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Understanding Healthcare and Health Insurance

Healthcare and Health Insurance is so complex that the care you receive can suffer. “Why is this”?? – Isaac Levinsky
Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash

Have you ever been in a crisis where you or a loved one had to stay overnight at a hospital, call an ambulance, or go to the ER (emergency room)? I have experienced all three situations personally as a person with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic illness. Be advised, even if you are brought by ambulance to the hospital – the care you receive depends on your health insurance. Sure the ER will save your life – but the system is bogged down by the complicated health insurance plans and what they cover. In my experience, it is more likely that you will sign that you will pay for services, give your credit card or health insurance card before you speak to a doctor!

So what can I do? Based on my experiences, some rules I follow:

  1. Do not wait until you are in 10/10 pain to get help!
  2. Waiting is part of life. But each second seems longer when you are really sick
  3. Practice telling your “story” – why you are at the hospital- 15-20 seconds
  4. Healthcare staff are people and their job is stressful so you must – repeat yourself with simple statements and requests, be consistent, be assertive, thank them for the help!
  5. Get to know your healthcare plan so your care is not delayed- read on below

It is very difficult to understand healthcare insurance plans as they change greatly over time and yet – I have found some ways they stay the same – see below.

  • Health Insurance is a means to an end – you accessing health care. That is all it is.
  • Plan for the future – how much money can you afford for the year?
  • Max out of pocket – Look into what your plan $ dollar amount is? This is the how much money you have to spend when accessing healthcare or prescriptions before your plan pays for 100% of your healthcare costs
  • In Network/ Out of Network – Benefits are different based on this distinction. All things considered your healthcare cost is low in-network!
  • Plan for the worst case scenario – For example, how much will it cost me to go to the hospital if I am away on a trip and the hospital is not in my network?

These are my own opinions, please speak to a licensed insurance agent or your healthcare plan to find out the facts about your own health insurance. – Isaac Levinsky

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Colonoscopy and Self-Efficacy – Isaac Levinsky

Self efficacy is the belief in one’s own ability to complete a task. When faced with a big challenge this week – another Colonoscopy/Endoscopy with a 4 liter prep of TrilLyte to drink in 3 hours… – I got through it by stating “I can handle this!” and “I know I will be okay!” 🙂 And I was, I did not focus on how bad the prep drink tasted, but instead on the fact that I will get through it and there is a reason to do this – I want to feel better!

Thanks!
-Isaac Levinsky

Follow me on Twitter! :) Thank you! -Isaac Levinsky

Updated link to this post:

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Positive Living with Chronic Illness – Isaac Levinsky

Look up to the sky with wonder – I do! Asking the Universe “Why Me?” does not help so instead I focus on the fact that no matter how big my health problem is, the Universe is so much larger than I am! This gives a better perspective on life – to not allow myself to “be” my disease.

My name is Isaac Levinsky and I have a chronic illlness, Crohn’s Disease. I chose a picture of the universe to remind us all that we are part of something greater than ourselves! Please visit my blog/website to learn: Link to personal blog/website – please visit: https://atomic-temporary-163154162.wpcomstaging.com

You must live in the moment and be kind to yourself!

“Look up to the sky with wonder – I do! Asking the Universe “Why Me?” does not help so instead I focus on the fact that no matter how big my health problem is, the Universe is so much larger than I am! This gives a better perspective on life – to not allow myself to “be” my disease.

Isaac Levinsky

Writing about my health problems for the first time has been challenging and also inspiring. I believe that by sharing about my own strategies, difficulties, and life lessons I will help other people learn about Crohn’s Disease and how to live a positive life despite illness. It is easy to be misunderstood when I tell someone “I do not feel good”, so here is easy to understand information about what it means! Please read on.. to learn about the symptoms.

  • Link to Mayo Clinic Information on Crohn’s Disease.
  • Here is some basic information on what my Chronic Illness involves:
  1. In Crohn’s and any auto-immune disease our own immune system attacks our own body – with Crohn’s Disease – the digestive tract.
  2. This attack on self by the immune system involves inflammation, pain, scar tissue, bleeding, ulcers, diarrhea, and narrowing of the intestine, and often surgery.
  3. Surgery causes pain but is sometimes necessary – I am a surgery survivor!
  4. Medical treatment aims to suppress the immune system via strong medication like Humira, prednisone, and also chemotherapy drugs like Methotrexate.
  5. When I write about Crohn’s Disease and living a full life with a Chronic Illness – I have been to the front lines – trust me. 🙂

Thanks! – Isaac Levinsky

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Wimbeldon: Federer vs Nadal

There is much to learn from watching tennis if you have a Chronic Illness.

Photo by Guilherme Maggieri on Unsplash

Today is a momentous day in the world of Tennis! Two of the best male Tennis players of all time facing off once again on the grass tennis courts of Wimbledon. I will not spoil the result for those of you whom have not seen the score, but the match was absolutely fantastic. Both Nadal and Federer are absolutely inspiring to watch and they both deserve to win of course.

The same is true for Crohn’s Disease and myself, we both deserve to win, but alas, only one will achieve victory at the end of the match. Just like these tennis greats of today’s match, Crohn’s is a tough opponent, determined, unpredictable, powerful, and not willing to give up. So I remember this Chronic Illness has such power – so I am not overwhelmed with victory or defeat.

If you pay close attention to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, they are consummate professionals! They are gentlemen and they are good sports. They do not let a loss get them too down – there is always another match to play, and they do not just play for the win. When you watch the games and interviews, it is obvious that they ENJOY playing tennis, despite the stress or tension of such a high stakes match.

My point: live in the moment, try your best, enjoy the journey, some days you win your “match against Crohn’s Disease” and other days you lose, but remember – “You are a professional athelete of Chronic Illness and you can always win next time. Train harder, be kinder to yourself, and never give up!”

Game, Set, Match! – Isaac Levinsky

Fatigue is real… real tough… and Happy Belated 4th of July!

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Isaac Levinsky wants to wish you all a happy 4th of July and 243rd Birthday to our great nation the United States of America!

So I was too busy being sick with a Crohn’s Disease flare-up of fatigue and pain to post yesterday! I super enjoyed the patriotism yesterday, I love our country. Very enjoyable to watch the TV special on PBS and the Macy’s Fireworks along with the presidential speech! But on to my main point below…

I am sure many people out there feel worn down and tired some of the time. Perhaps you even take a nap on the weekends or after a big holiday meal. I want you to think about that feeling and then also remember what it feels like to run a race or climb a mountain, play a game of basketball or go swimming. All these situations lead to some sort of fatigue. In the case of exercise you earned that fatigue because you exerted yourself physically. In the case of taking naps maybe work was stressful or your body is tired from eating and you feel relaxed so you take a nap.

Take a 180 turn and try to understand what UN-earned fatigue involves. I have fatigue for no reason at all except that I have Crohn’s Disease. Yesterday I took a 3 hour nap mid-day after having a full-nights sleep and I still was so tired I had to rest for the whole day. I had not exercised, I was not stressed and nothing else caused it. Fatigue is also unpredictable with auto-immune diseases like Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The problem also is that rest does not help the fatigue improve when it is from my Crohn’s Disease. That is frustrating as really there is not much to be done. There is no medical treatment for chronic illness related fatigue. I did my doctoral research on helping this type of fatigue (wait for another post).

Ultimately, if someone you know has an auto-immune disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, or even any Cancer related fatigue- keep in mind that it is not their fault and napping will not fix the problem. I always find it helpful to have the people in my life try and help me with daily tasks when I feel like I was just in a marathon race. Ultimately, when I do feel better I try not to overdo it!

Today I had almost the same amount of fatigue and abdominal pain so I have tried to keep my mind busy by reading and spending time with my family! Tomorrow is another day and who knows, I might have more energy – either way, I will be as content as possible with how I feel now and be glad it is not worse today – at least I can eat some food and not be in the hospital this week 🙂

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Two Ways to manage Stress: Music and Positive Thinking! By Isaac Levinsky

1) Music leads to relaxation and reduces stress:

I am learning to listen to my body. Stress is something all human beings and other animals experience, it turns out it is a physical response also known as the stress response or fight or flight. Basically, our bodies go into survival mode and that leads to a worsening of pain and even your emotional state. When I find I am stressed and restless I actually go turn on music I enjoy, close my eyes and get into bed to rest. After listening to music for a bit I find myself feeling more positive and often I fall asleep. Studies have shown that self-selected music (music you enjoy) and classical music fight the stress response. It really does work! So I am working on bringing music back into my life! There is something about listening to an old fashioned album or CD that I find relaxing versus the radio (no commercials). I am not into the new tech of digital or online music because I find I enjoy listening to an album the way the musician wrote – to each their own!

2) Positive thinking fights stress:

In light of successfully making it out of the hospital once again I told myself “good job Isaac”. In fact I do tend to review my experiences and try to find a meaning and growth point from going through suffering. Being that I am still recovering and unsure what the future holds with Crohn’s my best response is to keep my review to a minimum and to try to live mostly in the present moment. So instead of reviewing all the what scenarios (what happened and what will happen) here in my blog post I will discuss how I am currently managing my stress with positive thinking.

I have found that it is helpful to not allow myself to invest much energy into the pity party. “Oh, why me”, “I can’t handle this”, or “this isn’t fair”, or my favorite go to “I wish I never had Crohn’s Disease”. These thoughts are natural but not helpful.

Instead I tell myself “glad that is over”, “good job”, “I will be okay”, and “now that is another type of pain I can handle” – this builds confidence in my ability to handle my chronic illness. This change in thoughts to being more positive is well researched and call “cognitive reframing”. Essentially, I think of our thought process as an investment. Am I going to invest my limited resources in negativity, pain, and anger; or will I choose to invest in positive affirmation and giving myself credit for making it through another hospital stay. I have tried both investments of course and still do and I imagine you can guess which one actually helps! Try and be positive and be kind to yourself and say “good job”, that is what I strive to do 🙂 – Isaac Levinsky

Inspired and Thankful! :)

Bob Marley has been a source of inspiration for me and many others, his words ring true today!

Yesterday I reached out to old friends and also family letting them know I was starting my blog. Many people I have not seen in years and it has been absolutely inspiring with the positive response I have received. I want to thank each and everyone of you for agreeing to either be my Facebook friend, or to follow my page on WordPress and especially I appreciate it if you took the time to read a blog entry.

For so many years – since one year from graduating from High School I have been afraid and scared to share about my Crohn’s Disease as though it were a weakness and defect – that is what the fear told me. I was afraid I would be judged, I was afraid I would have less opportunities, and I was afraid for anyone to know something so personal – that I suffer daily with pain and fatigue.

Well it turns out that the world is full of good people who care about others. In fact, my fear became a self-fulfilling prophecy to suffer alone, to have the illness isolate me from the world. Well no longer! I see now that by sharing about what it is like to have Crohn’s Disease I will be able to connect to others and to actually be back in the world I have been fearful of entering.

So thank you all and this proves that the world truly is filled with caring and support and not simply hate or judgment.

🙂 Isaac Levinsky

image credit: https://www.azquotes.com/quote/367377