My first year as a publishing tycoon: 26,234 hits and growing

(Cake courtesy Jewel, Cityline Plaza, Moline)

DavidHeitz.com turns a year old today! As a gift to myself, I’ve turned the ads on.

I have to pay the Internet bill somehow.

I love the “Live Mas” Taco Bell ones flickering on the cannabis content the best. I’ve seen one for Hyundai, too…even one for LEGOLAND!

And then there’s the matter of the above-pictured pastry. I told the gals at Jewel to check out DavidHeitz.com and come up with something fitting for its first anniversary.

I think they did an incredible job. The scales of justice are, well…the icing on the cake.

Let me tell you how much fun my website has been for a 47-year-old who landed his first paid newspaper job three decades ago. The internet has created an almost completely level playing field in the world of publishing.

My “printing press” is this website, which costs about $400 per year. My “circulation department” is Facebook – a much, much, much, much bigger annual cost. But worth it.

Sometimes I get a remarkable algorithm on my stories on my Facebook page without ever even spending a penny. With almost 4,600 Facebook followers alone, it happens now and then.

And, I have a message that people find interesting.  Sharing it has paid dividends already. Often, writing about what happened to me is a way of simply feeling like I have done something regarding all the nonsense I’ve endured the past three years. The word “dirty” doesn’t even begin to explain it.

The truth is coming out now. Anyone who pays one iota of attention should be picking up on a few things and connecting some dots.

Had I not had this site and my Facebook page, I don’t know my claims of abuse ever would have been investigated. But I’m pretty sure they have. Honestly though, I have no idea where things stand. Nobody in their right mind would ever tell me something they don’t want reported.

I know how things are beginning to look, however.

At the end of the day, a member of the Rock Island County Board told me to take my story of what happened in the jail to the local news media and scream it at the top of my lungs. I knew that wouldn’t get me anywhere.

But this site has. I think.

A worldwide media presence

Do young journalists still dream of owning their own newspaper? I never did, but only because I never even fathomed it a reality.

I never could have guessed that by middle age, I’d be a bonafide publisher cranking out copy from the comfort of my own home. Delivering it, in fact, to consumers of my content on their phones, tablets and laptops. Even being able to decide who, where, and what interests I want to target with each post. I have followers (quite a few in fact) in several African nations due to all the HIV reporting I used to do, as well as a few in the Netherlands, and bunches in the UK.

I also have followers of my blog in Albania, Qatar, South Korea and Germany. And Australia. How could I forget Australia?

This is a dream newspaper on steroids!

Working on my book, writing about issues nobody else wants to touch…it gives me tremendous purpose. Purpose is key to my happiness in life. As long as I have purpose, I really don’t need much else.

My purpose is to shed light on the truth regarding certain topics. Those topics include medical cannabis, elder care, mental health, sober living, and public corruption.

I wrote my very first blog post on Aug. 9, 2016. You can read it right here.

Things are better now than they were a year ago. I always said to my therapist, “Imagine how things are going to be when everyone finds out that everything I have said happened to me are proven true. It will be like living it all over again, but maybe worse, because there may be even more to all of this that I don’t remember.”

It’s a real and frightening thought, given it took a year to remember the initial assault in my basement. When I did remember it, it was in an extremely disturbing manner.

And now everything is adding up. I’m still holding out faith in law enforcement and the justice system.

And I’m glad I turned the ads on.

Keep circling back, and thanks so much for playing a part in making my site successful!

Testimony supporting Strategic’s plan to build Bettendorf psychiatric hospital

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(Image courtesy Pixabay)

The Iowa Health Facilities Council will consider the application of Strategic Behavioral Health of Memphis, Tenn. to build a psychiatric hospital in Bettendorf during a public hearing Thursday in Ankeny. Here is my submitted testimony to the council in support of the hospital.

June 16, 2017

Health Facilities Council

c/o Becky Swift

Iowa Department of Public Health

Lucas State Office Building

321 E. 12th St.

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

I submit this letter in support of Strategic Behavioral Health today as a former patient of the Robert Young Center, an advocate for the mentally ill, a person in recovery, and a health care journalist and branded content writer.

I even was offered the corporate writer job at UnityPoint (then Trinity) in 2002. I had many wonderful meetings and interviews through the years with David Deopere and Bob Lundin, who I both admired. I worked at the Quad-City Times from 1986 to 1992 and again from 2002 until 2010, when I quit to care for my elderly father. He died of behavioral-variant frontotemporal degeneration almost two years ago. BvFTD is a disease that takes a staggering toll over time not only on the patient, but also on the people around them. My dad received disability Social Security in 1984 at the age of 46 and lived until almost 78.

He also was a patient at Robert Young Center for many years and never made it secret how he felt about them either, but I won’t repeat the words he used.

Today I need to share my story, and we need to address the broken mental health care system in the Quad-Cities once and for all. Why we are even debating this is extremely disturbing in the light of the mental health care crisis here. That hospital could have been built by now and would already be helping people.

On May 6, 2015, I was “arrested” at Amber Ridge Memory Care in Moline, where my father lived, on no charges at all. I never was charged with anything, but they told me my offense was raising my voice.

When they booked me, I refused to sign something regarding an assault charge, as I did not assault anyone. They therefore threw me in the “suicide” cell for two days. By law, you can keep someone two days if they are suicidal.

Not more than two hours later that day a nice young woman from Robert Young Center showed up at the cell window. She was wearing proper identification and such. She asked me what happened. I explained I was involved in a criminal investigation (that indeed has produced fruit) and that I was frightened because I thought I saw a “bad guy.”

Ironically, I had just been diagnosed by an RYC clinician with PTSD a few days before. But my PTSD has been chronic and lifelong due to growing up in a violent home. It’s not just the result of the events of the past several years.

To make a long story short, the RYC clinician who showed up at the jail said she would get me released, repeatedly affirming, “You clearly are not suicidal.”

I would love for someone to ask that woman about her visit with me. RYC told me no record exists of her visit.

My understanding is that RYC does not create a medical record unless there is a bill attached. That’s why the record does not exist. How can this be legal? Especially when the mental health professional says you don’t belong in the jail, so they are holding you in violation of a “suicide” statute that allows them to keep you without charges.

Add the layer of being an informant in a criminal investigation, and boy does it stink. Stinks bad.

I plan to write a book about all of this soon and already have heard from interested publishers/documentary filmmakers.

When I was released, I was taken to the crisis center at UnityPoint in Rock Island. There, I was treated horribly by the emergency room doctor. I filed several written complaints about the entire incident. UnityPoint ended up forgiving the portion of my bill that Blue Cross Blue Shield did not pay, and not for financial reasons.

I actually was readmitted to the hospital a second day, taken by ambulance from the grocery store when I suddenly had a horrible panic attack and literally felt like I was going to have a heart attack. The bill was $1,800 total that BCBS did not pick up. I am very grateful that they forgave the bill.

My records from the stay are wildly inaccurate. For a day, they were “missing.” The patient advocate helped me get them. When I went to pick them up, they only wanted to give me the top page. I said that was not acceptable and laid down a credit card to pay for the whole thing. The clerk said, “Just give me what’s in your pocket” and discounted the rest and gave me the entire file.

The form letter regarding the bill forgiveness was slightly different from others, I have been told by former RYC employees. The first sentence said they certainly try to treat everyone with dignity and respect, or something along those lines.

Today, I am writing stories about addiction and recovery and improving outcomes for the elderly for two Fortune 500 healthcare companies. I am indeed a very blessed man; thanks to the excellent mental health care I receive twice a week at Southpark Psychology. I also am on a medication regimen I have been prescribed by a GP, as quite frankly I do not trust any of the psychiatrists here. Even if they are qualified they don’t have enough time to make a good diagnosis anyway. At either hospital/mental health center on either side of the river.

I attended my first American College of Physicians conference this year in San Diego. It was extremely exciting. Despite all that life has thrown me, today I am successful and healing.

I should have been taken to a psychiatric hospital May 6, 2015, like the one Strategic Behavioral Health wants to build. I never should have been jailed on no charges at all.

Many thanks,

David Heitz

Rock Island, IL 61201

Welcome to DavidHeitz.com! Here is what my blog and web page is all about

I get excited just saying it: DavidHeitz.com. 

DavidHeitz.com. DavidHeitz.com. DavidHeitz.com

Not even five years ago would I even have dreamed that one day I would have my own website bearing my own name — my very own brand, if you will.

For starters, I never would have guessed I would even get the domain DavidHeitz.com. There is another journalist named David Heitz (and we are even the same age, both with dark hair) right down the road, in Chicago. There’s a famous David Heitz winemaker in Napa Valley. There’s a big real estate agent named David Heitz in California, too.

But there’s only ONE DavidHeitz.com! And I’m thrilled it’s me.

So why did I purchase the domain and the software to create my own site and my own blog? Well, the short answer is, I’m writing a book, due out next year. Every author needs to have a website and a social media following. The working title for my book is “Sober Caregiver, Solitary Confinement.” It not only works literally, but figuratively too. On many levels.

The social media part I’ve been working on for about two and a half years now. Today, between David Heitz Health on Facebook, @DavidHeitz on Twitter, plus LinkedIn, Google Plus, and a tiny presence on Pinterest, I have more than 7,000 followers. And it’s growing pretty fast.

I admit it now — I have a story worth telling

When people talk about writing, so much focus is placed on the craft of writing. No doubt, that is very important. But in this age where, let’s face it, anyone can be a publisher, I think what you have to say is even more important than how you say it.

So who am I? Well, a guy who was an alcoholic and/or drug addict (always one or the other when not both) for about 30 years. I grew up in a violent home. I lost my mother to breast cancer at age 24 after she had divorced my dad the second time.

I found out in my early 30s that dad had Alzheimer’s disease, which turned out to be a misdiagnosis. A few years back, we learned it in fact was a very rare brain disease called behavioral-variant frontotemporal degeneration. You can read all about that by clicking here.  Essentially it causes people to be very mean, and otherwise behave outrageously. Toward the very end their mind disintegrates to the point where they lose control of bodily functions, the ability to walk, talk, and swallow. And then they die.

So I got sober two and a half years ago when dad went into a memory care facility. I knew I had to or I was going to die. Like so many families that go through this disease, ours fell apart. Nobody cared about my dad except for me, and I cared about him very deeply. I demanded quality care and respect from the people who were paid outrageous sums of money to make sure he was safe and I dropped in quite often to make sure they were doing just that. I wasn’t always nice when I felt he (or myself) were being treated poorly.

Even as a teen, my friends used to say, “You need to write a book about your crazy family.” I always said, “Oh, my life is not that interesting.”

Famous last words.

Jailed for reporting an intruder at dad’s facility

I even went to jail, stripped naked, held on no charges at all, for two days, for raising my voice at dad’s memory care facility. You can read all about that by clicking here. There’s a whole lot more to that story that I never have told (other than to authorities), and it will all be in the book.

I became very sick inside the jail and truly thought they were going to kill me, or that I was going to die from a heart attack based on what was happening to me in there.

When they did finally let me out, I  spent two nights in the hospital. I learned some chilling things about my community. Things that, in truth, I had heard about for many years as a reporter and editor for local news organizations. But never did I think I would get an up close and personal experience with it. Maybe they wanted a reporter in there to see what was going on for himself. Who knows. It was wild stuff, no doubt about that.

I have written about all of these things piecemeal in various columns for Healthline Contributors, Caregiver Relief, and LinkedIn Pulse. I wrote hard news stories for two years as a reporter for Healthline.com, the fastest growing health website in America. I’ve written about addiction and recovery, caregiving and elder advocacy, and many other health topics, namely HIV and Hepatitis C.

While I do not have HIV or Hepatitis C, in many ways, it was that reporting that served as my bread and butter when it came to paying the bills and my re-entry into the world of writing (and working, for that matter). I’ve gotten away from HIV reporting the past several months, and I may explain why in a future column. More importantly, I plan on bringing  back my HIV reporting soon — today, in fact. Check out my other blog post for breaking news today that will be of great interest to long-term survivors of HIV.

In fact, I pounded out this introductory column about my blog and my new website — even though the website isn’t exactly how I want it yet (I have no idea what a widget is, for example) because of that exciting HIV news. Expect my HIV reporting from here on out to be limited to stories regarding long-term survivors, a cure, and a vaccine. The other stuff I’m not even going to touch anymore.

Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

I do suffer from some personal health issues. Many years ago I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. In fact, I was a drug addict. Mixing the bipolar drugs with illegal drugs and booze no doubt did plenty of damage, and I went through bouts of depression where I would cry and not get off the couch for months at a time.

When I got off the bipolar medication things began to turn around, yet the hard drinking did not stop, even though I had quit using drugs and quit hanging out with the bar and drug crowd. Boozing it up by myself, at home alone, I knew then that indeed I was an alcoholic. I could not get to sleep otherwise, the anxiety associated with caring for dad and fighting with my family was so bad.

When I was violently assaulted by someone I knew, that was my “rock bottom.” I stopped drinking and by the grace of God hope I never take another sip. Things have been on the upswing ever since.

But I do live with PTSD, not only from that violent attack more than two years ago, but also from being taken to jail last year (almost exactly to the anniversary date of the assault). I also endured mental abuse inside the jail, and just the sheer disappointment of knowing our community runs a jail like that probably will forever linger.

But things are improving for me every day, and I have found that the best way to take care of myself is to completely isolate myself from the people of my past, including my own family. I have been told I should move out of this town, but I don’t want to do that. I enjoy living in my childhood home, which I now own, and I have made the decision to stay put.

So, what can you expect from this blog? Well, hopefully a lot of positive things. I recently began to write about travel (and plan to do some traveling myself soon), pets, eating out, and hopefully soon, home improvement. I mostly pay the bills writing branded content related to addiction/recovery and home care for seniors and people with disabilities. Those stories will continue to appear on my Facebook page, David Heitz Health. Be sure to like my page if you have not already!

So I have lots of great things happening in my life and am a very blessed man. I’m so excited to launch this new chapter — DavidHeitz.com — and hope you will continue to follow my work, as well as my path to finding happiness again.

All the best,

Dave