Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jumping off the Political fence..

Well, it's time for me to take the plunge off the political fence. I have straddled the fence for so long this election that I think I am chafing. I have long been an independent voter with a strong belief that 'we the people' should have more than two viable choices for president. I mean we are a nation of 305 million people, certainly we can come up with more serious candidates than just two every election year. We are a diverse nation that doesn't just fit into 2 camps. The folks registering as independents is growing! Yipee, we need some independent thinking to move from the 'same old, same old' partisan politics that we have had for a couple hundred years. As long as we have only have 2 major parties in this country we aren't going to experience true change.

I am praying for the day that I can vote for a person that I feel will truly make a good president. Will that happen in my lifetime?  I better pray hard.   In the meantime, where is Ross Perot anyway?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mom’s Coming and She’s a Crackpot .. er I mean Crackberry..

I love my mother. For a woman of 65, she is quite technologically savvy. She has done well for herself and has quite a lot of business acumen. I am quite proud of her, but it seems that I have helped to create a techno junkie.

Eighteen years ago, I moved her typewriter off her desk and replaced it with a MacIIsi computer. She protested, bitched, moaned, yelled and pulled out all the drama stops over this change. I stood my ground and within a week she said I could remove the typewriter out of her office altogether. Ahhh.. breakthrough I was quite proud of myself. I was also proud of her for taking a step into the 20th century and using the current technology.

Fast forward to Spring 2008, I talked to my mother the evening before and she was so sick that she couldn’t stand up. She has inner ear issues sometimes and ends up bedridden until it subsides. So the next morning when I got a five emails from her in five minutes, I assumed she was better and back to work. I called to comment on her quick recovery only to find that she was laying flat in bed and holding her Blackberry above her head so she could read and return emails!! Thankfully, when we took a trip together this summer she had just changed from a Blackberry to the iPhone and hadn’t gotten the new touch pad down well enough yet to really be sending emails .. she could just read them. I am not sure how many actual meals or conversations we have had over the past couple of years without her checking her Blackberry or phone but it isn't many. I realized that the addiction was pretty bad when at her house I observed her using 3 different computers and her iPhone to stay up with her email! Now, she is a busy lady. She does get a lot of emails and I am sure that people are happy that she responds promptly but still you have to call a spade a spade and she is addicted .. just like a crack head, no two ways about it, she is a Crackberry. Or now that the iPhone is the in thing, maybe they should be called iCrackers. Whatever they are called I do think they need a 12-step group. (The first step is admitting it.)

So mom is coming to visit and I think I need to help her with her problem. (Not that she wants help or even that she thinks she has a problem.) Nevertheless, I am going to take her to beautiful SE Utah. There are lots of lovely buttes, spires, mesa and red desert that is always changing it’s hues. SE Utah has a lot. It will not however have cell phone coverage, wifi card coverage, email access or a tv signal! They ought to build a retreat center out there for all the crackberries. So I am wondering what will happen to her? Will she sweat and twitch or her thumbs move involuntarily? Will her head spin around and she spew angry words my way. Will I be able to protect myself? Further will I be able to get her to a signal before she is past the point of no return.. These questions and more will be answered soon enough … if I emerge unscathed from this intervention!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I did it without crack!

Wow, I am not sure that I am ready to add plumbing to my resume, but I am still quite impressed with myself! A handyman or woman I am not. I prefer to make the call and open the checkbook, but the sting of being fleeced by an auto repairman the day before drove me to attempt what I would never have fathomed before ... I .. yes, I changed a sink. All by myself, no help whatsoever! (The old one had a bottle of perfume go through it)

Now I have to say that it was not the easiest thing I have ever done. I now have a new respect for plumbers, especially the guys who fix RV bathroom items. RV bathrooms are very small and I swear you have to know some Yoga moves to work in them. I had to twist .. a leg here, an arm there, no still can't reach .. ahhh that leg has to do the pretzel thing then I can reach the screw! It wasn't pretty and of all things .. I sweated! I am not keen on exertion to the point of sweating and had to stop and take notice when that drip ran down my forehead and unto my nose. Panicked as to what was happening to me .. I almost stopped. The whole car thing kept me going.

I was quite pleased when I carefully set the new sink down on the counter and trimmed the plumbers play-do from around the edges. Next, I attempted to hook up the things underneath. Apparently it is best to hook those up first, because when I finally did get the pipe things all hooked back up the sink was sticking up 1/2 inch above the countertop! So much for my nice trim job. At that point, what had been my nice soothing Folk tunes I was plumbing too, was about to make me crazy & I had to go put an end to Peter, Paul & Mary's "If I had a hammer.." before I decided to take a hammer to the damn sink .. But no ... I calmed myself, resisted crying and went back with a new resolve to that I could 'do this'.

A few more Yoga moves, dropping screws on my face and losing clips to the depths of the RV and I had it. Whew whew ... time to trim the putty stuff again. Wow, I stood back, wiped my brow .. and admired my work. Oh crap, what's that water on the floor!? No big deal I am woman watch me plumb .. a little tightening and it's okay.

I really did it, I look like hell but I did it and most importantly I did it without showing any crack! The key ... those leotard workout tights. If our handyman were decked out in these babies, we could say goodbye to crack forever. Oh what a wonderful world it would be.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Trail Notes...

Yesterday I was listening to a preacher recount an outing he took in the mountains.  It reminded me a my first hike in the mountains this season.  Here are the trail notes for the my Gem lake hike in Rocky Mountain National park.


12:10 pm – what a beautiful day for a hike in the mountains. Hmmm.. Gem lake 1.8 miles, sounds great! That won’t be too far.. I think I will just take 1 of these little bottles of water. No sense in weighing myself down more than I need too.

12:20 pm – sure glad I decided to break in these new boots instead of wearing my tennis shoes, as there is a creek going down the center of the trail. Little bit of incline on this trail .. it should be a good workout for me.

12:30 pm – elderly man with a cane coming down the trail. Hmmm, maybe I will have to go an extra mile or so past the lake to get a good workout. Hey look, a sign .. oh .. I can go back to the trailhead the long route, 1.1 miles that will burn a few more calories. This is way is only .5 mile.

12:50 pm – thought it best to go past the elderly couple resting on the trail before I stopped & gasped. What is that tinge in my chest? Surely I am not having a heart attack. I think I should just hang out and take a couple pictures while my heart quits pounding & I get my breath.

1: 00 pm – surely I am getting close. I has been almost 1 freak’n hour I have been walking uphill! Aren’t there in flat places on this trail? Chest still pounding. What is the elevation here?

1:05 pm – meet family on trail – they say that I have a ways to go but that there is a cave around the corner were I can get cooled off. The almost 7 year old takes me to the cave entrance to feel the air. I must be looking a bit ragged that she felt the need to guide me. Whew, this cool air feels great. It must be 85 degrees up here. I didn’t think Estes got that hot. Man, half my water is gone. I better start conserving … Sure wish I had brought that other bottle.

1:15 pm – people passing on the trail. Stop to take flower pictures and try not to gasp for breath as they pass. They say only 15 minutes more .. okay .. 15 minutes .. I don’t know if I can do it. Surely, the people who marked this trail are wrong .. I think I have walked about 5 miles already.

1:30 pm – dying on this freaking trail. Meet two 80 year old ladies coming down the trail. They ask if I am by myself .. no .. just me & the mouse in my pocket .. do you see anyone else!! They aren’t even sweating. They say the lake is a gem .. just 15 minutes ahead!! 15 minutes! I heard that 15 minutes ago .. okay don’t faint in front of them, keep moving.. for god sake they are 80 plus & they made it!

1:35 pm - the guy who past me 10 minutes ago is now on his way down .. he says I’ll make it .. it is only 10 more minutes. Not being able to breath without a gasp, I give the ‘mouth open gasp’ smile. I think I might have to crawl soon. I hear a couple complimenting 3 older ladies on the switchback above.. she says it is so inspiring to see all the older people on the trail! Inspiring my butt, they are just here to torment me!

1:45 pm – Is this the freaking lake I killed myself to get too!?? Looks more like a pond. Gem lake, my patooty!  At least there are no old ladies up here so I can recupe in peace. Ahh , granola bar and a gulp of water .. gotta conserve .. only two sips left for the way down. Better relace my boots, my ankles are killing me .. stupid idea to break in new boots on this trail. That damn chipmunk better stay away from my granola bar or I am taking Alvin out.. Okay, I have stopped heaving in air and heart rate is down to only 200 or beats per minute. Better head back down.

2:15 pm – whew going down is way better. Maybe those ladies weren’t wenches after all, they were just happy to go down hill. Must have been about a 5000’ elevation gain on this trail. This little cave thing is a great escape from the heat. 1 swallow of water, better save the last one.

2:50 pm – trail splits .. 1.1 mile or .5 , I think .5 will be just fine. Last swallow of water, I think I might make it.

3 pm – whew I made it .. baby Ranger Rick at the bottom can’t tell me what the elevation gain is but doesn’t think it is 5000’. Bottle of warm water in car, now half empty. No open blisters on my feet. Life is good.

Note to self – Great trail .. must do again – take more water!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Passage to India for Healthcare

Man, I loved playing softball. When I had the chance to jump into an over 55 league and play again, despite being 40 something. I took it. During my 3rd practice, I heard a loud pop as my foot slipped when I went for a simple ground ball. I collapsed on the field .. note I still made the out at first .. but had to have my over 55 cohorts help me up and off the field. I hobbled home, iced my knee and said my prayers that it would be better in a couple of days. Unfortunately, days went by and it wasn't, which was of major concern to me since I did not have any health insurance.

When it was clear there was something majorly wrong, I went to the only doctor I could get into see without insurance .. he was a chiropractor he said I needed to see someone in orthopedics. After 5 calls to orthopedic docs who told me they would not see me because I did not have health insurance. I found one that would. It was $245 which had to be paid in full before I could see the doctor. I was in pain and said fine.

When I arrived for my appointment on crutches, a person who appeared to be an office manager came in and started asking the 'window person' loudly why there was a self pay on the schedule .. all calls were suppose to be screened .. they didn't do self pay and on and on... I wasn't sure why my money was any less good than an insurance companies at that point .. after all I paid up front and more money than they were getting from the insurance company .. but I keep my mouth shut, I was really in a lot of pain and just wanted to see a professional. The doc gave me a referral for an MRI and a place to get it at a reasonable price (about $500, then a couple hundred for it to be interpreted) and a place where I could get a brace and try that for a couple weeks to see if I could get by without having any surgery. I got the MRI .. again paid up front, got a cd copy for my records and paid for the MRI reading report to be faxed to the doctor. When I followed up with the doctors office, after the results had been sent to them, they kept telling me the doc would call me later. I called every day for four days, only to be told something different and that I would be called back with the results. The last time I called, I was told that I would have to make an appointment for him to tell me the results and that it would that would be $285 up front!! I was livid. I already paid for the results to be put in report form, and he wanted me to pay $285 for him to tell me what they said!! I asked to at least speak to the doctor about the matter and was refused the opportunity to do so.

My mother told me about a story she saw on 60 minutes on people going to other countries for health care & suggested I call and see if there wasn't some place close by in Mexico that I could go to for help.

I dropped and email to one of these companies at about 10 pm. I had a call from there representative by 10:30 pm. I sent the images from the CD I had to him via email and within 36 hours I had talked with a doctor in Panama who had read my MRI & one in India. I had torn both my acl and meniscus. I called the local hospitals and clinics trying to see if I could arrange surgery on a self pay basis. I could, if I had a doctor who would do the surgery. The figures they gave me were around $8000 higher than the out of country cost and that was without the doctors charges and only for 1.5 hours in the hospital. I think I spoke to them on a Thursday. By the next Wednesday I was on a plane to India and had surgery Friday morning.

It was all a whirlwind. I spent 10 days in an Indian hospital. 1 day prior to surgery and 9 after. In the 9 days after I received physical therapy 2x per day. The total cost was around $2700 (without airfare). The care I got was amazing.

Some of the aides in India

It wasn't all peaches and cream though. The Indian doc recommended I stay in the country 15 days after surgery. My person only booked me for 9 and despite all efforts on the Indian & US side, I could not get my tickets changed. I had to fly against medical advice or stay another 20 days. I flew .. it was absolutely horrible .. Lufthansa was horrid but I survived.

Little did I know that my troubles getting back were just the beginning. When I did make it back, I called the local PT companies with my doctors orders for PT from India only to be told that they would not accept doctors orders from out of the country. Time and time again I heard the same story. (We are just talking about PT .. lift your leg, bend your knee, etc!) So I tried to get and appointment with a doctor so I could get an order for the therapy that I was told was crucial to me being able to regain full functionality of my knee. No doctor would see me. After 9 days with no therapy I called the company that set me up for the surgery for help. They were able to get a US doctor to fax orders for me to get PT for the state I was only going to be in for a couple more days. When I got to the state where I was actually living, I again faced the same problems because this state didn't just want a US doctors order but a US doctor from their state. I finally found a private PT that basically risked their license to get me through the rest of my rehab.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have just stayed 3 more weeks in India and received all the healthcare I needed before returning to the United States.

I read several blog posts today on Blogher about healthcare in the US. Several bloggers stated that they didn't feel universal health care was something that our government should be involved in. While I do understand that bigger government is not always the best answer to every social problem, I think that our government should at a minimum assure that every citizen has access to healthcare. I was denied health insurance and then denied care in the richest country in the world for not having insurance. Insurance companies make millions, but are charged less by providers than I am. Illegal immigrants can go to a hospital for emergency care and have their bills written off. If I went to an ER, I would have to be bankrupt before my bill would be written off and then my credit would be ruined for years.  Even then hospital ER's are only charged with stabilizing a person and providing life saving care, not necessarily diagnosing or correcting a health issue.

Our healthcare system isn't working for a growing number of people in this country. The care I received in India was better than the care my brother received for the same operation in the US. 4 of 5 of people I know who had operations in the states within 6 months of mine caught staph infections at the hospital... 2 of them died, one being only 44. My grandmother spent 3 days in the hospital before they gave her insulin... despite the intake paperwork showing she was insulin dependent. They only noticed after we kept asking what her blood sugar level was and why it was so high. Additionally, she got to a point where she could not feed herself (they knew this) .. yet they would leave a tray & come pick it up again without it being touched if a family member didn't make it in on time to feed her. In India, a dietician came in after every meal to talk about what & how much I ate and what changes I would like for the next meal.

Healthcare for our kids is even worse. We have improved over the past couple of years yet an infant born in Cuba still has a better chance at survival than one in the US. Cuba! Did I mention that we are the richest country in the world and that our insurance companies make millions?? My hope is that whomever we elect as our next president that 'we, the people', really do hold them accountable and demand change in our healthcare system this time. Change that insures that all have access to affordable care.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Obama, Palin and the American Dream

What a year for politics.  I sat with tears in my eyes as I listened to a black man at the Democratic convention speaking about how he could finally tell his kids without reservation that they could grow up to be anything they wanted.   It was a historical night when Barack Obama accepted the nomination for president of the Democratic party .. he shattered the race barrier for the highest office in this country.  I found all the tears, cheers and personal stories of the older people who never thought they would see this day extremely riveting.

After soaring from the emotion from that night, the next morning brought Sarah Palin.   An unheard of (in the lower 48), self proclaimed soccer mom, 2 year mayor of a small town in Alaska was named as John Mc Cain's running mate!  Wow ... from obscurity to the national spotlight all in one day.  As more details came forth about Sarah Palin and her family the more wowed I became.  Not because of her readiness or lack of readiness to be president but because of the concept of someone who is young, has a less than perfect family life & history,  from a small town about as far from Washington as you can get, can be considered for an office that is a heartbeat away from our highest office.   That, to me, is a huge WOW.

The Chinese see the number 8 as a lucky number.  I am not sure if 8 is lucky or not, but I do think that the 2008 political race itself has given hope to more people of all creed, color and background that the American Dream really is possible than anything else could have.  You no longer have to spend a lifetime in politics, be a white male and have a Leave it to Beaver family to be president ... whew whew .. Whatever the outcome of the election, I think that we have already achieved significant change.  

Who knows maybe even I could be on a ticket one day!  Only in America... :-)


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