Staying on the Road

For those following along, you may have noticed I removed one of my latest posts. But I’ve returned it to the queue, because I do not like removing posts or censoring discussion (other than obvious spam that isn’t seeking discussion but rather selling) or doing anything that seems to say, “I’m a control freak and you can play at my party if you do exactly what I want you to do.” I do admit to being a control freak, but I'm a recovering control freak, and one thing that's helped me out of it is my love of free exchange. Always have loved that. It's one of the things that makes life fascinating — listening to people and trying to understand where they are coming from. That truly is fun and yes, sometimes listening is heart breaking. It does break my heart to hear the anguish some people are going through.

But the truth is I'm not as anguished as I could be about my own situation. Of course SO and I have been through a lot (especially SO LOL! yes, I laughed, and he would too if he read that line), but we're thankful for our wonderful lives and give God credit for them. And yes, I can say wonderful lives despite troubles. It’s my hope that everyone can be thankful for their lives no matter their situations. Who doesn't have some troubles? Do you know one person who does not have troubles? I don't and never have known anyone who didn’t. Those people don’t exist. And I guess this Is my long way of making two things clear. I don’t want to whine about my life when really, it’s good. And I didn’t want to give the appearance of elevating my troubles to more important or more worth listening to than others. After I posted that piece, I felt it may have come across that way, and I couldn’t stand that so I removed the piece.

I put it back because the idea of free exchange won out. I have no problem sharing who I am with all of you except when it might cause someone to trip on the knowledge and thereby thwart discussion. That post was not a stumbling block, and so it came back. Resurrected from the trash heap where the other two published posts I’ve canned now reside. Yep, that’s right, I’ve only canned two published posts since I’ve been blogging, and I hope to keep it that way. Not making any promises, but that’s my intent.

Whatever I do, I want it clear that people are precious to me and should be listened to, and I've always considered it a privilege to listen. I think this is one reason I like Richard Armitage — despite being in a somewhat hedonistic profession, he appears to think people are precious as well and apparently likes to listen to them. I could be wrong about that, but I don't think so. My gut says I’m right. But of course I'm sure there are times when he thinks to himself or maybe even verbalizes, "Sheesh, will those people stop already. They're getting on my nerves." That would make him human. None of us are all patience and light 24/7. Do you know anyone like that? I don't know a soul, and I've known some pretty patient, understanding people.

I think that’s enough parenthetical statements for one day, and now I need to get back to the business at hand on this blog. :D

Fighting the Fight

No, I’m not dead. I’m so alive and ready to move, it seems unreal, and I’m going to share as briefly as I’m able why I have not been present for some of the fun.

Since SO received his kidney transplant, we get up everyday, look at each other and grin. It is wonderful and humbling to be in this place, and I mean humbling in the best way possible. Recently it occurred to me that I regained the SO of ten years ago. There were things I had grown accustomed to doing without namely his very quick mind, and now he’s back and the force I had encountered as a young woman in college and never having seen his like. I really thought I had remembered this clearly and have even written about it on this blog, but I was wrong. My memory did not hold a candle to what he really is, and it’s so wonderful to have him return that I’m almost like a babbling idiot when I look at him.

But there’s a dark side to what has been going on. We’re in a crucible. When he became a transplant recipient, he became eligible for Medicare. Considering the exorbitant cost of insurance that we have been paying the last several years, it made total sense for him to go on Medicare for the three years he’s allotted, and we did all we were supposed to do to bring this about. Dotted all the i’s. Crossed all the t’s. But something got screwed up on the government’s end. We have begged and pleaded to get it fixed, and we had to retain a lawyer. It is still not fixed, and the problem is the mistake they made cost us SO’s health insurance as well as potentially costing well over $100K. But most important, it may cost SO’s ability to get his immuno-suppressant drugs. He went to get just one drug and found out the insurance was canceled and was told he would have to pay $3,800 for a month’s supply. Without it, his transplant is effectively useless. All of his drugs cost over $8,000 a month out-of-pocket without insurance or Medicare coverage.

We could buy a policy, but it will cost a few thousand a month. With everything going on, it’s not prudent to commit to that. In the meantime, we did get some temporary assistance from a program that helped us pay for the drugs at a reasonable cost and were treated like we were mooching when we went to the office to apply. Unbelievable when we have never taken advantage of assistance. Our thinking has been that we’re able-bodied and need to take care of ourselves and leave programs for others who are not able. Since we were really in need this time, we availed ourselves. But what a demeaning process. I feel for those who have been through it. And please know we did not enter that office with haughtiness. We were grateful to be there but were still treated awfully as were others we witnessed and most of those terribly sick. That was the hardest thing — to see people who were not really able to manage the process be treated as if they were lowlifes.

Anyway, this thing has already almost beggared us at times, and we hesitate to completely wipe out our retirement, but if we have to do that, we will, and we have already been depleting it to deal with these staggering costs. And that with the knowledge it will be difficult to replenish. And why is all of this happening? Because a lady at one of the Social Security offices completely fouled up SO’s application,and I’m thankful that I don’t feel compelled to use the ‘f’ word I would have used a month ago. A particular meltdown in the middle of a neighboring town might have helped. Something happened about a week or so ago, and I literally was sitting in my vehicle alone yelling my head off over and over and over again. I’m sure if anyone happened to see me that they thought I was insane. After I calmed down and my heart rate slowed down, I let go of feeling that SO and I were almost completely alone in this fight and realized God is with us. In the midst of this realization, I began to be thankful that we have quite a paper trail to prove the government’s error, and now we just need to prove it. We have filed an appeal. But before we were able to do that or learned we could do that, the time and money spent on pursuing Social Security has been enormous. I won’t bore you with all of that. Just trust me that it has run us ragged hence the keening like a banshee. Certainly this place was not priority in the midst of that, and this is not an apology.

I said in another post that everything that is happening is making me into a crusader. I meant that about the insurance industry, and now I am becoming zealous about the government’s role as well. And my friends, I am a bulldog, but I don’t mean to imply that I’m rude. I abhor rudeness. But I have been accused a few times in my life of being tenacious and mostly from people paying it as a compliment with a couple of times meant as a criticism. Sadly, I’ve mostly recalled the criticism. Isn’t that how it always happens in our minds? But today, I’m glad I’m a bulldog. I’m glad I’m a fighter. I’m glad I’m not someone who easily gives up on something, and I thank God for that ability. He gets the credit.

Frankly, sometimes I like to think of God like Chuck Norris. No offense to the Lord, but I figure He can take on anything. Even Social Security. :D And yeah, the SS office can feel like thousands of cars barreling in on you:


Earlier today when SO and I were speaking to a government investigator and the investigator said we have been through a lot, SO said, “I appreciate you saying that,” and later in the conversation said to the man, “I want to say again I appreciate you acknowledging our situation, but I keep thinking of all the people who are elderly or infirm or insolvent enough they cannot pursue a government error. What do those people do? I can’t stop wondering about them.” Yep, that is what keeps coming back to our minds. When this is over for us, we plan on doing something to help. I’m not sure what yet, but whatever it is this hard won knowledge we’re acquiring daily can’t simply stop with us. It’s just too dear to keep for ourselves alone.

All of that aside, I have so many things lined up to post here that are on the subject, and I am not giving up on those either. They’re fun and make me laugh or at least feel good, and I plan to share them. So bear with me as I deal with the crucible and am erratic in sharing my Richard Armitage grins. That’s how I think of them — even the things that are sometimes uncomfortable. Maybe I’m warped in that thinking, but I don’t believe so. I think (arrogantly perhaps) that my vision of life is becoming crystal clear, and I’m thankful to God for that and that I am not angry at the lady at the Social Security office, whose head I could have wrung off her shoulders at one point. I’m passed that now and glad because that kind of anger just clouds the mind, and I need it clear to continue.

Thanks for listening, and I’m skipping on a Richard picture today. Go over and look at Pinterest. :D

It’s Today and Tomorrow Comes Later

Yes, I’m finally updating this saga, and started to do it in the wee hours of the morning — at least for most of my readers. But if you haven’t been following along, the first part is here. And if you don’t want to follow along, no worries. Come back when I return to the regularly scheduled snark.

SO and I followed the doctor’s instructions and began the odyssey into the world of kidney disease. But just as we were getting started, the insurance company we had been paying for years decided to cancel our health insurance. They gave us a few months notice, and this was after they had been paid an average of around $2,000 a month for almost 10 years. Yeah, do the math on that. You may ask why that much. SO is type 1 diabetic and we are self-employed, which meant the bill was for a hellacious amount of coverage (and with a high deductible), but then when we needed it most, gone. Even now I want to call those that run the insurance company some foul names, but I believe it’s wrong to hold a grudge. It also steals my energy to do so.

Nevertheless, the insurance company took advantage, and we should have known we weren’t insuring against catastrophe. On some level as business people and realists, we knew insurance companies are gamblers and gamblers have the ability to call the game if it’s not going their way. But we got comfortable in what we were doing. We loved concentrating on the town and its people and not worrying about something coming to bite us on the backside. At one point before this happened, we had talked about self-insuring because we had the means, but we thought it was too risky. I could cry about that now; I just see no point. We have learned a hard lesson and now we try to apply what we’ve learned and move on. But make no mistake we’re aware of others who do not have the means and are still paying for what insurance companies and the healthcare industry in general did to them. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that, but I’m going to do something — government intervention or no government intervention (no, I don’t want to get political). This experience has made a reformer of me, but mostly, as a Christian, I cannot simply let this lie.

But I didn’t always feel that way. When this first happened, I wanted to become terrified and roll into a ball. I knew that although SO made an income and we had savings, it was potentially not enough to handle the coming debt of kidney disease. And since no one would hire SO and give him insurance benefits, I needed to find employment or we might eventually be left destitute. What I hadn’t considered was age discrimination. I wasn’t a stranger to discrimination as I had received some when I was younger and working in a “man’s profession,” but it was still not in my nature to look for it. I have to be hit over the head with it before I realize it’s happening. It began to hit me over the head repeatedly as I went to look for a job. No matter where I went or how well I did in interviews, no matter the power clothes or hip hairstyle I wore, or how much people liked me, or how well I passed any tests I was given, or how much I was willing to relocate, no one wanted to hire me. Along the way I kept re-educating myself about the process of getting a job, and I learned a lot more than I had known. I had certainly let most of my network dry up, and eventually I had to accept that maybe there was an issue with my being 50 years old. Ouch.

I’m not sure I can fully describe the pain of fighting the notion people are looking at you like you’re a non-entity, something to be dismissed. It took over a year for the reality to sink in. When it did, I was way past terrified and a big part of me wanted to say, “F*ck it” and be depressed. Can I think that and say that as a Christian? Can I have that attitude as someone who believes in Christ, the Redeemer of all? I sure can, but that’s not what the Lord wanted and had prepared me to do. Plus, He reminded me I know about depression and how it can suck you down in a pit and keep you there. I had learned that from growing up in an extended family where depression became so prevalent the running joke is the family crest is three men in straightjackets. I also learned it from my own life threatening bouts with it. Frankly, I could write a book about its debilitating effects, and in fact, I am. But I digress.

The unscalable wall of no job and no benefits, and therefore no way to easily deal with SO becoming sicker, was not moving. Something had to be done. But what? An employer was not on the horizon, and I could not see starting another business. Not a successful one anyway. I know how hard that is. It’s like being pregnant, giving birth and then rearing the child, which takes a lot of time and heart, and if you don’t attend to it as such, it will wither and die. The thought of taking that on while soldiering through what SO was dealing with and would eventually be dealing with could short circuit my brain. But the thought kept coming back. And of course I felt guilty at times about this place. Here we are in a major life crisis, and I’m blogging about some obscure British actor (a good looking, obscure British actor), but some bloke I didn’t know, and I was painting myself as a goofball in the process? What?!!

And just to be clear, SO is not a eunuch, was definitely skeptical of this place, and said to me rather pointedly on one occasion, “What are you doing? What wonderful energy are you expending? Is it worth it? You decide, but I want to ask you another question.” I arched a brow at him but said nothing, and then he went on, “How would you feel if I started blogging all the time about some good looking actress?” I looked him right in the eye and said, “I wouldn’t like it.” I almost quit blogging, but at that point, it was not about Richard Armitage, and really, it never was.

This post was supposed to be more about SO and turned out to be more about me. These posts were originally in two parts, but I’ve been thinking, and now I’m not sure how long this will run. This has happened a few times, and I’m well aware it has created some loose ends lying around here. I’ll get to them before I’m done. My anal nature will ensure that! But with this series, I’m going to keep going until I’m satisfied. Sort of like this blog — which was supposed to last two months. :D

More Tomorrow

I am so tired that I can barely type this sentence, but I promise to post more on my and SO’s adventure. Thanks for understanding. :)

A Little Story of Will

Life is funny how it jerks you around, but when I look back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are fantastic things I’ve experienced that would have never happened if circumstances hadn’t pushed me. Until several years ago, I was comfortably ensconced in a beautiful little mountain town, raising my children, spending wonderful times with SO, cooking a lot and sometimes inviting the whole town to my house to laugh and eat or to mourn if the occasion warranted, and always having an open door to whomever may need to unburden themselves.

SO and I, who grew up in the city and came from corporate culture, had more or less become part of a family in this little town, and we were loving it. It was the realization of a dream that started when we were both busting our backsides in our 20s and 30s. The plan had been to build a business and make enough money that we could then go and freely do what we wanted. There were two things we wanted: to serve a community and to spend a lot of time with our kids and not necessarily in that order.

Us at 36 with the kids in a shot taken about 2 hours from where we would eventually live three years later:

Things were humming along nicely in the little town. We had learned to live way below our means in order for our savings to stretch and keep us in “retirement.” We also had a wonderful relationship with our kids and each other (despite our sometimes tempestuous interactions). Two of the kids were successfully doing college with another one getting ready to go. They had also enjoyed running and excelled at it. SO being a running coach was helpful, and we spent considerable time going to meets. It was at one such meet where our son was doing really well when something happened. SO had a pain, and it was bad enough he had to go to the car. This was the guy who usually ran all over a 5K course to keep up with the progress of a race and no obstacle ever got in his way. When he slunked off toward the car, I knew something was seriously wrong. A few moments later I jogged over to see what was going on. His face was deathly white, but he almost threw his stop watch at me and was adamant I watch the finish line.

I reluctantly went back to watch, and as I turned around, he was behind me. Still looking like a ghost and not able to walk so vigorously but trying to make it near the finish line. He didn’t quite make it and had to watch from afar as our son easily came in first. When I turned to say we should go to the hospital, he was stubborn about just going home. Home was 20 minutes away, so we went there quickly. All the way home, I was trying to get him to call an ambulance, but he refused (yep, he’s a typical male). Then as we walked into the house, he stopped and said, “Please call 911!” Thankfully, I had already called them, and they were on their way. SO sat on the local Fire and Rescue Board at the time, and I had actually called the fire chief’s house first, and then 911. They were there lickety split and SO was so anxious to see them that he stumbled into the front yard toward the ambulance.

At the hospital, we of course learned from tests that he had had a heart attack, and they were discussing care flight options with me. Such is the price of living in the boonies — anything really serious goes wrong, and you’re on a plane or helicopter heading for the city. Thankfully, SO’s situation stabilized and he was able to be taken by car to the other side of the mountain. They ran even more tests on him at the big city hospital, and we learned he would not be needing bypass surgery as there was no blockage or even damage to his heart. A miracle. But we also had a bomb dropped on us. We learned he had kidney disease and was a few steps away from dialysis.

We were quickly hooked up with a nephrologist, and a month later, SO was told to get a living donor or get on the kidney transplant deceased donor list. We started the process, and I was not a match, his sister was not a match, his parents were too old, several friends were not a match. Our children volunteered to give their kidneys, but considering the family history, we told them it was best to hang onto theirs — they may need them! The work began to get him on the deceased donor list. This took a year and was quite a roller coaster ride. But even while this was being done, I and other family were working to find him a living donor. Meanwhile, his doctors had told him to do everything possible to stay off of dialysis, and as a result, he became too weak to do much of anything.

All of this was going on a few months after I started this blog. Tomorrow night I’ll continue the story.

continues here