You and Your Health Provider – Proceed With Caution

Recently I received a letter from my health provider here in Hawaii. The doctor who signed the letter failed to look in my file to determine whether the letter was necessary for me to receive.

The letter states that my doctor is approving a change in my prescription for thyroid tablets. This is due to a manufacturer’s shortage in various strengths of the thyroid drug. So the doctor is approving a change in the amount of tablets I am to take daily.

At some point prior to receiving this letter, I had decided to wean myself off the thyroid medicine — with the doctor’s supervision. I am happy about that especially in light of this turn of events.

I am not privy to the inner workings of the health industry or the company that provides my health care. It is a leader in its field. I know my health care provider is a leader in its field. But the events leading up to me being on their list for this maiing do give me pause to consider whether there are kickbacks and rewards for the doctors, to put us, the patients, on prescriptions and to get us to take expensive tests. Some of you might know the answer to this, not only through articles you have read, but first hand. I do not. I am only wondering and feeling myself becoming a little nervous about the health system.

I do think it is worth sharing my recent experiences in short versions:

· In May 2008 my doctor examined my throat with her hands and thought she felt two small growths there. She had me attend the lab for blood tests. She asked me to go see one of their surgeons for further examination. My doctor prescribed a thyroid drug for what she termed was hypothyroidism. She failed to tell me that this is a drug I will need to take for the rest of my life.

· The surgeon ran me through a sonar kind of test. I can’t remember the name of the test. He said he saw two possible tumors on my parathyroid. He told me that he recommends I go to Honolulu for nuclear imaging scans. I agreed to go. The health provider paid for the airfare and the scans. I had my first experience with claustrophobia during the scans when a huge steel machine moved across an inch above my face and throat. I asked the nurse if she could stand beside me. She said no one stands near the patient during this as it is radioactive.

· Next, when I returned to Maui, I was advised that an MRI is recommended. I talked myself into it even though I was afraid of experiencing claustrophobia again. A few weeks later, while going through the MRI experience, the technician and his assistant and I conversed. The technician mentioned that the thyroid drug I had been prescribed is not something a person can simply stop taking or the person may experience bad effects such as loss of hair. He mentioned that his mother had been on the same thyroid drug I was prescribed and when she decided to switch to a generic brand in order to save money, she lost all of her hair.

· After the results for my three state-of-the-art tests were reviewed by the surgeon in Wailuku, his assistant called me on a Friday afternoon and said there is no need for me to come to my next appointment — which was set up so the doctor could explain the surgery procedure. The doctor’s assistant — or maybe she was the receptionist — said I was fine. There were no tumors.

I found this whole experience very odd. If the doctors are merely getting paid a salary, I can’t imagine how they can benefit from my taking those expensive tests. I decided I was being unnecessarily suspicious.

Next I received a phone call from my doctor to come in for a blood test. When my doctor received the results of the blood test, she then said I need to start taking double the amount of thyroid medicine for my hypothyroidism. I asked her what would happen if I miss a few tablets on the double dose or what would happen if I can’t get it at all anymore for some reason. Nonchalantly, she said that I will go bald. I told this doctor of mine that I think she should have told me that if I start to take this particular medicine for hypothyroidism, I need to take it all my life.

I had approximately six tablets remaining in my third refill of the lower dose of the prescription. I asked the doctor for her guidance. I cut each tablet in half and weaned myself off the prescription. I started taking a drop of iodine each day. I’m not suggesting anyone else does this. I’m still tired. I do believe my doctor’s diagnosis of hypothyroidism is correct, but I am going to look for natural ways to deal with it. The doctor said I might lose my hair or a goodly portion of it if I quit taking the lower dose of the thyroid medicine I was on, but so far I’ve still got a full head of hair.

Now that I have received this letter from my health provider, I think I made a good decision. I feel concern for the many people who take their doctor’s word as absolute truth and sometimes this can lead to quite a predicament. From now on, I’m checking everything out thoroughly before I start putting a new kind of pill down my throat every day.

Effective Drug Free Treatments For Male Impotence

Nothing is more disheartening for an aging man than losing desire or the ability to enjoy a fulfilling sex life. Through all the clutter of drugs, surgeries, and physical treatments available for treating ED, there are a number of drug-free ways to treat the symptoms of male impotence.

Prevention is Key

First of all, prevention is key to improving sexual health. You should be aware your own physical and mental well-being is going to influence how you perform sexually. Here are some of the no-brainer tips to prevent sexual dysfunctions before they start:

Stop Smoking – Yes, another reason to quit smoking; smoking is taxing on the cardiovascular system, damaging blood vessels and increasing the risk of heart disease. It can also cause some men to develop impotence.

Drink Less Alcohol – Excessive drinking can cause impotence, or the symptoms of impotence such as lessened sensitivity and less blood flow to the nether-regions. So stop drinking so much!

Exercise More – Research shows that even a brisk walk each day to get your heart rate up will increase your overall sexual health.

Sleep Well – Bad sleep will ruin your day and can ultimately ruin your life. With good regular sleep each night you’ll feel less stress, a better balance of hormones, and more energy. All of these things will improve your desire for sex, and your sex life.

Treatment Options

If you’re experiencing male impotence, there are many treatment options available. As ED is treatable, always discuss with your doctor for the best solutions to your problem before pursuing your own thoughts of the causes. Sometimes ED can be a precursor to a more serious health condition, such as heart disease or prostate cancer. But that said, here is a basic overview of the treatments available, listed from less invasive to most invasive:

1) Behavioral – Basically everything listed above in “prevention”. Are you exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep? Have you been under al ot of stress lately? All of these factors will influence your sex drive.

2) Psychological – Some men experience a lack of sex drive or an inability to perform sexually due to psychological issues or mental stress and anxiety. If this is the case, some therapy may be recommended before pursuing other options.

2) Tools – There are many home medical supplies available to assist in improving and enhancing sexual potency for men. The most popular and useful example is the vacuum pump, such as the Osbon Vacuum Therapy Device and Tension Ring system. Basically, a pump is placed over the unit and pumped, pulling blood into the male unit. A soft and anatomically shaped medical ring, known as a “tension ring” is slipped on immediately after to keep the blood in place for sexual activity. Further vacuum therapy may be used to increase or continue according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

3) Drugs – What we really want are drug-free treatments for male impotence, but it’s still worth mentioning the potential dangers of taking medications and supplements without prior consultation with a physician. There are so many highly marketed drugs and even more supplements available for sex drive the specifics are not even worth mentioning. We live in a pill-popping culture and the side effects should always be known before taking any kind of drug. Drugs are reserved for when preventative, behavioral, and psychological treatments are not helping. Steer clear of supplements sold over the counter unless recommended to you by a health care professional; most “supplements” marketed for sexual health are highly unregulated and have been found to contain harmful levels of chemicals that can do more harm than good.

4) Surgery – Surgery in any case is the most risky of any treatment option, and therefore is used as a last resort when other treatments do not work. Surgery is serious business, and with the many options available is the most rarely pursued.

The first step with any medical condition is to speak with a health physician who understands what you’re experiencing, or who can recommend someone who does understand. From there, lifestyle changes are the first step to positive sexual health. Simply taking care of oneself, is recommended regardless, and research has shown that good sleep, diet, and exercise can easily add an extra 5 years to the male sex life.

Prescription Drug Coverage With Supplemental Medicare Insurance and Medicare Advantage Plans

If you are about to turn 65, you have probably been studying up on how Medicare works and the various plans it offers. Because some of the plans are similar, the differences between them are often blurred, leaving potential beneficiaries confused about what plan is right for them.

Medicare Part C, known as a Medicare Advantage Plan, is one of the four basic parts of the Medicare system. It allows users of the original Medicare Parts A and B to get coverage from a government approved private insurance company of their choice. Medicare Advantage Plans include plans like Health Maintenance Organization Plans (HMO) and Preferred Provider Organization Plans (PPO). The biggest weakness the original Medicare plans have is that they do not cover the cost of prescription drugs. If you want additional coverage, you have a few options.

Medicare Part D is available to anyone with original Medicare (Parts A and B), and can help cover the costs of prescription drugs. You must get this coverage through a private insurance company approved by Medicare. If you have a Medigap policy, the same as supplemental Medicare insurance, it may already cover the costs of drugs. But if it does not, you are allowed to get a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan as part of Medicare Part D, but must alert your insurance company if you do so. Not all supplemental Medicare plans will cover drug costs, so it is important to make sure the plan you choose offers this benefit. If it does not, just remember that you can still get drug coverage through a Medicare Plan.

If you are not going to utilize Medicare Part D, or get supplemental Medicare insurance, consider Medicare Part C – the Medicare Advantage Plan. These plans, provided by private insurance companies, may offer prescription drug coverage at an additional cost. If you have one of these plans, you will not need supplemental Medicare insurance at all; it is simply an alternative. Make sure to check your coverage history from past employers; you might have additional coverage choices if your former or current employer provided you with prescription coverage.

Make sure not to buy a supplemental Medicare plan if you already have a Medicare Advantage Plan. Doing this is illegal, unless you are completely dropping your Medigap plan and returning to original Medicare. Be very careful before ever dropping your supplemental Medicare insurance, because it is possible that you may not be able get it back in the future. Discuss the issue with your State Health Insurance Assistance Program and your insurance company before ever making a decision that could affect your long-term health coverage.

Getting prescription drug coverage is an important element in any health coverage plan, and only gets more important as you get older. You should seriously consider getting a plan that helps cover the costs of prescriptions, as you never know what types of health issues you may have in the future. Whether you choose to get supplemental Medicare insurance or a Medicare Advantage Plan, having some kind of drug coverage will have you prepared for any twists or turns life may bring.