Saturday, June 09, 2007

Dr. Abuzzahab

My pdoc (as psychiatrists are called in the bipolar community), Dr. Faruk S. Abuzzahab, Sr., M.D., Ph.D. appeared on the cover of the New York Times last Sunday for accepting $50,000 over several years (1998-2005) from drug companies to promote their products or else it was for research of their products. I participated in some of that research -- the goal has been to make "safer" anti-psychotics, of which I am typically on a very low dose (in manic-depression those are used as "mood stabilizers"). Dr. Abuzzahab's clinical neighbor, Dr. John Simon, accepted $350,000 from manufacturers in the same period.

I know from personal experience that Dr. Abuzzahab meets with many, many patients who are on Medicare. His client base is his main source of income and activity. Medicare, it is known, underpays the doctors by a lot. Dr. Simon's office seems much less busy with patient care. Dr. Abuzzahab lost a patient and a $50,000 lawsuit some years ago, resulting in a temporary loss of his license. During that period, he became certified in alternative medicine.

I really like the old guy. He has moved to St. Louis Park from Minneapolis and seems to be seeing fewer patients(?). I need to get an appointment with him and perhaps finalize our relationship and my medication regimen. I shall miss him if this is the beginning of his retirement, one I had expected for some time as he is older in years and was probably trying to see too many patients. [My appointment on July 2 was one of our best; my med's are adjusted. We talked details. I told him about Icarus Project, and we looked up "icarus" together. He said nothing about retiring. Dr. Simon has gone into a hospital-only practice, as one of my former pdoc's has done. It is notoriously difficult to find a pdoc in the Twin Cities (but this is a different issue) as they mostly run waiting lists.]

Things I learned from Dr. Abuzzahab:

1. There is nothing to say you have to stay on medications for your whole life.
2. Cogentin is constipating.
3. The newer anti-psychotics are safer than the old ones. (After a little beta-testing on my part, I liked the old one, nicknamed try-laughing, better even than the best of the new ones, Abilify, and find it plenty "safe." The risk in those drugs is a condition called Tardive Dyskinesia. I have shown a few signs of TD, namely, stiff muscles, ergo I take Cogentin.)[6/22/07: Ignore these temporary pronouncements about medications; Cogentin may not be needed with Abilify.]
4. Present yourself, resume in hand, at the desk of colleges and universities.
5. If you dissertated and defended your dissertation and have the diploma in hand, you are a doctor (Ph.D.).
6. Try living with an older couple who have an empty nest.
7. Poets are known to be eccentric.
8. Three drinks: one before dinner, one during dinner, one after dinner.
9. Nat Shermans may be the best cigarette, but you are hooked. (Only Dr. Abuzzahab tried at every meeting to get me to quit or cut down on tobacco, using Wellbutrin (Zyban) and nicotine substitution.)
10. Respect your mother.
11. Your symptoms are simply worse than your sister's whose depression is milder.
12. Being late is human.
13. Your lateness upsets the other patients.
14. He is from Beirut, Lebanon and is a Muslim.
15. If you are in need of money, you go to a grocery store and put food in bags for people.
16. Your job is to write fiction and poetry.

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