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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Magnetism

We had arrived at home. Trent pulled the car into our usual parking spot near our apartment and we started to gather up our things to head inside. Since it was a hot afternoon, I opened the car door while I was getting my act together. And that's how I made a new friend. As I was sitting in the car, a chihuahua mix being walked on a leash walked over to me. He put his little paws on the bottom of the door frame, almost climbing into the car. He wagged and politely allowed me to pet him while his human watched. 

As his human very responsibly made a deposit on the dog's behalf in the, ahem, receptacle, I commented that the dog must like riding in cars so much that he was willing to get into a stranger's car for a ride. He smiled and said that the dog doesn't really care much for car rides. Little Max, we learned, was a rescued dog. The human, whose name I am embarrassed to say that I don't yet know, told us that Max really needed to be rescued, and he took him in for that reason. What was supposed to be a temporary arrangement grew into a permanent one. 

As the human was talking, Max walked around the front of the car to say hello to Trent. Again, he wagged politely while dog smiling and allowing himself to be petted and admired. We thought Max was a sweet and charming fellow. His human went on to say that he was surprised that Max approached me and was friendly with both of us. Max isn't very impressed with most people. In fact, when he's out and about people will often try and get his attention and ask him to come and say hello to them, but he almost always ignores them.

There's something about having a dog decide that he wants to be your friend that just makes you feel good about yourself. It feels even better when you find out that the dog tends to be a bit standoffish. You see, dogs don't care what kind of car you drive. They aren't impressed or disappointed by the amount of money you have or earn. What you look like is a matter of complete indifference to them. And if you haven't had a chance to shower yet today, who cares? It just makes you more interesting. They don't judge by any of the things that most humans do. They just go by their instincts. They just seem to know which humans love them.

I don't know why animals seem to like me so much. My sister was amazed when we went to South Dakota and stopped at a wolf rescue facility that also seeks to educate humans. The person who went into the enclosure with the wolves told me to come up to the fence and reach out my hand. These two beautiful, wild creatures came up to the fence, sniffed, and licked my hand. I do not exaggerate when I say that my brain almost short-circuited. I was so thrilled, touched, and overwhelmed that I could barely speak.

It isn't just canines, although I have also had European dogs who understood no English at all be incredibly friendly to me. Liz has seen cats that are afraid of everyone come up to me and even want to be on my lap. I have had my hand licked by mountain goats that were crossing the road. One of the coolest things was the experiences I had with the Canada geese that lived at our last apartment complex. One evening I saw them chase away a couple that was walking around the pond where they were raising their young. A goose can beat you up with those huge strong wings, and the couple ran away as fast as their legs would take them.

The next afternoon, I went down to the pond to feed them. As I sat quietly on a large rock, the geese and a family of Mallard ducks spotted me from across the pond. They slipped into the water to come over and investigate. Before long, the adult geese were watching as their goslings came up and took bites off the bread I held in my hands. I sat there for a while and decided to walk back home. As I walked behind some of the geese who were headed the same way, it seemed as if they were making sure that I was safe from any possible oncoming traffic. One of the adults turned its head to look at me, made a soft honking sound, and kept walking. I was surrounded by these geese who were calmly walking along with me. They knew I was safe to be around, so they didn't care.

I really love animals, and apparently they know it. I like to make silly jokes about my "animal magnetism" but I think it's much more simple than that. For some reason, these animals seem to be able to feel my awe and joy at their presence. They know that I mean them no harm and that I just want to share that time and space with them. For a brief moment, they allow me into their world. For me, they are the ones with magnetism, and they draw me to be by their side.


p.s. When I was talking to Max's human, I managed to brighten his day. I told him that hearing that the dog's name was Max made me think of the old How the Grinch Stole Christmas animated special. I was rewarded with a huge smile. Max was named after the Grinch's dog!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Mathematics

I guess that I am pretty fortunate in that I am fairly good at basic math. I can figure out a lot of stuff in my head, and given a scrap of paper and a writing instrument, I can fairly reliably do all sorts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Percentages, no problem. I did pretty well with the geometry basics in school but algebra left me cold. Quite honestly, when a teacher asked me the question about two trains on the same track, one going thirty miles per hour and the other going forty miles per hour, and how soon would they crash, the question seemed idiotic to me. Why in the world wasn't someone calling the engineers to make sure there wasn't a crash at all? Any way, you get the point, I think. I can actually do my budgeting and such without the use of spreadsheets (it's certainly not high finance anyway!) and if I wish I can add everything up on paper rather than using a calculator. I can even keep track of how much I am spending in the grocery store in my head, usually within a dollar or two. So charmingly old-fashioned, right?  

Which leads me to something that happened today that one could either see as aggravating or downright scary, or even both. Going along with our usual luck, it just happened to be about a prescription refill that I ordered last week. It would just have to be something to do with pills, right? 2015, the Year of The Pill. Blech. So, I order a refill of the pills that keep my blood from clotting too much, and there are no refills available. My mail-order pharmacy is kind enough to send a request to my doctor's office for a new prescription. Doctor Mike is kind enough to get back to them right away with an updated prescription which includes new dosage instructions. Beautiful, right?

Now, I won't even mention that I got about half a dozen emails about this refill, saying it can't be filled because it is expired, then that a new prescription was received, and lather, rinse, repeat, repeat, repeat. I won't go into that at all, or that I was not really sure whether it would really be filled or not. I'll start with getting the email saying that it had been filled and shipped. Huzzah! Check the status on our website and have a groovy day.

So I checked the website and started to not have a groovy day. I looked at the quantity of pills shipped and it was, well, totally wrong. Even if you can't do much math, you'll be able to see how there was a boo-boo. I take 1 pill three times a week and 1 1/2 pills four times a week. That adds up to 9 pills per week. The pharmacist who filled my prescription for a 90 day supply decided that 97 pills would last me 90 days. Even without running any numbers it was obviously wrong to me. So I did several simple bits of math and figured out that I was shorted by 20 pills. Hey, people make mistakes, no big deal.

If you think about it, 90 days is approximately 13 weeks. Well, 13 weeks equals 91 days, but close enough. So 9x13=117. Easy-peasy. Or so I thought. So I made the dreaded phone call. Customer service, when I finally reached them, could not answer the question, but did remind me that the refill was for a 90 day supply. Yes, I knew that, but they reminded me of it again. Let's get a pharmacy tech on the line, shall we? We did, and she asked customer service to stay along for the ride. I explained my simple math to the tech who reminded me again that it was refilled for a 90 day supply, and how many pills I take on which days of the week. I replied that it was 13 weeks minus one day and that I take 9 pills per week, and I was only getting 97 in the mail instead of the 117 I should be receiving.

Pharmacy tech tried to make poor dumb Katrina understand by trying to break it down into smaller numbers. Here is an almost direct quote: "You take 1 pill three days a week. Three a week times 90 days is 270. Then-" I interrupt her to tell her that her numbers are wrong (following her computations I would have been sent about 630 pills for 90 days!) and she decides that I am too dumb to learn so she will put a pharmacist on the phone. I fully expect to see my husband holding a fire extinguisher at this point because he is probably afraid that my head will burst into flames. Tom the pharmacist gets on the line and says they base the number of pills dispensed on the average pills taken per day times 90, and that I should have been sent 117 pills. The extra 20 will go in the mail right away. I am very grateful that she got someone on the phone who is as bad at math as she thinks that I am. 

I am glad to know that the techs only dispense the pills, they don't decide the amounts that are required. But it scares me a bit. No, this isn't a pair of runaway trains. But medications can extend or, if incorrect, can end people's lives. It's still important to have the proper mathematics.


Monday, August 24, 2015

High/Low

I almost didn't write this evening. I wasn't sure exactly what I would write about, and the evening was rolling along. As the clock ticked toward the time when I had anticipated sitting down in front of the telly to watch one of my favorite shows, I decided that the program could wait until later. I really wanted to write. What show was it, you ask? Okay, I'll tell. It's So You Think You Can Dance? I know I can't dance, but I get such great enjoyment from watching others who can. And even though my age begins with a five, I still harbor a secret hope that I can magically have the abilities of Fred Astaire when I grow up.

I actually thought of this blog title a few days ago. I was hesitant to use it because I thought perhaps my readers might think that it was about mood swings or something similar. Not the case at all. It's just that I spent what others might think of as an inordinate amount of time thinking about my own highs and lows last week. Well, Katrina, you're possibly thinking, aren't you contradicting what you just said about mood swings? No, I'm not, because I'm talking about different types of highs and lows.

Because of my various health conditions, some of them directly related to lupus, it seems that I am always chasing after magical medical numbers. A set of numbers that is always of concern is blood sugar readings. As a type II diabetic, I am trying hard to get the magical blood sugar readings under proper control. Lately, I have been doing pretty well with this. In fact, I have done just a bit too well. My sugars have been low enough to require a bedtime snack so that I don't slip into the danger zone of my sugar getting way too low. As a brief example, when my sugar gets below about 80, I often start getting shaky and start feeling weak. I need carbohydrates to prevent problems. (Diabetics can become comatose from both extremely high and extremely low blood sugar.) My sugar levels will usually go down anywhere from 25 to 50 points overnight. So when I check my sugar at bedtime and it's already down to 75, it's definitely snacktime. Yippee!

Another set of numbers that I constantly chase has to do with my blood's rate of coagulation. Since the beginning of my relationship with lupus, I have dealt with clotting problems. One of my diagnoses is Chronic Superficial Phlebitis. Chronic, as in ongoing, Superficial, as in close to the surface, and Phlebitis, as in inflammation of the blood vessels. I have had several bouts with blood clots and even experienced ulcerations on my ankles because of impaired blood flow. To reduce the danger of these problems, I have taken anticoagulants for many years now. 

While anticoagulants can prevent many problems, they can create others, just like any medicine. Yes, the blood might not clot in my blood vessels, but it also doesn't clot very quickly if I have an injury. So those of us who take medications like warfarin, commonly called coumadin, have regular tests to monitor the therapetic levels of the drug. What is done in my case is a monthly test to see how quickly or slowly the blood clots called a prothrombin time, or protime for short. We all have our target  ranges, mine being 2.0 to 3.0, and we all know that if we eat stuff like kale, which is high in vitamin K and clots the blood, we will flunk our test. Then the doctor will give us a load of grief and adjust our meds and make us come back in a week for another test even though we'd rather wait about a month, darn it.

Last Friday was the date set for my protime. I knew I was going to overachieve on this test, and sometimes an A+ is not a good thing. You see, on Wednesday one of my neighbor dogs, Atticus (named after Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird), spotted me while he was out on his afternoon constitutional. This big, friendly black lab came over and leaned against me repeatedly, doing the whole hi-I-really-like-you-what's-your-name-again dance. First the left side lean, then the right side lean, and a few accidental sideways headbutts to the knee. It was a good time all around for this dog lover, and for the dog as well.

It was a hot and sticky day, so I came home and had a nice shower. When I stepped out and dried off, I saw The Bruise. This wasn't just a little bitty bruise. It had a great big lump underneath. I mean, this bruise is so big...(Okay, Readers, this is where you call out from the audience, "How big is it, Katrina?") Okay, this bruise is so big, I'd have to say that my knee has a shiner. It's so big that if you folded a dollar bill in half and set it on top of the bruise, there would be some bruise showing around the edges. Yep, sometimes when you're on anticoagulants you can get a bruise just from a hard look, I like to say. Needless to say, I did overachieve on my test. But Doctor Mike simply made a minor adjustment to my dose and let me off the hook for a month. Since I am on the high side rather than the danger of clotting side, I get a reprieve.

And I kinda doubt that my sugar will get too low this evening. You see, the Low Sugar Monster went to the supermarket with me today. The LSM said to buy popcorn. The LSM didn't fight back when Trent put a chocolate cake in the grocery cart. The LSM is a very bad girl. I guess I'll be chasing numbers again tonight, this time the slightly-highs rather than the slightly-lows. Oh, well, the race goes on...


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Never Enough

You may or may not know that everything I write about in this blog comes from my life. One post may be something from my memories, followed by another very rooted in the present. There may be dreams and wishes scattered in between, or an example of the ravings that inspired my blog's name. What it all boils down to is that my experiences and thoughts drive what I write about in this blog. 

One of the things that I enjoy doing is interacting with other people on social media. No, it is not my life, but I enjoy sharing the world through others' words and eyes. These little intersections of their life with mine are sometimes the inspiration for what I write in these posts, and tonight is one of those occasions.

A few days ago, C updated the photo of herself on her profile. She said that the picture she had been using was out of date and she had decided to be brave and show a photo of herself as she really looks today. It was obvious from her words that she was nervous or uncomfortable about baring her skin, so to speak, and showing herself as she looks every day.

As I looked at the photo, I saw a woman with large and stunning clear eyes that showed her intelligence and depth of personality. Her delicate skin and restrained smile showed me a woman who has experienced the gamut of emotions and has learned, loved, laughed, worried, and cried. In short, she is a beautiful and genuine woman. I showed her photo to Trent and he said that she was a stunning woman. I obviously agreed.

As I skimmed through some of the comments on her post, I saw that we weren't the only ones who felt that way about her photo. She received comments that ranged from wildly inappropriate and salacious to offers of eternal devotion. The gist of the comments, whether serious or with tongue securely planted in cheek, was universal. Everyone who saw the picture found it pleasing. Everyone, that is, except C.

Although C was grateful and touched by the comments made to and about her, she wasn't able to internalize them. No matter whether it was from a man or a woman, whether it was naughty or nice, she still couldn't see herself as worthy of them. And it wasn't a case of someone who was saying she felt unattractive in order to solicit comments. I've seen that many times, and this wasn't what was going on here. She simply doesn't feel like she is enough.

Even though C at her worst would probably look much better than me at my very best, I can identify with her insecurities. It's something I've seen with most women all of my life. The demands and expectations that we feel we must live up to leave us feeling that we are never enough. We are never smart enough, or beautiful enough, or thin enough. We are not curvy enough or tall enough or young enough. The list goes on. We see our daughters and sons growing up to use the same standards that we despise for the pain that they have brought to us. But how can we tell them that they are enough when they see us feeling the very opposite about ourselves?

I have no brilliant answers. I can only hold hope for the future. If we can teach the growing generations that everyone is enough, maybe they can learn and take the knowledge forward with them. Maybe we can help them to realize for their lives what we are unable to do in ours, the simple powerful message that they are good enough. We can tell them that while we can understand it only intellectually we hope that they will believe it and live it in the very marrow of their bones. Maybe we can end the feeling of never being enough.


p.s. I know that these feelings of insecurity and inadequacy are not limited to women. All of us have the potential to be plagued by feelings that we are never enough. I hope that these feelings will someday become far more rare than common.  


Saturday, August 15, 2015

I Know You're In There

I must have been about twelve years old that night. It was late and I was sleeping soundly, surrounded by dogs. I'm not sure how many were with me that night, but I imagine that there was at least one on my twin-sized bed, taking up as much space as it possibly could. I was wakened from a deep sleep by hard pounding on the window of the basement bedroom where I slept. My heart leaped into my throat as I looked around. I could see the glow of a dog's eyes watching me from across the room. The dog was looking at me as if to say, "Hey, what's going on? I was sleeping. Who's making all of that noise?"

I, on the other hand, was hoping that the dogs would defend me from whatever horrors were possibly going to happen to me, and maybe even them. BANG, BANG, BANG! "Hey!" I heard someone shout from outside the window. What should I do? Where could I hide? How could I keep safe? I was terrified.

I was no stranger to violence. I had, along with my siblings, been beaten in my earliest years with my father's belt, and often threatened with it as well. On one fateful Saturday, we were awakened by the sound of our mother's screams in the early morning, asking for help. She was calling out to us in Hungarian and said that I shouldn't come into the room with the others. Of course, all of us were taken by surprise at her screams and none of them stopped me when I ran along with them into mama's bedroom. We found her lying on her blood-soaked bed, writhing in pain. Our father had beaten her severely with a hammer and left us to find her in this horrible condition. She died two days later. He turned himself in at the police station and went to prison for less than five years; the mental prison his actions created for his children may last forever.

It is probably because of this personal history that I was so terrified by the intruder or attacker that was at my window. I was paralyzed with fear. I sat in my bed, as quiet as possible. Maybe if the person outside thought there was nobody in the room, they would go away and I would remain safe. Please go away, I thought.

As I sat in the darkness with the bedcovers clutched to my chest, the pounding continued. "Hey! HEY!" the angry voice shouted. I won't answer, I thought. I'll be very quiet and they'll just go away. BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG! The window rattled with the pounding. I was almost crying with the terror I felt. "I know you're in there!" the voice shouted. "Let me in!" I won't do it, I thought. Why on earth would I let someone come into the house to kill me?

The voice called me by name and said again, "I know you're in there! Let me in! Gram forgot her key and we're locked out of the house!" I was still shaking, but most of the fear evaporated into a mixture of relief and anger. It was my sister Liz pounding on the window so late at night.

Back in those days, Liz, who was six years older than me, worked at the local Taco Bell restaurant. Sometimes she worked late hours and had to walk the short distance home after her shift. Gram would occasionally walk down to meet her partway so that she didn't have to feel frightened by walking alone in the semi-darkness. I say semi-darkness because even though it was late at night, the streets were fairly well lit. On this particular night, when Gram left home she had forgotten to bring her keys. She had also locked the doors, probably for my safety. Ironic, isn't it? When the two of them got home, they realized that I was sound asleep and they were locked out of the house.

Liz decided to remedy the situation by being as loud and mean sounding as possible while beating the window so hard it's amazing that it didn't break. Liz thought it was pretty funny. I am sure that if she had been in my position she wouldn't have found it so terribly amusing. I've never really forgiven her for the terrible way that she chose to wake me up, but I have found a bit of humor in the situation after the many years that have passed. And in an interesting twist of fate, can you guess which one of us grew into an adult who is afraid of the dark? Well, it sure wasn't me. I survived an attack in the middle of the night from a yelling murderer. After that, most regular stuff isn't quite as scary!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Struck Dumb

For as long as I can remember, knowing things has been very important to me. It may have started with my father, who always encouraged me to be a smart girl. I imagine he took one look at his newborn youngest daughter and thought, "She's a newborn and she looks like an old lady. Better make sure she's really smart, because nobody is going to want to marry this one." The saying that knowledge is power really resonates with me, because knowledge was my only power. I wasn't pretty, I was socially awkward, I was absolutely unathletic, and I was forbidden to engage in any of the performing arts, with two temporary exclusions.

I thirsted for information. When I lived with Alice late during my second-grade year through the beginning of fourth grade, I submerged myself in books. Yes, I read Charlotte's Web like the rest of the kids, but I delved into far deeper reading. I reveled in Greek and Roman mythology, and biographies of people like Phyllis Wheatley and Abraham Lincoln. I loved books meant for readers of all ages.

When I came to live with Gram, I still loved this pursuit of learning. I used knowledge to protect myself, because although Gram never lifted a hand to me in anger, her tongue was quite sharp. If I did anything stupid, she certainly was willing to call me a jackass. And not behind my back, either, but right to my face, yelling quite loudly. So I tried to learn to say the right things at the right time. I developed knowledge and wit as part of not just my personality, but as my armor.

As I've grown older, I've remained inquisitive. I like to know a lot of different things, but I'm nobody's idea of a brilliant person. When I was preparing to take my European trip, I realized that knowing a few phrases here and there in the languages of the two countries I was going to visit (three, as it turned out) would be a good thing. We can't expect everyone to know our language, so I tried to learn phrases in Hungarian and French like greetings, please and thank you, how much does this cost, and most importantly, where is the bathroom? I remembered some of the German from my high school classes as well, but not tons.

As you can probably tell, I don't consider myself a genius, but I try not to be an idiot. And if someone treats me like an idiot, it really gets my dander up. But it seems that every so often, I get struck dumb. And I don't mean speechless. I mean I get an attack of the stupids. And for me, stupids often tend to travel in pairs or even herds. Case in point: last week, I was notified by Microsoft that my free upgrade to windows 10 was available. After installing it, I was enjoying the use of my computer and how everything was working. 

Now, I freely admit to being just an average computer user. I can handle my blogging and photos and games and such, but if I were to call someone with a problem and they said that I needed to reinstall the kerflaxinator, I'd be a bit lost. But I can look up instructions to deal with little problems along the way and handle them fairly well. The installation went smoothly, and I was loving how everything worked, but suddenly my wireless mouse seemed to be possessed. I use it on the front part of my keyboard because I do indeed use my laptop on my lap's top. But it was screwy-bazooey!

I'd point the cursor to a tab to see what it said, and suddenly the tab was opened without me clicking. Even worse, it often opened in another window. I tried to play solitaire and when the cursor was on top of the deck, it was dealing out cards rapidly like nobody's business. It wasn't until the next time I blogged that I figured out the problem. When the computer restarted, it turned the keyboard touchpad and mouse back on. I was mousing two ways without even knowing it. And I felt like a world-class idiot who didn't deserve to own a computer. Well, not really. Actually, I got a good laugh at myself, because it was pretty funny that I thought my mouse was out of control, verging on possessed!

Instead of sticking with only Saturday, the stupids injected themselves into Sunday as well. We were going to arrange a visit in our home with a friend who was born and raised in Peru. Whenver we see him, I try to pratice a few words of my high school and college Spanish, so I decided to have part of my conversation in Spanish. And I stopped to think, which was where I made my big mistake. I remembered that the USA is one of the few countries that routinely uses a 12-hour clock, so I wanted to ask him to come over at 19 hours. And when I asked him to come over at that time, he looked at me and said no. Then he said 19 correctly. In my effort to ask, I got my numbers totally screwed up and asked him to come over at ninety o'clock. You'd never guess that I've been able to count in Spanish for thirty years! Again, I felt less than intelligent, but once again I managed to laugh at myself. At least I tried. But I was definitely struck dumb. 

In this crazy ride called life, sometimes we are eloquent and sometimes we are struck dumb. If we handle our mistakes with good humor and grace, we may find that we can have the courage to keep trying. So I'll keep having my stumbles along the way, and possibly deal with some minor or even major humiliations. But I know that I can survive something as small as being struck dumb. After all, I get plenty of practice!


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Medicinal Madness, Continued

I recently wrote a blog post which I titled Medicinal Madness about some insanity regarding medications and insurance coverage. Two insurance companies cover Trent's expenses because he is a transplant patient, and I referred to those companies as A and B. While I am only insured by B, much of Trent's care is billed first to A and then to B. While B generally covers medications after the annual deductible is satisfied, the anti-rejection meds are billed first to A and then to B. So, since the beginning of this year we have not really known what amount we were going to have to pay on a monthly basis for the one medication currently in question.

Along the way, we were told amounts ranging from $2775, to $220, and then $165, all for a one-month supply. The final expense, of course, would be dependent upon the amount B decided to pay for this vitally important medication. I monitored the website of B every day, eager to see what their contribution would be. We knew that we were getting close to satisfying our deductible, close enough that after one month's billing was submitted we would have satisfied that annual amount.

I will admit that we were thrilled at the thought of B paying some of the expense. We had enough money set aside for the three months of fills that we hadn't yet been billed for. We began to allow ourselves to see a light at the end of a long tunnel. In addition, I had been holding off on ordering some much-needed medication and supplies. I was almost out of the antibiotic I take daily to prevent rosacea from damaging my eyes, and I was nearly out of test strips for my glucose monitoring. I all but stopped testing my blood sugar; when the deductible was met the strips would be free. Until then they would cost the amount of the remaining deductible, which was far better than the $500 or more that they would have cost a few months ago. Instead of two antibiotic tablets a day, I began taking one every other day. Through the local pharmacy, a one month supply would cost about $60. If I could hold out for the deductible being met, three months' worth would cost less than half of that. So as you might guess, I have been stressing greatly over this issue because so many things were dependent on the processing of these claims. 

On Wednesday morning, I eagerly pulled up the website on my computer, hoping that the deductible was met. I also hoped that we'd find out that B had paid part of the cost of at least one of the amounts. Yes! There were numbers where previously there had been none! The amount we needed to pay on the first billed amount was around $160 as we expected. The amount we were responsible for on the second billed amount was...$1950. The company wasn't paying a single penny on either claim. I was disappointed but tried to find a silver lining. I knew that we couldn't be billed more than $165 by the pharmacy, so we wouldn't have to pay the full scary amount. And our deductible was satisfied so that would be great, right?

Wrong. Although they decided not to pay a single penny, they also didn't apply any of the billed amounts to our deductible. Sure enough, when I went to the pharmacy website, it told me that I could order antibiotics for over $100 dollars or test strips for nearly the same amount. And in our certainty that we would have a lower payment owing for the medications, we had spent a small amount of the money set aside for their payment. I began to berate myself for the fool that I was. Trent tried to tell me that we had both spent the money and were both responsible, but I didn't blame him, only myself.

A part of me was really crushed. I had hoped that the money we had so carefully set aside could be used for special treats for us later in the year. Maybe we could use it to celebrate our Anniversary or get one another something special for Christmas. I saw these things slipping away and felt sad for their loss. After a short while, I told myself that things aren't important, and I truly believed it, which is a good thing. I buoyed myself up to call insurance B and find out why the amount wasn't added to the deductible.

I had to explain all of the folderol for the umpteenth time, and asked why the deductible hadn't been adjusted. Apparently there was an error, so the person helping me began a research request to get the amounts adjusted. It would take up to ten business days to get fixed. My heart sank. Since I was on the phone already, I also asked why no payment was made. It turns out that since A paid x percentage of the billable amount, which is more than B would have paid if they had been the only ones billed, they figured that this was good enough. Why didn't the last person I spoke with tell me this, I wondered. I wouldn't have had my hopes dashed if I had known not to get them up. I tried to pin her down to telling me that they would not pay anything in the future, but she wouldn't do so, even though it seems to be the obvious answer.

I continued checking to see if the deductible was adjusted. Yippee! Overnight Thursday, it was fulfilled. I went to the pharmacy website only to find that they still didn't have that information. They did, however, know the cost of the two months' worth of medicine, so I took care of paying for them. Trent and I made a plan that I would use his meter to check my blood sugar if I needed to; his strips don't work in my meter, naturally. If I keep being frugal with my antibiotics, I can last until I get a shipment. I was able to order the test strips free of charge today, and will get in touch with my doctor to order the pills on Monday. We'll make it through.

I am ashamed to admit that when I found out yesterday that I still couldn't order my things, I quit fighting the crankiness that had been hovering around me. I jumped right into a pool filled with it, and let it drench my body and mind. If someone really wants to reform insurance and make people's lives better, I thought, they should make the monthly premiums count toward the annual deductible. Test strips should be universally sized like phone chargers, I thought. When Dr. Mike responded to my comment that I was wishing for menopause to begin and he said I was already in it because of my age, I should have asked him to notify my uterus about that, I thought. I am so stinking cranky, I thought.

Frustrations happen for all of us from time to time. Sometimes they just seem to pile up on top of one another like a huge pile-up during a football game. As much as we try to handle them with maturity and grace, every so often we just can't. We get depressed or frustrated, or take a swim in the cranky end of the pool. I'm ashamed that I got that way yesterday, but I'm glad that it was crankiness instead of a deep depression. Different types of emotional extremes, but one is much more damaging than the other. 

Soon, I will have my supplies and meds and will be able to let go of the stress that I have been carrying on my back. At least we know where we stand now as far as Medicinal Madness is concerned! I wish all of you good fortune and hope that your trips into the realm of medicinal madness are brief and low in stress. Be happy, and be well!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

T-shirts and Travelers

This is a not-so-fabulous photograph of one of my favorite t-shirts.




It holds a great deal of sentimental value for me because I purchased it on my last night in Budapest. It has gone with me from Budapest to Paris, has been worn in numerous places in Colorado, and may have traveled to some neighboring states. Hey, I don't remember everything I have packed on every trip! Aside from the obvious memories associated with it, it's a really cool shirt. It has a very detailed line drawing of parts of the city. The paint is starting to flake off, but I still love it. I'll probably wear it until it's just a white shirt that only has the word Budapest on it.

When Trent and I decided to go to a restaurant that serves breakfast at any time of day, I pulled on my trusty Budapest t-shirt. As I gave myself a last-minute check in the mirror, I thought, "Someone is going to say something about this shirt today." When our server came to our table, she exclaimed, "I really like your Budapest shirt!" Now, I've heard this before, but she still surprised me because she pronounced it the way it is supposed to be pronounced. In Hungarian, a single letter s is pronounced like sh, so Budapest is pronounced more like Budapesht. 

Of course both Trent and I lit up when she pronounced it that way, and we began to chat with her about why she knew to say it that way. She has an eighteen-year-old daughter who has wanted to go to Budapest for years. We talked about the Revolution of 1956 and I asked her to let her daughter know that she needed to look up at the buildings to see the bullet holes from that terrible time in Hungarian history. I told her about my family leaving for the USA after the revolution failed and they were slated to be executed. She has a relative of a relative who lived in Hungary; I have many who still live there. Trent and I enjoyed the brief time we had to speak with her and encouraged her to let her daughter know that she would most likely enjoy her trip a great deal. We left with full tummies as well as hearts full of joy. It was wonderful.

After the latest round of Medicinal Madness (more on that in a day or two) we decided that we needed to get out and have a treat. We had received a gift certificate to a restaurant last Christmas and had been hoping to save it for our anniversary, but decided that there was no better time to use it than right then. So I pulled on my red pants and my Budapest t-shirt, and we headed to Boulder for dinner. 

Frankly, dinner got off to a rough start. We walked in and waited at the host stand for someone to seat us. A lady and her young son, who came in after us, were asked by the young host if they would like a table. To my surprise, this woman did not have the courtesy to tell him that we had arrived first. She said that yes, they would like a table, and he seated them. He walked straight past us back to the station, never even giving us a glance. Trent and I looked at one another with raised eyebrows, stunned at his behavior. Trent asked if we could be seated at a table and the host told us that he would check to see if there was a clean table available. It was before the dinner rush began, so there were dozens of empty, clean tables that he walked us by before seating us at the very back of the restaurant.

He seated us in an area that was assigned to a very good server, but he had people at most of his tables. They were also all seated within minutes of each other, so we felt even more slighted. I must emphasize that we didn't feel slighted by the server; it appeared to be deliberately poor seating by the host. I sat there at the back of the restaurant trying to find some humor in the situation. I thought, and said to Trent, that as I am a fairly substantially-sized person, it's pretty amazing that the host couldn't see me. I still felt a bit overlooked (invisible?), probably because my nerves were still jangled from all of the stress regarding the phone calls we had dealt with earlier.

Trent excused himself to go to the restroom, but spoke with the manager instead. She was a delightful person, and knew exactly who had been responsible for the ill treatment. She dealt with us very kindly and really saved the day for us. Before we spoke with her we had decided to never return to the restaurant, but we changed our minds because of her. Not that we have tons of money hanging around for dining out, mind you. That's one of the reasons we only go to places that treat their guests well. When we have another opportunity, we'll definitely go back there again.

As we left, it seemed that every employee gave us a smile, thanked us for dining with them, and wished us a good evening. The young woman who was now at the host station gave me a bright smile and said, "I love your Budapest shirt!" As you can probably guess, those were magic words for me. I thanked her and told her that I had gotten it in Budapest, and asked her if she had ever been there. She told me that she will be going there next spring. She will be studying abroad in Prague, but definitely wants to go to Budapest. Yet again, I found myself briefly telling someone about the revolution and my family's flight from the country. She was more excited than ever to go. She had never heard of the revolution and told me that learning about it touched her history-loving heart.

Once again, my t-shirt had brought me a brief, delightful interaction with a person who wanted to go somewhere that I had been. What a pleasure to share a moment or two (okay, several) letting them know how much they were likely to enjoy their travels! These young women will also know that this beautiful city has had its share of both happiness and sorrow. I hope that they will enjoy the warmth and kindness of the Hungarian people as much as I did. And I wonder what further experiences my Budapest t-shirt might bring me.