Not a stalker.

Really.

Even if it looks like I might be.

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I have a cousin who doesn’t get counted due to a strained family relationship.

There’s the “Ferrier / Bernard Branch 9”

M (big Bro)

J  (me)

G (baby Sis)

J

T

B

S

S

D &K (the twins)

Then, the other branch, from Daddy Dearest’s side, consisting of half sisters L and L.  The final 10 and 11 of my immediate cousins / family.  While I may know some of my third and 4th cousins better, the “firsts” as cousins all have a place in my heart, whether or not we ever see each other.

I normally count only one of the L’s as she knows my other cousins and has always been a part of any “family” event held by me.

The younger L, the second marriage child, has been estranged from the larger family for many years.  The last time I was blessed to see her was my Big Brother’s wedding, way back in 1986 or so, after I, too, left my home to move far, far away.

What’s really strange for me, though, are the seeming parallels in our lives for dealing with Daddy issues, and the incredible closeness we both claim with our Mom’s.

So, fast foward to a blog my cousin is writing of her journey into a new life as she rebuilds her life without the stabilizing anchor of her Mom.

She’s journeying across the country, dropping in on mentors, friends and areas of public interest as she decides how and where she wants to rebuild her life, and decide if it will be away from New Hampshire.

During this journey, she’s given me some insight into her life with her father, my Daddy Dearest’s brother, and many of the same gender roles and related issues and expectations I’ve also struggled to handle in my own life.

A professional writer, she’s gone a different path for employment income.  A few years younger, maybe ten (10) years younger, she’s also from a different generation in terms of the female-specific / liberated woman programming she’s also received.

I cannot get enough of her blog.  That doesn’t make me a stalker, though, right?

Medicare Prep

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Went to the Better Breather’s Club at Valley Medical Center yesterday, and it was great to be able to socialize with my COPD buddies, and learn things I didn’t know about Medicare coverage (America’s retiree health coverage).

In particular, I did not realize that any supplemental oxygen equipment and related tools would not be replaceable for a minimum of five (5) years.

For three (3) years, the oxygen provider is reimbursed by Medicare, and for the next two (2) years they are expected to provide services free of charge.

What does this mean to the consumer?
– it will be nearly impossible to get a service provider after 12 months of coverage.
– you cannot buy the items you need outside of your provider’s program (usually)
– you need to have thought about what eqt you may need BEFORE you need it
– if you don’t specify an eqt preference, you’re stuck with their choice for 5 years

I always learn something new from my classes, and yesterday’s involved an app that this particular company is launching to help you track your ox sat rates, medicines, etc., and which they plan to deliver through fitbit and other wellness tracking tools such as your Apple Watch at some point in the next 6-12 months.

So, don’t be affraid to think about your worst-case scenarios and plan ahead so that you have the kind of equiment you prefer should push come to shove for needing it.

Attitude Problem

This Summary of my attitude problem in mid-August, taken from my profile on my social community page, http://www.MyCOPDteam.com, is being reposted here as I am still trying to find my balance.

Almost a month after I wrote this, it’s still very true:

19-AUG-17 – The insurance company that finally granted my matching salary benefits in April, after 18 months of denials, is now gearing up for Round 2 of benefits denials as the insurance rules change after 2 years of collecting matching salary benefits (even though the policy I paid into says I should be covered until retirement (age 67; 11 long years from now).

It is so aggravating to be reminded of all the things you can no longer do, or should not even attempt, given worsening health (horseback riding, rowing, downhill skiing, just to name a few), when all you want to do is concentrate on what you CAN do, and on not being angry all the time, mourning your losses, or trotting your limitations out for others debate.

I have been covered by this insurance company for 90% of my working life, at least 30-odd years of premiums to them vs. a different company. That’s 42 years of working, and paying premiums. To have them deny me benefits for pre-existing conditions was one thing when I was able to work to make enough to pay for both the useless medical coverage as well as my actual medical needs. But, to have them continue their attacks after I’m disabled and have been confirmed disabled is maddening.

I must find a way to fix my attitude problem, but for now I’m really struggling to find my blissful denial of reality. I just want the endless paperwork to go away.

The insurance company also started this fight 6 months before the review period starts, in March 2018. Their focus on grinding me down in Summer, the best part of any year for me, just makes me more determined to be treated appropriately and fairly.

There are no winners in this benefits fight, as even when I win what I’m due, I still feel angry and ugly inside, unsettled and defensive. Dealing with my attitude problem is no way to live and maintain my health, so I have to find a way to let it go and shake it off or the depression it’s trying to cause will only add to my issues.

So, I’ve got a bunch of blogs in “draft” mode, and we’ll see if my time away gives me new perspective to publish or trash them at some point.  For now, though, they are simply simmering on the back burner.  Thanks for your patience while I work to get my head on straight.

Off-kilter and angry

For those of you that don’t know, I killed a helpless animal last night, and it’s having a lasting effect on my morale today.  I don’t know who I’m angrier at – myself or the neglectful owner(s) – so I’m concentrating on nonsense until I find my balance once again.

Nextdoor Posting

Yesterday was an incredibly frustrating day.  The construction guys never showed up (and I believe their were supposed to at least put a final coating on paint on my deck, but I could be mistaken as I knew they were juggling jobs and I was ok with having only part-time service for the next few days).

I spent HOURS, actual hours, on the phone with Stanford trying to arrange my liver clinic appointment (doubly frustrating, as my insurance ran out yesterday, and wasn’t resolved by their machinations for how to f-up making a simple doctor’s appointment while I still had coverage).  So, as I wait to see what COBRA will mean to me in terms of coverage, I know that I’ll have a $830 minimum bill for the liver clinic if the new coverage isn’t accepted.  Lovely.

As for Stanford, I think it’s ridiculous that their own people cannot access the online patient portal to see my records (or, allow me to send them copies of my report) as part of trying to book an appointment.  Instead, I have spent the last 3+ weeks being bounced from person to person trying to get folks to answer the phone, and then – when they finally picked up the phone – spending another 45 fricken minutes on the phone with the clerk trying to prove that Stanford DID perform a CT scan in May.

That Stanford DID recommend a follow-up appointment with a specialist.

That my doctor DID send in the requested referral…

2+ wasted hours playing phone tag yesterday trying to get thru to them when I’m already tired and the heat is getting me down.  It was NOT the way to have me be polite and patient when I finally got a clerk on the phone.

Then, I had to go back to the Post Office to pick up a package that they were too lazy, indifferent, overworked (whatever) to put into my oversized PO Box, or in one of their package lockers.

(I’m really starting to hate Amazon for taking up ALL priority and changing protocols on how everyone’s packages are handled).

I ended up writing them a firm but aggravated note on Wednesday night about their new practice of holding my packages, and had it out with the clerk and the Postmaster when I was in line for over 30 minutes (15 minutes after they’d closed for the evening), waiting to be helped.  A hot August night was not fun for anyone yesterday.

So, to improve my attitude, I took my roomie to dinner and we sat around enjoying her A/C and Project Runway until about 11pm last night.

Had a good evening, ripping apart Project Runway candidates and their brain farts for good and awful designs, and found my balance once again.  For anyone who follows Project Runway, you know how arch some of the precious designers can be.

This season, the Twins, Shawn (bald) and Claire (high pony tail), are getting on my radar for booting them off the show fast, as fast as possible, as they are wannabe’s *.

Anyway, we had a lovely evening slamming Shawn and Claire’s antics, and I was sad to see that Shawn had copied a design she’d done in an earlier show (even if I only have the earlier design to show here, as the images from last night’s show are not yet available):

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(Last night’s episode, Season 16, Episode 3, had a pink pair of pants vs. the metallic shorts. I’m getting a 1-note feeling about Shawn’s designs, and the season has barely begun).  So, it was an all around nice evening to improve my mood (as I was ready to take strips off of everyone before I’d had dinner – not a pretty sight).

However, the really sad part is that, on the way home, I hit and killed a dog.

A dog that I think I saw being dumped (along with another dog) from a mobile home on Wednesday evening.

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My radar is usually pretty good for something being “off”.  Last night’s heartbreaking situation falls right into that category.

There’s a part of the farm country where I live where there aren’t any street lights on a long and lonely stretch of road.  Wednesday evening, or Tuesday, I was driving along this road at sunset and saw a mobile home / winnebago pull up on the side of the road, and two little fuzzballs of joy running out on the side of the road next to the winnie.

Giving them a quick glance while driving by, I saw two fuzzy butts appearing fairly clean and well-cared for, but no collars or leashes.  My radar perked up with a vengeance that something was “off”.

While I was tempted to stop and make sure the dogs weren’t being dumped (people are HEARTLESS), I convinced myself that there was no way two tiny white terrier mixes would be left to fend for themselves on the side of the road, and I didn’t do what my heart told me to do – stop.

I didn’t take pictures of the mobile home’s license.

I just told myself that I was over-reacting and went on my way home. Because I was in a hurry.  Because I prefer to believe in the goodness of people despite the evidence to the contrary.

However, driving home just before midnight last night on that same lonely stretch of road, I hit and killed a small white dog.  Heartbreaking and totally unnecessary, if only I’d followed my instincts and stopped earlier in the week when I thought something was off-kilter.

So, I went back around to make sure whatever I hit was ok (it’s a jersey barrier divided road), and found this poor little fuzzybutt in the road. I wasn’t sure if it was still alive or not (it appeared to be breathing, but was most likely dead given the violence of the impact), but I wrapped it up in my blouse and put it in my car while I went from Vet to Vet until I could find a 24-hour location.  I probably wasted a half an hour trying to find a vet that was open, and I will never know if I could have done more for that poor dog besides drive around trying to find help.

By the time I made it to the vet’s, the dog had passed.

There was no collar.  No tags.  No microchip.

It was not neglected nor did it appear mal-nourished, despite the signs of neglect for it being on the loose after midnight without ID or any way to let its owners know what had happened (in the event that they DIDN’T abandon their pet).

The poor little guy appeared to be less than a year old, as it didn’t yet have all of its adult teeth, and I will never forget it’s black button eyes staring at me, while marveling at the downy softness of it’s perked and pink little ears.

I’ve posted notices on Craigslist, Nextdoor and Facebook, and I hope word gets back to its owner if it was a beloved pet that had slipped out.

If it’s owner did, indeed, abandon it on the side of the road earlier this week, then I hope they rot in hell for what they may have done by abandoning two little bundles of joy in the middle of nowhere.

I’m hoping I’ll get out of my angry, off-kilter mood, but the events of last night are going to linger until I either hear from someone, or I’ve worked off my guilt and anger.  I was clearly driving too fast to be unable to stop in time. Or, I was too slow on my reflexes to be safely driving at all.  I don’t know what the proper answer is, but in 40+ years of driving, this is the first time this has happened.

I am so sorry for my part in ending the life of this poor puppy.  I’ll be off-kilter for awhile until I manage to accept my guilt and shake off my anger.  If you have a puppy or other pet, please do what you can to keep it safe.  This so DID NOT have to happen last night.

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* My Wannabe radar is amazing, if I may say so myself.  I had a huge fight with someone I considered a treasured friend in Junior High and High School (over 6+ years), as I disagreed with her design aesthetic for her art projects as it consisted of ripping off other’s work for inspiration.  

        Roger Dean was an amazing artist (he’s done album covers for rock groups like “Yes”, among other efforts).  Anyway, it made me crazy to have her receive accolades on her art when it was a 100% knock-off of someone else’s work.  She was a great copyist, I will absolutely agree to that, but she did not have her own vision and thus it was the same as if she was plagiarizing someone’s written work and passing it off as her own.  

        Anyway, I was too poor to go to college full time and thankful to finally be done with school so that I could get a real job and go to college at night.  D, meanwhile, was in art college, fully paid up, because her alcoholic father was on disability for his car accidents (and at that time being a benefits recipient guaranteed tuition coverage for college).  

        While we remained friends during college, her dilettante tendencies got on my nerves.  Especially when she was sucking the inspiration out of the heart and soul of others.  (All things that remind me of the Twins, “Indeed”).  

        One incident, in particular, ruined our friendship (and impacted my relationship with mutual friends) because she’d determined that “Anne”, a fellow art student, was the love of her life.  Suddenly, her “artsy” personality had her trying on the suit of a lesbian, and I wasn’t buying it.  IMHO, it was just another faux effort to be seen as exciting and different, and I thought that Anne’s heart was going to be broken as D was clearly playing at being who Anne thought she was vs. actually being that person.  I detest feet of clay personalities.  

         I also have amazing radar for faux personalities, possibly from being raised by a charismatic and functional alcoholic.  But, that’s a story for another day.  

        Suffice it to say, flashing forward 30+ years since that time, D is now married with kids of her own and still playing at being an artist, while her hubby carries the banner and the burden for living in the real world and covering the real world bills.  Sad.  Sad, IMHO, because I think she’s still hiding from herself in faux personalities, and I miss the woman she had the potential to become if only she’d have been true to herself.  Ethics and self-identity are terrible things to waste.  

Squeaky

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While I continue to be a disrespectable fat girl, trying to find a way to enjoy my quality of life despite my chronic aggravations of health issues and weight, I have made progress with my endocrinologist as she’s agreed that – maybe – I should try Metformin.

Not to rub her nose in it or anything, as my fasting (another frowned upon activity with diabetes) has seemed to get my A1C from 7.1 down to 6.6, I’m all for trying the Metformin in the hope that it will fix a number of complications I believe relate to my overall health from inflammation.

Nobody has time for pain, and certainly not pain related to unchecked damage causing Cirrhosis of the liver.

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So, we’ll see how it goes and if she prescribes the Metformin.  Nothing but fun, fun, fun around here.  How are YOU doing?

Debates. Counters.

I find it amazing that I’m getting care suggestions from my health insurance company, and my doctor says, “No”.

 

 

Not only “No”, but lets put me on Atavastatin, an anti-cholesterol Rx.  An anti-lipid treatment that may help my liver issues * OR * do further damage.  (Emphasis mine, as it really feels like someone is cavalierly flipping a coin to make a decision in the medical literature).

Clearly, the topic is still out for debate regarding whether or not an anti-cholesterol Rx will do good, do nothing, or cause additional damage.  So, feel free to experiment with my body !

What’s really gaslight-level strange is to then open the mail to see an actual recommendation from my health insurance company recommending that I discuss the value of Metformin with my doctor during my next visit.

Seriously?!!

I don’t pretend to be a doc, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but… it is funny to think that a treatment I researched on my own turns out to be EXACTLY what the insurance company has determined will cost them the least amount of care funds in the long run.  And, it’s even funnier that it’s the same treatment that my endocrinologyst rejected out of hand.

Of course, the discussion about pain was even funnier as I know I feel pain, point it out for where I think it is, and then am told that I am mistaken about my own pain.

Seriously.

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According to the above graphic, I’m a card carrying member of the NAFLD or NASH brigade (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease).

Add in tell-tale pictures of my lizzard-like spotted neck:

and one presumes that the very expensive CT Scan came back with the right diagnosis.

Nope.  Because I cannot point out where the pain “should” be for liver disease (in the abdominal area, apparently), and I point to my right side and lower back on the right, I must actually be suffering from kidney issues.

… Even though stock pictures for both liver AND kidney disease show these same two images for where I feel the pain resides.

So, I have no answers.  I started my anti-cholesterol Rx yeserday, and my right side is back to killing me for sleeping or rolling over while trying to sleep.

Not much left to say except that the fun with COPD just keeps giving and giving.

Rafael and company

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Leaving my comfort zone is always a way to learn new things, be exposed to different ideas, and to remind myself that we are not all alike.  And that it’s ok that we aren’t.

On this trip, I started the day with “Rafael”, and ended the journey with “Rafael”, our Uber driver.  (The photo above is from another blog, and has nothing to do with the actual Rafael, even though the brooding mirror image gave me something to work with for illustrating this blog and his part in our journey).

During the trip, I met a bunch of people that got on my nerves (not a biggie, but part of leaving one’s comfort zone), and it reminded me of just how selfish we (and I) have become in the good old USA.  Trust me, we are sadly lacking in decorum and manners, and could do with more respect for others vs. always having to be “on” when in a group of strangers.  I came to see the world, and instead dealt with my own pettiness for lack of manners.

Chrissy, the dining room attendant, was so obnoxious that I sat on my complaint letter before sending it in this week.  Let’s just say that someone with a Bouncer’s view of life should NOT be in charge of something reputed to be a fine dining establishment.

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This next one, Mr. Obnoxiously trendy skater boy, was determined to shock everyone and ruin the trip for all who encountered him (mostly families with kids and the elderly). He spent most of the first day drinking to excess, having sex with Ms. Traveling Alone (separate image, below).  How do I know this?  Because they both came out of the bathroom after 20 minutes together looking disheveled, pants unzipped and naughty bits dangerously close to being exposed.  Hmmm…

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Then, we come to the girlfriend of the moment (I presume), Ms. Traveling Alone but-must-hook-up-with-a-guy (i.e., Skater Boy’s chick of the moment).

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Not sure what else she had going for her, as she was way too busy being a groupie for Skater Boy, and I didn’t get any idea of who she was beyond being a convenient piece of sexual furniture who thought it very daring to be obnoxious in the Scenic Lounge (communal gathering area to enjoy the scenery), while determined to put on a show of her own.  Sad.

Next, it was Mrs. Finding-Myself-because-I’m-not-old-enough-to-be-stuck-staying-home.

Mrs. Finding Myself complained about her coach seat accommodations, then over dinner (no one was allowed to eat alone) reminded us all of how much money she and her husband had made in life, and then told stories of all the places she’d been on the cheap (why???? if you have so much money, why not enjoy it???).

The saddest part was how fancy free she was now that her son was grown and her husband was busy with his own life, and yet she seemed desperate for an audience to hear her tales of adventure.  I couldn’t figure out if I was supposed to be impressed, envious or her cheering section.

Mostly, I was just bemused that she was alone and working so hard to impress strangers telling stories of all the places she’d been and all of the things that she’d done and how wonderful it was to be all alone.  Always.

2012 Summer TCA Tour - Day 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Many of these folks in the images are famous – I took their pictures because they illustrated a moment and an impression of a person, and not because of any underlying comments about the artist portrayed in the images depicted).

One of the saddest moments came when an Onslow lookalike (from the PBS show, “Keeping Up Appearances”) had a medical issue and needed to be removed from the train on Friday afternoon.

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He and his wife were enjoying a lovely trip through the countryside, and it appeared that he was not feeling well for most of Thursday.  Come mid-day on Friday, a crisis occurred, and he had to be taken off the train and sent by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

I’m thrilled that he was out and about and doing what he and she wished, despite any health issues, but sad that their trip ended in that way for them.

Anyway, the upshot of this story is that I’m glad I went and was away during some of the recent craziness.  Trust me – I can do crazy all by myself, without help.