Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Psychic Pork Roast (and a bonus rant)

Okay, so Murphy isn't really psychic, he just listens to every conversation we have and has a huge vocabulary, so sometimes it looks that way. He heard me talking to Girlchild after the doctor's visit, so he knew I'd been talking about exercising again, and taking him for daily walks again. Yesterday morning I was still in my pajamas when I pulled on a pair of socks. Murphy got very excited and followed me around, dancing and making his little snuffly talking noises - he knew what I was thinking and he knew what he wanted me to do for exercise. He wanted a W-A-L-K. Right NOW, Mom! Actually, Mommy was going to get on the elliptical trainer. He was disappointed and climbed into his bed and glared at me.

He had the last laugh, though, because 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer at a very slow gentle pace damn near killed me. I suddenly got lightheaded and had to stop. Maybe it's my age, maybe it's part of the brain blowout, but two weeks in a hospital bed has been a huge fitness setback, it's like I never exercised before in my life. I was fighting to shrink my butt and firm my abs before this, but my energy and stamina were very good. That's gone. I will have to work my way back to my 45 minute sessions at a fast pace over a period of time. So those of you who think I'm some sort of Wonder Woman can rest assured, I'm human and my body has reverted to panting, middle aged Jello at a speed that is truly scary.

So later in the day I took Murphy for a walk to the lake, and that was when I had the last laugh. Pork Roast got tired about a quarter of the way into the walk, stopped walking and stood there panting like the Little Engine That Couldn't, and and I had to turn around and carry his pudgy ass for part of the walk home. This was tiring for me, because did I mention he is no longer his trim 7 lb. self, and my muscles are now jello? Between my depleted strength and his increased girth, getting this handful of dead weight home was not easy. He got home and flatted his belly to the tile floor and panted like he'd just finished a triathalon.

So Murphy and I are both in terrible shape right now, and I have vowed to fix this. This is more than getting back into the skinny jeans now, this is a serious health issue and quite alarming. And Murphy? He turns 7 today (Happy Birthday, Porky Yorkie!) and has bad knees, he can't carry those extra pounds either, it'll take years off his life. So it's the Yorkie and Mommy Fitness Camp for the next six or so weeks, as we get our energy back.

May I rant about the cost of health care and the uninsured? I have insurance, thank GOD, but if I didn't, this SAH would have forced me into bankruptcy. The bills for my hospitalization and the ambulance and ER arrived. $179,000+, not counting the doctors' bills. I had four or five specialists involved in my care. I have not seen their bills yet, but it's safe to assume that the total cost of this incident will pass $200,000.

Here is the thing that gets me - my insurance company has a negotiated rate, so they take $100,000 off that hospital bill and pay the balance. An uninsured individual is billed for the full, inflated price, unless they are able to negotiate something on their own. When we talk about the plight of the uninsured, we don't always mention that. They are screwed coming and going - they have to pay for their own health care, and they get charged more than the big insurance companies.

When I talk to my friends about my future career plans, nearly every one suggests that I switch to contract/freelance work to lower my stress level. I am well-connected in the local legal community and I'm sure I could freelance, but I can't afford to do it - I need group health insurance. After this little incident a private plan would cost me more than my mortgage, if anyone would even touch me, and I also can't afford to be without - any future hiccup in my health and I'm screwed. I am one of the LUCKY ones - I'm able to get a job with good insurance and deal with this issue, not in the ideal way for my health and well-being, but I can keep myself afloat and attempt to insulate myself from disaster. I am lucky in so many ways, despite all of the things that have happened to me and my family in the last few years, I am able to deal with it. Millions aren't this lucky.

And this is why, when some of those ignorant right-wing bitches on KR start denigrating universal health care as "socialism" or whatever, I feel my blood pressure rise and I have to click away. Smug, ignorant cows. Rant over.

Knitting and memory loss - this is pretty funny. I have a few gaps in my memory, and one of them was knitting related. Since I got home from the hospital I'd been poking around in my UFO collection (which is actually quite small at the moment) looking for a scarf that I had been working on in the era Before SAH. Couldn't find it. It was driving me crazy - where was that scarf? I gave up and started a new scarf, because I needed something mindless and easy on my strained vision.

Finally, late yesterday, I figured it out - I couldn't find the "unfinished" scarf because I had finished the damn thing Before SAH. I have no memory of finishing it - in my mind it is half done and on needles. Even when I held it in my hands, finished, I couldn't remember finishing it. I am sure there are other gaps in my memory - I logged into my office email and couldn't remember half of the issues I'd been working on "before." But other than these small gaps of recent memory, all of my long term memory is intact, including things like friends' phone numbers and my banking passwords, so the memory gaps are just sort of funny. It could be much, much worse.


Anonymous said...

You're right on about the exercise. We have learned to go back to zero and start near our beginning level every time we have to take time off from exercise for whatever reason. We walk our neighbor's dog several times a week and she gets out of shape at about the same rate that we do. It doesn't really matter how fast we get in shape anyways since staying in shape is a continual thing.
Health insurance is a must have. Without it, you are truly in trouble. Everyone needs it.
It's great that the coffee came back. I enjoy mine a lot and look forward to it.
It's great that you're on the mend and that you have such a great doctor to help you along. He's so right about the yoga. It is what keeps me upright and mobile. Just like exercise though, start with the lowest level and do just what you can. Restorative is a good way to start. After that you can do a beginning level. There's no sense in adding pain to your life. People tend to stick to something if it is enjoyable. Take care. Mary from NM

Donna said...

Catherine, that medical bill has left me completely gobsmacked. I live in Australia, where we have universal health care, and I honestly cannot even begin to imagine managing without it. Our doctors visits are free, treatment in a public hospital is free, most diagnostic tests are free. To put it into perspective, my husband had cancer 3 years ago. He saw the best doctor in the area, and our total bill for treatment, diagnosis, tests, the *lot* was around $AU600. (around $US500).
Private health cover is available, it covers extras like optical and dental care and private hospital treatment, but it's totally optional, and at the time we didn't have it.

Catherine said...

When my husband was dying of renal cancer his own health coverage (though his employer) went away, and the thing that saved us was a provision called "Certificate of Continuous Coverage." If you can show continuous insurance coverage, another group plan can't refuse to take you. So I was able to move him from his insurance to mine in the last year of his life. Of course, I HAD mine because I worked for a big corporation. If I'd been a housewife and dependent on him and his insurance, I'd have been left bankrupt, homeless and on welfare (but that's a separate rant).
I stopped looking at his medical bllls when I saw them approaching a million dollars.

Another thing many Amercans don't know, in their fat, dumb and happy "we have the best healthcare in the world" delusion, is that if you are declared fully disabled (and Stage IV cancer is an instant full disability) you have to wait TWO years to get Medicare insurance. I remember asking one of my husband's oncologists what the government expected people to do in the meantime, and he said flatly, "Die."

This is a pet rant of mine, having experienced the horrors of the cost of health care up close and personal. I could not vote for any presidential candidate who did not support a move to universal health care. We are in a crisis here, and every time I hear some conservative parrot the ignorant talking points about how "we have the best health care in the world" I want to help them experience it firsthand by backing over them with my car a couple of times. Try two weeks in the ICU and then come back and talk to me, honey!

dragon knitter said...

here's something you may not know. i don't know if this is nation-wide or not, but in some areas, they actually charge more if you have health insurance, than if you don't. however, if you have health insurance, even if you ask them not to use it, they'll still charge you health insurance rates. i have a friend going through breast cancer treatment, and her deductible is $1500. considering they dont' make a lot of money (he's a welder, and she runs online stuff), that is hard to pay. in fact, she found the lump in late november, and decided to wait until the new year because she didn't want to pay the deductible twice. on top of that, they refused to pay for a second opinion because she'd already received a diagnosis from the first doctor. sigh.

needlefingers said...

Here's an additional poke at our healthcare system. My uncle recently had a nosebleed that wouldn't stop. They had to run a catheter to one of the main vessels in the nose to clip it off. His bills are $20K+, but with insurance, fortunately he's only had to pay about $1300, which is still kind of overwhelming for 'just a nosebleed'.

The cost was boosted when the small hospital he went to couldn't do anything and had to send him to a larger town 70 miles away. Here's the kicker - they had to LifeFlight him, because if they sent him by ambulance, a nurse would have to ride along, and no one would agree to go. To my way of thinking, that's not something you get to refuse. So, he charged who knows how much more. (My boyfriend works in a hospital and says this happens frequently, unfortunately)

Granted, I don't want the morons running the war in Iraq (into the ground) deciding ANYTHING about my healthcare, but something has got to happen.

Catherine said...

Having health insurance and having good health insurance can be two different things. Big companies have the clout to negotiate caps on costs - they will only pay X dollars for Y procedure, so that's what the hospital accepts from them. The total bill for my hospitalization was $168,000+, my insurer will actually be billed $69,000. An uninsured person would not be given that huge discount. The worst part is that you often don't know how good your insurance is until you test it by getting sick.

And your friend's experience makes no sense to me - if she's paid all of her deductible in a calendar year, she shouldn't have to pay it twice. By waiting until the new year, wouldn't she would have to pay it again?

Geogrrl said...

I'm not sure, but it sounds like DragonKnitter is talking about Miss Violet from the Lime n' Violet podcast.

Yes, she would have to have paid the deductible AGAIN. Not an amount she and her husband could afford to pay twice. So even though the lump was found in early December, she had to wait until January to do anything in order to avoid the double deductible payment. Miss Violet tried to argue with her insurance company that as they were so close to the end of the year, why charge the deductible twice, but the insurance company was adamant.

As I recall, Miss Violet's breast lumps--she calls them "boobrocks" and there was more than one--were non-malignant, but she was in an agony, waiting to find out.

You can read (and hear) about it in the December episodes. I also recommend L&V just because they're hilarious.

dragon knitter said...

yes, geogrrl was right, i was talking about miss vi. i was just avoiding names, lol. shoulda known that someone who reads you, catherine, would listen to L&V. and she's right, you need to take a listen. they are fantastic!

the insurance she is on uses calendar years. and i've run into the same situation with hubbie's insurance. they have a deductible for EVERYTHING, to include prescriptions. i had 3 months of a medication when we switched to his, so when i went to fill it on his insurance, they refused to pay any of it because i hadn't fulfilled my deductible yet. for BC pills. would they rather i got pregnant? and since this was december, i got to do it again after january. i shudder to think what prescription bills will be like when my youngest is no longer on medicaid.

Catherine said...

That's another unfairness about our insurance system - my insurance has much smaller deductibles and a cap on how much you have to pay in a calendar year or for a lifetime. For instance, during my husband's illness we mazed out the lifetime deductible pretty damn fast and did not have to pay it again.

Amie said...

I hate healthcare.

So instead, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MURPHSTER! He's just a few weeks older than Trevor, so Trevor sends his best wishes as well...