whose phone number?  Your emergency contact’s phone number. This ICE refers to In Case of Emergency. The ICE initiative was begun in Great Britain by a paramedic who was
Posted Sep 15th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
Do you feel rushed when you see your doctor?  The truth is, many doctors are in such a hurry, they just aren’t doing enough to help us patients understand our medical conditions, nor are they helping us make the right decisions for ourselves. The results are patients who, due to lack of understanding, just don’t heal or get well the way they could or should. In extreme cases, this may lead to errors
Posted Sep 15th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
Have you ever gotten sick or hurt, visited your doctor, particularly a specialist, or even landed in the emergency room, then undergone a series of medical tests, and more medical tests, without really understanding what they were all for?

CT scans, MRIs, EKGs, PET scans… blood work and biopsies… these are names we hear for tests we may be unfamiliar with, but are ordered by the doctors we
Posted Sep 15th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
Over time, I’ve heard dozens of complaints about doctors from patients.  Here are some examples:

One, a women in her 70s, doesn't like being called by her first name when her doctor insists on being called “Dr. Smith.” She particularly hates it when a 20-something receptionist in her doctor’s office calls out her first name when it’s her turn to be taken to an exam roo
Posted Sep 23rd, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
You’ve probably heard the term "advance directives."  Advance directives are legal documents which spell out your wishes for your end of life care. Most of us don’t want to think about these kinds of decisions!  But they are important to make at any stage of life because we never know when the end of life will be near, whether through terminal illness, a sudden heart attack or stroke, or even
Posted Oct 6th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
All it took was a good sneeze!
A long-lasting and messy nosebleed was the result, and set the stage for plenty of observation and lessons learned. An hour after it began, my nose had not stopped bleeding. My husband was out of town, so I dialed 9-1-1 and a speedy ambulance ride later, I soon found myself in the Emergency Room. Four hours later, the bleeding finally stopped. Nothing serious, it turned out &nda
Posted Oct 6th, 2009 by Trisha Torrey
When you get sick, and are diagnosed with a difficult medical condition, who do you consider to be the best source for information about your problem? Most of us would respond that our doctors have the most knowledge.  And that may be true.  But doctors rarely share what they know beyond the basics.  There just is not time during an appointment for us to learn everything we need to know, nor are we us
Posted Feb 2nd, 2010 by Trisha Torrey
I’ve always been a fan of Sally Field. I’ve admired Robert Dole, Bruce Jenner, Brooke Shields and many other celebrities, athletes and even a few other politicians, too.  When it comes to the work they do – acting, swimming, modeling, legislating – whatever it is – I have a great deal of admiration. But just because I’ve admired them, doesn’t mean I would ask them to pr
Posted Feb 2nd, 2010 by Trisha Torrey
Sometimes we think we aren’t getting the healthcare we deserve, when the real problem is in our own heads!  Here are two examples of what I mean. While initially they seem unrelated, they may instead influence how you view your own health care.

The first was a lengthy and miserable bout last winter with the stomach “flu,” suffered by several members of my family. We were all misera
Posted Feb 2nd, 2010 by Trisha Torrey
You’ve probably heard of Flexible Spending Accounts.  You can put money aside for certain kinds of expenses, like child care, or, yes, healthcare.  The big problem, and the hitch in figuring out whether to use them, is the fact that at the end of the year, if you have not spent the money you have saved, then you forfeit it.

Because of the forfeit rule, many people won’t consider se