My Novels

Monday, March 30, 2009

About medical care

I was reading a forum about the medical care crisis and came across this anonymous post. I've read similar thoughts from those who work in ERs/hospitals, but found this one to be the best and clarify what we Americans are facing sooner than most care to realize.


There's something no one has realized about emergency rooms. My husband works in one, not going to say what he does there, in a small city in Oregon. They've actually been seeing less people since the economy went to hell, since more and more people don't have insurance and so can't come in for every stupid little thing.

On the other hand, the people who do come in, finally, are much, much sicker than they used to be. In our hospital, ER numbers are off by 30%, but ICU admits are up by at least 25%.

What most people don't realize is that if you present yourself to the ER they *have* to see you. And if you're that kind of sick they *have* to admit you, at least until you're stable. Even if you can't pay, and regardless of the potential cost of your care. It does not take many unemployed heart attack/stroke victims to start the tap running funds right out the door.

Another ongoing cost in the ER are the drug seekers. Many of them have learned that complaining of chest pain will get them to the head of the line. It will also get them a courtesy pack of narcotics, as complaints that "they didn't treat my pain" is a quick way to get your accreditation in trouble. Many of them turn around and sell, making calls to meet dealers from the parking lot, even where the staff can hear. But chest pain workups are expensive....

Right now revenues are so down that our ER is in the middle of lay-offs (and it's a non-profit hospital BTW). My husband would not be surprised if they had to close the ER in another 5 years.

Now, current federal law states that any hospital accepting federal funds MUST treat every one who come claiming an emergency, no questions asked. So, how to get around that? Simple, stop taking Medicare patients. Which isn't going to be a problem, since Medicare only pays about 1/3 of the bill. the hospital has to eat the rest. And they take months to pay, debating every charge.

Between Medicare and the ER, eventually the hospital is just going to have to close. Or at least close to everyone without insurance, because they simply cannot afford to keep giving away care. The other hospital in town has already laid off 400 staff and has closed half of all its units. Including the only drug rehab in town, it's nursing home unit, and it's MRI/CT center. And the other hospital that group owns, the only one in the next town over, may very well close by the end of the year. Because they can't afford to pay their staff.

It's just crazy.


Today I may go with Sherry & Wendell to find a used riding lawnmower. They have offered to do my lawncare if I provide a mower/weed-eater, and frankly, I'm thinking I may just do that. Tired of paying a small fortune for that every summer, and we're ALREADY in mowing season which tends to last from early spring to late fall here in the South.

Otherwise, a gorgeous clear mild spring day. Want to get outside and enjoy it. May take my bike to the lakeside park and ride.

Looks like spring showers all this week, off and on. Can't complain because truly the pollen is everywhere and at least showers keep it washed away. And that makes my allergies less difficult.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Watching over me...

I know folks will think I'm crazy, a nutty superstitious weirdo, yet there are times when I still think my late DH is watching over me.


When I exhaust ALL my efforts, I then take a quiet period of time and fervently ask him for help. I've only done this twice since he died, because I have always been independent-minded, stubbornly persistent and super-responsible. Yet try as I might, sometimes it seems every option has been exhausted, that I'll fail in my effort to simply hang on to what DH and I worked so hard for all our lives: to leave a legacy, a monetary gift to a good cause.

To that end, I'm frugal, I live below my means, and am never extravagant. Whatever I buy, whatever I do, I'm always hoping to preserve that monetary legacy to leave behind in our name. And to also take care of myself without asking for help other than from family and good friends.

But when I'm at my darkest moment, when I think I'll fail, I call on DH. And these two times, things have almost miraculously turned around and what I've asked for suddenly happens. So call me stupidstitious...but yes, I often feel he is still watching over me. And I'm grateful, I really am, for doesn't that mean that true love never dies, it lives on beyond death...possibly into other reincarnations? I choose to believe that is true.

Thus, I now have medical insurance coverage -- and though I'm going with the bottom end plan, higher deductibles and less monthly payments, I have an option to choose from several better plans which includes an almost 100% coverage should I experience catastrophic medical costs. And that means the legacy IS protected, still surviving. For two people who grew up in dire poverty, this will be our lifelong accomplishment -- not what I can have materially while alive, not frivolous spending and wasteful extravagance. Rather a legacy that will make a major difference to the homeless, miserable creatures who have enriched my -- and DH's -- lives.

NOW...on to other happenings here lately.

The garden looks good, even after the recent hard rains. We put newspapers around the cabbage plants, hoping to avoid too many weeds when the grass starts growing. Sherry & Wendell planted two rows of corn the other day; we plan to plant squash and green pole beans at the base of the corn when it gets up. (An Indian planting trick.)

Here's a few pictures to give you an idea of the garden size:

After tilling/planting last weekend

Taken earlier today, drenched from the rain

Cabbages, still standing!!

In the next week or so, Sherry & Wendell will build a raised garden bed near my carport area. We have thick black plastic over the space now, killing the grass. I am following a blogger who is giving instruction on this technique. Thanks Pioneer Woman!

I plan to put a large umbrella in the middle of the raised bed, cemented into the ground. I can raise it when shade is needed and lower it when sun is needed. I am planting all salads, herbs, etc in this space, so it'll be close to get fresh salad fixings! I will have some cherry tomatoes too, radishes, a few other varieties of fresh greens. Yummy!

In the row garden we also have planted red potatoes, white potatoes and green onions already. I'm hoping frost is history this year, and feel optimistic it is. If not, the planted stuff shouldn't be up till that danger is over.

I have put out two climbing rose bushes (red & yellow) near my wood fencing; and already my gladiola bulbs are peeping up. I also have potted petunias on the front porch, as well as a large batch of seed cups with broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and an assortment of bed flowers.

If we have success, we'll can and freeze a lot of veggies for the coming winter. Yes, I'm going to be BUSY, BUSY...productive and hopefully do a lot of cost saving for food next year. Not to mention the healthier aspects of growing and preserving my own food.

Yesterday I ordered a small utility building which I'll have put near the garden for our tools/tiller and other storage. I may also buy a canvas-topped yard set with table/chairs to put out there for time-outs and rest! LOL

My sister and I had a fun visit yesterday and last night; I may go spend the night with her next Tuesday, since her DH will be traveling again. I wish she lived closer; she is 50 miles away, and if she were close, we would be inseparable (since she doesn't work now). Her DH has already retired from a government career, but is now working for a private company (men have trouble really retiring!).

My adorable pups are doing great. Rambo is just so protective of me and territorial of this place that I can't get another pup -- were he different, I'd definitely get a toy dog of some sort (from a shelter, of course)!

I know happiness never lasts, but tonight I'm rather happy. Perhaps I should just accept it, enjoy it and FINALLY put at least some of my worries/anxieties to rest for awhile?

With that, I'm outta here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mourning the loss of Common Sense

(I didn't write this, don't know who did -- making the rounds on the net -- but thought it was interesting.)

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn’t always fair;
- and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I’m A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mark this date on your calendar

A special on PBS Frontline that looks intriquing about our medical care system:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What would happen next?

From my last post:

As a writer, I'm thinking:

What if this is the beginning of the Apocalypse? What would happen next? Would anyone know?

One thing might be random acts of violence, like we just witnessed here in Alabama.

Best descriptive writing for a news story I've read here:

Killer's march took 200 bullets, 1 hour, 11 lives

Sometimes, folks, it just takes ONE TINY LITTLE THING to set off such rage; and maybe, just maybe it's the nasty turn of the economy these days.

Food for thought, indeed.

No one, not even the wealthy, are immune to this kind of violence. Remember, once upon a time, the villagers took up pitchforks and lit torches to attack the king's fortress.

Not much has changed in human nature, even if we've constructed a thin veneer of "civilized behavior."

Any writer worthy of their profession, KNOWS THIS FACT.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Watching the Apocalypse

So, I'm thinking are the "end times" near? Not that I'm religious, quite the contrary. However, today it occurred to me that what the USA and the whole world is experiencing might indeed be something similar to the Apocalypse...not religious, but of our own creation. Greed, you know, is not in the seven deadly sins without reason.

On the other hand, maybe we're just witnessing a blip on the radar of human evolution. Who knows? No one, it seems. Theories and speculation are rampant, but this is what I personally am witnessing:

Anger and rage on a scale never seen from the low/middle-class and rich. The poor and disenfranchised have always carried a low-burning rage, but the rest? Well, they have lived in a world of rosy idealism that, basically, leads them to believe planning and living "according to the rules" will reap benefits. Now, it's like a tidal wave of reality has hit them, and most do not know how to deal with it.

People who have lost their way, and seem shocked -- shocked I tell you -- that they can't decide who is to blame. Government? Politicians? Themselves from living beyond their means? Who?

Desperate folks who are wondering if tomorrow will come, and if it does, how bad will it be for them and their loved ones? Should they prepare for hard days ahead, or bury their heads in the sand and do nothing, pretend all is well -- or will be eventually.

Frankly, the world as we know it is disappearing even as I write these words -- and no, I'm not a doomer (one who thinks nothing but disaster will happen).

Rather I am someone who is simply observing what I'm seeing, and thinking it's time I write about what I'm seeing around me.

As a writer, I'm thinking:

What if this is the beginning of the Apocalypse? What would happen next? Would anyone know? And if not, who would be recording it in their own words?

This could be a story/fiction, or it could be factual. I suppose we never know what is coming next, do we?

So I ask: Why do we think we can plan and have any security in an insecure world where an asteriod (unknown to astronomers until ten days before it's arrival) had a near-miss with earth a few days ago? FACT

Sometimes I just have to marvel at our human lives: like the ants, we build and build, even when all we do crumbles hopelessly.

The bravery, I suspect, is in the attempt, not the outcome.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Snow in Bama

We get these freakish snowfalls sometimes in March, and the one I recall vividly was March 15th -- a few days after DH and I married March 12, 1972. We were renting a tiny apartment on the second floor of a building, and the heating was inadequate (to put it mildly)! But cuddling kept us warm, even if the weather outside was cold and snowy.

At any rate, looks like about 4 inches on the ground outside today. There's still windy gusts, but the snow seems to have ended; sun is trying to peek out.

I could NOT get the dogs to go outside! Rambo would stick his nose out the doggie door, sniff and then whine, run around to hide behind me! (That's what he does when he's scared.) I finally lured them onto the carport with treats, and Rambo even ran out into the yard to fetch a treat I tossed out. But Oscar was having none of that -- simply wouldn't budge off the carport, and ran back inside. Southern dogs (at least these) want nothing to do with snow! LOL

I ventured out to take some pictures, because the snow will probably be gone by tonight. And that's fine with me; I don't need a broken leg from trying to skate around on that slippery stuff.

The wind brought snow into the carport, so my car got covered.

The street and houses across from mine.

My backyard garden spot, with the glass jar over the cabbage. I just wonder if the plant will survive? (Click on image for larger view to see cabbage plant)

Beside the carport inside wood fence

And now, time to do more batch cooking for freezer!

****Afternoon Update****

Finally lured the dogs outside, and Oscar actually took a bite of the snow. Wish I'd had the camera with me, but before I could get it, both were hurrying back inside. Can you say spoiled silly?

I did take another picture of the garden spot just now; it shows how rapidly the snow is disappearing. The cabbage looks fine, but I'm not going to trek through the soggy muck in my backyard to check on it. Still having a fierce wind, screaming around the eaves of the house. Clouds gone, lots of bright sun.