Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GOODBYE TO 2013! & why not promote literature and defend free expression?


Happy New Year!! And just to get things started right I thought I'd share a few thoughts... so 2013 is finally leaving and I for one am happy to see it go. Goodbye to the worst year I can ever remember. There are a few challenges ahead because 2013 brought the loss of a colleague at work from domestic violence, a frozen shoulder which I am still recovering from (6 weeks of Physical Therapy and making some progress but a ways to go), migraines that intensified to a ridiculous level, some difficult challenges for my
daughter which I've described here and some frustrations at work which are not ending but I hope I will either adjust to, the changes ahead will make things better or... maybe I'll find a new job? At any rate, there are still things to deal with but it was a pretty bleak year.  

But the sun is setting on all that (get it, the picture is of the setting sun?- haha) Sorry.

 Since the shoulder is on the recovering end, I know that I am on the upside of that and the migraines seem to be improving with my new device which I've also told you about here. My older daughter is having a baby in January so there are some good things coming and I am just crossing my fingers “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."  Hope springs eternal as they say.

I'm just full of cliches today.  

So let's have a glass of champagne and hope for a better year together!

 From the Library Journal tumblr site: "Librarians at Oakland’s main library have collected the scraps of paper ephemera left behind in returned books, shoved into nooks in the library shelves or secretly slipped to librarians."


Finally as an FYI... 

 Support PEN American Center

Any amount you donate to PEN by December 31 will enter you in a drawing to receive two full-access tickets to PEN's Tenth Annual World Voices Festival, April 28-May 4, 2014.

PEN American Center is a global community of writers working to promote literature and to defend free expression.Check them out at www.Pen.org
Contributions provide unrestricted operating support, helping make possible a broad range of advocacy and literary programming. No amount is too small. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I hope you're having a lovely day where ever you are!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

literary conspriracy theory countdown

I won't say I'm a proponent of all of the theories I will post in the days running up to Halloween but this first one has always been a mystery and a bit horrifying considering who the victim was...

So, let’s just look at the facts shall we?

On October 3, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was wandering the streets of Baltimore delirious, he was later described as being "in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance", according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker. Rushed by carriage to the Washington Medical College, he died alone that hospital on Sunday, October 7, 1849, at 5:00 in the morning.  Odd enough that Poe was in Baltimore (he was headed for Philadelphia) but the author of the macabre was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition or... why he was wearing clothes that were not his own? According to witnesses, Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death although it was not clear to whom he was referring.  Newspapers at the time reported the author's death as "congestion of the brain" or "cerebral inflammation", common euphemisms for deaths from disreputable causes such as alcoholism. Though Poe was known to drink to excess he was not a hopeless alcoholic[1], it is unlikely that his drinking him brought him to a strange city in strange clothes where he would die for unknown reasons. 

I have always thought, since I wrote a paper on Poe in high school, that there was foul play but since all medical records, including his death certificate, have been lost since that time and Poe’s death remains shrouded in mystery.
image: ChicagoPublicLibrary.tumblr.com
What do you think?  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I feel crippled



I’ve misplaced the chord to hook my camera up to my computer and can’t download any pictures- plus we haven’t done much hiking due to an ongoing health issue (long story). And I have so many pretty pictures of Autumns past that I've never touched up (my camera really isn’t capable of capturing the glories of a fall day without a little help) that I thought I might do a bit of that now.

This is a picture of a Cooper’s Hawk that was hunting small birds in an area I was walking one day a few years back. I was shocked to be as close as I was as it was a heavily populated area and there were quite a few people just a few feet away, but it seems that he was on the immature side and hadn’t learned the finer points of discretion.  

What I should have done is make a video of his behavior because the Cooper’s Hawk is really quite amazing to watch. But we’ll just enjoy his pose for today.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

scariest books for halloween



Flavorwire put out their 50 scariest books of all time list. It by Stephen King; Piercing by Ryu Murakami; The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty; Ghost Story, Peter Straub; American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis; Hell House, Richard Matheson; Bram Stoker’s Dracula; The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood; H.P. Lovecraft’s The Best of H.P. Lovecraft; The Turn of the Screw by Henry James are the top ten! 

I have to admit that I haven’t read any of the top 10- I loved Poe (he is 22) in high school and I think all his stories are pretty scary: Tale Tell Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Cask of Amontillado.

I also read The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski but don’t remember it being THAT scary and it came in 25. Maybe I need to reread it? I also read #45 In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I found it more gory than scary which is often the case for me where American “horror” is concerned. 


The scariest thing I ever read was the first scary adult book I remember. It was called Stories that Scared Even Me, ed. Alfred Hitchcock; the first among many of Hitchcock’s works (love his movies!) that I would come to love. Stories selected by Mr. Hitchcock include: Casablanca by Thomas M. Disch, Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb, Camera Obscura by Basil Copper, A Death in the Family by Miriam Allen deFord, Men Without Bones by Gerald Kersh, Not With a Bang by Damon Knight, Party Games by John Burke, X Marks the Pedwalk by Fritz Leiber, Curious Adventure of Mr. Bond by Nugent Barker, Two Spinsters by E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Knife by Robert Arthur, The Cage by Ray Russell, It by Theodore Sturgeon, The Road to Mictlantecutli by Adobe James, Guide to Doom by Ellis Peters, The Estuary by Margaret St. Clair, Tough Town by William Sambrot, The Troll by T. H. White, Evening at the Black House by Robert Somerlott, One of the Dead by William Wood, The Real Thing by Robert Specht, Journey to Death by Donald E. Westlake, Master of the Hounds by Algis Budrys, The Candidate by Henry Slesar, and Out of the Deeps by John Wyndham.

All I remember is that I was up at night, staring into the dark, hoping no murderers were lurking behind closed doors.

What scary books are still lurking in your memory?

Monday, October 21, 2013

excitement at the library!



A young woman ran into the library today asking me to call 9-1-1. She’d run behind the desk I work behind and my initial reaction was to ask her to get out from our workspace until it registered what she was saying. I was about to ask why when another young(er) woman ran into the library shouting something about “beatin’ yo ass…”

what Circulation normally look like
Sheesh! A little decorum here! You’re in a library for god’s sake. I told her to leave and then picked up the phone and quickly dialed (what was that number again???). She said something about not giving a damn then went on to threaten the woman behind me. Meanwhile her friends had run in and were trying to get her to leave. After a few moments of cajoling they finally pulled her out of the library. I assumed they didn’t want to deal with the police and were leaving for good but continued talking to the operator.

The woman who’d asked for our help went to the door to see what was going on outside, suddenly ran back to the desk as the door burst open again and the petite persecutor ran back in determined to get at her prey. I told her she needed to leave but she would have none of it and told me to “shut up, bitch… “ and more, then went on dramatically with well her name & age but I was talking to the operator at this point and trying to multi-task with both conversations was getting a bit difficult. Then she started toward the desk. Cara (the circulation clerk who was working alongside me) and I moved over in front of the woman she was threatening in a semi-circle. I was determined she was not going to hurt anyone but I have a hurt shoulder and I am not quite sure exactly what I could have done in the event she really came at us- but it was instinctive I guess. Fortunately, her friends moved in again and pulled her back just as things got fairly tense.

At this point it’s pretty- well, strained would be an understatement. One silly lady started complaining that there were people yelling in the library and said we should tell them not to yell (she complained to Cara). You have to wonder what she was thinking? I’m not sure we’re really worried about the yelling ma’am… So we’re gathering more information about what the girl is wearing for the Emergency Operator when the, what I have determined to be, sixteenish looking girl really comes bursting back in. I tell her to leave- again. Her friends grab her again and pull her out one last time. I don’t know what has convinced them this time, but they do leave at last, getting into a SUV and drive with two adults off of library property. The young (but quite a bit older than the one who’s been causing the trouble which is why she said she didn’t want to fight- dind’t want to get charged with beating up a minor) woman we’ve been helping says the women in the vehicle and the friends who were pulling her out were all going to jump her but it seems they were waiting outside until the time was right but the one hotheaded girl couldn’t wait, she kept coming in to intimidate and harass.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Or not.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

what's your favorite paranormal creature?



As for me… I would love to believe that an alien came down to visit of a raw winter’s eve but I do find it hard to believe the stories that are told by abductees. I do believe that it’s likely there is life Out There that we may be able to communicate with one day.  I love the idea of time travel and think that may explain Nessie (hey, maybe an Elasmosaurus found a time portal- anyone see Primeval? Maybe it explains Bigfoot too!).  
Elasmosaurus: from wikipedia
 
Paranormal, in a nutshell refers to encounters that lie outside the spectrum of normal experience or scientific explanation or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure. Most commonly this will refer to ghosts, UFOs/ETs, Bigfoot, the Lochness, Werewolves or Vampires, etc. 
As writers, it’s the events that lie beyond the scientific explanation, mathematical equation or simple account that fires up the imagination. When I think about what I want to write, I don’t need to write about the paranormal event I believe in (or don’t) but the ability to allow the mind to invent a world outside the tangible and explainable allows one to write a love story that tears the world apart or move through time barriers, etc. So what about you? Is there a ghost in your closet?
Bela Lugosi Dracula (Wikipedia)
We just finished the last season of the BBC version (and the original one. The SyFy version was D.U.M.B.) of 'Being Human' and I really enjoyed the characters in it. I particularly enjoyed the werewolf.Tom was more likeable than George (found him a bit whiny after while). And now we’re getting ready for Walking Dead (have to stream it after it airs). 

‘Tis the season!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

hope for migraine sufferers?

In other words me. 
And you. if you have migraines or chronic headaches, cluster headaches- hope for you too.

My neurologist (just think I’ve paid hundreds of dollars for this info and you’re getting the benefit of my medical experience for free!) told me about a device on Wednesday that could help my migraines on a permanent basis. I tried it out and wasn’t too sure as I still woke up with a migraine on Thursday. However I don’t think immediate results are expected and I was supposed to try it two more times. The second time was Friday and the third will be Monday. Friday I again woke up with a migraine but the pill I took was not as effective as it usually was. Frustrated, I left the house armed with backup pills and the hope that maybe the treatment would help. Well…
no picture of me with it on, alas!
Amazingly, I sat with the tiara (that’s what my doctor called it) and let it do its electrode thing (it feels a bit like being massaged only way more intensely) and after 20 minutes I felt much better. And this morning was my first migraine free morning in 10 days. It might be a coincidence… but it might not. Fingers crossed. I have another treatment on Monday and we’ll see how that goes. If it goes well, I might just have found some hope in a little crown for my head.   



It’s called a Cefaly.

And it is... A prevention program designed to increases the production of endorphins and raises the trigger threshold of the pain.
 They say there are:
No Side effects. Cefaly can replace or reduce the consumption of painkilling medication, with no side-effects.
It's an effective pain relief:  blocking pain and provides relief during attacks.
Reduce Stress: An anti-stress program produces general relaxation and a strong sense of well-being.

So there you go. The only problem is... it's not available in the U.S. and it's not covered by insurance (don't ask) so it will be an out of pocket expense. It will be pretty expensive but if it ends up working it could save me a lot of money because I wouldn't have to go to my specialist anymore (he may be sorry he introduced me to it!) and migraine meds. It could really save me money in the end.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Top Ten Best Written Television shows of all time


In June the Writer’s Guild of America released their list of the 101 best written TV shows ever. Their top ten were…  

10. The West Wing  
9. The Wire
8. Cheers
7. Mad Men
6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
5. M*A*S*H
4. All in the Family
3. The Twilight Zone
2. Seinfeld
1. The Sopranos

To which I say to some of them- mehh….



First of all I would add a few to the list (not in the top 10)
Rome (HBO), SCTV(Canadian), Intelligence (CBC), Bored to Death (HBO), Sherlock (BBC) and The Hour (BBC).
My top ten would be… 
10. Corner Gas

9. MI-5 (Spooks- BBC)


8. Star Trek (original)


7. X-Files (seasons 1-5)

6. Fawlty Towers

5. I Love Lucy

4. Cheers

3. M*A*S*H

2. Mad Men

1. Key West
I've told you about Key West before- the show was intelligent, funny, and filled with literary allusion and elements of magical realism- something that has never been done well on American television. It was compared to Northern Exposure at the time but that was to misunderstand what the show was really about. With just 13 episodes in the can before it was cancelled it barely made a dent in television history. 

So what would your top ten be?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

brrrrrr.....



I hope they're wrong but probably not. The skies definitely showed the signs ... tomorrow's supposed to bring our first significant snow (1"). That means the roads will be fun. Probably a little like this:

I can hardly wait.

That would be sarcasm.
(I know many of you get way more snow than we do but I so hate driving in it)

NaBloWriMo continues. Day 17! And I only missed 1 day. Woo hoo!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

why insurance in the U.S. sucks, pt. 3

So I am going to repost this little section of my comment because I edited it a bit after my initial post (sometimes your writing at night and then realize a later that you need to clarify- so I'll clarify it here). But in the meantime if you want to catch up you can read pt. 1 here and pt. 2 here.

So Kaiser was  (and I think is) out there pushing good nutrition and encouraging their customers to exercise which of course also saves them money- which is a good thing! There are also other ways that seem logical for insurances to operate that (at least to the person on the outside) one would say "it seems like it would be cheaper for the insurance to do... [this]" because in the long run the patient is treated more efficiently and given better care if they're allowed to go to the doctor they need to get the doctor that treats they're migraines (for example) as opposed to continually just giving pain medication. So, profits are great if it's done to save sick costs and to raise the health and wellness of your patients. The problem was that those were not the only cost savings I witnessed at Kaiser and often the "savings" came at the expense of patient care.  
(end of the rewritten part)

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is making hand over fist on the medications I need to function. And at this moment, when I have gone through the last 6 days with a migraine each day, I am desperately hoping I can find a doctor who will find out WHAT IS WRONG and not just keep giving me more pills. I was looking over my billing on my insurance account and the cost for two of my Imitrex shots is $285.00! I was stunned by that but the shots work better than the pills so I am glad they cover it even if I can only get 2 for a 2 week period. What I don't understand is, why the same medicine in pill form is so much less ($24 for 4 pills). And it seems like we spend a lot more money on pharmaceutics than we do on how to get rid or prevent. I mean I guess I don't understand why our research isn't leaning that direction (well, I do understand- because pharmaceuticals are Big Business!). 

You might say that I am just uneducated about how the whole process works but I did check around and found this out: when my kids were first diagnosed with asthma, an inhaler cost $15. It was difficult to have two children needing a medication that was going to cost that amount as frequently as we would have to buy it but we did what we had to do. A few years later, the price dropped quite dramatically ($6 an inhaler) and I asked the pharmacist why. She said the patent had expired and they were able to offer a generic albuterol inhaler for a lot less. Then last year (maybe longer) the price suddenly jumped to $20 and I what that was all about- was I crazy? Did I need to get the medicine somewhere else? I asked a pharmacist what happened and he/she said that the pharmaceutical company had had the patent renewed and so the price had gone back up.

That's terrible. An albuterol inhaler is not a medication that solves just a pain problem (and I don't say that easily). Having had two children in the hospital, no one knows better than I the implications of not having an inhaler when it's truly needed. On the other hand, I can buy a full box of albuterol solution for my son for $4.00 which is great- if he's going to stay home from school and do a nebulizer (requires a machine) every 4-6 hours. That's not very realistic when usually what he needs is 2 puffs of his inhaler to help him get his breathing under control to get through the day in school.

So I would like to reiterate that my issue here is that it's not that I think it's a horrible thing that a person make money in medicine or healthcare (my daughter is in healthcare- and I definitely don't think she should work for nothing!) or should work for chickens as Michelle Bachman suggested. I just think that there need to be some changes in how we do things so that insurance is more affordable for people who don't have a 40 hr. job in the government.

So, right now I have decent healthcare that does not cost me too terribly much. I attribute that to United Healthcare recognizing they were going to have to offer something that was affordable under the ACA so they put a package together that was truly affordable- and for my income, it is! (Oh and when they offered the more affordable plan, my old plan doubled in cost! And all the co-pays went up!!) By and large I am happy with my actual plan and the insurance company although it's still The Decider about my pain medication (and when I am out of migraine meds and need more but can't get them, I don't feel that generous toward them) and they still decide about my treatment which winds up costing me a great deal of money (and time). In the words of one pharmacist, "The insurance companies are GOD."   

And sometimes it means that even with a good healthcare plan- because of the out of pocket expense- I still have to decide if I can afford the treatment or not. Do I go to the doctor for this or do we cut back on food? Which is where I am today because with the economy where it is today, it's not easy to have medical expenses on top of all the other expenses that just seem to keep going up. In other words, it's fine to have inexpensive insurance if you aren't sick but no insurance in America covers everything and that's where things get hung up.

In the meantime did you know that because of the Affordable Care Act that a family of 5 making $50,000 or less can get help subsidized on their insurance? If you didn't know that and if that applies to you, you should check out the website immediately because YOU should be getting whatever help is available to you NOW!!!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Jack the Ripper...

Today is the anniversary of the "From Hell..." letter that was sent to police by a person who claimed to be Jack the Ripper. According to Wikipedia, this letter was one among hundreds that claimed to be from the killer however, this was one among a few that were thought to be authentic because it was delivered with a human kidney preserved in alcohol. Since Catherine Eddowes' kidney was removed by the killer, it was a logical assumption that the Ripper was sending the kidney along with the letter as a sort of signature. However, the man who received the letter and kidney- a Mr George Lusk- considered the letter and kidney a hoax (he and his colleagues of the Vigilance Committee thought a medical student may have gotten the kidney from a cadaver) and very nearly did not turn it in for evidence until a Dr Frederick Wiles persuaded him otherwise. It also followed a pattern that other letters also thought to be written by the Ripper followed. 
  The letter reads as follows...
"From hell

Mr Lusk
Sor
I send you half the Kidne I took from one women preserved it for you the other piece I fried and ate it was very nice. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a while longer

signed
Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk"

The mystery of Jack the Ripper has never been solved although there remain many theories about it, it is doubtful that it will be solved because the evidence has either been destroyed or lost or stolen.

Whitechapel High Street 1905
 It is a fascinating subject though and apropos for Halloween.


Cue X-Files theme.

Monday, October 14, 2013

why insurance in the U.S. sucks pt. 2

So great comments everyone! In fact, they are deserving of the Great Commenters award!!
I responded directly to your comments under the post but the comments were so good that I will bring some of what you said onto the main postings if you don't mind...Anyway, onward through the discussion. For those of you who want to catch up, the first post was here.

Having moved from a regular insurance provider to Kaiser Permanente, the kids and I found the first benefit to the managed care institution was that they had a pretty firm grasp on asthma. My 2 year old son had been hospitalized for five days with a severe asthma attack in April 99 and his sister had experienced some issues at school that the family doctor had not been taking seriously. In both cases I found our GP undereducated about asthma and, especially where my youngest was concerned, unable to help and worse seemingly unwilling to admit it. When we went to Kaiser, they were all about preventing asthma so they immediately tested both children for allergies and sent them to an allergist on a regular basis to get help get their asthma stabilized. All the pediatricians we saw were fairly well educated on what the specialists were doing so we never had to worry that the regular Doc would doubt the prescribed treatment. Kaiser was also partnering with National Jewish which is (or was) leading the nation on asthma treatment so they were doing their very best to keep my kids out of the hospital and in fact out of the doctor's office as much as possible.

At this point I think Ian's comment about healthcare being driven by profit is relevant here (I hope you don't mind if I quote you here, Ian!),
"The free market and entrepreneurship makes sense in many situations, but I think there are some things that define us as a society that should not be driven by profit. If we want a healthy and well-educated society, we should be measuring the health and education of our population rather than revenue, and behavior should be driven by that."      
The reason this becomes important is that part of the reason Kaiser is so good at treating Asthma is that it makes sense to treat a preventable disease such as asthma the way they do. If you keep the kids on the proper medication with a preventative that keeps the asthma in check you will keep them out of the hospital which is far cheaper (duh!). And Kaiser has also been out there pushing good nutrition and encouraging their customers to exercise which of course also saves them money. There are also other ways that seem logical for insurances to operate that (to the person on the outside) one would say, "It seems like it would be cheaper for the insurance to do... [this]" because in the long run the patient is treated more efficiently and given better care. So, profits are great if it's done to save sick costs and to raise the health and wellness of your patients. The problem was that those were not the only cost savings I witnessed at Kaiser and often the "savings" came at the expense of patient care.

First of all, I was working at Denver Public Schools and had by then gotten a divorce. I was getting my insurance through the school system (by the time the kids dad & I split the monthly cost was $1000) but I stayed with Kaiser because I wanted to keep the doctor I had and (more relevant) I couldn't afford the other plan they offered. The plan was almost the same as the one the kid's dad and I had- same co-pay, same emergency, same pharmaceutical pay-outs, etc. but my cost was $50 a month. The employer cost (as I recall) was $100 a month. The family plan was around $500 a month. As you see, paying as an individual/group is a great deal more expensive than paying in real "group".  But that aside, a couple of examples outline the problems with Kaiser.

A friend of mine went on a trip to France and came back with strep which she got on the plane. It was a freakish strain which caused a lot of complications and she had to go to the hospital to the emergency room. She also had Kaiser and it took a bit but they figured out what it was and sent her home with antibiotics. Unfortunately, they did not check her medical chart and see that the type of antibiotics she was on was of the same type that she was allergic to. So she went home and within a short period she had a severe allergic reaction. She was rushed back to the hospital. They switched her antibiotics, kept her for a couple of days and sent her home. The antibiotics were not working and she went back in having developed a staph infection from her first hospitalization and poor treatment. Her body was misshapen and bloated- almost 4 times her regular size! She was there for two weeks and she nearly died. All because they were in a rush to treat her and send her home. It was a frightening time for her and she wound up with scars on her forehead where they had to drain the fluids out. It's graphic and awful, I know. But poor medical treatment is never going to be pretty but at least this story ends with her being okay.

For my part, I was having migraines and they continued to get worse. I had a sympathetic doctor and she was prescribing me Maxalt and Imitrex for my pain. She said there were a couple of preventatives I should try, which I did. One did nothing but the other was a blood pressure lowering medication. My blood pressure is already low so as soon as I went on it, I felt my blood pressure just tank and I felt miserable. I told her and she immediately took me off but said that was it, there was nothing else she could do. They did a CT to make sure there was no brain injury but when I asked about any other doctors I could see, she said there was no one. That was it.

As the years passed, I was having 2-3 migraines a week and there seemed to be no end in sight. At one point I was sitting in the Kaiser pharmacy waiting on my prescription and the pharmacist was clearly working on my prescription, I heard him say, "She can't take this much of this medicine!" It was really loud and if I'd thought that everyone knew he was talking about me, I'd have walked out. A few years ago I was talking to a different and equally passionate pharmacist about my migraine medicine. He told me that Imitrex and Maxalt are triptans and essentially what they do is constrict the blood vessels (if you've ever had a migraine you will know that it feels as though every vessel in your head is going to explode- especially if it's a bad one) but that it can't, obviously, differentiate between the head (where the pain is) and the other vessels in the body. So if you take too much you could throw a clot and have a heart attack or stroke. Nice. That's why the Pharmacist had been so concerned about how medication I was taking but unfortunately it was going to be some years before I would get any preventative to help with my migraines. At my high point (or low- depending on how you look at it) I took 4 in a day (1 beyond what it said I should take- at least then I think it's lower now) but when you are in so much pain that you are throwing up and immobile because of the pain and dizziness in your head, unable to drive, get to work or... do anything for that matter, you will take that extra pill to get the pain to go away.

Another friend who was a teacher in a college also had Kaiser- had an 18 year old son who was still on her medical plan, He became ill his freshman year in college and they discovered he had a rare form of cancer. He came home expecting to be treated but Kaiser told her that the cancer he had had a high mortality rate and they did not support treatment. She had to sue to get Kaiser to get him the treatment he needed. To my knowledge he is still alive and well. That was in 2002 or so.

I don't mean to scare those of you who have Kaiser. If you have it and it's the only insurance you can afford, it's better than nothing but I think you should be aware of the realities. Kaiser is a business that does not like to spend money and like all big corporations wants to cut costs in order to make a profit. My daughter is an EMT and she hates dealing with Kaiser. She has only negative things to say about it and it's because they will not give their patience the care they need when there is an emergency.

I also don't want to sound like I am denigrating the doctors there. I was quite friendly with many of the doctors that I had while I was there but it seemed that they were quite stretched to the limit. They were caring and gentle for the most part- some good doctors! But they were mostly on overload and they did not seem to be very well paid for their trouble. That's why, when I got a new job and went to work for Denver Public Library which is a city agency, I switched insurances FAST.

But there are troubles coming my way with that and we'll get into that later...

So how will things change for those who have an insurance like Kaiser under the ACA in the future? It might get a little cheaper so people who want to opt for another healthcare company can afford to- at least for those states who are actively working to participate fully (like Colorado! YAY US!!!) with the entire population forced to find insurance, there will be more of a pool to even out the costs. I'm not entirely thrilled by that change. I think, like Ian that it would better to not have healthcare be a for profit institution but if the best we do for now is work in the system we have, then this is better than nothing.

So have you had any issues like that where the insurance companies have denied you coverage?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

NaBloWriMo day 13

I'm posting at Key West TV for my NaBloWriMo post today. You can catch me there (although if you don't know or care about Key West you may not want to) or you might want to catch up on Why Insurance in the U.S. Sucks. I'll be blogging on it some more tomorrow. Have a great day!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

why insurance in the U.S. sucks

This may take a few posts because I don't want to do a big information dump. But with the recent debates over the government shutdown and healthcare (the President's Affordable Care Act) I thought I'd share some of my personal experiences to balance out some of the misconceptions that some folk may have about being both uninsured and insured in the U.S.

To begin with, like many 20 somethings in the U.S. today, my kid's father and I were uninsured when we were first married and having our first two children. We were both working, healthy and not making much money (barely enough to pay basic bills and buy food) and the result was that we could not afford healthcare. When I became pregnant I went to the county and applied for help and discovered that we made so little that the prenatal was pretty much covered by Medicaid. My healthcare in general wasn't covered but I was glad to find that the babies births were covered so that we didn't have outrageous medical bills after the babies were born.

The process wasn't a fun one however. In order to prove that you weren't trying to rip off the system, you had to tell them how much you paid each month for every little thing, including toiletries like tampons, toilet paper, etc. And when you're making $1200 a month and living in a city like Denver it's hard to imagine that you could afford to buy anything other than the barest of necessities so itemizing just seemed like a slap in the face. But I sucked it up and we did get healthcare for that little period of time from the federal government. I won't go into the continued marginalization you face when you're on Medicare- suffice it to say that you're treated by the nurses and the healthcare professionals as though you are a drug addict who can't hold a job when that had nothing to do with it- we were just poor (I will add that most of the doctors were exceptions- they did not have the same attitude toward the people they treated for some reason- but I didn't see an actual doctor very often).  Anyway we survived it and I was glad for the care because when I was pregnant with my second child, they discovered I had cervical pre-cancer. After she was born I was treated for it successfully and have not had a re-occurrence but had I not had Medicaid I wouldn't have been able to afford the care I received (I was still covered under post-natal care).

After the girls were born I was a waitress ($2.10 an hour + tips) and the kid's father was a painter ($8 an hour when he was working-weather dependent work) we still didn't have healthcare for our young children or ourselves because we decided we'd rather eat. At some point my oldest got pink eye and a doctor who did occasional pro bono work did see her and gave me a prescription for the medicine. The medicine was expensive but I was just grateful that I didn't have to pay the doctor for the visit itself. This went on for a few years- and there was a point when the kids would get sick and there was no doctor to take them to (the previously mentioned doc had some office problems and shut down) and we just prayed that it never turned serious.

You might ask why I didn't check on Medicaid at this point... good question. I had had such a bad experience with the whole system when the girls were little that when their medicaid expired, I never reapplied. I hated the way they treated me and my kids. I would have reapplied if anything serious had happened- they require you to before hospital admittance but fortunately nothing that serious ever occurred.

Up to this point, it's all been about being uninsured. It was scary and worrisome but we made it through. In fact, I am quite grateful now that Medicaid was there and think my pride was a little overdone. I shouldn't have put my girls through some of the difficulties that I did. Later, when I had foster kids and they had Medicaid, I didn't find it so incredibly insulting. It's not great but it's not as insulting as I made it out to be with my first two children. In retrospect, I was oversensitive because I was young.

So, sometime in 1996-7ish the kid's dad was in business for himself and I was doing home daycare and the income was decent enough that we weren't worrying about where food was coming from. We were finally making enough money to get insurance, so we shopped around and found an insurer that allowed us to buy into a group so that we weren't paying an outrageous figure for insurance- I say it wasn't outrageous but the cost was still $800.00 per month which felt pretty outrageous. I can't imagine what it would cost now. I am not even sure who the insurance was at this point but we got it just in time because I became pregnant with our third child around the same time. It was quite different having a child in a private hospital under the same doctor's care.

I should add right here that we were fortunate that we were healthy at that time and the insurance group didn't reject us. Part of what the ACA does (in states, like Colorado, that are accepting it) is force insurances to accept people regardless of pre-existing conditions. If we had been unable to afford insurance at that time and had had to wait a few years, my son and older daughter were diagnosed with asthma and were both hospitalized for it.  Insurance(in those states who refuse to accept the ACA this will still be the case) is really gambling, companies don't take people that have a risk factor that will cost them money. It made sense for them because why would they want to take someone that was obviously a payout not a pay-in? A few years later and we might never have found insurance and we could have been in really dire straits. Luckily, we got insurance prior to his birth and my daughter was not yet showing symptoms of asthma (that we noticed)

The insurance we had didn't last too long. Rates increased and we had to find something more affordable so we moved to Kaiser Permanenete. the cost still went up but the other was going up quite a bit and there were some benefits to Kaiser. There were some definite downsides to being part of the integrated managed care consortium but I think that is where I will end this part of my discussion about "why insurance in the U.S. sucks" for now. Thanks for your patience and I hope you come back for the rest of it!

How about you? Do you have good healthcare?

Friday, October 11, 2013

pumpkin fields

I decided to grow pie pumpkins (they make THE BEST pumpkin pie and yes, they are different than regular pumpkin) this year and discovered that my wee bunnies ate them before they ripened (don't bunnies get tummy aches?). I have three green ones on the patio that I should probably just leave for the bunnies to finish off but I thought I'd see if the sun would ripen them.
I wonder how they kept the bunnies out of this field?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

comin' to Colorado or Denver?

Here are a few things to do in Colorado and some in Denver in October: 
You can get lost at this year’s Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield’s 8-acre Corn Maze.
Dead Man's Night Maze in Thornton - Sept. 28 to Nov. 9
Geek it up at the Colorado Springs Science Festival- Oct. 5 to Oct 13 To see the full schedule and get location information, go to: http://bit.ly/177jDqT
 Pumpkin Festival - Oct. 11 to Oct. 13 - Botanic Gardens. OktoberFest - Oct.12 - Canon City To get the event address visit: http://bit.ly/1aduQam
Harvest Festival - Oct. 12 - Brighton- Find out times and location here: http://on.fb.me/19mMZUh
Punpkin Chunkin- Oct. 12 - Aurora- Punkin Chunkin Colorado is back in town again this year. If you would like to take part in the event go to: http://bit.ly/TIwygk



October is a happening month... but I'll probably just enjoy a few walks and watching the falling leaves. I'm boring that way! 






Tuesday, October 8, 2013

what is your favorite X-file?

September 10 was the 20th anniversary of the airing of X-Files.
I didn't watch it the first go-round. I had small children at the time and had a more sensitive nature, I guess. At any rate, I've watched the first 5 seasons (which were the best years in my opinion) and the final movie & enjoyed it immensely. (Oh and I did go to the 'X-Files: I want to Believe'- I thought they needed to go back to what they were best at.)  In fact it made it into my top 10 Horror/Science Movie Quotes that was hosted by Jeremy at beingretro and Ellie Garratt. Tonight's anniversary airing was 'The Jersey Devil' which was the closest the X-Files ever came to investigating Bigfoot (they show pictures of Bigfoot) which is about the only paranormal event they don't investigate in the show.
At any rate, my favorite X-file is probably 'Flukeman'. I never like outhouses before and I certainly do not like them after seeing that episode. Even viewing the pictures of the Fluke for this blogpost, I was creeped out (perhaps I still have a bit of a sensitive nature). It might be one that will make it to my "what to watch for Halloween week" list...
So in honor of the month of creepiness... what is your favorite X-File?

Monday, October 7, 2013

wild beauty

Flowers have been modified in many ways to suit our modern tastes for beauty. I love the many variety of roses at the florists and the diversity of orchids that are available at my local market but I am most astounded by the delicacy of the wild cactus flower.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

what does music do for you?

Mo asked me that today. Actually he asked me what song takes me on adventure and makes me want to explore. I am not much of an explorer by nature- at least not of the body. I'm more of a stayer but if there were a song that makes me think of traveling and adventure it might be the music from the cartoon version of 'The Hobbit'. Not because it's such great music as much as it reminds me of the road and traveling. But that led to the bigger question of what music does for us in our lives.

Now, you may not know this about me but I have $40,000 vocal chords. That's what going to a private college and majoring in music in music (general- not education) will cost you- or did in the 80s. (It's more- a lot more now!) I didn't get a great career out of it nor did I bank a lot of music history and can now rattle off the entire history of rock music in the United States for you. Nope, but I did spend a lot of years singing and entertaining people in various settings and it did add a lot to my life and my children's I dare say, so it was worth it I guess.

So music plays a pretty big part in my life. There are some songs that absolutely move me to tears (Prokofief's Piano Concerto #3, Madame Butterfly- the final aria, amid many others) and some songs that can cheer me up when I am completely down and it doesn't have to be a happy song just a song that takes me out of whatever I am dealing with- like 'Sunset Grill' by Don Henley. I wake up with music in my head almost every day- sometimes it is the same song day after day and I call it my theme song for that period of my life. It can also set me on edge however. I have a co-worker who doesn't sing very well and she will sing in the workroom and almost drive me insane. I understand that she is happy and listening to her ipod, etc. but she has no clue how her shrill just-off-tune voice irritates me. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard! Fortunately she doesn't work everyday nor does she sing in the workroom constantly, so I won't be driven to do anything that may end with me in a padded room any time soon (and she's quitting anyway). So clearly, music can influence me significantly for good- and for bad.       

Anyway, how about you? what does music do for you???
A new song I just found and decided I kind of like...
(and if you're wondering what all the posting is about: I'm participating in my yearly 31 days of blogging with NaBloWriMo. I jumped in without much fanfare and don't know if I'll make it all the way, but so far so good)

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