More updates to come

April 8, 2010 at 9:18 pm (Uncategorized)

OK, it’s getting late after working a nearly 12 hour shift today so I’d better quit with the typing for now.
However, I’ll try to write soon about other stuff that’s been going on, such as maybe my fairly successful run at the stock market this year? And my new woodworking hobby that I picked up a couple of months ago (along with tons of new power tools I can review! Wee!).

I’ll try to get back to it soon.

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A LabGirl Update

April 8, 2010 at 9:16 pm (Dating and Girls)

We’re actually about to hit the 2-year dating mark next month.
Crazy, eh? Almost makes me think she’d be willing to sign on for the long haul 😉

My biggest fear was actually that we’d be at each other’s throats after I moved into her place in late October, shortly followed being essentially being stuck together and having to deal with each other for a pretty long portion of an ugly midwestern winter.
But… we survived that winter, and survived it pretty well. We didn’t end up going for each other’s throats at all, and only had a couple of those “heated discussion” things over the course of the cold whether, which really weren’t even that heated.
Mostly we just curled up under blankets all winter and tried to keep ourselves entertained while trying to push away cabin fever, which was really starting to hit around January-ish or so.

Of course, with me working 50+ hours a week over most of that time maybe we just didn’t see each other enough to piss each other off 😛

But I think it’s more likely that we just really dig each other. Which is cool, cuz I’m really thinking I’d like to keep her around for a long, long while.

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An update regarding my eye blowout thing

April 8, 2010 at 9:03 pm (Uncategorized)

So back in November I wrote a little bit about my macular damage that likely resulted from multiple stress sources, the primary probably being the news about mom getting brain cancer.

Well, that turned into it’s own little bit of drama after having the appointment with the retina specialist in December.

The biggest problem was that this doctor was a total jerk.
I went in for the appointment, an assistant dilated my eyes and so on, and then this doctor spends literally about five minutes with me, looking into my eyes with a magnifying glass, and asking me the exact same questions the last doctor asked me, while offsides mentioning that there could be laser surgery needed.
After this five-minute session, he sends me down the hall, where I have an OCT scan of my retina done.
After doing this and then sitting around for a while, he then informs me that I need to have another type of imaging done of my retinas, which will require the application of a contrast dye and another specialized imaging machine.
Which is where it really begins to go downhill.

See, I work in the health insurance claims business. And I’ve seen a whole lot of bills for various types of scans involving contrast materials come across my desk, so to speak. And I’d noticed how holy-shit-expensive these tend to be.
And I have an insurance plan that has a $2800 deductible, which means that basically I have to pay for my health care services out of pocket and the insurance is pretty much just there as a safety net in case I get hit by a bus or something.
So… before I allowed them to take this scan… I asked. How much is it?

All in all the charges would come together… for just this one scan… to about $1800(!!).
So… explaining that $1800 is a whole hell of a lot to spend on some diagnostic scan for no reason other than “because the doctor said so,” I told them I wanted to speak to the doctor again before we got started.
I wanted to ask if it really had to be done right now. See… the previous doctor said these things normally heal up on their own in a few months, so was there really a reason this MUST be done right now, or could it wait a few months if there’s no improvement? Why do we have to have it done on both eyes when only one is having a problem?

Well, in a nutshell, he refused to even talk to me, and as a matter of fact acted completed pissed off and put out that a patient would even dare question him on it.
He said he wouldn’t discuss my case with me until after I had the imaging done… which of course completely missed the point of why I wanted to talk to him in the first place. He also rattled off a bunch of crap about how he could set himself up for liability if I didn’t go through with it, how it had to be done on both eyes (thus doubling the cost it would have been for one eye) because “sometimes there are signs about what’s wrong in the other eye,” and that it needed to be done to verify that there was no internal bleeding from the injury.
OK… I’m pretty sure that since it took me over a month to get an appointment with the guy in the first place, if there had been internal bleeding it probably would have been apparent by that point, and in fact I probably would have been in the ER well before that point. And why can’t we do one eye, and then, if it’s inconclusive, do the other? Why is it they *must* both be done right away? And what is that bullshit about liability? I’ve heard from doctors being interviewed a couple of times that out of all the CT scans done, the number that were completely unnecessary and were done mostly just as a “CYA” measure is estimated to be around the 80% range. 80%. Which makes me think this may fall into the same category – I was told to do the scan not because it was really needed – but rather because he wanted to cover his ass from all angles and, most likely, because that scan in itself would nicely cover several boat payments.
I told him I wanted to hold off and think it over before shelling out that kind of cash – and I was given a “refusal of treament” form to fill out, where I signed off showing that the test had been recommended to me and I had refused. Down next to where I had to sign they were sure to put in a bunch of scare language about how refusal of services could cause “worsening of the condition or BLINDNESS.”

I angrily walked the few miles home, and a few days later I got a letter from this doctor’s office advising me that they were no longer going to take me as a patient because of my “noncompliance.”

To top it off… a few weeks later I received a bill for services.. for nearly $800.(!!)

Well, in February I typed up and sent off a bitch letter that was a full two pages typed about why this was a load of crap, especially considering I didn’t recall having 3 of the 4 “diagnostic services” he was billing me for at over $150 each, not to mention about $350 for the “consultation” that was a useless 5 minutes in his office where we didn’t actually discuss anything, followed by his refusal to answer my questions a short while later.

It’s now April and that letter is still “in review” by the doctor.

As far as the eye problem itself?
It’s still there, but seems to have improved significantly on its own. Rather than what was a somewhat large dark/discolored/unfocused spot right in the middle of my right eye’s vision, it’s now faded signficantly to where I really don’t even notice it that often. It has unfortunately been a bit longer than the “a few months” that was originally suggested by the first doctor, but it does seem to be slowly healing on its own so I can definitely say I’m not ready to listen to any suggestions of crap like laser surgery just yet.

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A mom update

April 8, 2010 at 8:29 pm (Uncategorized)

She’s gone through her radiation therapy and two rounds of pill-based chemo.
The results are… not what we had hoped for, but not as bad as they could be, I guess.
Essentially all the radiation and chemo has, at least for now, stopped the brain tumor from growing larger. It did not, however, shrink the tumor at any noticeable level.
I’m torn on whether that’s good or bad.
I mean, it’s good that the halting of tumor growth should allow her to stick around probably significantly longer than she would have been able to if it had continued growing at the rate it was before.
However, that sticking around is while she’s in a deteriorated condition of body and mind that has to be frustrating beyond belief for her and is highly stressful for everyone around her.
She still can’t walk more than a step or two unassisted without falling, and in fact has a lot of trouble with most motor functions. Still can’t use her left eye. Her “communication center” in her brain has been hit hard, so she doesn’t talk much and when she does, it’s very hard for her to find the words she’s looking for – even when it’s stuff like the names of everyday items. She seems to have lost some of her hearing ability. And now and then she’ll seem confused almost in an Alzheimer’s kind of way, such as a couple of weeks ago when dad said “Would you like to talk to your brother?” after answering the phone, and mom didn’t react for several moments, then responding “You’re talking to Steven, right?” …. yeah. I don’t even have a brother.

Honestly it’s very hard for me to see her like this, and because of that I probably don’t go visit her as much as maybe I should – I’m over there at least every 2-3 weeks (which frankly is more frequently than I visited when she was healthy) probably.
Plus I know it wouldn’t help in my attempts to keep LabGirl happy if I were nowhere around every weekend – hell for the last six months she’s barely seen me but a couple of hours a day most days as it is, with how much overtime they’ve had us doing at work until real recently. (She has been very understanding though, and understands stuff like how I want to make sure I’m with mom on all of the major holidays and stuff like that, while I still can).

And dad just continues to be stressed out of his mind. On top of everything happening health-wise with mom (his wife and constant companion for the last forty years), the medical bills have been hitting, and hitting hard. Even with insurance and Medicare, their life savings is pretty much going down the toilet – and both of them just hit retirement age not long ago.

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Oh hey, it’s a blog thingie

April 8, 2010 at 8:10 pm (Uncategorized)

Wow, I really, really need to be better about using this thing. Amazing what tons of overtime, amazing amounts of stress, and a tendency to just write a sentence or two on Facebook can end up doing to kill a blog.

The defaulting-to-Facebook thing has to be changed around a bit – I mean the stupid little updates like “The steaks came out great on the grill!!!” and that sort of crap is fine there as it’s not exactly noteworthy, but when it comes to writing something that you might wish to re-visit someday or share with people who may not have been lucky enough to catch the message during the incredibly short life a message tends to have on Facebook (what… a few minutes to a few hours, tops, most of the time?) … those need to be blogged. (And, OK, maybe quickly Facebook blurbed about as well 😛 ).
Plus… I’m having trouble remembering if WordPress has the ability to back up to a file or not, but I sort of think it does, and that’d be a much better system for keeping something long-term rather than relying 100% on a free messaging system to remember your jotted thoughts forever.

So here will be an attempt to write what will probably be several updates… assuming the girlfriend doesn’t get annoyed with me ignoring her all evening while I type and pull me away 😉

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