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Help on Taxes--HSA Related

February 16th, 2018 at 04:18 pm

We are having an issue with our taxes in regards to our HSA. We maxed it out in the first half of the year and spent it in the first half of the year on medical costs. But then DH got a job with medical insurance after that that did not have an HSA. So now they are saying that we can only claim part of that based on the months we had our own self-payed insurance, not the fact that we used it all during the time we had one.

We can't just put the money back because the government counts that as putting in additional money, not returning it to the fund. We don't have the money, regardless, because we spent it on medical bills. The people at the credit union where we have our HSA have no idea what to do to fix it. They assume there should be some paperwork, but they don't know what is is and have never had this issue come up before.

We really can't afford to go see a tax professional as we are barely keeping our heads above water right now due to medical costs, so I was hoping one of you here that is one could tell us what form we need to fix this and possibly where it is located? DH is looking for info on the IRS Website, but you all know that that is like looking for a needle in a haystack, assuming you even have the right haystack to begin with.

Long Weekend Plus Birthday Monday Update

February 13th, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Last week my husband worked 4 ten hour days so that he could have Friday off. We got a lot more done in storage, pulling out five large bags of trash and 2 bags full of recycled paper. We also pulled out another box of papers to shred. We donated another stack of books, probably only 15 this time, not a full box

We have reduced the amount in the larger unit so much that we should be able to get everything in there now. We have until the end of February to finish cleaning out the small 8 x 10 unit that is still here in town. Once that is in there we will just have the 10 x 18 and the 10 x 10 in the county. Then we will transfer what is in the county 10 x 10 into the county 10 x 18 as we go through it. Once we are done it will all fit in the 10 x 18 and our storage costs will be reduced significantly.

I found $0.79 this weekend bringing my found money this year to $3.47 American and $1.60 Canadian.

Monday morning I had to go and sit through a joint replacement class with my mother, as she is getting her hip replaced in March. It was 3 hours long and then of course my mother had to stay and talk for an additional 45 minutes, because she's never met a conversation she can leave. It was awful on my back and hips because their chairs were crap. Of course her care after the surgery will all fall on me again, because neither of my sisters will do anything.

I am very irritated with my mother because she refuses to go into a nursing home for the first week after she leaves the hospital. Medicare will cover it, but she refuses to go. She might be getting all her joints fixed, but mine are breaking down. She's just so selfish about it and I have to suck it up and do it. Last time I ended up on the verge of pneumonia and with so much pain in my joints I had to be on hydrocodone to function. If she would just go in for that first week when she needs round the clock care, I would be able to function so much better during the following five weeks when she will be able to sleep through the night and so will I.

Then in the afternoon I went to my rheumatologist for an appointment ($55 co-pay) and crossed off yet another drug I can't take. The sulfa affected my vision. Now she wants to do an MRI of my hands, but I can't afford it so that is on hold. She gave me some paperwork for an injectible drug, but one of the side effects is cancer, so no. I will just have to muddle along with the hydroxychloroquine.

So all in, yesterday was not one of my better birthdays, especially with the fact that I couldn't even have cake on this diet. But I have lost 13 pounds in two weeks, so it is kind of worth it. I miss sugar and flour though. A lot. I need to update the side bar to reflect my new age of 48.

We still haven't got taxes done, but we are working on it. It looks like we will be getting around $8000 back. I was hoping it was more, considering we spent around $30K in medical expenses last year. We'll need that money to pay for DD's surgery.

This and That

February 5th, 2018 at 10:16 pm

We spent the weekend working in storage again. I found 55 cents, bringing my total of found money this year to $2.68 American and $1.60 Canadian. We pulled out 5 big black garbage bags of stuff and filled an 18 gallon and a 25 gallon tote with paper to recycle. I also have another box we filled about 8 inches high with papers to be shredded. We donated two more boxes of books.

I paid off all of the medical bills from my daughter's ER visit. It was upwards of $8000. Our Emergency Fund is down to $5000 or so. I don't have the exact numbers. It is depressing and a little scary to have so little in savings, especially when we still don't know how long DH will actually have a job for.

We have no safety net now if he loses his job. DD still needs to have her sinus surgery, so we will use part of the tax refund for that. It really can't be put off any longer and who knows when we will have insurance again if DH gets laid off. The insurance is really good at least for however long we get to keep it, even if they are taking a boat load of money out of his paycheck for it.

It was nice to see the extra money in the paycheck this week from the tax cut. We'll only see it for this month, though, since in March it will go into the 401K. We really don't want to not put money in the 401K, so as soon as he qualifies it is going in even if it is only 2%.

I've been doing a low carb diet for a week now and lost 10 pounds. I am keeping my total carbs to 60 grams a day, which is what the bariatric specialist recommended last time. This time I am doing it without a weekly cheat day. I am really pushing the water. I feel better already, which is nice because last week I had that nasty stomach virus that's been going around.

The only thing that is bad about this diet is that my acne is acting up. It is supposed to be because when you lose fat the toxins that were locked in those cells come out whatever way they can. In my case it is through cystic acne. It hurts and I hate it, but I'm not going to give up, because I have to get this weight off my body. I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this. It physically hurts too much.

There really hasn't been much going on. Well, other than we lost another rabbit and now I'm afraid there might be something going around the herd. We lost Bonfire, who was out of Firefly and Wildfire, who are both gone, too. But we have her daughter Sadie and we haven't yet sold or butchered her other three offspring so if we want to keep another one, we could.

Then again, I've been thinking of downsizing, so I don't know. But right now this puts us at only 3 breeding age does and I'd like 4. But I might like a doe out of Sadie and Vincent when I breed them, so I don't know. They might not even have a likely candidate in their first litter, either.

The garden is starting to put some volunteers up. There is spinach growing and sorrel. There are onions and garlic as well, that I did not plant in the fall, so maybe they seeded or maybe ones I planted early last spring that never came up, came up now. The kale overwintered and there are some beets, too. I am looking forward to spring and rebirth and growing things and green coming back to the trees and flowers. It always makes me feel better when the dreariness of winter lifts.

Another Day, Another Purge (and Venting)

January 21st, 2018 at 10:36 pm

I found 13 cents today, bringing my found money this year to $1.26 American and $1.60 Canadian. We spent 2 hours in storage today, which isn't much, but all four of us went out. DD was able to last long enough to get through 3 of her totes. Most of it was either thrown away or put in the donate boxes. That clears a lot of space. I made it through 3 boxes of mostly paper. I had to sort it between keep, shred, and recycle. There was very little keep. I did find some old poetry I'd written, so that will get put into the computer and then that can be recycled.

We had so many manuals from products we haven't had in years. I had 3 fridge manuals, 2 stove manuals, a manual for every electronic gadget I have ever owned, including ones we haven't had in years. I found 3 parts of the pasta maker. I am still missing the bowl part and the attachments, but I am sure they are in one of the kitchen boxes we haven't sorted through yet.

We came home early because it started to pour and the wind was whipping the rain into the unit. We brought home three boxes that I will sort through tomorrow. One is papers and I'm not sure what is in the second one. It might be kerosene lamps, in which case it just goes out to the garage in an easily accessible location for power failures. The paperwork will probably take me an two hours to sort and shred. I'll work on it while listening to Ben Shapiro's podcast tomorrow.

The other box I have already sorted. It was mostly shirts that my son could wear that used to belong to my husband back when he could fit into XL tops. 3 of them are lined flannel, which is perfect for winter farm chores. The box does have a few odds and ends in there, too, that I need to find homes for including my husband's professional baton from when he was a drum major. I told him he ought to put it in his golf bag so it is out of the way. There is also a marble chess set which will go with our games on the top of a book case.

My mother has been remodeling one of the rooms in her end of the house and when it is finished DS is going to move up into it. The room is 12' x 12' and will give him a lot more room than his current 8' x 12' room, which isn't even a bedroom, but a storage room. Once DS is out of there than DH will move a lot of his stuff out of the living room. We will also put one set of shelves in there for our long term food storage. He's going to build me a couple of shelving units as well for the living room, so that for once everything can actually be put away. I get so tired of living in 1000 square feet. Just having that extra 8' x 12' feet available to us with DS out of it will be amazing.

We found some laminated desk tops for free and he will use those for the shelves and attach them to 4" x 4"s to hold them together. The top of one will be at the right height for me to cook on. We will have space to put out our Nuwave oven, crockpot, electric skillet, air fryer, and rice cooker all in a row. That will make meal prep much easier. Cooking is difficult without a stove. We have enough appliances to do it, but not enough usable work space to have more than two out at once, which is limiting. Having even three out at once will change things dramatically. I will also have DH build a little section to store the lids while I am stirring things.

As cramped as things are, I have nowhere to set down lids while I stir and have to hold them and some of them are heavy. If I am having a day where I drop everything because of the RA, they end up on the floor. If I need to add anything in while stirring I have to call one of the kids to hold the lid while I do it or set it on the floor on a towel. It is really quite ridiculous. We don't even have room for a kitchen table, because the "almost" kitchen is so tiny.

The appliances go on the sewing table and a TV tray when I need to use them. The only counter space we have is taken up with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, the microwave, the toaster, the coffee maker, the knife block, and a dish drainer.

I hate living this way. I know it could be so much worse, but I am ready to leave and find our own space. We just can't afford it. Not with the drain my daughter's medical stuff has on our finances.

Oh, well. I can't change anything right now. I'm not sure if we ever will. I'm so discouraged right now. It's been one thing after another for the past two years. Obamacare has almost bankrupted us. We will never be the same.

Even More Purging and Medical Blathering

January 20th, 2018 at 11:01 pm

We went out to storage again today and spent 5 hours there. We packed a lunch this time and plenty to drink. It was nice to sit in the van with the heat on and get warmed up while we ate. The wind was blowing so hard today.

We got two more of the large black Hefty garbage bags full of trash and one of the large moving boxes as well, which is probably the equivalent of two more bags, ready to take to the dump. We sorted through over a dozen boxes and totes and reduced the contents significantly.

We have two medium size moving boxes and one paper bag full of paper to recycle. A lot of it was magazines. Of the 100 or so magazines we only kept 7. We also are tossing a bunch of old school papers, some from our college, some from the kids younger years. I found my old typing book, which was for an electric typewriter. Some of the keys are different from what a modern computer has now.

So far I have found $1.13 American in change and $1.60 Canadian in change. My son has found over $5 in change, but those were in his boxes, so that is his money.

We got the third bill from the hospital and this one is $6354. I've already gotten two others for $569 and $582, which is what I was expecting for the ultrasound and the doctor bill. I am going to call them on it, because I call BS. She had one urine test and they are charging $1312 for that. No blood draw. She got one bag of saline. And she had a CT scan (which runs anywhere from $1000 to $2000 outside of the hospital, depending on whether or not contrast is used).

She had almost the exact same stuff a year ago, and while we had insurance, I still have the bills that showed the total amount and it is almost triple that. The whole thing should be costing about $3000, since it was $2500 last time, allowing for inflation. At the very least I want to see if they have a discount for paying in cash. Most places do.

I will be so happy to have insurance again. We just have to get through 11 more days. I told my daughter she is just going to have to wrap herself in bubble wrap and not leave her room until February. And no one else is allowed to get hurt or so sick the have to go to the ER either.

Well, I better get to bed. We'll be spending another 5 or so hours at storage tomorrow.

Picking a Health Plan, Running the Numbers, and a Farm Update

January 18th, 2018 at 09:09 pm

Last night DH and I sat down and took another look at the health plan offered by the job recruiter company. They offer 4 different plans.

The gold plan has a $500 per person and a $1000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $10 for generic and $50 for brand names. Co-pay is $35 whether it is a regular doctor or a specialist. Out of pocket max per person is $4500 and per family is $9000.

The silver plan has a $2000 per person and $4000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $20 for generic and $80 for brand names. Co-pay is $45. Out of pocket max per person is $6850 and family is $13,700. It has an out of pocket max of $10,000 after the deductible has been met.

It offered 2 bronze plans. Plan 1 has a $5250 per person and a $10,500 family deductible. Prescriptions are $20/$80 and then they have a third tier and a fourth tier of 30% and 50% respectively for the really high priced drugs. Co-pay is $50. Out of pocket max is $7150 per person and $14,300 per family.

The second bronze plan is an HSA plan. It has a $7150 deductible per person and $14,300 per family. Prescriptions are $35/$100 with the other tiers again being 30% and 50%. Co-pay is $50. The out of pocket max is $6550 per person and $13,100 per family.

Based on our prescription costs and the fact that my daughter is going to need 2 surgeries in the next couple of months, we knew both bronze plans were out, so it really came down to which would save us more money this year, the gold or the silver.

DH ran the numbers and on the gold plan weekly take home pay will be approximately $1177. On the silver plan it will be $1232. This is without any overtime, his guaranteed 40 hours a week. If he gets ten hours of overtime a week the amounts would be $1523 and $1577.

They are currently on an overtime moratorium for this week and the next two weeks, though DH has been getting 50 hours up until now. But they put the freeze on because they have pushed the end date of the job out to mid-April instead of mid-March, so the rush to get the work done on time has slowed. It means DH will be employed for another month at least, though.

So not feeling we could count on the overtime at all, my numbers to budget with had to be $1177 and $1232. I sat down and figured out the budget with the lower amount to see if we could swing it and still be able to start the 401K contributions in March when he qualifies.

We can swing the more expensive plan and we are going to because in the long run it will be cheaper. I have 7 prescriptions, my daughter has 6, and my husband has 2. I know we might only be on this medical plan a few months and if DH gets hired on through the actual company it will be all different medical than this and a different 401K plan, too, but since I know what is coming up and how much we would be spending, the gold plan will be cheaper, especially since more of it will be in pretax dollars, which will also lower our taxable income.

I have determined we can at least contribute 2% of his income to a 401K which is $36 a week. If after the first month of that he is still working there we will try to bump it up to 4% or $78 a week and see if we can handle that. We will proceed forward with 1% bumps until we get to 6% to get all the matching funds.

I can make some cuts in the grocery budget and we can cut out eating out again. Not that we eat out much, but we do. I think the amount I have allotted for medical expenses will drop, too. I am not sure we will be able to contribute to the Emergency Fund or pay back my mother anything, though. I will try for at least $100 a month into the EF, though.

Our insurance will go up once the will finishes up whatever it is doing and the title of the truck gets transferred into our names and MIL is no longer paying the insurance on it. I reckon it will double, but it might not, since we ought to get a multiple vehicle discount. I am considering at that time dropping everything but what we need for if we are at fault since we will have two vehicles. When you only have one vehicle that is a chancier prospect. We'll see. DS is about to start learning to drive, which doesn't change anything yet, but will once he gets a license.

I hate the idea of having such a cramped budget, but we've lived on less before and I know we can do this with enough self-discipline. Once I can start growing food again that will help, too. The fruit and veggie portion of the food budget from May through October really goes way down.

At least with the turkeys and chickens gone I don't have any animals that are hemorrhaging money. The rabbits pay for their own feed as well as the ducks' feed. We don't get enough eggs for the ducks to be self-sufficient, but the rabbits make up for it. We are down to just 4 ducks and 1 drake now and they forage a lot. They also eat a lot of garden produce in the spring, summer, and fall.

This month has been a rough one with the animals. We lost Annabeth the duck shortly after the new year started and last night Luna Blue died. Luna Blue was the rabbit I had to feed with a dropper full of raw goat milk because her mother died when she was 3 weeks old. Only 3 out of 7 of that litter survived without their mother. But she was the runt and she needed the most help. I adored that rabbit. She was the sweetest thing.

We had a vicious wind storm yesterday and all I can think is that the loud noises scared her and she flipped and broke her back. We've had that happen before with really loud noises and her back was definitely broken. I've lost rabbits when the Med-Evac helicopter has flown illegally low over our house on the way to the hospital on three occasions and twice now to wind storms. It is frustrating. We have more wind on the horizon as well and I hope I don't lose anyone else. I'm not particularly attached to the others like I was to Luna, but I do love them and it is always hard to lose animals.

Week 1 2018 Payday Report and Work Related Musings

January 5th, 2018 at 05:20 pm

The outgo was slightly higher than the intake this week, but I had money left from last week in anticipation of that. I also have some money left to pay the surgeon consult on Monday and get the cash discount.

DH didn't get any overtime last week because of the holiday. He at least got his 40 hours in, though, by working 4 ten hour days. That $300 of overtime pay sure makes a difference.

I am not sure if we will be able to put anything in the Emergency Fund this month. Or at least not the full $500 I budgeted. And nothing to the College Fund, either. Maybe not even a loan payment to Mom. I was not expecting an ER visit and surgeon consult. If I can manage to not take any money out of the EF, I'll be happy, but we'll have to wait and see. I am hoping the hospital does not bill us until the end of the month.

I am really dreading when they start taking medical out. We are going for the plan with the lowest deductible and most coverage due to the anticipated surgery after running the numbers, but that will mean a normal paycheck is a little over $1000 a week, and overtime might be $300. They may take out less in taxes, though with the tax cut, but I don't know when that goes into effect so I am not counting on it.

I really wish he had been hired on direct with the company and not through a recruiting service. They are talking about keeping him on after this job is up and I hope that pans out. The job he was hired for only goes mid-March. If he gets asked to stay, he will have to work through the recruiting service through May, though, unless they buy out the contract, which the recruiting company may go for after they see the medical bills we're going to generate. The actual company has much better benefits and medical shouldn't be anywhere near what it is through the recruiter company.

Here are the bills I paid today:

$275.00 Chiropractor
_500.00 To Mom for Utilities
_149.12 Tithe
_315.21 AMEX
_158.01 BoA MC
_108.30 Comcast
__42.96 Garbage
----------------
$1548.60 Total Money Out

Well, That Was Dumb

January 5th, 2018 at 04:10 pm

I just discovered I didn't actually make a payment on the 30th. I recorded it in my check register, but I must have gotten distracted before I actually went online and paid it. Fortunately I had made a payment the week before, so there was no late fee, but that does mean we got charged interest for the $1400 balance. Ugh. I hate when that happens. I hate giving a single cent to the Evil Empire.

Okay, we were a bit distracted having to deal with DD's gall bladder attack, but still. I am usually so on the ball with paying the bills. Lesson learned, though. Don't enter it into the register until I've actually made the payment. I wish I'd realized this two days ago.

I was wondering why the balance was so high on that account. I couldn't find the payment there, so I checked my checking account online and couldn't find the payment there, either. I can't believe I did that. I know I haven't been feeling good and have been kind of spacey all week, but still. This is the second time I have done that in 4 months. *sighs*

I did finally catch all my budgets up to date on the spreadsheets. I finished up September, October, November and December, including entering all the medical bills into each month. I haven't added up the numbers yet, but I know as of August we'd already spent over $20K on medical bills for 2017. I'd say it is going to be around $27K from a guesstimate.

Can I just say again, the Affordable Care Act was badly misnamed? Burdonsomely Unaffordable Care Act would be a much better title. Or Bankrupting the Middle Class Care Act. That would be an acceptable title as well. I know it has helped the people that get it for free, but it has hurt just as many people, if not more so by driving up the cost of everything insurance related, making it more expensive for employers to offer plans, and shifting the expense directly to those who don't get any subsidies. And I'm not sure it is going to get any better any time soon, either. They like to talk about health care, but they don't like to do much, no matter what side they are on.

So Far So Good on the Pantry Challenge

January 4th, 2018 at 08:40 pm

I am doing really well on the eat from the pantry challenge. So far we have not bought anything from the grocery store since I started the challenge. I really didn't feel like cooking tonight at all, so I pulled one of my pans of enchiladas and made it tonight instead of one of my planned meals. That's what they are in there for. I am down to 1 pan of enchiladas, 2 pans of chicken and broccoli bake, and 2 fajita kits. I try to keep them for the days when I feel like a house dropped on me.

I am in the middle of an RA flare. Part of it was because I ran out of medication and was off it for 3 doses. Part of it is because I've had to do all of my daughter's chores. Part of it is because I had to drive to Burlington and back. I don't do well with driving that long anymore and I've had to do it twice in two weeks. We had to go and pick up oats for our rabbits. I should not have had to go, but the order we got the two weeks before was contaminated. It had all kinds of other things in it besides oats, including lime dust, which can kill rabbits. They put lime dust in the goat feed, I guess. Anyway, we caught it before giving it to the rabbits.

Fortunately, that feed can also be fed to the ducks, so we are mixing it with corn and peas for them. We did not have to pay for the new round of 300 pounds of oats, either. We just had to send them photos of the contaminated feed. I guess if I look on the bright side of things, we got a bunch of free feed. But it wasn't much fun having to go to Winco to buy oats over the holidays because the mill was shut down. At least they have 25 pound bags of whole oats, though. I might have been able to get some at the farmer's co-op, but we've had trouble with contaminated oats there, too, with both brands they sell.

We've scheduled an appointment for DD with the surgeon for the 8th. She can't have surgery before February because we won't have insurance until then. The initial consult may cost $240. They gave a range, with $240 being the top of the range if we paid in cash. That is a 20% discount.

DD is doing okay with the low fat diet, though she had some major carb cravings yesterday and wanted bread really bad. She ended up having mashed potatoes with just salt and pepper on them to calm the craving down. It seemed to do the trick. We just have to think outside the box a little more now.

The Nuwave oven has been wonderful for cooking chicken and fish without fat for her. Well, other than the amount I spray on the rack to make it non-stick, but that is minimal. But I can steam vegetables in a foil packet as well with no oil at all, just a sprinkle of water and some herbs. I am getting the hang of this. Today I made boneless skinless chicken thighs in it. I just rubbed them with a combination of ground cloves, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, a little paprika, salt, and pepper. It was very mild and she loved the flavors.

So we are adapting. I think she is losing weight, too. I just hope her weight is not going to be a problem when it comes to surgery. We've run into that problem before. If it is, she will probably have to go to Seattle to see a surgeon and if she does, it means I will have to be the one to drive there since DH works a normal job now. Which will mean at least a week of recovery time for me each time. If not more.

Payday Report for 10-6-17

October 7th, 2017 at 10:09 pm

$1867.89 American Express (in full, as per usual)
__475.00 Best Buy (Paid off 12 months same as cash)
__102.13 Life Insurance for DH and Me
__500.00 Mom's Utilities
__196.35 BoA MC (in full, as per usual)
___20.00 Food Bank donation
__477.78 Medical
-----------
$3639.15 Total

A little of this money was carry over from last payday. I did also reorder two boxes of checks, but forgot to ask them how much. It doesn't show up in my bank account until the day they are shipped, not the day they are ordered. It's usually around $15 for a box. We don't go through checks very fast since we started putting almost everything on the credit cards and just paying them off, but I wanted to get it out of the way before we have to start living on our savings again. It's not like they won't get used eventually.

This coming week my daughter has a physical therapy appointment and I have one. My son has his physical. My PT is $90, but I don't know how it will work for DD. I pay my own out of pocket because it is no longer deemed medically necessary, but it is what keeps me walking so it kind of is. What they really meant was the insurance didn't want to pay for it anymore and they didn't think there was anything further they could do, despite the facts that the sessions keep me from being crippled. Every time I have to skip a week things get bad. I've tried to not go and I end up using my cane and curled up in pain must days, so I deem it necessary. Don't know what will happen once we can't afford it anymore, though.

We have a $30 co-pay for regular doctor visits and $40 for specialists. I have no idea where her PT will fall, because sometimes specialists are not considered specialists. So it could be $70 out for them or $80.

Also, I know in the past that this company likes to wait until the full set of therapy is done before charging it, but I don't like that as it means a big bill at the end instead of paying as you go. But that was back in 2011 so things may very well have changed since then. I will have to wait and see, but I will ask about it when I take her to the first appointment.

I have no other spending that needs to be done this week, so other than going to the grocery store to get milk, we should be good.

Rheumatologist Visit and Opthamologist Visit

September 30th, 2017 at 04:30 pm

On Thursday I had my appointment with the Rheumatologist, so that was a $40 co-pay. She is pleased that the medicine I've been on for 2 months is helping to the extent it is, but she thinks we could see more improvement to get my quality of life back close to where it was before things got so bad. She prescribed methotrexate, which is only taken once a week. The most common side effect is nausea, which I don't do well with, but so far no sign of it. The dosage gradually increases every two weeks until it gets were it needs to be. I am to continue to take the hydroxychloroquine as well.

The new prescription cost $36.09, plus I have to take vitamin B-9 with it, only that one is daily. It is a prescribed vitamin, but it was only $2.79. I also renewed my rescue inhaler because I am trying to build up a supply and it allows me one a month. I don't need a bunch, but it would be nice to have 3 or 4 extra. With the way the smog was this summer I needed it a lot more than usual. That was $50.

On Friday I had my appointment with the Opthamologist, another $40 co-pay, and I had all kinds of tests done. The did several photos of the eye and then an extensive visual field test, then health checks for glaucoma, etc. And the baseline scan of the retinas to make sure the hydroxychloroquine was not turning my retinas yellow. It can in 20% of the population. So far there is no discoloration in mine.

The torn spot in the retina has healed very well. He said the scar tissue from the repair is nice and healthy and this will be my last follow up from the laser surgery and I didn't have to come back again for a year. I was there for two hours. I almost had an asthma attack while there, because when they dilate your eyes they move you to this dimly lit room instead of keeping you in the exam room and tying it up.

About 10 minutes after I went in, they brought another lady in. I'm not sure what she had on. It smelled like layers of fragrance, but not floral. Like she probably had used scented body wash, scented shampoo, scented lotion, aerosol hair-spray, and then perfume on top of it and they all clashed and none of them smelled good. It smelled more like chemical air fresheners.

She was so heavily made up that her skin looked the color of a peach, except her cheeks which were creme rouged in orange and her lipstick which was coral. Her hair dye matched her lipstick. It was like someone used all the bad Avon samples from the 70's or something. So her makeup products might have added to it. The heavy-handedness was not doing her any favors. It was caked in the creases.

I think she could have been a very beautiful older woman with different, more natural choices or even a naked face, but was so afraid of being old that she tried to hide it all with pancaking on the foundation, etc. Why are some people so afraid to just let their face be their face? Why can't women just allow themselves to age like men?

I started reacting as soon as she walked in, but I thought I was going to be okay, but after two minutes I had to get up and leave the room. I used my inhaler, which helped with the breathing, but also felt a headache starting behind my eye from the cacophony of fragrances, since I am so freaking sensitive to inhalants.

So I discretely flagged down someone and told them quietly that I was going out to the main waiting room, and could they let whoever needed to know where I was, because as judgey as I can be in my head or when I rant on here, I didn't want her to feel bad that she was making it hard for me to breathe. Although, maybe I should have, because wearing that much scent anywhere where you are going to be around people, like a waiting room, is wildly inconsiderate. Especially in an office that has signs saying it is a fragrance free zone.

At least the regular waiting room had circulating air. It was way too bright, but I thought it was better to breathe and stave off a possible migraine, so I sat there with my eyes closed until they called me back again. My breathing was really affected by the wildfires this summer. It has not fully recovered since and I am more sensitive than ever to things that trigger it.

On the bright side, my hips did not hurt from sitting in all of the uncomfortable chairs for two hours. Thank goodness, or I might not have been able to get anything done today.

My new glasses came in, so I went over to pick them up today and it is taking some getting used to. It's usually a rough 24 hour adjustment and then a continuing minor adjustment for the next 10 days or so when I get a new prescription before my eyes feel normal again.

After that I stopped at The Spice Hut and picked up 2 oz of vanilla powder and impulse bought 2 oz of pumpkin pie spice. I usually make my own, but they had a little jar of it you could smell, and it was so wonderful, I wanted some. I'll use it at Thanksgiving when I make my pumpkin cheesecake. I spent a total of $12.02. Vanilla powder is a little pricey, but so worth it and I needed some for a recipe I want to try next week.

I do have to get my son a new coat tomorrow. His shoulders are getting so broad. But after that and the two medical bills I need to pay, I shouldn't have to spend anymore money this week. The two bills are $61.15 and $16.97 respectively.

I did get another bill for $477.78 for the new c-pap machine (deductible should be met after this), but that will come out of next payday. It'll be a day late, but they don't charge interest unless it is 60 days over and that will put me at 31 days. I asked if this was okay and they said fine because I always pay my bills. I would have charged it if not and then just paid it off, but this way is much easier.

Maybe one day the medical bills will end. That would be a good day.

The Week Just Whizzed By

September 22nd, 2017 at 07:53 pm

DH arrived home on Friday morning last week and he'll be leaving again on Sunday. It feels like I've barely seen him as he's been doing so much running for his parents and appointments. DH spent all day Wednesday in Seattle with his parents. The day before that he got his permanent crown put on.

My son had a dental cleaning, my daughter and I had eye exams and I had a tiny cavity filled on the front of one of my teeth. It was an old filling that had fallen out being replaced by a new one. I had physical therapy and my daughter had an MRI.

We also went to the mall so I could find a new purse as my old one was falling apart. DS had a job interview at the same time, so we saved a trip. Now DH is over doing will and living will stuff with his parents. Tomorrow we have to butcher and then go to BelleWood Acres to U-pick apples and then run over to another farm and see if they have green beans.

DH and I did manage to eke out enough time to watch the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie together Thursday night. I need to do a couple of payday reports, and figure out how much we've spent on medical/dental this week, but the majority of money went to the Citi card.

Thing 1: Daughter's brain MRI came back and there is nothing physically wrong with her brain. Meanwhile the new migraine medication is working well.

Thing 2: The cancer doctor in Seattle is starting FIL on some auto-immune drugs that may help prolong his life. We're talking about a few months though. So we are still looking at 6 months to a year, though that seems better than just the 6 months he was told by a local doctor 6 weeks ago. He seemed in much better spirits when we saw him yesterday.

Thing 3: I've made the decision to give up the chickens. I think I've made the decision to give up the ducks, too. I don't want to give up the ducks, but I really do think it is for the best.

No Wonder it Felt Like Drowning

September 14th, 2017 at 10:20 pm

I just added up how much we have paid on medical expenses this year through the end of August. And this is assuming I actually got every bill recorded. $19,637.14. Almost $20,000. And around $15,000 of that was when we had no income and had to pay out of savings. $8022 of that was insurance premiums for 6 months for a family of four.

I didn't even add up what that stupid insurance mandate cost us in 2016. I know it wasn't as bad as this year, but it wasn't pretty either.

I wish the Republicans would get off their butts and fix the darn thing the Democrats saddled us with. Not sure how it can be fixed, but they need to DO something. At least change the name from Affordable Care Act to Bankrupt the People Act, because at least that would be accurate.

Neurologist Visit and Homestead Changes

September 12th, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Today was a long, semi-stressful day. Mostly because we spent about 2 hours with the neurologist my daughter got bumped up to see. The good news is that she doesn't think DD has MS. She is thinking just very severe migraines with something else in the brain being possible. DD has an MRI scheduled on the 18th. She does think DD needs to do physical therapy for muscle weakness, control, and balance. They can teach her how to exercise so she isn't pulling the muscle in her back all the time.

PT has a pool. We cancelled our gym membership, but we're paid up through October 12th, so if we can actually make it to the pool she could do more pool stuff than just on the days she has PT. But I don't know if that will be possible. Now that homeschool has started I don't have as much time to be running people around. Plus her headaches have been so bad, I doubt she'd want to go somewhere as loud as the gym pool.

I made it over to the school system's main office today and filled out the intent to homeschool form and got my copy of it for my files. I also found out that if DS has a job, he doesn't need permission from the school district on what he can work, so that is good, too.

I went to the pediatrician's office so DD could fill out the paperwork to get her medical file sent to her grown up doctor. It was supposed to have been sent 3 years ago and I only found out last week that her current doc had never gotten it.

I am thinking about giving up the ducks. I am so tired these days and without DD being able to pull her weight around here it is getting too difficult. We may give up the chickens, too, and just keep the rabbits. Plus if DS does get hired somewhere, he may not be available at sundown every day anyway to help put the birds in.

I'm just not sure I can handle it mentally or physically anymore. The rabbits are my joy, as is my garden. I do love my ducks, but they attract a lot of predators and they make a huge mess. The chickens I don't get attached to anymore because we have lost a lot to predation. While I enjoy them, they don't have semi-pet status.

I just don't feel capable of it with the rheumatoid arthritis and whatever else is running down all my energy these days. Even the kids are okay with it. They see the toll it is taking on me. This decision has been a long time coming. While I'm not 100% there, I feel like I am 80% there.

DH gets home by the end of the week and I hope to have made the decision by then. I am pretty sure I'll be rehoming them, though.

Doing Some Research and DD's Head Problems

September 5th, 2017 at 07:21 pm

So I did some googling and I think DH will qualify for unemployment this time around. For the state of Alaska you have to have worked in two of the previous quarters and earned more than $2500.

DH worked in May and June of the 2nd quarter, and will have worked July, August, and September of the 3rd quarter, and then October for the 4th quarter, so if I understand it right, when he gets laid off in October that should mean he can get it again.

For some reason I always thought you had to work for a year before you could qualify for benefits again, but someone (PS, maybe or MEC) pointed out that in some states it's based on what you earned and Alaska appears to be one of those states. I'll have DH follow up on that, but it is looking good.

What's not looking good is that the doctor has ordered a brain MRI for DD. Hopefully there is nothing serious behind the debilitating headaches she's been having, but I am worried. He is waiting for approval and then he will call us so we can get it scheduled. He wants to rule out a tumor or brain aneurysm and look for signs of MS since it runs in the family.

I also need to call the eye surgeon who has been seeing her for her eye and headache issues and have him send over his records for her and then call her old pediatrician and have her do the same. For some reason the ped never sent her records over 3 years ago when we sent a request for them so current doctor has no history of her skull fracture, concussion, and brain injury.

The doctor also did a blood draw for mono. She is just not functional right now.

Also, the smoke cap is back. The Cle Elum fires are sending mass amounts of smoke this way along with ash in parts of the city. It's not where we live, but is on some of the foothills a mile to two miles away from us. It's also 82 degress right now at 7 p.m. And it is humid. We are supposed to get rain on Saturday. Hopefully we will get light wind pushing it away before that. I am using my happy light already. I don't want to drop down in mood again like last time.

I am so tired. I don't feel like I am getting restful sleep with the new c-pap. I think my mask might be too small. I will call them tomorrow and see. I think they gave me the wrong size.

Yesterday we canned 32 jars of pears, but one broke in the canner. So I have 15 pint and a half jars for me and Mom has 16 pint jars for her. We've got another box of pears to do, but they are not ripe yet, maybe Thursday. All of those will be for me. I also need to do some deli-style pickles. The cucumbers have gone nuts.

I've still got to do the potatoes, too. No green beans this year after all, though. The ones that are growing locally are all hollow and woody, so I'm glad I didn't waste garden space on them this year. It's been too hot during the growing season and then the smoke cap has been detrimental to their growth as well. We still have several jars from last year, though, and if we have to buy green beans in cans, at least they are very cheap compared to other veggies.

I Still Can't See the Sky

August 10th, 2017 at 09:35 pm

Today was supposed to be clear, but it still isn't. You can at least see the foothills now, though. It is supposed to rain on Sunday and I really hope it does. It is hard to not be able to go outside much if I want to breathe well. It's too hot to leave the windows closed with it being in the 80's and no A/C.

Today was my daughter's 21st birthday. How did that happen? When did I get old enough to have a twenty-one-year-old child? We went to Outback for dinner. I had lobster and everyone else had steak. It was pretty good, but I can make a better steak at home, which is why I got lobster. Or maybe it is just the difference between grass fed beef(what I have) and corn fed beef.

I did have a couple bites of the steak, because my daughter couldn't quite finish hers, but that only confirmed my call to get the lobster. It was an expensive night, but it's the only time in a year we've gone out to something like this. Tomorrow it'll be back to home-cooking.

Tomorrow MIL and FIL and DH meet with the doctor about FIL going down to the UW hospital and whether or not he is strong enough. They've already said he'd have to do a medical transport if he goes, that he is not strong enough to go in a regular car, not even our van which is very comfortable. They still don't know what is wrong with him, but I have a feeling it is the cancer working on a systemic level. Continued prayers for him would be appreciated.

We are rehoming our tom turkey George. He hasn't been the same since Gina died, and he will be going to a nice lady with 2 Royal Palm hens. I hate to see him go, but my mother has been getting aggressive with him again and of course he reacts to that. Honestly, I'm afraid she's going to hurt him.

She's been acting kind of crazy this week freaking out on everyone for very minor things. I wish we could move. I am so done right now. After everything I did taking care of her, for her to turn on us is just demoralizing. I am never mean to her, not even when her vindictive streak comes out. I am patient and seldom react because I know that's what she wants.

Half the time I feel like I'm the parent and she's an adolescent going through puberty. She sure acts like a 7nth grade girl in full on brat mode. She can never admit when she's wrong. Ever. She doesn't apologize except to say things like I'm sorry you feel that way and even that hardly ever happens. I'm ready to move across the country at this point just to have everything fall on my sisters since that is the only way they will ever do anything.

I want to go somewhere and scream at the sky, but I'm not entirely convinced it is still there. Man, that's really getting to me. I need to see some blue before I go off the deep end myself.

I Can't See the Sky

August 8th, 2017 at 12:40 pm

It's been 12 days since I've been able to see the sky. The smoke haze from B.C. is so bad it is like a ceiling of dirty white overhead. Not like when it is overcast, then you can still see clouds in various shades of grey and white. This is like a lid has been shut over us. Washington state has the worst air quality in the nation right now. Unfortunately, I am having to use my inhaler. It is messing with my lungs.

You take it for granted, seeing the sky. Not seeing it for so long is making it seem claustrophobic, like we are closed in. I can feel it at the back of my neck, making me want to raise my shoulders up and inward against it. I know it is psychological, but the longer it continues, the worse it seems. It makes me feel like I'm in some kind of sci-fi movie where the sky disappears.

The sun and moon through it have been amazing, though. Just brilliant shades of orange shining through to let us know that even if the sky is gone, space is still up there somewhere.

There's not much been going on. I finished up the kidney infection medication and spent a lot of time in bed sleeping during that time. We didn't go out to eat at all for three weeks, but we did get something this weekend and we will go out on the tenth for my daughter's 21st birthday. Then back to not eating out for a good while.

We are up to our ears in gold rush zucchini and patty pan squash. The green zucchini is not doing as well. I lost a lot of them to blossom end rot, so now I am pulling the blossoms off them once they have got to finger size and that seems to be helping. I have green tomatoes now so maybe in a couple more weeks I'll have some red ones.

We lost 2 chickens this week. Henrietta was our oldest chicken. She was six. And then one of the leghorns died as well, but they don't live as long since they are production birds. She was 3. So now we are down to 9 chickens, 6 ducks, and one turkey. We aren't replacing anyone. We thought we might have to get a new turkey hen after Gina died, but George seems to be doing okay now. He's a little sad at bedtime when he's alone, but during the day he seems fine and hangs out with the 3 Barnevelder hens he was raised with.

I didn't do a payday report this week, but all of the money went to pay the AMEX bill in full. That takes care of the last of the medical expenses from the two ER visits and the emergency eye surgery. We still had to pull $3500 out of the Emergency Fund, but at least we didn't have to pay interest on anything.

Maybe in September we can pull ahead again. At least for a little while. Who knows with the job situation still being up in the air like it is.

Putting 2 and 2 Together

July 27th, 2017 at 06:41 pm

I went to the doctor today after being up all night and I have a kidney infection which explains everything in the past month with the exhaustion, the mid-back pain, the headache right where Ben Shapiro wears his yarmulke, the pain in my mid-back, the Charley horses in my calves, the more and more frequent runs to the bathroom, and as of two days ago, what I like to describe as kidney breath where it smells like something died in your throat somewhere.

He gave me an antibiotic, but made me make another appointment for tomorrow. He said if I felt better in the morning to cancel the appointment, but if not to come in and we'd determine whether or not I'd need IV antibiotics. He was pretty worried about me because I fell asleep on the table between when the nurse left and he came in. I told him it was just because I didn't sleep last night, but I don't think he believed me.

So do you think I came home and rested? No, I had a case of apricots that had to be dealt with today. So I made two double batches of jam and have 22 half-pints to show for it. Plus 2 more that went directly in the fridges of my family and my mother. I did it the easy way, though, and just liquified them in the Vitamix instead of cooking them down. It takes a half an hour off of every jam batch. It's a trick I learned a couple years ago when I got fed up with using a hand cranked food mill.

The rest of the apricots are all cut up and ready to be canned tomorrow. The hard part is over. Tomorrow all I need to do is put the apricots in the jars, make a simple syrup, ladle it into the jars, and water bath can it for 30 minutes. I should be out of the kitchen in an hour unless there is more than 7 quarts worth left. I don't think there is, but it's possible there is 8, which would mean doing a second water bath session as the canner only fits 7 quart jars.

I'm not doing anything else for the rest of the night tonight. DD will take over my rabbit duties. And we are all fending for ourselves for dinner. Which means I will likely just go to bed and not bother. I did way more than I should have, but I didn't want $40 worth of organic apricots to go bad. As it was I had to toss a few. I should have done it yesterday, but after physical therapy I was beat. The softest ones went in the jam. The firmer ones go in the jars tomorrow. They hold up better to the canning process.

All right, now I really should go get in bed and hope everything is better in the morning. Oh, and co-pay was $30 and $5.77 for the prescription.

Spendy Day

July 26th, 2017 at 10:50 pm

I spent $35.41 on gas today at the Safeway gas station. The van was running on fumes and that bought 16.712 gallons. I paid $2.12 a gallon. I got 10 cents per gallon off for paying in cash and then I had 4 points, so got an additional 40 cents a gallon off.

I end up getting a lot of points from my mother. She doesn't have her own club card, so she just gives them DH's phone number and what she buys counts towards our points. It really builds up fast that way.

I also picked up two prescriptions at Walgreens for $21.08, then swung by the fruit stand and bought nectarines, corn, and watermelon, all from Eastern WA. He has someone who drives over the pass and brings back produce four times a week and he also sells local stuff, but our corn won't be ready until the end of August here, and nectarines and watermelon are not a crop in Western WA.

I also had a two hour session at P.T. today, so that was $120. She did some massage on my foot, because super klutz that I am, I dropped a glass Pyrex storage bowl on it yesterday. I still occasionally drop things randomly due to the nerve damage in my hand.

The medication the rheumatologist gave me seems to be working really well, so I hope it doesn't screw with my eyes. It's the first time I haven't has severe joint pain in ages. I still have it on the left side ankle, hip, and knee, but I don't feel it much on the right side anymore except just in my hand and wrist sometimes as opposed to all the time. I still get the random swelling, but it doesn't stick around for days, just usually 24 to 48 hours now. So a major improvement.

My FIL was in the hospital for four days and has now been moved to a nursing home. I don't think it is for good, just that he needs more care than MIL is capable of giving him. He ended up getting a blood transfusion and IV fluids, but they still couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. It wasn't his heart (he's had a previous myocardial infarction), it wasn't his kidneys (one only has 4% function as a result of the heart thing), and it wasn't the cancer. His blood pressure was really low, he had a high fever, and chills that wouldn't stop. Prayers for him would be appreciated.

My daughter's new psychiatrist wants her to see a nutritional counselor, but the woman has a two month wait time for new patients. She has a partner that does the same stuff, but that woman doesn't take insurance, so she's out. We can't absorb the cost of anymore out of pocket stuff. The shrink won't see her if she isn't seeing a therapist. I thought the shrink was supposed to take the place of the therapist.

I mean, if she's just there to prescribe pills and not to help fix the underlying problems, she's not that much good to us. Although the new pill is making a major difference and I am glad to have her off the certraline. I've seen huge progress with her anxiety issues and she isn't acting depressed anymore, either. I just wish the medicine didn't make her so sleepy.

DS and I are doing low carb and heading towards the keto diet. It is nice to have someone to do things with. He is carrying an extra 20 pounds he wants to get rid of. He's been going out on 2 hour walks for the last week or so, but he's too self-conscious to go use the gym by himself. If I can stop hurting myself long enough with my clumsiness, we'll start going to the pool together again.

There's not that much else going on. We don't have any pregnant livestock so the youngest babies are coming up on ten weeks old. I don't breed for July or August delivery as it is too hard on the animals with the heat in those months. The garden continues to thrive and produce. So really nothing to speak of on the farm front, either.

I'll try to do a payday report for last Friday tomorrow. Or maybe I'll just wait until Friday and bundle them in one post.

Odds and Ends

July 18th, 2017 at 08:25 pm

I fell asleep at 1 a.m. and slept straight through until 10:30, got up long enough to make sure my son had taken care of the animals, drank a glass of water and went back to bed until 2:30. I slept hard. Apparently my body really needed it. I still feel tired, but hopefully I will sleep just as hard tonight and I'll get caught up on this sleep debt.

We weaned kits yesterday. Just Ella's and just the males. I was going to do Persephone's boys as well, but there is something wrong with the cage I was going to put them in, so I have to clean another cage before I can do that. I'll get it done tomorrow.

The garden is going crazy. I've never seen squash leaves this big before and the Brussels sprouts are huge. I am glad I gave them so much space. That is something that is hard for me, because they are so little when you plant them and you have to plant them based on how big they will be and not try to fill in all the space early on.

I spent $64 at Trader Joe's. I stocked up on chicken, lots of eggs (the birds are being slackers), rice, and picked up some Proscuitto.

For dinner tonight I made two new recipes. The first was a lazy version of chicken saltimbocca. I am not all for pounding the chicken out flat or browning or making a wine sauce. I just took the boneless skinless chicken thighs and seasoned them with salt and pepper, laid out a piece of prosciutto, put sage leaves down on it, put the chicken in the center and wrapped the prosciutto around it. The into the cast iron skillet for 30 minutes at 425 on the middle wrack of the oven. Came out perfect and everyone loved it.

Then I made a new version of Mexican rice. Almost everything in that recipe was from Thrive Life, so freeze dried. I used their chopped onions, chopped green chiles, and instant rice, then added fresh garlic, salt, and tomato paste. It was a big hit with my son and my daughter liked it well enough. I thought it was great and will make it again. I really love using the Thrive Life stuff. It is so nice not having to chop stuff up for recipes, just rehydrate however much you need and go to it.

I deposited the refund check from one of our medical bills. It was just $126.03. I haven't decided what I am going to do with it, yet. Probably put it aside for any incoming bills.

DD's appointment yesterday with the eye surgeon made him decide to send her to a neurologist. So we are waiting on a referral for that. The appointment was a $40 co-pay. He also gave her a new medication to try since Topiramate wasn't working for her migraines. I don't remember the cost on that as I bought it was a bunch of other things at the drug store that came to a total of $ 91.53.

I am trying not to be spendy, but sometimes you just have to buy things.

Pick a Title, Any Title

July 12th, 2017 at 11:28 pm

This morning I took my daughter to the sleep doctor so that was a $40 co-pay right out of the gate. It's better than the $50 co-pay for specialists on our old insurance. He's got some things he wants her to try, but he won't up her dosage on the sleeping pill to the same level as what I take, which is what she really needs, in my opinion.

After that I had an hour before I had to go to my physical therapy appointment. I found out my therapist's father probably had another stroke. He had been doing pretty well, but in the last few days it's all been downhill again, so they will probably lose him this week. It's sad. We are really good friends after all these years and I hate to see her hurting, especially since she lost one of her best friends a month ago.

He's not her bio-dad, but he is the one who raised her and she loves him more than she loves her bio-dad. She's going back home tomorrow as they think he'll die soon. He's not eating or drinking and not excreting, and it is clear he's shutting down. I hope she can stay strong for her mother and that her brother (it is his bio-dad) can stay strong for her.

It's hard and it is bringing back memories of when my dad died. Three years out I no longer feel the big hole he left. We've managed to fill it in as new babies come into the family. Now it's more of a small hole.

I went to the store to pick up some medicine and grabbed some marked down chicken. It's gmo free and free range chicken wings, that worked out to less than a dollar a pound with the mark down. I also got a flank steak as I've been in the mood for carnitas (made with beef, not pork). I may sub out something in meal plan to make this this week. I bought a couple of magazines as well and ended up spending a total of $61.93.

I finished my Debbie Maccomber novel Starting Now so now have to decide between Rapture by Lauren Kate, which is third in a supernatural YA series I've been reading and Million Dollar Cowboy by Lori Wilde. I'll probably read Rapture first as it has bigger type. They are about the same length, but I'm sure Rapture has less words even though there is a 28 page difference.

Did some work on the novel but it was more timeline stuff and character development.

Well, I best toddle off to bed. Mom has physical therapy in the morning and I have to be up in time to drive her.

Caregiving Makes the Days Seem So Long

July 12th, 2017 at 12:10 am

I didn't sleep so well last night again. Sometimes these things only last a couple days and sometimes they last a week. I hope it isn't going to last a week. I was up early again to take care of the animals and then got a load of dishes going and did a couple loads of laundry. Then I went up and did the first session of physical therapy exercises with Mom, made sure she had breakfast, and got her set up for the morning.

Then I went out to the garden and harvested calendula, echinacea, hyssop, bee balm (bergamot, monarda) and basil. My echinacea is only in its second year so it is not going to be big enough to dig roots for medicinal use this year. Next year it will be, though. But if I use the seed heads it will have a similar effect to how roots work, just not as potent.

I filled the dehydrator with the herbs and got it going and it should be done by morning. With herbs and medicinal flowers you have to set it at the lowest setting to keep the medicinal properties as strong as possible.

I worked in the garden some more after that and then went up to take Mom to her physical therapist. We were there about an hour. Afterwards she wanted to go to Safeway for bread, but ended up walking out of there with a cantaloupe, a watermelon, cherries, nectarines, and apples. Then we finally crossed the store to get the bread and then she decided we needed to go back across the store to get juice. So a lot of walking back and forth and now my ankles and knees are badly swollen, because I was wearing flip flops and not shoes with support.

I managed not to spend anything and thought it would be a NSD for sure, but then kids came around selling chocolate door to door and they had World's Finest without nuts, which I am a goner for. I haven't seem them in years. They are half as big as the ones I had to sell for orchestra and choir were, but still the same old recipe. So I spent $5 for that.

The kid really cleaned up because Mom bought some and the sister formerly known as the Ice Queen happened to be here visiting Mom so she bought some, too. I've really got to come up with a new moniker for her. She has thawed considerably in the last two years.

Then my sister cut up the watermelon and cantaloupe for our mother. I was glad I didn't have to do it as it is hard on my hands due to the rheumatoid arthritis. Mom and I did her second batch of home exercises. We only did two today, because actually going to the physical therapist counts as one.

I did the necessary filming and editing for my next two vids and have uploaded them into the scheduler so they will post automatically at the times I want them to. I have the material for one more. And ideas on what I want to do next.

I am considering doing a 5 or 6 part vid series on What I Learned from Living without an Income for 9 months. I've written it all up in outline format, so I know I can do it, I just don't know if I will. If I do, I'll link to it.

I got a little reading done today and rolled yarn into balls from the skein. No work on the novel, though. It's been too much to add to my stress level.

Well, my eyes are closing in front of me so I better end this and go to bed now. I'll fix any spelling mistakes in the morning.

Bits and Pieces--Farm, Garden, Medical, Work

July 6th, 2017 at 08:05 pm

It has been hot here the last few days. In the 80's, which is hot for here. Fortunately not humid, though. It's made the garden go nuts with some of the plants, mostly the squashes, having bigger leaves than I've ever seen in all my years of gardening. Another week and I should have zucchini, patty pan, and gold rush squash big enough to eat.

As it is, I harvested 7 kohlrabi, enough lettuce for a week, a huge bunch of kale, a dozen carrots, 4 heads of broccoli, blood-veined sorrel, calendula, yarrow, strawberries, and raspberries. And the blueberries have started. Just a few here and there, but I wasn't expecting any until the end of July, really. So I have to incorporate all of that into the meal plan this week. Well, not the calendula and yarrow, those will be dried for tea.

I've still got a lot to do out there. I need to pick peas and harvest a Chinese cabbage and two types of parsley and pick those ripe blueberries.

We'll be butchering tomorrow and then washing cages afterwards and then washing more cages on Saturday. I also need to dust out the windows in their enclosure and go through and clean fur out of all their fans. Everyone is blowing their coats right now, so the fur is flying. I've got 8 week olds that need to be weaned as soon as we have the empty cages to do so. I have not bred anyone again as their are 5 (but we are keeping the one broken red girl) grow outs and 14 younger kits right behind them, so 18 out of 19 destined for freezer camp.

Medically we spent $90 for my physical therapy and a $30 co-pay for my daughter's first session with a psychiatrist. She's been seeing a therapist for a while now to deal with her PTSD, anxiety, depression, and eating disorder. Psychiatrist is weaning her off her current meds and starting her on a new one once she is. She also has recommended she see a nutritional psychotherapist.

She had a bad side effect to one of the medications she was recently put on and no one could figure out what was going on, then I looked up the side effects of the drug and listed under uncommon side effects were all the symptoms of what had happened laid out all in a row, so she had to stop that one and we aren't putting her back on one like it. She's just going to go without for a while.

My shoulder is burning all the time right now. It is from all the physical therapy exercises I have to help Mom with. DH has taken over the morning session, but I still do them with her twice a day and he's leaving on Sunday anyway. Her recovery is going well, though she does try to push things as far as she can, and I try to get her to do only what she is supposed to do. She's hard-headed. I really see where my son gets it from. Less than 2 weeks to go now and hopefully she will get out of the sling. They say 6 to 8 weeks and of course she is fixated on 6 weeks.

I will be glad when all this is done and she doesn't need my help anymore, but that could be another 6 weeks or so. It's really run my health into the ground and it wasn't like it was that far from the ground to begin with. The new med the rheumatologist gave me for my auto-immune disease is helping in most of my joints, but not my shoulder and not my hip. At least not yet. I haven't noticed any side-effects on my eyes with it, but it is cumulative and these are early days.

We still don't know about DH's work beyond December. The other project and company is way behind schedule. I'd like things to be settled. Living with uncertainty again is really difficult. The stress is making me a little nuts on top of everything else that is going on. I really just want to go back to the days when I didn't have to worry about anything other than paying the bills and getting out of debt. At least I don't have to worry about debt on top of everything else right now, though. I hold on to that.

Planning and Plotting with the Six Week Budget Cycle

July 2nd, 2017 at 02:06 pm

I was able to pay some of the medical bills this month, but our next payday isn't until July 21st. I ended up putting some of it on my Citi card which isn't due until August 3rd. That will give me two paydays, the 21st and 28th, in which to pay that card off before it is due and I should be able to do that.

The bill for my daughter's hospital visit has not been paid yet. It is due on July 6th and is $2,333.48. So on July 6th I will go online and pay it using the American Express card, which is not due until the 14th of August. That gives me the full payday on August 4th and the four day payday on the 11th to pay that card off before it is due.

I will still have to borrow about $1500 from the Emergency Fund, but hopefully I will get that put back by the end of the coming pay cycle or at least most of it. I should be getting a paycheck from Google/Youtube this month, too. A small one. It'll go into savings.

After the August 11th paycheck DH won't get paid again until September 1st. I am not a big fan of the 3 weeks on/3 weeks off work hitch. It makes it really hard to budget for six weeks. The 2 weeks on/2 weeks off fell much more nicely into a monthly budget.

One of the things we did to make it easier is we changed our storage payment from an auto withdrawal from checking to an auto charge to our credit card. That way I don't have to worry that the money is in the account on the right day, just that it is there for the due date on the credit card. I am considering finding out if we can have the life insurance put on the card as well so we'd no longer have any auto payments coming directly out of checking. Might do that with internet as well. We still get a paper bill on that, but I think we can set it up to go to a card.

If everything is on cards, then I don't have to worry about it so much. And the only bills I will expect to see in the mail are medical bills and the garbage bill. The garbage company does not allow for credit card billing. It comes once every 2 months, so not a big deal with a six week pay cycle instead of a 4 week pay cycle.

I know I'll adjust to this way of budgeting eventually, but until I do, I'll have to keep doing mental gymnastics to make sure everything gets paid on time and that I don't have to pay interest on anything.

Feeling So Much Better

July 1st, 2017 at 01:40 pm

I still get a little nauseous when I bend over, like to take stuff out of the dryer, and a little light-headed when I stand up, but I've kept my food down since Friday at 4 a.m. and I feel far closer to my old self again. Getting a lot of sleep the last two days has helped tremendously as well.

I got caught up on recording all of the medical receipts into my spreadsheet for keeping track of our HSA stuff and we hit the amount for the HSA this month. I was hoping we'd hit the full amount before the new insurance started so we could deduct it all. I knew we were getting close.

Today starts the new insurance and it only has a $1000 family deductible, so once we get past that hurdle we should see our medical expenses drop drastically. The kids and DH are all scheduled for dentist appointments (mine won't be until September). DH will be getting an eye exam and glasses. Everyone else will need an eye exam in August. I think my prescription may have changed due to the retinal damage. I don't know about the kids as neither is complaining.

Speaking of glasses, I went through my sock drawer, where I stash things sometimes, and there were four pairs of glasses in there. I put back the one that had the most current prescription and the other 3 I have ready to go to the Lion's Club glasses recycling box the next time we go to get glasses adjusted. I like to have one back up pair of glasses in case something goes wrong and I break my current ones.

I know I can wear my contacts in a pinch for driving, but not for reading, since they are good for distance only, nothing up close. Reading glasses over contacts would work if my eyes weren't two different magnifications. One eye is 1.75 and the other is 1.50. If I could find two identical glasses, one in each magnification I could cobble something together, but so far I haven't. So far I'm even lucky if I can find ones with 1.75 at all.

I am glad we are on a new insurance. If we had stayed on the old one, we still would have had to find a new one at the start of 2018. Regence is getting out of the individual insurance program and only doing medical insurance through jobs next year. That kind of sucks for those depending on it. I really don't know what is going to happen in my state if anymore companies drop out. I am assuming the mandate will be gone by then, but who knows?

Well, I best quit procrastinating and get out to the garden. I had to let it go except for picking strawberries for five days, so I've got a lot to harvest. It'll be nice to spend some time outside.

Sick and Exhausted

June 29th, 2017 at 03:31 am

I've come down with a stomach virus of some sort and it is really dragging my energy levels on the ground. DH has been back since Friday, so I am not taking care of Mom all by myself anymore, but there are some things I do have to do, even with a fever of 100 and the inability to keep my food down. Like help her shower, which is quite an ordeal, and help her change her clothes. Fortunately she is doing a lot better three weeks post surgery.

I got my daughter's ER visit bill yesterday. It is $2333.48. Ouch. That is really going to be a hit. I'll have to take money out of the Emergency Fund for that. DH will be working 4 extra days at the end of his next hitch, so all of that money will go to replace some of what I take out of savings. I am not sure it will replace all of it.

I saw the rheumatologist on Monday with a $50 co-pay. She is putting me on a medication that is supposed to help, but might not show any improvement for a couple of months. It can do damage to the retinas, though, in 30% of people. With my medical luck, I will be in that 30%.

I saw the eye doctor on Tuesday with a $50 co-pay. He said the retina has healed nicely and I will go back in 3 months and then he will take a baseline map reading of the retinas so that we can monitor whether the new medication is affecting my retinas. If he sees even the hint of damage I will stop the medicine. I can't have my eyes getting worse. I'd rather deal with the pain in my joints than my vision getting further damaged.

I just want to get past all this stuff and get back to feeling normal (for me, anyway). I have 3 weeks before Mom gets out of the sling and then starts full on physical therapy. The stuff we are doing now is pretty light as she is not allowed to move her shoulder away from her body. It takes about 10 minutes 3 times per day and DH has taken over the morning shift.

I went to Trader Joe's today to stock up on a few things and spent $128.97. I also went to my own physical therapy which cost $90. I probably shouldn't have done either thing with being so sick, but we really needed to pick up some food and the massage part of PT was sorely needed.

Odds and Ends

June 6th, 2017 at 11:37 pm

Mom's shoulder surgery went well. They kept pushing it back so I didn't hear anything until 4:30, but the doctor said it went beautifully. I was able to pop up and see her at 8:30. We didn't get to visit much since the nurse was in there with her until 8:50 and then visiting hours ended at 9. She said I didn't need to come today, but she seemed glad to see me.

Her doctor asked if she is being forgetful lately, because he was worried about it being a side-effect of the surgery or the pain medicine, but I told him she is getting forgetful about some things. It's not bad yet, just kind of irritating, but not so much that she needs help for it. Just aging. Though I do keep a watch on her about it.

I told the nurse I thought she should stay in the hospital for another day based on how she was last time. Medicaid and Bridge will pay for it so she might as well stay another day with people who can care for her full time, unlike me, who has a full day tomorrow. I based my schedule on what I was told, which was 2 days. And since I'm the only one who will be caring for her, since my siblings don't do that sort of thing, I'd like them to stick to the original plan.

DS is applying for his first job tomorrow. He got the application today and took the food handler's permit test and got that. It is a weird feeling. I really didn't want him to work this summer as he still has school work to catch up on, but he has promised he will continue with it through the summer and if he doesn't I'll make him quit.

He's applying at McDonalds. They are hiring and they've got the college tuition help so he could build that up if he works there. It was something I found so helpful when I was working there and going to college. It wasn't a ton, but it paid for my books. I hope he doesn't have any trouble getting hired there. He's never had a job before outside the farm. He can ride his bike or walk there (35 minute walk, 10 minute bike ride) unless it is raining, then I'd take him.

He wants to buy an iPhone, which I said okay on, but after he has the money for that, he has to put half of every paycheck into savings for college and open an IRA and put in $50 a week and contribute at least $10 a month to charity, either the local mission or the teenage runaway mission Covenant House.

If he does okay with his school work during the summer, than I may let him work part time during the school year. I just can't let his studies suffer. He's already 1/2 a year behind due to all the stuff leading up to and recovering from his sinus surgery. I want to keep him on track. His grades are good, he's just missed time.

So many things are changing right now and it is hard for me to deal with it all. I don't like change. I like steady, dependable, reliable routine. But I know he has to grow up, so I try not to be too crazy about it.

I am still worried about the job situation, but what else is new? Either it works out or it doesn't. Hopefully it does. Oh, and they ended up deciding to let him stay through Thursday of the third week since it was a screw up on their part. His boss will be retiring soon, too, so that should be helpful. It would still be nice, though, if he could get that other job.

The rabbit kits are growing up so well. The one eight week old broken red is a female. I was hoping for a male, but I'm keeping her. She has perfect markings and coloration. I do need a boy, though. There are two broken reds in Ella's 3.5 week old litter. One has good coloration, the other has good markings. I just don't know though. I'll need to wait and see how their coloring changes as they get bigger. If it isn't right, we can try again.

There is a gorgeous solid black 3.5 week old as well, that looks like he will stay that color. He is even darker than Ella. If he is a boy, I would be very tempted to keep him, but we really don't have the room right now.

The garden is doing really well. I have more lettuce than I know what to do with, but other things are coming along. I got my first kohlrabi and there are teeny tiny peas on the snow pea plants. Maybe in a week they will be ready. I saw some color on one of the strawberries yesterday so hopefully they will all be ripening up soon. If I can keep the squirrels off them we will have a bumper crop.


Slowest DMV in the West

June 2nd, 2017 at 05:01 pm

I took my son to get his learner's permit. We spent 2 and a 1/2 hours there. He had already taken his written test two days ago, so that was just wait time to actually get the actual permit. And it wasn't even a temporary permit, it was just a piece of paper saying he had permission to drive until his permit comes in the mail. Well, actually for 45 days, but regardless, they didn't have to use the special printer for it like they do with temp ID's and licenses, so it was kind of ridiculous to have to sit for 30 minutes after having his photo taken for a simple print out.

He also registered for the draft while we were there. That took like 2 seconds. I thought he didn't have to register until he turned 18, but I guess they want you to register before you turn 18 and on that day you can be called up if necessary. Happy Birthday, kid, you're going to war. As a mother, I really hope it never comes to that. He is the last of his entire line to carry on the family name on his dad's side, too, so if something happened to him during a drafted war, it ends with him.

So anyway, we spent $25 at the DMV and my hip is all messed up from sitting on those hard plastic chairs. I have an ice pack on it and took a muscle relaxant and hopefully it'll be gone by morning. After that I had physical therapy, which really hurt because of the chairs. So that was $60 as it wasn't a longer session, just a shorter one.

My mother's shoulder surgery is on the 6th, but her time got moved. Same day, but she needs to be there at 9 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m. So that is a blessing, because I don't function well before 8. It's only a few blocks' drive, but she's not to walk it because they don't want the high amount of pollen getting on her and contaminating things.

So I can let the birds out then drive her up, drop her off, and get back in time to go turn on the rabbit fans if it is hot and refill water bottles and feeders. She doesn't want anyone to stay with her, which is usual. It makes her more anxious, not less. I'll see her the next day. She said not to come in that night as she'll be too drugged up and doesn't want her sleep interrupted.

It looks like she might get two nights in the hospital which would be the best thing for both of us. She'd have more time to recover with full care and I'd not have to run myself ragged until she was more easy to care for. I really wish she had scheduled this for when DH is home. Then he could help out with some of the care.

Adjusting

May 28th, 2017 at 06:49 am

Well, I think I am finally starting to adjust to having this blob in the vision in my right eye. I've had to make some changes. I have to have the print on the computer screen set to 150% on most websites, and 175 on the ones that use teeny tiny font sizes to not have a blind spot when I'm reading.

If I want to read books, large print editions are the only ones that don't cause headaches. Normal print I can do for about twenty minutes, but I have to keep refocusing, and I end up with a headache. Forget 10 point font at all. It's almost an instant headache and a blind spot. Fortunately the library has a huge number of large print books and most Debbie Macomber novels have a large print copy and those that don't have an audio book available. Since I am working my way through her books right now, that works for me.

As for typing, if I increase the font and tilt my head and look through the lower part of my eye, I can almost make it disappear.

With distance vision, it is almost like it isn't there, so the only part of driving that is an issue is if I look at the GPS screen or at the speedometer. The head tilt works for that and I am using cruise control a lot more when I can.

I think it is still breaking up, but it is doing it slowly. I am taking a supplement that is supposed to help with the floaters. We'll see. I've only been on it 3 days. I am hoping by the time I see the doctor again at the end of the month that it will have gotten smaller, or even better, gone away, but I know it may not.

My daughter had her baby tooth pulled this week and they didn't give her anything for the pain. When she had her wisdom teeth out, they gave her hydrocodone. This is just as bad, but told her to just take Ibuprofen. Doctors and dentists have gotten downright stingy with painkillers in the last couple of years. They are so worried about people getting addicted that they don't want to give it out for actual bad pain.

Fortunately, she had some medication left from when she cracked her skull a couple years ago and was on it for 8 weeks so I gave her some of it and it helped her a lot.

It ended up costing $253. They had estimated $246, so not far off the mark. She needed an extra shot of novacaine, so I'm sure that was why the difference.

DH also had to go to a different chiropractor because ours is on vacation, so that was a $30 co-pay. He pinched a nerve or something in his back, so also got a massage the day before that for $60. That is not covered at all with our insurance. Fortunately he is doing much better. He will see that chiropractor again before he goes back to work on Wednesday.

Ours won't be back until the 6th and DH leaves on the 31st. My neck is out pretty bad, but I don't want to spend the money to see a different chiropractor. I may have to, though. I'm not sure I can go another ten days, especially since my physical therapist has flaked out on me again. I'm pretty sure I'll be barely walking by the time he gets back.

I'm really starting to resent the frequent vacations my chiropractor goes on. It seems like he's taking off every six weeks or so. Usually it is only for one week, but this time it is for two. He only works 4 half days a week as it is, so available hours are limited even when he is here. If he didn't have such a good family plan we would have left a long time ago.

I need to find a new physical therapist as mine is moving away in October. That's going to be a major pain. I know there are lots of them in this city, but I hate trying out new people. You may have noticed I'm not a real big fan of change. But I'll have to do it, because the sessions are one of the things that keep me walking and when I miss a week, I really feel it.

I am thinking of buying an ultrasound machine like they use in physical therapy, not like they use to see inside your body. My old doctor used to do those treatments on my knees when they would swell really bad and they worked wonders. A decent machine is around $200. Now that I am having both my ankles and knees swelling so frequently, it might be worthwhile to make the investment. They've got some with good reviews on Amazon. It'd be worth it if it improves my walking ability or even just decreases swelling and pain.

Surfacing, Drowning

May 19th, 2017 at 11:03 pm

It's been a week since the emergency laser eye surgery and while it didn't seem like a big deal, it seems to have really sapped my strength. I was exhausted the first few days afterwards. I am having a hard time adjusting to the impaired vision. The spots are always there. Even when I close my eyes, if there is a light on, I can still see the big one against my eyelid, which makes it hard to get a rest from it during the day unless I cover my eye.

At least it goes away in darkness. At least I don't see it in my dreams. My vision has been bad for several years, but my glasses were always enough to correct it. The idea that these spots may be permanent unless I get another surgery to remove the vitreous and replace it with a solution of saline is very disheartening. Especially since there is no guarantee that new floaters won't develop.

I've dealt with so many health issues my entire adult life, but I always had the ability to escape into a book or into my writing. Now even that is tarnished. I can't read for long periods, because the right eye has to work too hard. It is better with large print books and zooming on the computer screen, but my eyes get so tired so fast trying to work around the floaters despite it. It kind of takes some of the joy from my life and makes me feel defeated.

I think I always took my eyesight for granted, even if it wasn't that good, it was good enough. Now...I don't know. It's like having a little bug flying in front of me constantly and nothing can make it go away. I just can't imagine having this for the rest of my life.

Usually I can look on the bright side and be optimistic, but with this, the fight has gone right out of me. I've never felt so overwhelmed before. I just want it all to go away, but I am afraid it never, ever will. It's the first time in my life where I've ever felt like giving up and it is a horrible feeling. And I'm helpless to do anything about it. Just wait and see. Or not see.


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