Delving Into the Crisis: Research, Paper Pushers, and A Sorrowful Lack of Excuses

Staring down the section of the book in which the main crisis reaches its apex, I find myself stuck for a number of reasons.  There is the necessity for documents I don’t yet have in my possession and a slight unwillingness to write the damned thing.  But of course that is the nature of memoir writing, any kind of writing, the good and the bad.

The upside of writing a memoir about psychopathology…addiction, disorders or anything in that realm…is that some sort of treatment was likely acquired, somewhere along the way.  So the fuzzy areas are generally well-documented and available for the taking with some footwork.  This section requires those documents and that footwork to help things come together.

Now, I’m no slouch when it comes to research, research is very much a part of my real life.  Research is a part of the life that actually pays me.  Scientific articles, background, no problem!  Some heavy PubMed searching and library scouring, great!  Dealing with the medical secretaries at my HMO…quite a different story.

After faxing and calling back and forth for weeks and one failed trip (236 miles, 3 hours and 58 minutes alone of driving, one full day lost), I still haven’t gotten very far with them.  The issue from this initial go-around was that, yes, my request was for both medical and mental health records, and no, my request was not understood.  Let me be clear that I did in fact X the box for mental health records right alongside the medical health records box.  The medical secretary missed it, but it was my gas tank and schedule that took the hit, not hers.  Still, I moved on and politely accepted that she would need to make other arrangements for those additional files.  I understand that people are overworked and overburdened, the economy squeezing down workforces until one person is doing the work of two or three.  Leeway graciously granted.

A few days later I received a call and was told that the clinic I was seen at would provide a summary of my mental health records.  This summary was contingent upon my contacting the primary therapist responsible for my care during that time.  When I asked why my full record would not be provided to me I was told that the therapist believed the full record would be confusing to me and therefore she would compose a summary.  I did not request a summary, I requested my full record.  Again, I find myself a little frustrated that my simple and straightforward request was not understood.  When I clarified my request and gently pressed for more information, the paper pushing medical secretary got snarky.  Fine.  More hoops, I got it.  Patience heroically still intact.

That’s where I find myself at with research now.  I’ll make the call this Monday and see what happens.  I have mixed feelings about having to make this call and argue to see records that I have every right to examine.  But that’s life and I’m not going to launch into attack mode just yet.

Working at home...a rare occourance...

Writing at home...a rare occurrence...

As to the slight unwillingness to delve into the depths of the crisis for this section of the book, there are a few things at play here.  It will probably require at least a couple of lengthy full emersions in those medical reports and journals in order to capture the voice of that time accurately.  Being in that space for an extended period of time will be exhausting and difficult and likely make me grumpy as all hell.  It will be a pain, but it will get me what I need and jumping in with both feet is better that dipping my toes in the water and then running away from the waves.

In addition to my trepidation of launching myself into that space, I am wary of proceeding without those aforementioned records (see Dan Schacter’s book “The Seven Sins of Memory” for a list of reasons…I saw him give one hell of a talk some years ago).  The saving grace (or downfall of my procrastination) is that I do have my own records from that time, journaling, worksheets, etc.  So it is possible that I can proceed with my own resources and verify with the medical records once I receive them.  Damn.  No more excuses?  I didn’t expect this blog post to offer a resolution.  Damn damn damn.  On with it then!

-The Snarky Lark

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