Schizophrenia Diagnostic Tests

What a clueless book reviewer and others don’t seem to realize is that for close to nine years I was the Health Guide at the HealthCentral schizophrenia website. While I was employed at that job I wrote news articles that featured unbiased factual information. Of course I always wrote articles there about what I thought could be useful strategies for living in recovery too.

Today I’m compelled to crib the information from a slide slow I published at HealthCentral circa 2014.

I ask you: do you think I would want someone to take medication if they didn’t have to? Do you think I like having this illness? Do you think one-size-fits-all treatment is the way to go? The answer to these questions should be NO.

Now here’s the slide show I wrote in 2014: (Yep–no one else on either side of the aisle dared write this. I was the only one.) It’s a little long to scroll down on a cell phone yet I didn’t want to break it up into two entries.

To diagnose schizophrenia certain tests must be given. 

First of all, a brain tumor or herpes encephalitis should be tested for to rule out that the person has one of these illnesses that mirrors schizophrenia.  The following information was taken from Surviving Schizophrenia, 6th Edition by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.  I recommend you buy this book to have on hand.  It’s the most recent version of this Family Manual that was first published in 1987.

It’s better to put your mind at ease about yourself or a loved one rather than jump to the conclusion that schizophrenia is always the cause of psychotic symptoms.

A diagnostic workup should include:

History and Mental Status Examination.

A review of organ systems will turn up illnesses that mirror schizophrenia.  Asking the kinds of drugs a person is using will turn up evidence of street drug use that could cause the psychiatric symptoms, or of prescribed drugs that have these kinds of symptoms as a side effect.  A mental status examination is where the individual is asked such questions as “Do you know where you are?  and What is today’s date?” As well as abstract questions like “What does the expression ‘a rolling stone gathers no moss?’ mean?”

Physical and Neurological Examinations.

Asking a patient to draw a clock or write a sentence can identify individuals with other brain diseases like brain tumors or Huntington’s disease.

Basic Laboratory Work: Blood Count, Blood Chemical Screen, and Urinalysis.

A blood test can turn up pernicious anemia, AIDS, or lead intoxication.  A thyroid function test should be ordered as well as a routine test for syphilis.

Psychological Tests.

This kind of test can be useful in early or borderline cases to rule out or confirm a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

MRI Scan.

According to E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. “An MRI scan should be done on every individual who presents with psychosis for the first time.”  Multiple diseases picked up by an MRI mirror the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Lumbar Puncture.

For patients experiencing certain symptoms such as headaches, rapid onset of psychotic symptoms, visual or olfactory hallucinations, neurological signs or symptoms of central nervous system disorder and concurrent or recent history of flu or fever.

Electroencephalogram (EEG).

This is used like the lumbar puncture to rule out or confirm other diseases.  It should be ordered for individuals with a history of meningitis or encephalitis, birth complications, or severe head injury; also for individuals that had episodic psychotic attacks with a sudden onset.

Other tests may be warranted depending on the presenting symptoms.  Make sure you or your loved one gets a full diagnostic workup.  To turn an expression on its head, all roads do not lead to Rome.  Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical in the treatment of schizophrenia or any of the other diseases that might be occurring.  Getting the right treatment right away results in a better outcome.  Forming a preconceived idea about the type of illness a person has can lead to ineffective treatment that can make things worse.

 

Housekeeping

I have numerous books I want to publish: some geared to mental health and other books that have everyone as a target market.

I’m also writing fiction that I want to publish too.

In this blog entry I’ll focus on one of the mental health books. I’d like to talk about housekeeping.

Really it’s OK to hire a house cleaner if you don’t like to do domestic chores. Round here $13/per hour is the going rate.

The secret is that if your apartment is neat and relatively dust-free no one will notice if it’s not clean.

You can send your laundry out to be picked up and cleaned and delivered back to you too. Yet I find though the clothes are returned neatly folded the clothes are actually wrinkled.

Doing laundry on your own in your building’s laundry room might be the way to dry your clothes without wrinkles. I take my clothes out of the dryer after 35 minutes and the clothes don’t have wrinkles.

You can go on the Goodmans Website to buy a travel steamer to steam out the wrinkles the clothes get after you wear them. You can also buy there the bottles of steamer cleaner to use to clean inside the steamer.

The Jiffy Travel Steamer is a miracle product that you can buy from Goodmans. Over 12 years ago I bought the travel steamer to use instead of an iron. The Jiffy model quickly steams out wrinkles on clothes. I’ve had mine over 12 years and it still works like a charm.

I take this steamer with me when I travel in the U.S. to steam the wrinkles out of clothes that have been in my suitcase.

I’m all for making it as convenient as possible to attend to housekeeping when you rent or own your own home.

In the coming blog entries I’ll talk about how to budget for shopping for food.

Say Yes to Mental Health

I’ve taken this blog entry from my Left of the Dial blog. I’ve posted it in both places.

The Republicans are set to vote into law today the gutting of mental health services enacted under the Affordable Care Act while President Obama was in office.

The Republicans are set to roll back progress by eliminating mental health treatment and charging higher premiums for fewer kinds of mental health service.

The Republicans are set to deny mental health constituents coverage for addiction treatment.

It will become illegal to have an abortion. Yet when your fetus turns 18 and develops schizophrenia or another mental illness or a drug addiction there will now be no treatment available for them. Write your elected officials and thank them for this.

Makes sense right? Makes sense to have voted into power the people who are voting today to eliminate funding for mental health services for the very people who need it.

Cue the sarcasm. Is there an emoji for sarcasm? You know where I stand.

If you live in New York State here are the telephone numbers of the elected officials you can call to tell them to vote NO for the MacArthur Amendment that denies citizens treatment for mental health.

Rep. Lee Zeldin Long Island 202-225-3826
Rep. Peter King Long Island 202-225-7896
Rep. Dan Donovan Staten Island 202-225-3371
Rep. John Faso Upper Hudson Vally 202-225-5614
Rep. Elise Stefanik North Country 202-225-4611
Rep. Claudia Tenney Binghamton 202-225-3665
Rep. Tom Reed Finger Lakes Region 202-225-3161
Rep. John Katko Syracuse 202-225-3701
Rep. Chris Collins Western NY 202-225-5265
Tell your congressperson that:
  • The American Health Care Act would leave millions of Americans without mental health coverage and strip Medicaid funding.
  • The recently-introduced “MacArthur Amendment” would let states get waivers allowing health insurance plans to not cover mental health and substance use treatment and charge people with mental illness more.
  • It’s outrageous to even suggest that mental health coverage is optional and to charge people more because they have a mental health condition.
  • Medicaid coverage is also under threat. It covers important mental health services that help people with mental illness get better and stay better.
  • Please tell Representative_______ to keep what works for mental health and REJECT the American Health Care Act and the MacArthur Amendment. Thank you.

I telephoned my guy in Washington. The line was busy. I’ll call again to try to get through.

I’m posting this same blog entry in the Left of the Dial blog.

The Right Line

In remembering my time as the Health Guide at the HealthCentral website one thing stands out: I corresponded with people from all over the world– India, Africa, Saudi Arabia–everywhere.

The great thing about the Internet is this type of human connection without borders. We have the chance to hear each other’s stories and take away from these stories a bit of hope for our own lives to matter to others.

I have a photographic memory–no cognitive impairment–and I remember the people that wrote to me and corresponded with me.

We’re all human beings doing the best we can with what we were given. I submit that we all want the same thing: for someone’s eyes to light up when they see us; to be acknowledged; to be accorded dignity and have our worth affirmed.

There’s still a lot of hate in the world–and the media loves to give the haters a platform for their hurtful rhetoric and stigma.

The great thing about the blogosphere in particular is that anyone anywhere in the world can speak out and be heard and listened to and hopefully the compassionate writers will gain a following.

I have decided what the purpose of my life’s work is going to be from here on in regardless of whether anyone else pays me to advance this vision.

My vision is framed thus:

To affirm the dignity and worth of all human beings; to honor and embrace our individuality; and to champion the freedom to choose our own life path.

The day is here to rise up and be heard. A blog is a creative medium for self-expression yet it’s more than this. Keeping a blog is an honor I don’t take lightly and it’s because we should choose our words carefully.

Finding what I heard called “the right line” is imperative. We must choose our words carefully and we must choose how we act towards other people carefully.

Today we can chart our own course.

We have the choice to reject the hate and violence.

We have the choice to defy other people’s expectations.

We have the right to be here living on earth alongside everyone else.

Forget the so-called stigma.

This is my credo:

I believe in the power of love to ignite hope and healing.

I believe in the power of the human spirit to triumph over adversity.

Today is the day when each of us can make a difference.

Cigarette Smoking

We should each of us love each other and protect each other and our planet.

It’s because I care about everyone living on earth that I implore readers of my blog to resist the urge to start smoking cigarettes.

I’ve always detested cigarette smoking. From the time I was a young kid–easily only nine years old or so–I’ve detested cigarette smoking.

My mother and my aunts–her sisters–smoked two packs a day for forty years. No surprise–they now sleep and travel everywhere with oxygen tanks and use inhalers.

I judge no one living on earth. Good people often make the choice to start smoking cigarettes. Illness doesn’t discriminate–it strikes good people as well as evil people.

You will become disabled if you smoke cigarettes.

You’ll have to sleep and travel with an oxygen tank. If you care about vanity, and choose to smoke, you’ll get wrinkled early and lose your looks and have yellow teeth. Chances are, you’ll lose your teeth at some point and need false teeth.

If you do only one positive thing in your life and nothing else quit smoking if you’ve already started. Only doing this–quitting smoking–is the best thing you could ever do.

I’m losing my aunt now after losing my father to colon cancer in 2015. It’s unimaginable yet true–a good person taken out because she smoked cigarettes for 40 years.

You’ll think it’s over if you’re 60 and quit smoking yet you’ll remain in compromised health forever. Fare better to quite smoking at 30 than to smoke for your whole life. Yet I implore you to quit now even if you’re 60.

I don’t take this lightly. I don’t care if a person wants to stay at home watching TV all day. I don’t care if a person chooses jealousy or hate over love. I don’t care how anyone else lives their life.

I do care about health. I care that everyone living on earth has the chance to be healthy. I care that good people make bad choices.

It’s because I’ve seen the perils in my own family of smoking cigarettes that I implore readers now: resist the urge to start smoking cigarettes.

You don’t deserve to be hooked up to tubes, comatose, and barely breathing after you have an operation.

You don’t deserve to have limited romantic choices because no one wants to date a smoker.

You don’t deserve to add a smoking-related disability to the mental health disability you already have.

You deserve to have a long, healthy, prosperous life.

You deserve to meet the man or woman of your dreams.

You deserve to save money on your healthcare.

After all, why not make yourself rich instead of making Phillip Morris rich?

It’s something to think about dear readers.

If you smoke, the people who care about you are living in pain watching you make yourself ill. You’re not the only one you’re hurting by making yourself ill. Those of us who watch you light up are in agony too.

We care a lot.

I care and I haven’t even met you.

I’ll end here with the hope that you can read what I’ve written and take it seriously.

Numerous options exist for helping you quit.

You might not stay quit and it could take a couple of times.

Yet now is the right time to try.

I’m rooting for you dear readers.

New Ideas About Goal Setting

If you ask me the best way to achieve a goal is to focus on the process not the outcome.

A lot of us will have to start from the premise that it might take longer and harder to get where we want to be be.

Just knowing this can help us feel better instead of expecting quick results.

That’s why I use the term lifelines not deadlines.

So I say–set a goal that’s within reach. As you rack up wins challenge yourself to do something slightly beyond what you think you’re capable of.

Jim Afremow in his book The Champion’s Comeback writes that the goal shouldn’t be to lighten our load–the goal should be to seek to have broader shoulders.

Living with a mental health challenge isn’t ever easy. We can have times when our lives ARE easier so we must appreciate these times when they’re here.

As is quoted: “You have two hands: one for helping yourself. One for helping others.”

In this regard I’ve become so inspired because of the Women’s March on Washington.

If you want to read about this March I’ll be posting a review and my impressions of it on Saturday to the Left of the Dial blog.