Monday, July 30, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I'm not sure I'll need the Apple tomorrow, but I'm going to take it along -- because I have it and I should be using it.
At 8 a.m. tomorrow morning I'm starting literacy training. Because I'm not literate, you ask?
This second round in education is funnier in some ways than the first round was. Literacy training is a prime example. Only English teachers have been asked to take "literacy training." Maybe I would have more understanding if coaches or home economics teachers were being trained (I know, that's a stereotype) but no, it's only for English teachers or those who work with them.
So tomorrow I go to learn to be literate. Literally.
P.S. They are paying me to take the training. That's the good news. But I've got two full days at a convention center and then a day having a root canal and then a day learning to use the Apple. I'll tell you all about it at the end of the week -- if I'm literate enough, that is. What a hoot!
Friday, July 27, 2007
Twenty-nine years ago – a couple of lifetimes, actually, at , I put on a beige caftan and hung it with my turquoise jewelry. Hubby put on his favorite jeans leisure suit. It was 1978 after all. His best buddy put on a lovely three piece black suit. We climbed into our little used
Hubby’s sister and mother met us at the church, along with a family friend. The minister was a no-show. After 20 minutes, in panic, I called him only to find him having dinner with his family. “Oh. Was I supposed to meet you tonight? Well, sorry. I’ll be right there.”
Thirty minutes later the ceremony began. The minister examined the paperwork. He smiled at Hubby and then asked the bride and groom to hold hands, as he happily tried to join my hand to Hubby’s best friend. We explained the mistake.
“Dearly beloved . . . do you Susan take this man . . .” Oops. No Susan present. My mind frantically began to wonder just how wrong this wedding, seemingly impromptu, was going to go wrong. Would it be legal if the minister continued to use the wrong name and actually married Hubby to Susan?
Hubby grinned when he looked at my face and stopped the ceremony. The minister peered at us for a moment or two in consternation, shrugged and began again.
Two weeks earlier Hubby’s best friend had arrived from
Five years earlier Hubby and I had met when I joined his choir. I couldn’t sing well, but I could read music and in that choir that was an advantage. I’d been smitten from the start. Hubby was as well but it took us six months to connect. From the first date we’d never been apart. Hubby had two previous marriages; I had one.
Our “courtship” really was a non-event. We had all the ups and downs of a couple that immediately start living together when they really don’t know anything about each other. My parents were horrified. His family had seen him through so many girls that they didn’t even bother to get to know them any longer. His sister has no memory of me in the first year of our relationship – I was just one of a long line of conquests.
After five years, my family was still irate but his had finally welcomed me into the flock. I wanted a visual commitment to show the world that Hubby was indeed, a “taken” man. Grudgingly, he finally agreed and so the best friend was invited to attend the wedding, arriving in mid-July. After two weeks of waiting for the big event, best friend finally told Hubby that he was going home that weekend. So on a Thursday at we were at the church, formalizing our five year relationship.
Vows taken, papers signed, minister paid, we drove a couple more blocks to Hubby’s sister home where we had a blue Baskin Robbins cake and opened our one wedding present, an electric skillet. Hubby sat around long enough to have some ice cream and then he and best friend went off to play pool, their favorite evening activity and I went home, alone.
The best friend is now a full professor of music at a prestigious
Four years ago Hubby’s sister flew to us for a month, and with the help of church friends, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a concert raising funds for the church. With the help of our friends and family, I got the perfect wedding event. Folks came from near and far, the music was incredible, the concert with accompanying reception full of red roses and long gowns and tuxedos. The best friend flew in to duet with his pal. And Hubby sang to me, a song of his choosing. The song is not highly romantic. It is not full of passion and glitz. But it speaks to the love we have shared all these years.
“If ever I would leave you, it wouldn’t be in summer. . . .”
Thirty-four years ago we began our life together; twenty-nine years ago we were officially united. How lucky we have been to have had each other through the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the ups and the downs. We promised in that ceremony to love each other to the end . . . and that promise has been kept.
“Summer, winter springtime, or fall! No, never could I leave you at all!”
Thursday, July 26, 2007
“Nothin’, babe. Things are just fine.”
As I peered intently into his eyes, I asked the fateful question. “The knees?”
“Oh, they feel pretty good.”
And there it was. Pretty good. The pain was easing. The pain that had stolen his sense of humor and his ability to cope with frustration and that special tone I used to hear in his voice when he was happy.
“I just rode my bicycle. I could ride it until I worked up a sweat. It felt great. I can’t go down steps yet, but maybe after the next shot. Well, anyway the knees feel better.”
And we both grinned like kids.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Hubby had the second of the three injections into his knees today (one in each knee for three consecutive weeks). The first shots last Monday really had no effect, needles in and out, and Hubby hobbled around as usual. Today, however, he experienced significant pain in his right knee after the shot.
Our good news is that the insurance company only charged us for the first injection. The other four (two more in each knee) are covered by the first deductible charge. That's a very good thing.
We weren't expecting pain with the shots and so the immediate onset put Hubby into bed for the afternoon / evening. I suggested we call the doctor, but Hubby, being the stoic that he is, preferred a "wait and see" attitude. We had asked what the restrictions were during and after the shots and the only thing we were told was that Hubby shouldn't go jogging. Otherwise, normal every day activities were very acceptable and we hadn't been warned that they might be curtailed by grinding pain.
Hubby was slated to cook dinner today, darn it, and that pain meant that I was once again forced into kitchen labor -- and comfort food, at that. It's a small price to pay, though, if tomorrow or at the end of the week - or in the next month -- Hubby begins to get some relief for his ailing knees.
We're still in a wait and see mode. We'll keep you posted.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Too many surgeries on the tummy area have created nerve endings that don’t take well to being “squished” so now I don’t buy pants with zippers or tight waist bands. The orthopedic shoes are so ugly that dresses and skirts are out – and panty hose is the bane of a “happy pants” type of woman’s wardrobe. I don’t want to iron anything either so pretty much all cotton is out unless it’s in t-shirt form. The boobs require I wear a bra, darn it, so I’m unable to give up underwear completely, but I don’t wear things that buttons up the front because that requires more structured undergarments than I care to undertake.
Meanwhile I own Oprah’s closet. Well, not the closet itself – just enough clothes that I feel like Oprah when I survey the mounds of clothing I actually do own. Biting a very painful bullet, this summer Hubby and I agreed to learn how to sell things on E-bay and we started with my closet. I spent April and part of May divesting myself of any interest I had in keeping clothing that, though absolutely gorgeous, was not comfortable or practical (requiring dry cleaning and/or ironing). The amount of clothes I then had for sale was incredible – and embarrassing.
Two closets and two dressers in the basement full of clothes. Three upstairs closets jammed full and a room strung with clothing poles full to overflowing. There were skirts, long, short, full, straight, wool, corduroy, velvet, linen. There were blouses, sometimes five of the same design just in different colors. There were slacks and pants and
I struck a deal with Hubby. He would photograph the clothes, I would write up the descriptions, he would mail the packages when and if they sold and what didn’t sell was destined for the charity shop. I started with the vests and sold five and we gave the rest away. Of the more than 15 I owned I kept two out of the lot.
We moved on to the blouses and sold more of those. Vests aren’t very trendy right now it seems but the blouses sold well. We sold around 25 blouses with about 15 more that didn’t sell. I moved on to selling pants. They sold about as well as the vests, however all the pants suits sold. Now I’m listing dresses and outfits – matching skirts and blouses – as well as blazers and jackets.
E-bay selling is time consuming and both E-bay and PayPal take a cut of your earnings. Then, of course, mailing is expensive, even though you charge the customer for the service. Writing up the description of the item takes time, as does the photographing and the wrapping of the packages for mailing. Luckily clothing doesn’t break when you ship it. We're not getting rich out of this.
Yet, slowly my closet is dwindling. I can now unearth my favorite t-shirts from the rack instead of just grabbing the first one I can see. The blouses may not have breathing room but they aren’t so jammed packed that they are too wrinkled to wear without pressing. I eliminated every pair of slacks that didn’t carry some designation of “happy pant” in them for me. Though I still own a rainbow of colors, I don’t own four pairs of red slacks any longer (we won't discuss black, however -- one can never own too many pairs of comfy black pants).
In the second bedroom the bookcase is no longer obliterated by clothes hung all over it. In fact the only items hanging there now are the ones I’ve still to write descriptions of for E-bay selling. Once that is done the clothes are shipped off to the “other house” where Hubby has his office. He maintains them until they either sell or they go to the charity store. Either way, I’ve loosened my grip on them or once they are out of this house I won’t lay eyes (or my greedy hands) on them again. At least once a week, though, Hubby and I have to have the “talk.”
“Oh, look at this pretty skirt and blouse – Oh! I just loved it so much – Oh! I think I need to keep it just in case. .”
“When was the last time you had that outfit on?” bellows Hubby and I have to remember that it was four years ago and though it is lovely and still very much in style and in perfect condition, I’ve not worn it because: a. the buttons gapped in the front when I sat down; b. it requires panty hose; c. the skirt only looks good with high heels (NOT on these feet!); d. the waist required a belt which pinched; and e. it looked best with a blazer and that was just way too many pieces of clothing for me to feel comfortable in.
I still may have Fibber McGee’s closet (for you old folks out there) but I no longer have the excess of Oprah who is allowed to wear something only once in public. School starts in just a week and my happy pants, which I can now easily find, are ready for new year of comfort and ease.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
We knew going in that the first shots would show little to no results. After the second set of shots we might see some improvement – or maybe not.
It could take up to 12 weeks before we know if Hubby will be more agile and in less pain but we are only looking at a 50% "shot" at improvement.
However Hubby is the eternal optimist. He believes the shots will help. He really wants them to work so he can avoid total knee replacement on both knees. Maybe that will raise his percentage a bit.
Above is a picture of Hubby's much stronger legs taken about eight years ago -- and as you can see even then the knees were not bending very well. In this picture our boy Fritzy is only two years old -- he's ten now and a senior citizen. All of us are slowing down, it seems. And yes, Hubby is carrying a purse -- he's never had gender identification issues.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Today we went in to have the orthopedic surgeon begin injections into Hubby’s knees. He is in constant pain when he walks. Active all this life, he now has to hobble at the grocery store, limp with the doggies in the park, and we have permanent handicapped tags on the car.
We have investigated total knee replacement, but Hubby is not yet ready for another hospital stay. He’s afraid. The last one, 7 days in ICU, 10 days total, stole his strength. Because the knees are now so painful he has been unable to exercise his way back to his former physical level. His legs, always muscular and strong, emerged from the hospital as toothpicks. He’s been reduced to a tenth of a mile hobble around the park; then he sits on the old folks’ bench and lets the dogs roam at will. He can’t play with them anymore on their daily walks.
We tried cortisone injections to reduce swelling and pain but they produced no effect. Today’s shots are a visco-supplementation therapy that involves injecting a clear gel-like substance directly into the knee joint. A series of injections in each knee help to restore some of the lubrication lost by damaged cartilage. An injection is given as one shot into the knee joint each week for three weeks.
The doctor tells us that usually people who respond to this form of treatment will experience some improvement for six to ten months. An injection series can be repeated every six months as needed. This method of therapy is used for people who have not benefited from less invasive therapies such as lifestyle modification, physiotherapy, and oral medications.
The cost for one treatment cycle of Synvisc® (three weekly injections) into ONE knee is over $800 – that covers only the drug and not the doctor’s services for the injections. We’re doing both knees. Because these shots are so expensive, it takes up to a month to get approval from the insurance company. We could have started treatment two weeks ago when we had an appointment with the doctor to hear about the results of Hubby’s MRI, but the insurance approval had not yet been granted.
I went with Hubby to get the shot – one to each knee. It was a very simple procedure. The actual injection site was marked with the doctor’s fingernail imprint – he held his finger on the knee until he had an indentation – and then the shot was given. Hubby experienced little to no pain. He was advised not to jog for a couple of days, but we laughed at what was clearly a moot point.
I began researching Synvisc® on-line when we got home, just to see what the prognosis was for Hubby feeling much better in about three weeks. He’s got a 50% chance, which is pretty good considering the state his knees are in. But what got me was that in
Then the mail arrived. In it was a bill to us for $100 – a sum that wasn’t covered by Hubby’s MRI to prove that his knees didn’t have tumors, just arthritis. The MRI cost $755, we paid $35 at the visit, and now we owe another hundred bucks.
I’m so disgusted. We were always told that because we had a democratic system of free trade we were protected from this type of chicanery. Instead, we’ve become victims of greed and price gouging – and the middle class American is going broke if this keeps up.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
This year, and especially this summer, I’ve felt happy. This is a deep down appreciation of just how good my life has become. I have recognition that I’m blessed with many precious things. I know what isn’t perfect about my life, but I also know that when balancing the good against the bad, I am extremely fortunate right now.
Maybe it takes a whole heap of pretty dreadful things, all of which we survived, to trigger recognition of what happiness is when you finally come out the other end. Last year, 2006, from April to August, life was pretty dire for us. Hubby’s health, my employment, and all the uncertainty that both problems were causing made me feel that life was skidding out of control. When I read what I wrote about last year, I can feel the deep dread I was experiencing at that time. It’s almost more than I can handle, even today.
This summer, however, has been really special, maybe the best one of my adult life. I did what I wanted to do. Oh, sure, I didn’t do everything my heart desires. I didn’t see
Next week I start back to school, not on an every day basis, but a workshop here and there until we start in earnest in two weeks. Tomorrow Hubby begins his series of knee injections. Tuesday I start major dental work. Friday I help out a friend. Workshops are Wednesday and Thursday, then again on the 30th and 31st. I’m secure in that I’m going back to a job I like – and that I’m really good at. I’m going to work with people I basically respect. My salary is more than acceptable and my benefits are decent.
I sit back and look at my life, just as it is today, and know that I’m happy. How could you ask for more than that? The dogs are healthy and frisky. The house is still standing. Hubby is puttering about; finding things to do that entertain him. He’s not as happy as I am, but he’s still in recovery mode. I hope one day he, too, can realize just how good we really have it.
Last year I wondered whether the glass was half full or half empty. This year I think the glass is full, if not exactly over-flowing. How precious it is to feel happy for an extended period of time, to know that things are going good, and that no matter what the future holds, I will have this time to look back on and cherish. I feel happy. That’s a really important statement to be able to make. I feel really happy.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Without belaboring the message, which definitely needs belaboring in my humble opinion, the movie is very good.
The worst scene for me took place right here in my home town at the Catholic mega-hospital
The movie was shown in a smaller theater at the local 20 metroplex. Nearly all the seats were filled. Hubby said to me, “Looks like this is the crowd that should be interested in this topic,” so I looked around me. The great majority of the audience was over 60 and certainly looked to be the perfect Republican voter – well groomed, well fed, well dressed, and very, very white. Ten minutes into the film the audience was cheering on Michael Moore and groaning audibly over the decisions made by Richard Nixon and George W. The references to Hillary Clinton were even well received.
Now I’m wondering if a time of change is actually taking hold of this country. Is it possible that we are taking
The four countries that
After I quit teaching in 1990 Hubby and I were without health care coverage for 14 of the 17 years I worked as an independent contractor. All our medical bills and all our prescriptions were paid out of pocket. Coverage was simply too expensive. Now, though, since Hubby is over 70 and I’m working for a school district, we both have what is considered more than adequate coverage.
The young, the old, and way too many people in-between are suffering terribly in this great country because the insurance industry is all about profit and money and greed. It’s time to put a stop to it. As decent human beings, as a nation who claims to lead the world in democracy – we MUST step up and offer a sensible national insurance plan to all our citizens. No American should suffer so an executive at
If you haven’t seen it yet, take the time and check out Sicko. You’ll be glad you did.
Friday, July 13, 2007
The grad course for the fall semester of 2006 was online but the prof wanted paper after paper, I think to prove that we actually were reading the text book. I had to take an extension into February to get all the writing done. Somehow I was talked into taking two courses for the spring semester of 2007. One course was manageable and only required I attend once a week for three hours and write a couple of reasonable-in-length papers. The second course, a practicum, never met but the final paper was incredibly complicated. Again, I had to take an extension and just got it turned in finally, this week -- 24 pages of paper, 30 pages of addendum, and two Excel graphs showing 195 hours of work.
Meanwhile, Hubby continued to recuperate. Church work went forward. Friends fell by the way-side. By the time summer arrived -- for my school district in mid-May -- I was in dire need of a time for rejuvenation and renewal.
This summer has been wonderful. We did things slowly, very, very slowly. Hubby has always wanted to sell "junk" on e-bay, so we cleaned cupboards and closets and bookshelves and we began listing things. It's not as difficult as we initially supposed. A lot of things sold and a lot of things didn't so we gave a bunch away to the local charity stores.
Hubby met with the orthopedic surgeon and they evaluated his knees. I found a new doctor, hopefully one I will like this time around (the last one was just a little too into strange off-the-wall medications). I also began a series of dental work that revolves around a broken back molar.
Now summer is winding down. Next week Hubby starts the knee injections -- three in each knee for three succeeding weeks. I start the root canal on August 1 which will lead to a crown. I'm going to a two-day literacy workshop next week and the following week a two-day workshop to learn to use the Mac laptop the district gave me at the end of school.
I didn't take any grad courses this summer, but I'll start again in late August. School itself starts up August 3rd with teacher workshops. I wasn't ready last week for summer to end, but this week I'm beginning to think it will be okay. I'm rested. Most of what I wanted to accomplish has at least had dents made in them.
Last year was wonderful, though full of ups and downs, traumas and victories. This summer has been quiet and peaceful. I think about what it was like for me this time last year. My world has turned 180 degrees from that place. I'm ready to move forward, to enjoy this time of success in my life. Things are very, very good.
Hopefully, that means I'll be back here writing once again. We shall see . . .
Thursday, July 12, 2007
So people started writing me about their experiences with insurance companies, which are clearly -- along with the pharmaceuticals – the Satans of the modern age in the
Here’s an example from a friend who works at a lab:
I wish that I could tell you that your story is one that I have not heard before. Given that I work directly with insurance companies I often see problems for patients where the insurance has denied erroneously and we, XXX Lab, not knowing that the denial is erroneous send the patient a bill. Patient needless to say is incredibly upset that they get a bill from XXX Lab and think that we are the screwiest company ever (kind of like your Walgreen's experience but unfortunately, we don't have a storefront that people come in to) and then refuse to believe that the issue is with their insurance company. I often call the insurance company with the patient to hear the insurance company tell us that they denied the claim - sometimes they acknowledge their error and sometimes they don't.
There are some definite issues with the system - there is not really a consequence for insurances when they deny claims in error - it actually is in their benefit as they get to hold on to their money longer and think how many patients don't complain and just pay the bill.....or never pay the bill and expect someone like my company to re-file to the insurance (which takes time and money for us....the insurance company doesn't care....) ...not sure who did your blood work but, if it was XXX Lab and you have any problems, please feel free to let me know.
I truly understand about Humana. A good reason why your system should get rid of them. The thing that blows my mind most is the time and level of frustration it takes to deal with every freakin’ bureaucracy. I'm having something similar right now with
Go figure. So much time wasted by everybody on this SHIT!
doG! Milly, what a mess. Sounds like (name of state) Care. My sister is covered by it and what you have gone through she has as well...at least three times. Hopefully this will not happened again. But make sure you have anti-anxiety meds on hand for the next renewal.
This came from a scientist working in a lab in a local hospital:
OK, here is what XXX Insurance Company did (usually we have great response from them). I still think XXX is the best insurance we have ever dealt with. They canceled out insurance for the last week of our old fiscal year policy (last week of June). Everyone had to call the prescription coverage part to have them reinstate us for meds needed that week. What a bummer. No one realizes the time and frustration this puts on the American population (at least no one who can change it).
I could not agree with you more about Humana being the company from h e l l !!!
Numerous issues over the years, mostly in regard to my migraine medications and what is or isn't covered, or what coverage has now changed after nine years. I HATE HUMANA!!
A friend from California who has retired wrote:
I deal with insurance companies every day since I do all the insurance billing for the acupuncturist at the clinic. Humana is not the only company from hell, believe me. We joke at the office that to be hired by an insurance company the #1 requirement is that you have no common sense, can't think for yourself and are as dumb as a bat There are a couple of smaller companies that are really good - but all the big guns are impossible to deal with. Fortunately the patient did not die for want of medication while trying to unravel their mess.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Everyone swears that I have insurance and that it is active -- and yes, please go get your prescriptions. Except I show up at the pharmacy and they laugh at me! "You have no insurance!" they chortle with glee.
I hate Humana! Hate! Hate! Hate!
I wonder if I'll ever get off this merry-go-round.
For the past week I have been battling with Humana -- and USD #000 (my district) over insurance. God, what a screw up!
I enrolled in April. For USD #000 each year you have to re-enroll to have continued health coverage. You can do it online and everybody in my building had trouble with the on-line enrollment process. I had to communicate with the district's insurance coordinator five times before I got it -- partly because I was adding Will into the mix for some of the insurance and I was adding dental to my own policy (I had the broken tooth and knew how expensive that would be).
So, got enrolled, got back notification I had enrolled.
In USD #000 coverage ends June 30th and new coverage begins July 1.
I saw my new (and hopefully liked) doctor last week of June. Got all the new scripts, except for one that was determined I needed AFTER the blood work came back. They sent that one in the mail -- but doctoring in the new millennium has new techniques and so when I realized I had only a 30 day script, I e-mailed the office to get a 90 day script because Humana gives a month's free if you fill in big numbers. The doctor's office called in to my pharmacy the new script -- and I went to pick it up.
Which is when I discovered I had no insurance coverage, according to Walgreen’s. To be honest, I was initially ticked at Walgreen’s. Of course, I had coverage. But after the second visit, when I was inside (not the pick-window) and they called Humana, I heard Humana announce that my coverage had been terminated.
Not -- non-renewed -- T E R M I N A T E D!!!!!!
I flew home and called USD #000. All I could think was that I had somehow flubbed the enrollment process and . . . but no. USD #000 confirmed I had medical, dental, vision, and life insurance. So, I said to USD #000 -- what's the deal? They suggested I call Humana and on their part, they would look into the situation.
Oh, lord. Humana is the company from hell. It's this huge stone wall one can't get through. It took me forever to figure out how to get a real live person on the phone. I logged into the web site, using my password, and was immediately notified that I had "NO ACTIVE COVERAGE." When I finally got a person on the phone, I got disconnected. Eventually I got another live person and was told, "No, you have no coverage. It was terminated June 30th. So sorry. Can't help you. Goodbye."
So began phone calls and numerous e-mails -- and as I investigated further, I discovered that my doctor's bill of $225 for the last week of June had also been rejected, because -- Humana couldn't verify who my insurance coverage had been with previously (it was Humana, f*ckers, the construction company had Humana and when I changed employment they simply kept my same number and transferred the policy).
Meanwhile I couldn't get the medication. One day goes by. I continually check on line to see if the situation has been rectified. USD #000 notifies me they are checking -- and they provide multiple e-mails to prove they are trying to find out what happened. Two days go by. Three days go by. Etc.
Eventually, USD #000 notifies me that Humana has notified them they had an error loading "some" employees into their system. USD #000 demands a complete audit of the system. Humana discovers that approximately a dozen were load incorrectly and I'm one of the dozen. But now EVERYTHING is fixed and I have full coverage.
Back to Walgreen’s to get medication. Nope, no coverage. Walgreen’s calls Humana and they say they've never heard of me. We call USD #000 and alert them. More folks get involved.
I send more irate e-mails: "This is what's wrong with our health care system in the
More days go by.
Finally, USD #000 notifies me that they think everything is resolved. On-line it now shows me active on the Humana site. Because I had complained in every single e-mail that my doctor's claim has been denied -- I find that it is now paid (big sigh of relief -- who wants their brand new doctor to think they've lied about insurance?). Walgreen's calls to say they have my prescription ready for pick-up.
And this morning, I get the coup de grace -- an e-mail (finally -- this is the ONLY communication I've had with them) from Humana that says, "We understand you have complained about a break in your coverage. We have reviewed your files and we show that you have had coverage from
I thought I would bust a gasket!
In retrospect, USD #000 was wonderful. They were responsive and calm and persistent. They communicated with me daily. I was VERY pleased.
Humana on the other hand is the company from H E L L and if you can avoid ever having their insurance, please do so. Tell everyone! Humana sucks the BIG ONE!
Imagine . . .the nerve of implying that I'm the idiot . . .