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For the Skeptics Among You

April 27, 2013

For the Skeptics Among You

Even among those who are sympathetic to my plight, some have asked me if I am playing an elaborate practical joke with my friends on this blog.

The document on the left is an official copy of my graduate school transcript. I have been carrying it around in my backpack for years in a blue plastic envelope, although that envelope became damaged in the passed few months where you see the worst damage on the document. You will note that the degree of Master of Arts was awarded with a GPA of 3.481.

The badge at the top was given to me around 3:30 AM on June 5, 2012. The June 4 date was the previous day. Some of you may claim that I look so horrid in the picture because I was strung out on substances, but you have the burden of proof. the reality is that it was around 3:30 AM, and the flash of the camera was the brightest I have ever seen. The garment I am wearing is my pajamas, and that’s why they look so haphazard on me.

On November 20, I was rudely transferred via mass transit (in spite of my baggage) rather than the bus that Belleveue used, to Project Renewal’s Third Street Shelter. The third document is my letter of residency dated February 6, 2013. I have one for March, but I was not able to find it. I have censored this document slightly because it contains my social security number and the name of my case manager, Some time back, I received a letter of warning from the Department of Homeless Services, and one of the things it said not to do was to provide the full names of staff or clients, so I photoshopped that just enough to obscure it.

I was first diagnosed with scoliosis and slipped discs by Maria-Theresa Ho, MD and Annamalai Muthiah at the emergency room at Staten Island University Hospital North on June 15, 2005. After Michelle Cammarata, DO, had become my primary doctor, I was sent again for more X-rays. This time, they were done by Dr. Lynne Vousinas on June 29, 2005. From there I was referred to Dr. Suying Song, MD, a neurologist, who sent me for an MRI performed by Dr. Mark Raden on August 31, 2005. Her initial diagnosis was that the discs needed to come out in a risky surgery. Dr. Cammarata again sent me for more X-rays of my spine on October 7, 2005.

Around this time I applied for public assistance, and I was examined by a doctor by the WeCare program when it was based at Lenox Hill Hospital. I do not currently have access to my paperwork for that examination, but the conclusion was “limited standing, limited walking, limited lifting, limited bending, limited pushing, limited pulling.”

Dr. Cindy Resnick, a podiatrist was the first one that I had seen for foot pain since Dr. Robert Mandresh had seen me in 2000. He made the asinine conclusion that the pressure-like pain that I described was really the itch of athlete’s foot. He was a quack who sent a bill to a collection agency when I was still covered by my parents’ health insurance. She recommended that I see a neurologist named Allen B. Perel, but he did not take Medicaid. She took some x-rays, but found nothing but heel spurs. With her, I attempted Gabapentin and Lyrica, seizure medications that suppsoedly work for chronic foot pain, but they did nothing.

Dr. Cammarata sent me to the Institute of Physical Medicine on Staten Island, which is run by Dr. Perry Drucker. He put me on a seizure medicine called Elavil, which he claimed would relieve my sciatica. I don’t appear to have a written diagnosis, although I was diagnosed by the EMT on the way to the emergency room back on June 15, 2005, and my current doctor concurs that I have it in both legs. They used an electrical stimulator to put heat in the impacted nerve, then one of several physical therapists. would rub biofreeze all over my lower back. One of these was an Asian guy who is probably gay, because he kept moving lower each time until I told him off–I should have reported him. Usually, it was done by a Hispanic lady who was confused because when I received the treatments, I would read, and the book I was reading was The Alchemist by Ben Jonson, and she thought it was strange because of the Paulo Coehlo book. At two sessions each, instead of this treatment, I got ultrasounds or massage therapy. The massage therapist was a Russian lady who should have known better than to do her job with long nails. They also had me lean over with an exercise ball and spend ten minutes on a stationary bike. None of this had any impact on my condition.

Dr. Steve Gettinger, a chiropractor whom I met through Unity of New York (if you’ve seen my choral videos, he’s the guy near me in many of them who looks kind of like Elliott Gould), had me come in for four days a week of treatments for several months, gratis. Eventually, I was no longer using a cane to walk, which remains true for about 99% of the time, although I bring it along if I, for example, know that I will have to wait in line for a long period, or if I am doing an action, such as the Occupy Wall Street Anniversary March, in which I would have been unable to participate had I not had it to lean on. When Dr. Song examined me again, she no longer thought the risks of having the discs removed outweighed the benefits. In the interim, I saw another neurologist in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Anthony Maniscalco. He knew Dr. Song personally, and he had no interest in giving me a second opinion. He put me on Gabapentin as well, but I didn’t take it, because I had already taken it several months previously with no effect.

Another podiatrist, Edward Ferdinando, sent me to radiologist Erik Trenkmann on 9/1/2006, who found nothing skeletal wrong with my feet. He recommended orthotics and an incredibly expensive dermatological gel called Solaraze. The orthotics I got from Charles Pfeiffer were a joke–basically insoles made of cork, and they would develop holes that painfully pinched and blistered me before Medicaid would allow me to get a new pair. When these treatments failed, Dr. Ferdinando said, “I don’t even want to touch your feet,” and that was the last I saw him, although he did recommend a rheumatologist, who found nothing.

I was examined by an orthopedist on Bard Avenue for Social Security Disability. I probably have record of her name somewhere in storage. She concluded that I can work a desk job. She also asked to borrow a CD-ROM containing my MRI results, and I allowed her to do so, since I had it with me. This was a mistake, because my attempts to retrieve it later all failed.

Not finding success in reliving my foot pain, I tried yet another podiatrist, Keith A. Mobilia. He sent me to pain management doctors Chapman and Kang. On August 20, 2009, Dr. Kang and radiologist Jonathan Scheiner did a series of injections in my back that they thought would help, but it didn’t. Chapman and Kang were so convinced that they agreed to perform it on me at Staten Island University Hospital South at the cost of the materials rather than at their offices, because they don’t take HealthFirst. By some miracle, I was never billed.

After moving to the Bronx in 2010, the commute to Dr. Cammarata’s office on Staten Island proved to be unmanageable, and my primary care doctor is another osteopath named Uche Akwuba. He sent me to a podiatrist named Jason Cohen. Dr. Cohen found that I have plnatar fasciitis, and a technician named Jordan Steinberg performed an NCV test on 10/25/2011 that found “evidence of moderate bilateral sensory Peripheral Neuropathy predominantly affecting the lower extremities.” Dr. Cohen had me try Gabapentin again, and when that didn’t work, he put me on the mildest dosage of Lyrica. Dr. Akwuba upped me to the maximum dosage, and the only result was dizziness, so I stopped taking it. He did have some hard plastic orthotics made for me in-house and put me on night splints that he said would correct the plantar fasciitis in nine months to two years. It’s been seventeen months, but the orthotics are presumably helping. I tied that Dr. Scholl’s orthotic examination machine at Walgreens, and it initially found me to have low arches, and now it says that I have normal arches, so it seems to be doing something right, although it still says that my feet are under abnormally high pressure.

I was examined on August 31, 2012 by a doctor for ResCare, Mahjabeen Ahmed, then for FEGS on January 8, 2013 by Dr. Rose Chan. She found me to have scoliosis and plantar fascial fibromatosis. IT stated a work accomodation: “limit prolonged stand walk” and “Limited Standing” highlighted in magenta highlighter. Even so, my case manager at the shelter pilloried me for not applying to security guard jobs, even though I have no experience, the medical conditions, and it costs over $100 to get licensed for a job that I could not, sustainably, do.

  1. I don’t know why the picture is small. I think WordPress did it, because it zooms gigantically on Photoshop. It kind of misses the point when the photo can’t be enlarged. This is a technical issue that I hope to rectify, not the concealment for which I’m likely to be charged by the skeptics and trolls of my blog.

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