Enquiries: Text, voice, and video communications

 

I am retired, my availability is unpredictable: you cannot rely on me for urgent advice or response. I do not make ‘appointments’ — it is a case of ‘catch me when you can’. Good times are 7 am to 10 am, and 4 pm to 7 pm, including weekends — we are UTC +10, AEST, Mackay, Tropical N Queensland.

For those who struggle to understand the rest of the globe (especially Americans), there are various websites that do the time-zone maths for you (if you try to ring me in the middle of the night you will be blacklisted).

https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock//

Make sure you inform me of your time zone; if when you ring I am unable to answer, leave a message saying for how long you will be available so that I know whether to try and ring you back when I am free.

Read the ‘Pre-call’ checklist below, before ringing.

My difficulty with keyboard work means it is easier for me to explain things via voice apps like Skype — especially because there is rarely such a thing as a simple quick question. There are various other platforms available, Skype works best for me but Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime, or Viber, are all possible. If you are using an institutional network those systems may block VoIP, so you may need to use your personal device, or ring from home.

If you do not understand how to use these platforms do not write to me about it, get some help somehow. Perhaps do a test call with somebody else first, we want to make the best use of the time I can make available for you.

There are guides to skype: use Dr Google to help.

The signature on my emails contains my contact details, and Heidi has even inserted a Skype icon that you can just click on to get me, like below.

Etiquette

Make sure you are in a quiet room with minimal background noise and do not talk to me whilst walking around with a mobile device; you do not have to use the camera, but if you do then place it securely at face height. I do not want to be looking up your nose, nor getting seasick as you wave it around. Ensure there is not a bright light behind you.

Read the relevant sections on my website (and look at videos) to check if your question is already answered, you can use the search facility to search for particular words, text strings, et cetera.

You can email me here, it is best to send background information via email, properly identified with your name — emails get seen, Skype text messages may be missed (unless they are sent during a call). Make information concise, I have limited time to read through numerous long emails.

Make sure your emails have a name, location, and time zone (use Coordinated Universal Time, UTC), so I know who’s who, and which Skype name corresponds to which email address. I may decline to respond to messages from individuals who do not adequately identify themselves.

Skype helps me avoid typing, long emails are a problem for me.

If you do not want sound or vision you can use Skype just like texting — those with depression may be disinclined to interact — but it allows me to talk and explain things that are sometimes complex.

I do not charge for information, but most people offer a donation of around $100 dollars to help with Heidi’s wages and the other costs associated with hardware and software that drives the website (more wealthy individuals may consider larger donations).

Note: if I am busy, which I sometimes am, it is only fair that I give preference to people who have donated.

Depending on the level of your background knowledge you may have difficulty understanding or interpreting some of the material, which is sometimes complex, so be careful not to make unjustified assumptions. You can usually ‘right-click’ on something and learn more about it, whether that is the definition of a word or term, or explanation in some source such as Wikipedia. Explanations and elaborations are usually only a click away, so do not complain I use big words you cannot understand.

In many cases the most valuable information I will need is what different drugs have you taken, in what dose and for how long, and which of them did, or did not, do you harm or good.

I do not keep notes and records of conversations, therefore if you contact me subsequently it may be useful for you to have a record of any previous discussion.

I cannot undertake to be available at short notice, you must always have a healthcare provider locally with whom you can discuss the information I give and whose advice you can use to decide on the course of action you wish to follow, and to whom can go to for urgent advice or emergencies.

Whatever information you receive from me, and what you may wish to do because of it, will always need to be discussed and agreed with the responsible prescriber of your medication (who is welcome to contact me if they wish).

Pre-call checklist

Have you checked with the time zone to make sure you’re ringing at an appropriate time?

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 Check the Skype availability Icon (available or not).

Not available

Available

If I do not answer quickly it means I am busy, so do not let it ring more than 5 times, hang up and send a skype text message saying how much longer you will be available for, so that I know whether to ring back once I am free. If I decline the call it means I am busy.

Make sure you identify yourself in a way which enables me to know which email correspondence matches which Skype call.

Make sure you know how to open the text messaging window and that you know how to accept files sent via Skype etc.

Be clear in your mind as to exactly what you want to ask me — consider making a list of your questions before you speak with me. Bear in mind I can usually only answer specific questions about medications, I may not be able to ‘make a diagnosis’ over the Internet.

Make sure you know the names (real names, not brand names) and doses of the drugs you are currently taking and for how long you have been taking them, it may be a good idea to have those written down so you can send them as a Skype message quickly and easily to avoid any misunderstandings.

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