Saturday, September 22, 2012

Taking a Break

 Going to be off-line for a little bit -- relaxing and not writing.  But in October hopefully my brain, as well as my spirits, will be recharged.  See you on the other side . . . MGW

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

If Wishes Were Horses

I wish that cleaning the bathroom on a bi-weekly basis was some sort of intellectual experience, creating in my brain great flights of invention or creative bouts of literary endeavor -- or even granting me serene peace-of-mind.  Instead it's simply drudgery, a miserable experience in time-wasted exercise involving stooping, scrubbing, sweeping, mopping and sticking my hands in the toilet to clean up stains of disgusting quantity. 

The two unending jobs in "house-wifery" have got to be cleaning up the kitchen after preparing a meal and scrubbing out the bathroom after a week's worth of use. Of course there are others -- sorting and then having to fold laundry, vacuuming carpets, sweeping floors, emptying trash -- but nothing quite compares to kitchen and bathroom clean-up.  These two jobs are unending because we dirty both places daily.  Even if we eat all our meals out, we still slice an apple or pour a drink or make some tea -- and suddenly there you have cups, knives, crumbs / peels.  What we do in the bathroom is even worse (though having experienced a couple of episodes where I couldn't do much of anything in the bathroom I'm grateful that both Hubby and I are able to use it regularly and without much fuss). 

When science invents a household robot, I want one that will clean the bathroom and scrub the kitchen counters and floor.   It would be nice if the robot looked and talked like George Clooney - but that's just an added bonus if it would actually completely clean up the bathroom / kitchen daily. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Little of This; a Little of That

Ye gads, how time flies.  I couldn't believe it was the 15th of the month already -- and I hadn't even thought of this blog since the 6th.  I guess when you're having fun . . .

Except I have nothing to write about.  So I guess this is just going to be a bulleted list of very insignificant things happening about our tiny bungalow:

  • We continue with doctoring and taking meds.  I'm supposed to be up to seven a day but I don't take them all -- and somehow I suspect that Hubby is doing exactly the same, but I don't ask because for him the consequences of missing a pill is more serious.  
  • My last prescription pickup costs us $362.  Wow!  It was for everything, though, for 90 days so I guess that's not too horrible. 
  • I finally chose my Medicare provider -- went with Hubby's because it just seemed easier now that I am also going to his health clinic.  I thought it would be a complicated procedure but I was able to complete the application(s) over the phone and will be co-insured come October 1.  
  • Over new mattress is wonderful.  I wish I could say we were sleeping better on it.  Sleep still seems rather an elusive behavior for us -- but now that we don't have to get up at 5 a.m. it's not such a burden.  
  • I'm trying to decide if we need dental insurance along with our Medicare benefits.  Vision insurance is partially provided through Medicare coverage so I'm not worried about that.  However, I have a four tooth bridge that could prove VERY expensive if it ever fails -- and these bridges only last 10 to 15 years and mine is already seven years old.  Anybody want to weigh in on dental for retired folks?  I got an estimate from Delta dental (which was my coverage from the school district and the recommendation from my co-insurer for Medicare) that says Hubby and I can be covered for $777.60 a year -- but that only covers 50% of major work -- like replacing bridges. Regular maintenance twice a year is covered at 100%.  So do we shell out -- or not?
  • We had a Groupon for a local bistro -- Michael Forbes -- that we forgot to use.  Still, with Groupon you don't lose the initial investment, you just don't get the advantage of the extra dollar value. Thursday afternoon we went over and ate their wonderful green olive spaghetti -- and both of us loved the meal.  
  • I need new shoes but can't find any that I really, really like when they cost upwards of $300 a pair.  We are going on a little jaunt soon and I would like to have a decent pair of "dress" shoes (meaning NOT sneaker type) but I haven't come across any that I'm willing to shell out big bucks to purchase.  
  • The retired Ladies Who Lunch met in September.  They picked the soul food restaurant just blocks from our house.  They swooned over the sweet potato pie -- and Hubby requested that I bring him a piece on my return.  We had a wonderful time sharing family stories.
  • The hair got permed and cut in preparation for our "little jaunt."  I go to Fantastic Sams and get a half perm and cut for $25 every 2.5 months or so -- and my second favorite stylist (I take anybody whose free) cut it just a little too short this time.  Too short is better than leaving it too long, though.  It will grow out.  
  • Hubby had an alarm installed in the house this past week.  It's very simple to use but we didn't use it for two days and by then we had forgotten exactly how it worked.  Hubby was so frustrated he threatened to have it removed, but they sent out a very nice tech who "taught" us all over again how to use the thing.  By then, I knew enough to have the right questions to ask, because I'm the one setting it and unsetting it on most occasions.  Hubby leaves the house with the dogs and I set the alarm.  We attended a UMKC concert on Friday and we finally had it working perfectly.  We could even "unset" it on returning to the house.
  • The UMKC concert was interesting -- piano variations on Steven Sondheim's music.  Evidently the city was full of other events and less than 60 people were in the audience.  White Hall probably seats 400 -- so it was very noticeable that the seats were empty. 
  • We had dinner before the concert with our special friends who attend the UMKC series with us.  We haven't seen them much this summer and I've missed them dreadfully.  It was wonderful to sit and chat and laugh and share.  The time flew and we were sad when the meal ended and we headed out to our respective designations. 
  • I need to pack for our upcoming vacation but the suitcases are in the basement behind all the furniture that Hubby moved into one corner when we had the foundation work done.  I have no idea how I'm going to retrieve them.  We may be leaving town with garbage bags instead of neatly packed clothing.  
  • The weather is cooling.  I"m trying to decide if, on traveling East, we need to take shorts AND long pants or only more fallish wear.  It seems crazy to pack for 85 degrees and find you only wear clothing with sleeves and long legs.  Then again, I HATE being hot.  I'd much rather be cold.  Decisions, decisions.  
  • Wireless Internet connection is DEVINE -- if you can figure out HOW to set it all up.  We've got most things functioning but Hubby struggled for a week with his Nook until he finally let me set it up for him.  We're both still dicking around with the wireless printer -- so far we've only made it work with the laptop.  
  • I'm still cleaning "around" in the computer room.  I unloaded the top of the gift counter / shelf.  We had dumped things we bought for the Houston crowd there wherever we found something interesting.  I think the Houston group may be in for a couple of interesting surprises come December.  
  • I"m still inputting recipes into the new recipe program but that has slowed considerably.  Maybe in November I'll get re-energized.  

So that's about it for around here.  A little travel is in our future.  A flu shot for us both will be needed in the next month.  The bathroom needs to be cleaned again - that's the awful truth about housekeeping . . . it just never ends.  You get everything all spiffed up -- and somebody decides they need to shave or poop or take a bath -- and you have to clean it all over again.   The joy of cooking has also worn quite thin -- Hubby has had a lot of sandwiches lately.  Retirement, though, is still the BEST ever. 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Follow Up

Update:  met with my new doctor, Dr. Patel, today.  It was G R E A T!  How often can you say that about a doctor's visit.

"What do you need from me?" he asked.

"Maintenance.  I really don't want treatment until I absolutely MUST have it -- I want to maintain just the way I have been for the last two years."

"Talk to me," he replied.

I tried.  He listened.  He asked a couple of questions.  He offered information about two of the meds I wanted renewed.  One I didn't take properly.  One really needed to be augmented. "But we'll do it slowly.  We won't let you be sick.  We will work and work until you are just where you need to be."

"Tell me about not sleeping through the night," he requested.  I tried.  He asked questions about why I thought I didn't sleep through a night.  I answered with standard responses -- need to pee, arthritis pain, Hubby's TV. He asked more questions.  "It's better since I retired and don't have to get up at 5 a.m. anymore; the naps have lessened considerably and I'm able to go to bed when I get tired instead of when I have to so I can bet up early every day."  He muttered and made notes. 

 "Do you need any conditions looked at that are bothering you?" he asked several times.  I hadn't even bothered to bring a list.  "Nope, really, I'm fine."

"When was the last full exam?" he asked.  "Last July, 2011 -- I do it yearly but put it off because of the retirement."  "We'll take care of that now" -- and 15 minutes later he was finished.  

"I want to see you in a month.  I want to know that the new med is fine.  I want to know if you have any problems we should deal with."

He handed over all the required scripts.  He added one but only with a the lowest of dosages.  He agreed to three month refills.  He requested three blood tests -- all reasonable and since the last blood draws were in March, I was fine with that. 

He shook my hand, then held it.  "I want you to talk with me about your problems.  I'm glad you are my patient," he told me as he looked me in the eyes.

I hadn't been embarrassed.  I hadn't been made to feel old, fat, ungainly, unkempt, or a whiner.   He had touched me both physically and emotionally. His hands, his eyes, and his demeanor had been gentle the entire time.  Now that's the sign of a really great doctor in training. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Coming from a family that considered most illness a product of a weak mind, I find doctoring problematic.  Luckily, my side of the family also inherited an incredibly good genetic disposition -- only two incidents of cancer on either side of the family (neither of the type normally caused genetically), folks who lived well into their 80's without a lot of medical supervision and with no incidence of debilitating conditions. Of course, they frequently died with "feeble minds" but that's another problem caused by longevity. 

Consequently, I have trouble dealing with doctors and my own medical situation.  I clam up, I don't ask questions, I nod in agreement no matter what is said to me, and I won't "tell" if things are bothering me.  I don't want to be considered a "complainer" or a person who is too weak to accept a little "inconvenience."   

I've learned a lot from my sister-in-law in Houston who is very pro-active about her medical conditions.  I've often been the spokesperson for Hubby during the last five years of his treatments for problems caused mainly by unrelenting high blood pressure.  So I've gotten better when facing my own doctor.  I go with a list of the meds I want renewed and I advocate for them.  I am pretty good about explaining that I have trouble with high blood pressure and cholesterol pills -- and even though I have both conditions the pills make me so sick I just can't take them.  The work-arounds that I have for these medications are all I'm willing to use.  I also take in a list of questions, if I have any -- to make sure I cover everything I want to talk about.  I still have to read from the list -- but at least I now will ask about most problems. Not all though, because I don't want to be a whinny baby. 

During the 1990's I went without insurance. I mainly used Planned Parenthood as my referral base.  Eventually they connected me to  Goppert Clinic, at that time over on 76th and State Line, which well-served the uninsured without a huge stigma attached.  I remember once going in to an imagining center in Johnson County for a mammogram and having the receptionist, scream out, "YOU HAVE NO INSURANCE?  OH MY GOD!  HOW WILL YOU PAY FOR THIS?"  The entire waiting room waited with bated breath while I screamed back -- "With cash!" And yes, I did complain about their attitude, for all the good it did me. 

But Goppert broke up after three years of wonderful service.  All the physicians left and the clinic was sold and moved even closer to my home base -- just three blocks away, over on Troost.  Then it became a training clinic with only interns on staff and the patients were shuffled from one doctor to another.  Each time I went in, I found I saw someone new.  This only exacerbated my difficulty dealing with doctors.  Finally I just quit going.

Eventually age, and employment that provided insurance, forced me to look for a doctor.  I decided I might have an easier time with a woman. I found one -- and stayed with her for two years.  I wasn't exactly pleased but she was the one who found me alternative meds for high blood pressure that worked very well. She also thought that alternative meds were the answer to most physical problems.  It was just to new age holistic for me. Then, with the high-end school district insurance, I carefully reviewed my options and switched to another woman doctor in a well-respected clinic close to home.  She's worked out okay, as along as I had my list of concerns to talk about.  It's just that, well honestly, I don't really need much doctoring at the point in time.  I need meds renewed in a good and proper timeframe and mostly to just be left alone. 

After Hubby had had the aneurysm, we knew that no matter what, we only wanted to be treated at Research Hospital, so I have choosen only doctors that served there.  Interestingly, Hubby did NOT have a doctor in 2006 when he had the aneurysm.  On admittance to Research, the neighborhood hospital, he was seen by a wonderful physician that we grew to love -- Dr. Durham.  This guy was everything that Hubby needed -- and interestingly he was a resident associated with my original clinic -- what had now become the Goppert Trinity Family Clinic, run by Research, the now-defunct Trinity Lutheran Hospital and Baptist Memorial Hospital -- all of which merged into Research over time.

Hubby has stayed with Goppert.  He's been through three doctors now. When Durham graduated into private practice, he tried two or three others until he got sick with the A-Fib heart problems, and then we were visited on rounds by Dr. Espirtu and we requested him as Hubby's doctor.  Three years later he is now seeing Dr. Patel whom we met just this summer and really liked.  The clinic knew Hubby was not an easy patient and went to great lengths to make sure Hubby had someone who "would communicate with him." 

September 1 of this year I became a Medicare patient.  No longer associated with the Blues, it seemed that this was time for me to make the switch back to Goppert Family Care Clinic. They do so well with Hubby -- and as a Medicare patient I get real discounts on meds which, at this moment, is really all I need to maintain.

I dithered.  I worried.  I actually had to call and make an appointment.  How long would I have to wait?  How long would I be on hold just on the phone trying to make an appointment?  What doctor would I get assigned to?  How many questions would I have to answer? Would the last of the meds from my old doctor hold out until I could get new ones? 

Finally yesterday I called.  These guys now have doctoring down to an art. No wonder Hubby has been so pleased with them. The phone was answered on the second ring. The person who answered did NOT switch my call but immediately set to work making my appointment. She was so efficient, she had my medical information before her while I was still trying to say I was a new patient.  How did they know me?  I'm not sure, but they did -- my previous doctor is just two floor above them?  Are the computer systems connected? 

She also had Hubby's information.  She knew who his doctor was.  Did I want to see him?  Yes, I liked him.  Did I want to come in this week?  Yes, I really did - let's not put this off.  I was given options -- one of which was to come in with Hubby at the same time on the same day he was scheduled for a check-up.  Okay, that would work just fine.  Here's what you need to bring with you -- Medicare card, ID, list of meds.  See you soon.

We were done in under 2 minutes.  No personal questions asked except why I needed the appointment -- which was for an annual checkup and med renewal.  The woman made me feel like they were delighted I had re-choosen Goppert for my health needs. 

I've met the doctor already,  I like him.  He takes time, he answers questions, he looks you in the face, he asks if you have more questions.  He waits patiently while you dither through explanations, not trying to hurry you.

Yes, the clinic is incredibly busy.  They see patients from all walks of life -- it's like being in the United Nations in the waiting room.

They are associated with the hospital we have come to trust with our lives.  They work well with Medicare patients and they understand when you are on a "fixed" retirement income.  They are connected with great referral services throughout the city (witnessed by Hubby's heart clinic). 

My medical treatment now comes full circle. I'm feeling confident enough to discuss my own medical problems -- if I actually had any at the moment.  Arthritis in my big toes?  Grin and bear it. 

Monday, September 03, 2012

Remembering Why I Married This Man

We've been having "little skirmishes" in this house for the past month or so.  Mainly they are about the cleaning up process -- and moving "his things" without asking permission.  Of course, if I asked permission, I assumed he would NOT graciously grant it -- so I move the "crap" and live with the consequences. 

Three weeks ago we had a really bad Sunday dinner  when I told Hubby he was blaming me for everything wrong that happened in the house.  And I claimed that NONE OF IT WAS MY FAULT.  We were dining out and at that point I refused to eat and he refused to talk.  We brought my dinner home in a doggie bag and the pups were delighted.  Then I checked on the item that "wasn't my fault" -- and darned if it didn't turn out that it was my fault.  But I never admitted it -- because that was just one item in the hundreds I claimed Hubby was blaming on me. 

We've limped along since then, Hubby giving me the dirty look but wisely keeping his yap shut.  Me mostly not talking, but why talk to a scowled up face?  When we did talk, it was over very elementary things -- like the weather.

Friday I got the lecture on how crowded the computer desk was becoming.  Hubby said I'd better figure out some place to put things other than on the desktop.  Instead of saying what I really wanted to ("You figure it out yourself, damn it, I'm off to go swimming), I said I'd work on the problem as I kept cleaning up in the room. I asked him to give me some time.  

Saturday I worked on the problem, cleared off two shelves across from the desk and moved out the "offending items."  

Today we went out to dinner at our favorite chicken restaurant - neither of us ever eats the fried chicken, though I do eat the chicken livers while Hubby always has pork chops.  Wanting a little validation, I asked Hubby if he was pleased with the new condition of the desk. 

"If you start filling it up, I'm going to empty out the desk and you won't have to worry about it again," was the response I got. 

"You are becoming impossible to get along with," was my reply. "We share that desk.  If you want to empty it out then go ahead and do it.  You can clean it up yourself.  I don't even had a tray top for my side of the desk -- and you fill the one we have with all your junk which I have to maneuver around every day."

"You really want me to take care of this?" Hubby threatened.  "I only have two drawers in that desk .. . " and at that point I put up three fingers -- which he saw.  His face became a thunder cloud.

Once upon a time I would have been cowed.  But my mother, who could pull these I'll-make-you-sorry stunts with regularity, is no longer around -- and I just don't have to take it.  "Absolutely, clean it all out and make sure we share it equally.  Hey, you have one half of the desk -- it's got four drawers.  I have the right half and it has three drawers because one is the big deep file drawer.  We share the middle drawer."" 

"I only have two drawers!" snarled Hubby.

Luckily our food came right then and for some reason, maybe because I've been on the "you are impossible to live with" kick, Hubby shut up.  We had a nice dinner together, equally sharing the mashed potatoes and gravy.  We talked inconsequential things, like politics, on which we both agree completely this time around. The desk remained a lingering problem.

Back home I went back into the computer room and scrubbed that desk -- a task I had promised to do because it was covered with soda rings and sticky hand prints.  And I looked into the four drawer vs three drawer situation -- and both of us had been wrong.  Hubby only had three drawers (not the two he claimed) because I had one of his drawers partially filled with stationary.  Tons and tons of stationary.  Clearly I had forgotten about it -- because who uses stationary any longer?

So after I washed down the desk and replaced the mouse pad and filled up the pencil and pen jars with all the pens, markers, and mechanical pencils we had stored in the desk, I removed all the stationary from his side drawer and re-purposed it into  my greeting card files (if you get Easter or retirement cards from us now and there is no sentiment inside, you will know why).

Hubby had taken himself out to exercise while I puttered.  On returning home, he found me reading the newspaper so he trundled into the desk and I could hear drawers opening and things being moved all around.  "Oh, lordy," I though.  "He's actually emptying out the desk, probably dumping everything on the floor, just to prove his point."

I waited a good two hours but I eventually wandered into the computer room to ask if he wanted the remains of his pork chop in a sandwich.  By then I had calmed myself down and decided whatever he had done to the desk I'd just ignore.

Proudly, he opened the drawer I had removed the stationary from -- and there was all the junk he had been keeping on the tray side of the desk.  All neatly filed.  His drawers had all been sorted and cleaned, which he opened and showed me, grinning like the Cheshire cat.  He had even taken the slide top off his side and rearranged it on mine -- so I now had the self all to myself.

Marriages are ying and yang propositions.  If you're lucky, you marry a smart man, one who can be prickly and domineering, but has the good sense to know when it's time to compromise and make his wife happy.  "You want a sandwich?" I asked.  "Yeah, and a kiss, too," was the reply.