What About Social Media?

I read this article about social media last night, written by Rachel Young, PhD, Associate Professor, Undergraduate Studies.

It made me think about my WordPress blog and my YouTube accounts. I ask myself what I’m doing with them.

I like to think I’m doing the right things with them. I use a sense of humor and try to use common sense. I never drone on about politics because I feel bad about what’s happening with it most of the time. I don’t want to spread that around.

I stopped accepting comments on YouTube years ago because all I seemed to get were spammers. Frankly, I get a lot of that on my blog as well. But I also have commenters whose opinions I respect.

I used to have accounts with Twitter, Facebook (I guess that’s called something else now?), and LinkedIn. I dropped all of them a few years ago, mainly because all I did mostly was copy my blog posts to them. I found a web article, the title of which indicated there are more than 133 social media platforms.

Why?

Blogging is a part of social media. I don’t get much traffic. I don’t mind that so much when I realize how much of the traffic is negative and empty.

I blog because I really like to write; I always have. I kept one blog going for about 7 years and dropped it because I was unhappy with how personal information was being collected and what it might be used for.

I also didn’t think the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) didn’t treat hobby bloggers (like me) fairly. That was the main reason I dropped my first blog. I don’t collect anyone’s personal data. Hey, let’s be clear. Social media does that. I’m not trying to sell anything here. I’m just trying to have fun and share that with anyone who’s interested.

I wasn’t going to write this much about social media. I guess that means I’m ambivalent about it. I think that’s normal.

What do you think?

Going Down Blogging Memory Lane

I’ve been going down the blogging memory lane lately and thought I’d repost what was probably the very first post I published on my first blog, The Practical Psychosomaticist. The title was “Letter from a Pragmatic Idealist.”

While a lot of water has gone under the bridge since mid-December of 2010, some principles remain the same. Some problems still remain, such as the under-recognition of delirium.

Just a few thoughts about words, just because I’m a writer and words are interesting. The word “Psychosomaticist” is clunky and I’ve joked about it. I tried to think of another name for the blog.  I thought “Pragmatic Idealist” was original until I googled it—someone already had coined it. Then I considered “The Practical Idealist”, with the same result. The same thing happened with “The Practical Psychiatrist.” All of the terms had been used and the associations didn’t fit me. I couldn’t find anyone or any group using the term “The Practical Psychosomaticist.” 

Finally, after the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine (APM) changed its name to the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry (ACLP) in 2016, I changed the name of the blog to The Practical C-L Psychiatrist, finally dropping the name “psychosomatic” along with its problematic associations.

I guess the chronicle would be incomplete without an explanation of what happened to that blog. Around 2016, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted by the European Parliament. WordPress, a popular blogging platform which I use, eventually decided that even hobby bloggers had to come up with a quasi-legal policy document to post on their websites to ensure they were complying with the GDPR regulation and not misusing anyone’s personal data.

I didn’t think that applied to hobby bloggers like me yet it was required. I wasn’t collecting anyone’s personal data and not trying to sell anything. I deleted my blog in July of 2018.  Because I loved to write, I eventually started a new blog around the last year of my phased retirement contract with my hospital in 2019.

Anyway, here’s the December 15, 2010 post, “Letter from a Pragmatic Idealist.”

“I read with interest an article from The Hospitalist, August 2008 discussing the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirement for hospitals to submit information on Medicare claims regarding whether a list of specific diagnoses were present on admission (POA)[1]. The topic of the article was whether or not delirium would eventually make the list of diagnoses that CMS will pay hospitals as though that complication did not occur, i.e., not pay for the additional costs associated with managing these complications. At the time this article was published, CMS was seeking public comments on the degree to which the conditions would be reasonably preventable through application of evidence-based guidelines.

I have no idea whether delirium due to any general medical condition made the list or not. But I have a suggestion for a delirium subtype that probably should make the list, and that would be intoxication delirium associated with using beverage alcohol in an effort to treat presumed alcohol withdrawal. There is a disturbing tendency for physicians (primarily surgeons) at academic medical centers to try to manage alcohol withdrawal with beverage alcohol, despite the lack of medical literature evidence to support the practice [2, 3]. At times, in my opinion, the practice has led to intoxication delirium in certain patients who receive both benzodiazepines (a medication that has evidence-based support for treating alcohol withdrawal) combined with beer—which generally does not.

I’ve co-authored a couple of articles for our institution’s pharmacy newsletter and several of my colleagues and pharmacists petitioned the pharmacy subcommittee to remove beverage alcohol from the formulary at our institution, where beer and whiskey have been used by some of our surgeons to manage withdrawal. Although our understanding was that beverage alcohol had been removed last year, it is evidently still available through some sort of palliative care exception. This exception has been misused, as evidenced by cans of Old Style Beer with straws in them on bedside tables of patients who are already stuporous from opioid and benzodiazepine. A surgical co-management team was developed, in my opinion, in part to address the issue by providing expert consultation from surgeons to surgeons about how to apply evidence-based practices to alcohol withdrawal treatment. This has also been a failure.

I think it’s ironic that some professionals feared being sanctioned by CMS for using Haloperidol to manage suffering and dangerous behavior by delirious people as reported by Stoddard in the winter 2009 article in the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) Bulletin[4]. Apparently, CMS in fact did have a problem with using PRN Haloperidol (not FDA approved of course, but commonly used for decades and recommended in American Psychiatric Association practice guidelines for management of delirium), calling it a chemical restraint while having no objection to PRN Lorazepam, which has been identified as an independent predictor of delirium in ICU patients[5]. Would the CMS approve of using beer to treat alcohol withdrawal, which can cause delirium?

As a clinician-educator and Psychosomatic Medicine “supraspecialist” (term coined by Dr. Theodore Stern, MD from Massachusetts General Hospital), I’ve long cherished the notion that we, as physicians, advance our profession and serve our patients best by trying to do the right thing as well as do the thing right. But I wonder if what some of my colleagues and trainees say may be true—that when educational efforts to improve the way we provide humanistic and preventive medical care for certain conditions don’t succeed, not paying physicians and hospitals for them will. I still hold out for a less cynical view of human nature. But if it will improve patient care, then add this letter to the CMS suggestion box, if there is one.”

1.        Hospitalist, D. (2008) Delirium Dilemma. The Hospitalist.

2.        Sarff, M. and J.A. Gold, Alcohol withdrawal syndromes in the intensive care unit. Crit Care Med, 2010. 38(9 Suppl): p. S494-501.

3.        Rosenbaum, M. and T. McCarty, Alcohol prescription by surgeons in the prevention and treatment of delirium tremens: historic and current practice. General Hospital Psychiatry. 24(4): p. 257-259.

4.        Stoddard, J., D.O. (2009) Treating Delirium with Haloperidol: Our Experience with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Bulletin.

5.        Pandharipande, P., et al., Lorazepam is an independent risk factor for transitioning to delirium in intensive care unit patients. Anesthesiology, 2006. 104(1): p. 21-6.

About Me Page Revisited

I’ve been looking at my About Me page and see that it needs revising. I’m way past the stage of being in phased retirement and I’m pretty sure I can’t do without this blog—or at least some way to keep writing. I notice I said that I was not sure how long I’d keep blogging.

I recently updated my YouTube trailer. It’s my first attempt at an elevator pitch in years. It’s a 48 second video, probably the shortest video I’ve ever done. According to some experts, it’s 3 seconds too long. If you want to read the long version, it’s on this blog, “Elevator Pitch for a Very Slow Elevator.”

Anyway, I’ve been retired from psychiatry since June 30, 2020 (there was a minor clerical glitch in the exact date). My wife, Sena and I have gotten all of our Covid-19 vaccines—until they come up with more. We have made Iowa City our home for over thirty years.

We play cribbage. One of the most fun cribbage games we played was the game on the Iowa state map board. That was a blast. The video of it was over 10 times longer than most YouTube videos I make. That’s because the main reason for the game was to talk up Iowa. You really ought to visit, maybe even move here. You can get used to snow. I keep reading articles on the web telling me I’ve got to stop shoveling at my age. I’ll think it over.

We also like going for walks. One of our favorite places to walk is on the Terry Trueblood Trail. Sometimes you can see Bald Eagles out there.

I have not yet mentioned Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, even once. That’s a big difference from the old About Me page. It was the first thing I mentioned then, because it was just about the most important role I had in life.

It took a long time before I began to question that once I retired—about a year or so. It was a lot like being a firefighter. In fact, my pager was the bell, and I even had a firefighter’s helmet, a gift from a family medicine resident who rotated through the psychiatry consult service. I didn’t wear it when I interviewed patients. It would have alarmed them.

I also carried around a little camp stool. It was because there were never enough chairs in patient rooms to accommodate me, the trainees, and visiting family. Often, I sent a medical student to find me a chair from out in the hall—until I got the stool. I slung it over my shoulder and away I went. I was sort of like the guy on that old Have Gun—Will Travel (paladin) TV show (a 1950s-1960s relic with a gunslinger called Paladin). Have Stool—Will Travel. A surgeon, who also doubled as a palliative care medicine consultant, gave me the little chair as a gift. I passed it on to a resident who took it with good grace.

I miss work a lot less now than I did when I left. I think I must have loved my work. Maybe I loved it too much, because leaving it was hard. There are different kinds of love. I love writing. I love long walks and watching the birds. And most of all I love Sena.

Love

I’m gradually replacing work with something else I love, which is writing. Mindfulness meditation and exercise also help. And let’s not forget, I change electrical outlets. I think I’ve changed just about every outlet (and many toggle switches) in the house. They ought to do away with those bargain bin plugs. Just because they’re cheap doesn’t mean they’re any good.

I’m not sure yet how I’ll edit the About Me page. Maybe I’ll just call the first one Chapter One and this one Chapter Two.

Legacy Blogger

I just found out today that my blog’s theme was retired. I don’t know when WordPress retired it, but it gives me a familiar feeling about retirement. Sena gets the credit for giving me the idea of changing the theme (which is how my blog looks on the web) because of the new year. As I looked over the themes, I saw a tiny notice beside the name of my own. “Your blog theme has been retired. Consider getting a new one, you geezer!”

The notice didn’t really say that, of course, but that’s how I felt. I’ve been blogging since 2011. I’ve never had a theme that was retired. I realized that if I changed my theme now, I couldn’t go back to the old, familiar creaky, cob-webbed, old-fashioned theme I’ve had now with my second blog. This one has the theme (using the word in a different sense) of—retirement. In fact, come to think of it, the word “old-fashioned” was used in the WordPress article explaining why some themes get retired.

So, I started looking at the themes seriously today. Most of them had the word “minimalist” attached to them. Frequently, I read how great they were for my “business.”

Hey, I’m retired. I’m not in any kind of business. There seems to be a lack of emphasis on a theme for hobby bloggers, some of whom are retired geezers.

Anyway, I dropped my old-fashioned theme and put on a new one. While I was at it, I got rid of a lot of old widgets. WordPress calls them “Legacy Widgets.” I couldn’t find a clear explanation for why they call them that. I did find a definition on the web. Essentially, in this context, I think it denotes software that has been superseded but is difficult to replace because of its wide use. What’s wrong with sliders? I don’t mean little sandwiches. I mean the featured images with post titles that slide across the theme page, showing off my best posts—or at least what I think my best posts were. Really, no themes with sliders? That’s what minimalism leads to, I guess.

I’m a legacy consulting psychiatrist, meaning I’m retired—something else to feel ambivalent about. Anyway, I kind of like the new theme.

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