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Minor (Very Minor) Surgery Plus Instant Pot Recipe for Alliecat79

January 8th, 2019 at 08:28 pm

I took DD to the dentist today. She had to get the webbing clipped on that part of your mouth where the lower lip connects to the gum. It was starting to pull down the gum line on her two lower front teeth too far. It could have eventually exposed the roots of the teeth and she might have lost them due to them not being stable anymore. It was just a quick snip and a couple of stitches.

I am not sure how much it will cost us. Probably $50 for the co-pay, but they didn't collect anything while we were there. I wish our previous dentist had brought this up before. The new guy seems a little more on the ball. I mean, when he pointed it out to me, you could really see where the damage was being caused, it is an obvious thing that a dentist should have noticed before this. Unless maybe it wasn't as obvious and just got really bad in the last year.

I did actually break my no take out rule. I bought my daughter two milkshakes because she wasn't allowed to eat solids for the rest of the day and she wanted something cold to numb it. I really didn't want to go to the grocery store because it was raining hard, so we went to DQ.

I also spent $27.33 on prescriptions today, including a numbing mouth wash from the dentist for her. That came out of the medical account, though.

We still have not heard anything from the gyno's surgery scheduler. Hopefully we will hear from them this week. I know the doctor wasn't in her office for the last two weeks, but everyone was supposed to be back on Monday. The insurance company was probably pretty much closed down between Christmas and New Year's as well. If I don't hear from them by Friday I'll give a call on Monday.

I am still waiting to get a bill from DS's sleep study. It looks like it will be around $400 based on what the insurance company sent me for what they covered, but I'd like to get the bill so that it can be taken care of. The insurance statement only came on Monday. Everyone is behind because of the holidays, I think.

Mom called her insurance company today and has a claim number we can use. We will take the truck in soon to get an estimate and then schedule repairs. Fortunately, the damage is just cosmetic except for the bumper and while the license plate is dented in badly, it is still readable. We will leave that until we get new plates. Washington state requires new license plate numbers every 5 years (and they wonder why we are running out of numbers on our plates. They used to just be six digits and now they are seven because of this rule. Well, actually, we better make sure a new plate would even be attachable. I'll mention that to DH so he can mention it to the repair guy.

I did change my meal plan tonight since DD can't eat solids, to penné pasta with chicken sausage, since she can't eat the chicken sausage or tomatoes. I have a ton of sausage in the freezer that used to be something she could eat, but she can't anymore.

Oh, Alliecat79, this was a super easy Instant Pot meal. Just take two pints of diced tomatoes with their juice and add them to your pot, then dump in a box of penné pasta, then put in two jars of spaghetti sauce covering the pasta. Put an inch of water in each jar, put the lid on, shake up, and then dump the contents into the pot. Between that and the tomato juice there is enough liquid to make the steam so adding more is not necessary. Cut up some sausage links and put on top. On the manual setting, set the time for 12 minutes. Do a quick release when done and then stir it all up. That's it. (Sometimes I throw in a couple handfuls of frozen zucchini, too). Oh, and make sure you spray the liner pot with olive oil before you start. It makes clean up much easier.

All's Quiet on the Home Front

January 6th, 2019 at 11:54 pm

DD is doing much better now. Thanks for all the supportive comments. They gave her IV fluids because she was dehydrated and the doctor agreed that it was a gasteroparesis flare up that caused an adrenal crisis due to not keeping down her meds. So we did everything right. She was there for a few hours, but her blood work came back okay on the cortisol levels, the shot did what it was supposed to do. Her iron levels are improving now that she has been able to eat very lean beef again, so we got confirmation of that. They did do the dumb pregnancy test despite her not needing one.

My birthday present from MIL has arrived yesterday, though my birthday is not until February 12th. She said I did not need to wait to use it if I didn't want to. I got a KitchenAid hand mixer in ice blue, which is really a minty green/blue color. They didn't have it in teal, which seems to be a discontinued color for KitchenAid. It is the color of my stand mixer, my toaster (Oster), and my Keurig. So I went with a color that will compliment the teal.

Today I ordered the birthday present that comes from DH (but will also be using some of the money I got from MIL for Christmas). It is a Dash 1400 watt blender in Aqua, which is also really a minty green/blue color in reality. Unfortunately KitchenAid does not have a blender in ice blue, so this was the closest I could come. I think this is a better blender anyway, more on par with a Vitamix, only slightly better. It was on a very good deal today and what I have been considering purchasing for a good long while. So, no, it's not an electric apple flinger situation.

We have been getting by with a cheap Ninja blender for the last couple of years, but it is one of those ones that you have to hold down to make it blend the entire time you blend it. And it is not that great with frozen things or ice. With this DD should be able to eat vegetables and fruits again that are not acidic. They have to be very pureéd or liquified so there are no long fibers that she can't digest.

You can also make soup in it as it has a soup function. This way she can get back to some healthier food options. And also I can make more low carb veggie soups. And we might be able to do a smooth pureé cauliflower and see if she can tolerate cauliflower that way. We've had to avoid the brassicas, but just maybe she could eat them this way.

I have been slowly investing in quality kitchen appliances the last few years after having cheap ones that break easily and have to be replaced for most of my marriage. I use them all the time, too, so it is nice to have dependable ones. It's not like I really need anything else anyway and cooking and baking make me happy so this has been working by having them be my gifts. I don't have to come up with unscheduled money for them, but I still get to add to my needed (and wanted) appliances/gadgets collection.

I am glad I took my time with these purchases and was able to wait until they came in the colors I liked and were good, high quality items that will last me for years.

First ER Visit of 2019 and Counting

January 5th, 2019 at 09:59 pm

DD's in stage 2 of an adrenal crisis. I had to give her a shot of cortisol because she couldn't keep the pills down for 24 hours and then DH took her to the ER because she has to be monitored for a while to make sure that she comes out of the adrenal crisis and that the cortisol doesn't send anything into overdrive (sort of like adrenaline would).

This is the first time I have given a shot to a human. It wasn't hard, but it was weird. I've only ever given them to rabbits when the herd needed Ivermectin and that is an under the skin shot, not a muscle shot. This was a muscle shot. I need to get used to it, though.

Before she left for the hospital I had her renew her shot prescription so we can get a replacement into her emergency med kit as soon as possible.

At least we have the money in the medical account to cover this when it comes due. That is a lot less stress on us than all of last year. I'll keep adding to the account, too. I had thought about maybe cutting my contributions since it is funded, but I think I'll continue on for a while. If it turns out we don't need it I will use it for debt payment, but for the time being it can just go into the medical account, at least until after her surgery (assuming the insurance company approves it). I'll stress less that way.

This visit will be the first thing on her deductible this year. It should just be around $753, since there won't be any need for tests, just monitoring. That will get her 3/4 of the way through her deductible. I hope they don't make her take a pregnancy test. They do for almost every visit, but since this one shouldn't involve radiation or narcotics in any way and we know what is going on, they don't need to.

They probably will, though, even though this should not be a diagnostic visit at all. Just another unnecessary expense for celibate women. They don't believe her when she says there is no chance. They tried to give me a pregnancy test when I went in pregnant with DS for the gash in my knee that I needed stitches for and they tried to do one after my hysterectomy. I pitched fits both times. I understand why they do it, but she's been too sick for the past 8 years to even go on a date, so it feels ridiculous. It costs somewhere in the $80 ballpark, so it just annoys me. Not like I can do anything about it, though.

Anyway, hopefully everything will be just fine. This is the first adrenal crisis she's had since being put on the cortisol. I am just glad that DH was available to take her. I am still a little under the weather, though worlds better, and I get sick every time I go to the hospital, plus the waiting room chairs and the in room chairs screw up my hips and tailbone for days afterwards. DH keeps me updated with texts so I have almost a play by play of anything going on without having to expose myself to the flu or the plague or whatever version of the creeping crud is going around town.

This and That

January 2nd, 2019 at 11:41 pm

They were having a 20% off plus free shipping deal on Vitamin Shoppe today so I went ahead and reordered my vitamins. We were out of Vitamin D (without soy) almost and we take a lot during the winter months here due to SADS. I ordered 6 bottles of it, 2 bottles of Vitamin A (without soy), 2 bottles of fish oil (that does not have polysorbate-80 in it), and a big bottle of Vitamin C (without soy). I spent $123.08 after the discount was applied. I should be set for some time on vitamins.

I started work on the novel again. I wrote about 1008 words and I plan on getting back to it when I finish posting here. I am going to try to post every day this month and I am running out of today, so thought I'd hop on and do this quick.

Still holding strong on cooking from the meal plan and not eating out.

I worked on decluttering my room a bit today. I am taking it one section at a time. I am overcoming years of packrat tendencies, but sometimes it is slow going. I am just sick of living a cluttered existence, so one of my goals for 2019 is to put an end to that. We have been working towards it for a while now.

DS will be getting some more cooking lessons this week and next. He'll be learning how to make the tater tot casserole, homemade pizza from scratch, pork carnitas, chicken shawarma and homemade pita bread, and the sausage/bell peppers/onions stir-fry dish. He is really enjoying the cooking lessons and was bummed that we had to stop in December due to my illness.

I think that about covers it.

$6K Coming

December 24th, 2018 at 12:04 am

MIL is going to be giving us $6000 before the end of the year. I am going to put it into the medical account so that we will have the money to pay for DD's surgery. It will be nice to start the year without having to worry about having to scrape up money for the deductible and out of pocket max.

I will continue to deposit money into the account each payday as well, but with this money, I don't have to worry quite so much that we will have enough in there to meet our needs. We will.

Maybe DH will get that raise that his boss is trying to get for him. I know it is unlikely, but it would be wonderful if it happened. He has made a very big, positive impression at work, gone above and beyond the call of duty, and saved a project that no one thought could get done on time, and his boss would really like his pay to reflect that. He has worked there a year now, but only 6 months as permanent so it still may just be too soon. But I can hope.



Hope is a Wonderful Thing

December 21st, 2018 at 06:34 pm

I would have updated yesterday, but with the violence of the windstorm here yesterday, we were having power surges and so I shut down the computers and internet box for most of the day. We didn't lose power ourselves, but my MIL did and had to spend the night in a hotel. She has it back today, though. The damage is pretty bad in places.

I am really glad we zip-tied and used rope to secure our Christmas standees to the deck or we would have lost them all. The zip-tied ones stayed in place. The one tied on with rope was blown off the deck, but was still attached to it. We are in for more of the same in the next couple of days, but today has been still. At least it wasn't like the tornado that touched down in Port Orchard, but there for a while, I wasn't sure.

I am just glad that DD's appointment at Virginia Mason was the day before and we weren't driving in that stuff. The appointment went really well. The doctor prescribed a nerve pain drug for her that is working very well already. She also, and this is what I still have a hard time believing, agreed to do a laparoscopic surgery on DD. We have been trying to get a gynocologist to do this for 6 years. She said she will try.

With DD's weight issues, and the way that you have to be tilted with your head down during the surgery, there is still a chance that they might have to stop if breathing becomes an issue, but that if there isn't one, they will go forward with the surgery. So hopefully there won't be any issues and they can go in and see if there really is endometriosis and take care of it. The doctor thinks there is based on all her symptoms and on the fact that we've eliminated everything else.

I am so glad I looked into Virginia Mason. I wish I'd thought of them when the UW said no. Then maybe DD wouldn't have had to suffer all these years. Apparently its a familiar story that UW turns overweight people away. It also helps to have found a practice that specializes in this disease.

Even if nothing comes of the attempt at surgery, just having the nerve pain medicine is such an improvement in her quality of life already that it may help to make her a functional human being again.

The surgery scheduler will be calling next week after the insurance has been approved. I still can't believe someone is going to try to help her. This weird feeling of hope is something I am not used to anymore, but it is nice to be cautiously optimistic for the first time in forever.

And Away We Go

December 19th, 2018 at 10:14 am

Well, we are about to head down to Virginia Mason to see if the doctors there will actually do something about my daughter's high likelihood of endometriosis, or if we will yet again be faced with another set of doctors who are too worried about getting sued to do a surgery on a patient who is higher risk.

I don't hold out a lot of hope, to be honest. We've just heard it so many times. But these doctors do specialize in it and they've had to have had patients with my daughter's issues before, so maybe. Keep your fingers crossed for us today. Prayers for a doctor willing to do something would be greatly appreciated.

The Money Arrived

December 17th, 2018 at 05:18 pm

The money made it safely back to our checking account from the PayPal hack. I am still pretty annoyed with PayPal for letting this happen in the first place. Now I can go ahead and write out the rest of the bills, the tithe, and fund the funds I need to fund from Friday's paycheck. I held off to be sure the money would come through.

I am checking the account daily for a while just to be sure everything is safe. I hate this feeling of violation. We are so careful with our finances. It makes me furious that other people, other companies, are not careful with our finances. We have worked so hard to keep our credit clean and never be late with payments and to see that put in jeopardy leaves you with a sickening, sinking feeling in your stomach.

Paypal is very useless with its customer service. We were just really lucky to be able to solve everything ourselves, because they have their heads so far up their collective nether regions when it comes to helping people it is ridiculous. We were told there was nothing they could do about any of it and they weren't going to file anything with their fraud department since the money was still sitting there. I mean, seriously, you'd think they'd want to track these things, but no. They don't really care at all. We won't be doing business with them again.

On the plus side, I am feeling better today than yesterday. No more cracking in my ears. I still am exhausted and needing to sleep a lot, but the runny nose is less today than yesterday. I hope to have shaken this off by the end of the week. It would be nice to be fully well before Christmas. Even though we don't really have much planned, everything will be low-key, it would be much better to not spend the day in bed too sick to do anything.

I am not sure if I will make my dietbet now or not. We had a lot of takeout while I was too sick to cook and the sodium made me gain a few pounds back. I am hoping it will come off with homecooking for the next week, but I'm not 100% sure I'll get there. We will be down in Seattle on Wednesday, which means we will probably have one meal out if things take to long. We will pack a lunch, though, and hopefully that will be enough if we don't get stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home. Her appointment is at 2:45 and will likely run an hour, so I doubt we'll likely be leaving right at 4:00. Not the worst time, but not the greatest, either, to be on the freeway.

Identity Theft Again

December 16th, 2018 at 07:55 pm

The last several days have been pretty awful and not just because of my cold, although that was bad, too. My ears blocked up on the 12th and only cleared this morning. If I thought I was dizzy and the world was spinning before, every time I tried to pop my ears it also felt like I was on a sail boat in rough water. I have had spinning before, but never up and down dizziness. I had to just close my eyes and sit still for several minutes and wait for it to stop. It is nice to be able to hear properly again. I'm still not over this thing, but it is down to a runny nose now and tiredness now, which is a huge improvement.

The bad part, financially is two-fold. One, someone used DH's Best Buy account to order a laptop. They swamped his email with Russian subscriptions to try to hide the message from Best Buy, but DH has it set up so that certain emails always go to the top. It was ordered by some guy named Todd Peterson in Oregon. DH was able to cancel it and changed the password on his Best Buy account. They had charged it to a credit card number that looked familiar, but wasn't one of our current credit card numbers. I think it might have been one of our numbers before we were issued new cards with new numbers due to identity theft six months ago. If so, I'm not sure how he managed to even order it. Anyway, it got taken care of it, but it was worrying.

Then we found out DH's Paypal account had been hacked. Someone changed the main email on it to a different one, but left his as a secondary. They also changed the language to Spanish. They had also withdrawn $1000 from our checking account, which I normally would have caught much sooner, but I've been sick and doing the bare minimum with finances. Fortunately the money was still sitting there in his account and once he was able to get into it and change it back into English he deleted that foreign e-mail and changed his password, set it so his phone had to be texted for anything on the account could be changed again, and deleted all cards or checking accounts from Paypal.

I went on to Paypal for myself and everything looked fine for me. As with all instances of identity theft so far, they have had to do with DH's info. I changed my password just to be on the safe side and set it up with my phone to be texted if anyone tried to change anything and then DH transferred the $1000 to me and I transferred it back to our checking account. Hopefully it will be there on Monday. Fortunately we had enough money in the account to cover everything we had paid out. I will be making it a priority to be checking our checking accounts every few days now, even when I feel like death.

So while it was a major hassle, at least no money was permanently stolen from us. The third thing that happened is the new computer DH bought is not working after a week. He bought it directly from HP and it quit functioning a week in. He decided to do a reset to factory settings and it erased the drive. So he's been trying to get HP support, but they have very limited hours and no one is there on weekends. Seems like a poor way to run a business in this day and age. He is going to send it back and either get his money back or get a new one.

I am hoping they will just give him a new one. I was worried about him buying it from them direct instead of through Best Buy, where we at least have Geek Squad protection. Of course, that was before the Best Buy hack. He did it because he could get a better computer that way for the same money. Not better if it doesn't work.

I hope this is the last we see of this nonsense, but I realize we may very well be dealing with this for some time. Stupid companies that can't protect our information. That $1000 could have caused a world of hurt if we'd lost it.

Found Out About the Bonus

December 11th, 2018 at 04:34 pm

So DH's end of year bonus will be $1600 in cash, but that is before taxes, so not sure what it will be afterwards. Bonuses get taxed weirdly, I believe at 25%, so we'll only see $1200 of that, though some of it will come back in our tax refund. He will also get 1 percent of all wages earned put into his 401K with 100% matching, since we haven't hit 5% of income on our own yet. That will only be based on his earned wages since becoming a permanent employee, and he became one in July, I think.

His last paycheck says he has earned $37,192.50 since becoming a permanent employee, and it is probably going to be calculated after Friday's paycheck. So we should end up with something over $800 extra into the 401K. Nice little chunk of change. It's been a few years since DH has worked with a company that did bonuses. If it is calculated after the last paycheck of the month than it will be closer to $1000.

My cold seems to have moved up into my head now. After driving yesterday I decided I don't want to drive today in the storm we are having. I thought I was ready to drive yesterday, but I had trouble focusing and ended up running a red light. Thankfully it was at an empty intersection and no cops were around. That is the first time in my life I have run a red light. So clearly I am not clear-headed enough to drive yet. I will wait until Thursday before I try again assuming the cold continues to vacate the premises and I am not a dizzy-headed mess.

Tonight for dinner I am making beef pot roast in the Instant Pot, steamed potatoes in the Power Cooker XL, and broccoli in the microwave. No baby-sitting, no fuss, very little mess. It is nice having two electric pressure cookers when I don't have a stove. It makes things much easier for me.

I hope I am with it enough by Friday to do the banking and the grocery shopping. We are getting low on some items and with DH heading out to MIL's after work to work on cleaning out her attic and garage, he isn't able to do the shopping either. I'm making due, but it would be nice to have fresh greens again. I have enough potatoes, carrots, and plenty of onions to last the rest of the week, and I have canned green beans, and there are oranges and apples, so we won't go without. But it isn't salad. I might have cabbage, though. I could do cole slaw instead if I do.

I have a ton of canned, frozen, and freeze dried foods, but sometimes you just want that fresh produce factor in the middle of winter. We are getting low on bread and milk, though I think it will just make it to Friday. I am meal planning carefully, but I think we will pull it off okay.

Turned the Corner

December 10th, 2018 at 03:39 pm

This is one of the worst winter colds I have ever had, but I think I have finally turned the corner. I got up and got dressed for the first time since December 2nd. My cough is up in my throat now instead of my lungs or bronchials. I still definitely have a lot of mucus and am pretty tired, but I think I could drive today without being a risk to others. I haven't even been in a car since the 1st, let alone driven.

I even started a load of laundry, there is a huge backlog, though DH did his work clothes, but I have to take it slow. I am still a little dizzy when I bend over, so I reckon DS will have to take the clothes out of the dryer and bring them to my bed so I can fold them. But I am not dizzy when I am upright. It was so bad there for a while that being upright was too much.

There is talk of a Christmas or year end bonus at DH's work. I know when he filled out paperwork to become a permanent employee there was a sheet about a company bonus that goes into the 401K. I don't know if it all goes in or if some can be gotten as cash. We could use cash for medical bills. I don't even know if he will qualify, because while he has worked for them for a year, it has only been 6 months direct, so I'm not counting any chickens. It would be nice, though.

Considering the job he is doing, he should get one, but I don't know how these things work. They are pretty eager to hang on to him. His boss has put in for a raise for him, so keep your fingers crossed that he gets one.

He has been getting rumblings about slope work. One company even asked if they could put him in on their bid. DH said no for now because he really doesn't want to go back to Alaska. He likes where he is at. But it would be a possibility. I don't really want him to go away again. We spent the first twenty years of our marriage with him gone so much for work, now that he is home I have gotten used to it.

I know I could get used to him leaving again, but there is so much I can't keep up on anymore. That's why we don't have chickens, or turkeys, or ducks anymore. And why we've cut back significantly on the number of rabbits. I am even debating on whether or not I want to plant a garden this year. If I do, I will probably only plant a few beds.

Mom and DS want to put up Christmas lights, so DH went and dug out some of our standees (stand alone lights). We have our polar bears, our train, our seal with a present on his nose, our Season's Greetings, two presents, and our giant snowflake. We need to get a cable to secure the seal to the porch. Everything else will be zip-tied to the deck rail or up to high for someone to get without a ladder, but I am not losing that seal to theft. It was too expensive.

I have no idea why Mom wants to put up lights this year, except that there are tons of houses on our block who have put them up and our house looks pretty dark and naked without them. One of our next door neighbors doesn't have anything either, but that is pretty much it. She isn't the type to keep up with the Jones's normally.

I don't know when they will actually get put up though. DH and DS have been helping MIL to clean out her attic and garage to get ready for the exterminator to come, new insulation to be laid, a new breaker box put in, and a new furnace and AC to be installed. She's getting $40K of work done. FIL was a pack rat and there is a lot to get rid of. So far they have hauled away 1013 pounds of garbage. DH is finding tax files and paperwork from the 70's. We have a roving shredder business that you can get to come by and shred all your old paperwork and MIL is thinking of hiring them.

I haven't been able to help at all, although considering how much dust and rat droppings and loose insulation there is, that is a good thing. With my asthma it is just not a good idea, even with a mask on.

They are going out again tonight after DH gets off work and hopefully that will be the end of it until the weekend. DH didn't get any rest this weekend at all because he was out there. I am worried he is going to come down with my cold, because he has started coughing, but that might just be in reaction to all the dust. I don't like it when he burns the candle at both ends. He is getting some help from his sister and her boyfriend, so it isn't just my guys.

I just don't want him to get sick and have to stay home from work. And I need him to be well to drive us down to Virginia Mason on the 19th. I hate driving in Seattle traffic. I've done it a couple of times because in the past DH was in Alaska, but it is something that scares me because they drive worse in Seattle than they do in Orange County. In Seattle, no one knows what a blinker is, people zip back and forth between lanes even when there is no space to do so safely, assuming the lanes aren't at a standstill. Pedestrians jaywalk constantly despite having plenty of cross walks. And don't get me started on the bicyclists, who apparently don't like to use bike lanes, but would rather take their lives and yours into their hands and act like they are immortal. Even the bus drivers are a little nuts.

Almost all the streets are one way and half the time you can't go around the block for several blocks. People block intersections so badly that I've sat through five or six light cycles before it has been clear to go. The drivers are so aggressive, too. So yeah, DH needs to be well for that, because I am currently not up to that challenge.

Update Complete with Nasty Cold

December 6th, 2018 at 06:04 pm

On Sunday I woke up with a cough that progressively moved lower and lower this week until I sounded like a deep bass male. For the record I'm a contralto on a normal day. I no longer sound like a man, but my voice is in the tenor range. I am still coughing like crazy. I did write a chapter on Saturday, but haven't touched the book since. I find it better not to write when I'm taking this much cold medicine.

I have managed, barely, to make dinner the past 2 nights, thanks to the Instant Pot and a supply of beef and pork roasts. I am managing to eat one meal a day and the rest of the day I am just drinking bone broth, which thank goodness I had made on Saturday. I need to make more but the idea of it is a little overwhelming.

I've been sleeping a lot, and binge watching Say Yes to the Dress on Hulu. I don't generally like reality TV shows. Dancing with the Stars is the only one, really. I'm not terribly into fashion either. But this show is like candy. No substance, but some really beautiful creations. It's like art with fabric as the medium. Better yet it is completely mindless so I didn't have to focus on a plot at all, because honestly, I couldn't right now if I tried.

I did manage to take a shower and that's all I'm going to manage today. It wiped me out, but it was worth it. I'll have DH pick up take out tonight. Probably Polynesian so there will be some vegetables in it. All I want to do is crawl back into bed, but I'm trying to stay upright for a couple of hours until DH gets home and can change the sheets. The idea of doing it by myself is exhausting.

I hope this starts to go away soon. It hurts and I was just starting to feel really good after a week on the diet. Well, I'm still on the diet and I've lost a lot, but once my appetite comes back, I'm not sure what will happen. Currently I am .9 lbs from my dietbet goal weight and it hasn't been quite two weeks yet. I have been off the Pepsi for a week as well.

I can already see a huge difference in our grocery budget. Pepsi was starting to take a huge chunk out of it. DH is off it, too, so we aren't buying it at all. I can't believe I let myself get addicted to it again, but at least that is over.

DH's office Christmas Party is Saturday. I won't be able to go and I feel really bad about it, because we had to RSVP. It's a catered buffet. Although they are serving alcohol which usually means someone will make an idiot of themselves. I'm going to tell him to ask his mother to go. I think that she would enjoy having an evening out with her son. I was really looking forward to it, too. We haven't gone out for a night away from the kids in ages.

DH had to order a new cushion for his c-pap mask, so that was $67.95 out of the medical fund. I ordered two prescription refills today, too, but don't know the cost of that yet. Otherwise we haven't been spending. It's hard to spend when you can't leave your bed. Not impossible, Amazon exists after all, but harder.

DD has an appointment at Virginia Mason with a doctor that specializes in endometriosis on the 19th. My goal is for us to be well by then. DD has the cold, too. Although we are still going even if we aren't. I am going to get the name of the anesthesiologist who worked on her for her gall bladder surgery before we go to prove that there is one that is willing to do a laparoscopic surgery for her. Then it'll be a question of convincing the doctor.

DD doesn't care about the risks. She has no quality of life, so to her it is worth any risk to try to get this taken care of. She can't work, she can't go to school, she just exists in a pain-filled lump. I remember these symptoms well from my days with this disease. But I didn't have to fight for treatment because I was at a normal weight. Hopefully this doctor will be compassionate enough to try. None of the ones around here are, but then again, they don't specialize in this disease.

Productive Morning

November 28th, 2018 at 02:20 pm

I woke up very early this morning, at 4:30, and couldn't get back to sleep so from 5:30 to 7:30 I worked on editing. I rewrote a significant chunk of chapter twelve and added a scene to the end of chapter eight. Then I went through chapters 13, 14, and 15 and did a proofread, then a line edit, so at the moment the book is edited right up to the start of chapter sixteen, which I hope to finish writing today. If I get ambitious or into the right flow state, I will start chapter seventeen.

I paid a doctor's bill of $253. It was for the initial consult with DS's sleep doctor. He did spend an entire hour with us, but still, ouch, new patient visits are getting expensive. We won't know anything real about DS's sleep study until the techs have had a chance to read the results. That could be a couple of weeks yet.

At 8 a.m. I went back to bed and slept until 12:30. I have another doctor's bill to pay but have to wait until Friday to pay it. It is $125 and I only have $112 left in the medical fund after all the bills I have paid this week. But I'll be putting in the standard $400 deposit on Friday and then hopefully a little extra.

DH hasn't had a chance yet to straighten out the hospital bill. He probably won't until Friday when he only has to work a couple of hours. Since he can go in at any time on Friday, I recommended he use the morning to clear this up and then go into work.

I hope he gets more overtime soon. I would really like to fill up the medical account in preparation for the deductible starting over in January. I hate it when things are a struggle. I just want to get more than our heads above water. I'd much prefer waist deep or wading levels than this constant treading of water.

Maybe once I get this book done and self-published I might be able to earn a little something on it that will help with this situation. Here's hoping.

Not Much New Here

November 27th, 2018 at 07:57 pm

The diet is going well so far. Famous last words, though. It always goes well in the beginning. I've lost 5.6 pounds.

Yesterday I wrote 5664 words on the novel. That was two chapters, plus 882 words into the next chapter. The day before that I wrote one chapter of 2500 or so words. So after a 27 day stall I've put out 4 and 1/3 chapters.

I didn't spend any time on it today, mostly because my right wrist hurts, but I did spend a bunch of time watching writer videos on youtube. I am learning a lot. I've been writing for a long time, but I find there is always more to learn.

I think there are a few books I want to get on writing, too, but that will have to wait until I have more money. Or maybe that is what I can get from MIL. They are ebooks, though, so she'll have to give me cash. I'm not sure you can buy an ebook that is delivered to someone else. Maybe if we buy from my account and use her credit card? Anyone bought an ebook to be delivered to someone else?

I made a payment to the dentist yesterday for DH's crown. It was $473. I owe an additional $400, so will pay $200 this coming payday and another $200 the payday after that. Ugh. HR signed us up for the wrong dental plan, which is why the crown wasn't covered. We still don't know why the dental insurance said that it was covered at 50% during pre-approval, though.

We also have to resubmit a hospital bill to the insurance company because something went wrong somewhere. Another ugh. I wish people could just do their jobs correctly. We should only owe half of what it says. DH is working on sorting it.

All of the OT money is going to be eaten up, though. It's annoying. Just when we finally feel like we are pulling ahead we fall back again. And who knows how much DS's sleep study is going to cost. At least $1000, possibly much more. They kept him for a second day for further study so I am pretty sure that means they found something. His dad will be picking him up in about five minutes to bring him home, so hopefully they will be able to convey things properly. I am just too wiped out today to go pick him up and talk to them myself.

On the plus side, after getting further info from the doctor, the insurance company decided to authorize the enbrel. Now I have to find the paperwork she gave me about it, because it has the phone number of the pharmacy that mails the drug out and the info for the discount card. I kept track of it until it was denied the first time. I know I didn't throw it away, though, so after a bit of serious looking it should turn up.

DH and I got the HBO add on package for Hulu and have been working our way through Game of Thrones. He's watched it before, but I resisted due to the language, violence, and nudity. I finally gave in a while ago and now we are down to the last episode which we will watch tonight. Then nothing more until April. It is very good. There is more violence on The Walking Dead and I think there was actually more graphic nudity in True Blood.

I have also been watching Westworld on my own because I really enjoy the actors Ben Barnes and Evan Rachel Wood. But the amount of nudity in it is astonishing. I mean I know the robots aren't humans, but you'd think some of the human techs would be uncomfortable with people that look like humans just walking around like that all the time. I don't care whether you are human or a robot, if you have your stuff hanging out casually, it is going to embarrass me and make me uncomfortable. But the story is so good. I think it would be better without the gratuitous nudity, though.

I think HBO, Netflix, and a lot of show makers today could do with leaving just a little bit more to the imagination. The stories they are telling are intricate and could easily stand on their own and the majority of the language and nudity just don't further the plot. A good story-teller can convey it all without these crutches. They simply choose not to because they think shock value is more important in drawing viewers than the story. They are wrong. I am watching the story in spite of all that stuff, not because of it.

Payday Report for 11/16/18 Plus Lots of Miscellany

November 16th, 2018 at 06:00 pm

Been a while since I felt well enough to do one of these, but things are improving with the rheumatoid arthritis this week after about three weeks in full inflamation mode and I am typing with relative ease again, which is why I've been posting this week at all.

We had some overtime this week, 10 hours. All of it went to DH's crown, because it turns out our dental insurance didn't cover any of it, even though it said it would when they did the preauthorization. DH is going to talk to HR at work, because the plan they say they have they don't. So that means we have to come up with another $700 or so out of pocket.

I was able to put $600 into the medical fund instead of the usual $400 this payday, but that means that all of that will have to go towards the crown. Fortunately with this deposit there is $961 in the medical fund. We won't have the breathing room I had hoped for, but we will be able to pay for the rest of the crown.

I have done the budget for December and I am including the extra paycheck for November 30th onto that budget and not the November budget, since it is paying for December things. So on 11/30 I can put $400 into the medical fund and on 12/14 I can put in $700, and on 12/28 I can put in $900.

DS has a sleep study on November 26th (at least if they don't reschedule again) and I am not sure how much that will cost us. The family deductible is $2000 and DD has met $1000 of it (her limit), and I know I have met some of it. I think maybe $500. I know DD has met her out of pocket max, but I think that has a per person as well as a per family, too.

So I don't know for sure whether or not we will have any money left for next year's deductible. That $1500 for the crown instead of $750 is blowing us out of the water. Plus DH wants to get new glasses. He's more than due. At least the vision is decent, but it'll still be around $200. He's getting cheap frames no matter what. Nothing fancy. He's already cost us too much medical money with that crown, even if half of it had been covered.

Here's what went out today:

$319.93 Tithe
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_600.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Envelope
_596.31 DH's Crown (plus additional from last payday)
__61.74 DH Life Insurance
__60.46 Me Life Insurance
_100.00 Blow Money Adults
_120.00 Allowances
_100.00 Clothing Envelope
_100.00 Christmas Envelope
_172.84 Computer Fund
----------------
3051.38 Total Money Out

DH purchased his new computer online today, so the computer fund is now wiped out. I'll start over in December, but I think at only at $50 a month. We were doing $100 because DH's was on it's last legs and it really felt like a race to the finish line on whether or not it would last until we had the money. His was five years old.

We all have newish computers now. Mine is the oldest at barely two years old and it is still in excellent shape, so there is no urgency to build the fund back up. Still, I want to have something going in there, and it is possible a phone could go and have to be replaced, though it is doubtful. I don't think any of them are a year old yet. Maybe mine. But it is serviceable. Who knows what the status of my computer will be in another year and having the money sitting there to replace it if it goes kaput is always the better option.

Medical Money and Cystoscopy Results

November 15th, 2018 at 05:49 pm

The good news is that at least the insurance covered the cystoscopy 100%. There will be ten hours of overtime on tomorrow's paycheck. It is earmarked for the medical fund, though some of it may have to go to pay for DH's crown since the dental insurance, which said they would pay 50%, denied it when it was actually billed. DH has to look into that and also see if he was signed up for the wrong plan and correct it for next year, because he needs another crown.

The dentist says we can do a payment plan, but I am not down for that. We'll pay outright with the OT if we need to. Fortunately there will be another 10 hours of OT on the next paycheck, too. Again all earmarked for medical. I want to build up the medical fund so that when the deductible starts over in January we have plenty of cushion to cover it. I had hoped to have the full deductible amount in there by January, but the dental issue may make that impossible.


TMI Medical:

Well, according to the urologist, there is nothing wrong with my daughter's bladder. No reason for why she peed blood for weeks and why it is still leaking. At least the bleeding has stopped. But the pain hasn't. I am going to call them tomorrow and see if there is a pill or something she can go on that might stop the leaking issue. Otherwise, I think they are done with us. Which sucks, because there is obviously an issue.

I am not sure where to go from here. I am still convinced she has endometriosis and it is strangling her organs from the outside. Endo does not show up on anything. The only way to diagnose it is to do exploratory laparotomy and they won't do that due to her weight because all the gyno surgeons in my state are chickens and more afraid of a malpractice lawsuit than failing to help their patients. And she can't lose weight due to the hypothyroidism and gastroparesis and adrenal issues.

Having dealt with endometriosis myself until the hysterectomy at 33 and knowing that her paternal grandmother also had it before hers, and knowing that they now know it runs in families and since she has all the symptoms, I am pretty darn sure. I just don't know what to do about it. I mean, she did just fine with the gall bladder surgery even though it had to be in the hospital instead of the surgery center so it isn't like surgery can't be done on her. It's an issue of won't.

We have gone to specialist gynocologists in Seattle and they won't do it, either. All they want to do is give you a pill or an implant and send you on your way. But that doesn't always help. It might prevent new stuff from growing, but it doesn't make the old stuff go away and stop strangling organs if adhesions have formed on them.

The endocrine doctor suspects PCOS, but since her pain was never confined to ovulation, I think it is endometriosis. They have many of the same symptoms. When I first was diagnosed, they tried to push PCOS, but I knew what I had based on the limited research I could do (pre-internet, y'all, I used books). And I was right. And I am 99.987% convinced I am right this time. But being right doesn't matter if doctors can't be bothered in treating you because of your weight.

/Rant.

My mother is still not speaking to my son, which is making the house extraordinarily peaceful. She is acting just fine with everyone else. DS is actually relieved. She can't argue with him if she's not speaking to him. We'll see how long that lasts. She'll need him to do something for her sooner or later and I'll push it if she tries to get DH to do it instead, but not before that. I'll say he's too tired and she needs to ask DS instead. DH has been working a lot of OT so it is true.

She needs to stop with the silent treatment. It only punishes her, not her intended target, and it is outright childish. And it only works as a weapon if it bothers the person you are doing it to. I think she wants him to apologize, but since he isn't the one in the wrong, I'm not going to make him. She needs to be the one to do it, but I can count on one hand the number of times my mother has truly apologized for something she has done, so I am not holding my breath. And by truly I mean saying she is sorry for what she did as opposed to I'm sorry you feel that way, which is not in any way, shape, or form an apology. It's an apology dodge. And she doesn't even do those ones often.

This is going to bug me for a bit, but whatever. I am not going to fix it. They may be my monkeys, but this is not my circus.

Weary

November 4th, 2018 at 06:30 pm

Right now I literally just want to go live somewhere else where there are rainbows and kittens and puppies and unicorns and no one is ever sick or in pain and people are kind to each other. I am just so tired, so overwhelmed, and aching so much. Everything hurts right now.

My c-reactive protein level is 14.3 mg/L. It is supposed to be less than 8. I have never had a flare this painful before. I am ridiculously swollen. What's the worst is it is in my back. It has never been in my back before, so it hurts to lay down and it hurts to sit up. When it is just in my arms or my legs or my hip I can usually find a semi-comfortable position, but there isn't one right now.

I am using a combination of valerian root, hydrocodone, sambra (a rub on cream), and a heating pad. I will be so glad when I can start on enbrel. I can't start on it until I get through with the antibiotics for my sinus infection. And we're waiting to see if my insurance will cover it. There's always that.

DD has gone to the ER twice in the last week for IV fluids and morphine. We had so many appointments last week that I am sure all of that sitting in waiting room chairs is what set off this round of inflammation. She's got a cytoscopy scheduled for the 15th so hopefully they will find out why she is still peeing blood.

I will check in when I can, but if I am not posting, the above is the reason why.

Life Continues Unabated

October 29th, 2018 at 11:37 pm

We got the biopsy results back today and there was no sign of disease, so they figure those areas were just badly inflamed. Other than the gastroperesis and an overly large stomach valve, there is nothing wrong with her G.I. tract.

So our next course of battle there is to see if we can wean her off her escitalopram to determine if it is in any way contributing to her extreme nausea and vomiting symptoms. She has not had a panic attack since going on the medicine for adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism. Both of these conditions, when untreated, can lead to symptoms that are very similar to panic attacks, so it is possible she was never having panic attacks, but was instead having adrenal crises.

So we meet with her GP tomorrow about reducing her dose and the schedule for doing it. She would start by going from 10mg to 5mg and then it would be whether that is for two weeks or up to six weeks before dropping to the next level or stopping altogether.

Meanwhile her emergency referral to the urologist came through and they had a cancellation with the P.A. for Thursday so she will be going there Thursday morning. Fortunately that does not interfere with my afternoon appointment with the rheumatologist. Wednesday I have to take Mom to the orthopedic surgeon for what should be her last appointment there and then she has her last PT on Friday. Next week is wonderfully empty of anything at the moment, although I do have to make an appointment for DD for another ACTh stim test and who knows when that will be.

Also on my list is to contact the sleep doctor about getting new c-pap supplies now that we have different insurance. I need to see which place I should go to get them. I also need to go to the doctor myself for a persistent sinus thing, but who has the time? Maybe next week.

I am currently working on chapter thirteen of my novel. Word count is at 32,101. I decided not to do NaNoWriMo. I don't need to pressure myself. I am happy with writing three chapters a week on my own timetable. It's working so why mess with it? It still feels like the only thing that is keeping me sane.

Quickly

October 24th, 2018 at 05:33 pm

I'm checking in quickly about my daughter since some have been asking. Things don't look very good right now. We are waiting on biopsy results for stomach and esophagus. She's been peeing blood since the 17th and the doctor is worried about her kidneys which previously had stable cysts, might be unstable now or possible renal failure starting. CT scan tomorrow. The kid already glows in the dark. Still not keeping food down. It feels like she's dying.

I am overwhelmed, sick, stressed, and pulling in on myself, so probably won't be posting much. Feels like I'm on minimal life support. Prayers appreciated.
Still writing on my novel. It is the only thing keeping me sane.

MIL gave us $2000 because SIL got behind on her bills and she paid them. I was hoping to save for DS's education, but looks like it will probably go for medical bills instead. Money just flies out the window.

Novel Update and College Talk

October 15th, 2018 at 02:04 pm

Tomorrow is DD's procedure and I am so glad the day is nearly here. It has been such a long wait. I hope the results are a definitive diagnosis. I just want them to find something that is going to be solvable, that can finally give us a cure for her suffering.

I spent a lot of time writing this weekend and finished chapters seven and eight and part of chapter nine on book one. I also wrote a page and a half of back story for one character and then a long scene from book 3. So that all is proceeding nicely.

I'm thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo next month. I've always had things interfering in November before or been completely uninspired at that time of year. Lack of inspiration does not seem to be an issue anymore, and it will give me an extra incentive to keep writing. Not that I really need one right now. I'm being driven pretty hard by the story in my own brain.

I've got two beta readers at the moment who check for grammar errors and continuity and possible inconsistencies, then generally just cheerlead, so that is helpful, too. It's a lot different from when I was writing fanfiction several years ago, because there isn't that immediate feedback when you are posting chapters, so having cheerleaders is important to the process. It's also important that I am treating this like a job and carving out a few hours a day to work on it.

Once I finish the first book, I plan on getting it professionally edited, which is about $700 for a 400 page novel if I use the one editor I'm looking at. I don't know if I can find someone who would do it for less. At that price they do two passes through the novel. It's a lot of money to spend up front, but I've seen self-published books on Amazon that have not been edited and they are a nightmare to read. I'm adding a line item to the budget to start saving for it.

My hope is eventually to make enough with this to help pay for my son's college and pay off the Monster Mom Loan. DS is finally figuring out what he wants to do and it will be some form of engineering. He has taken one tour at the technical college for control systems and technology and he'll be taking another one next week for mechanical engineering. Right now he is leaning towards the first one.

The placement rate at the technical college for control systems is 100% at the moment, and their before graduation job placement is 61% with 39% being placed at or just after graduation. The placement rate for mechanical is 97%. If he takes the course for the former, there is a good chance he can get a job at DH's work.

So now we just have to figure out how to pay for this. It is going to be around $15,000 for a 7 quarter course, including books and supplies. If he takes mechanical it is a little less because it is a 6 quarter course. He would graduate with an AS, with transferability to Western if he wants to pursue a BA one day.

I really, really don't want him to have to take out loans and I won't take them out, so we've got to get this sorted. He doesn't have the math yet, so his goal for the next year and a half is to get his math where it needs to be. He's basically completed everything else he needs for me to graduate him except 1/2 a quarter of American History and 1/2 a quarter of English. But he's been lagging on the math. Now that he knows what direction he wants to go in, it seems to finally be starting a fire under him.

I am planning to save our tax return, but I'm not sure how much that will cover. We won't be getting any credit for having children, since he's eighteen now. We haven't contributed enough to the 401K this year for that to lower our taxes and I'm not sure our medical expenses will be deductible this year, since we are not paying for our own insurance out of pocket with post tax dollars this year. I haven't done the math yet on the expenses we have paid, but I don't think we're going to hit the percentages required despite feeling like we are constantly paying medical bills. We'll be able to deduct our tithing, but that may not be enough on its own for us to itemize.

Still, it ought to be enough to pay for at least one quarter, maybe two. I can nickel and dime a lot, but the big issue is that we still have to make a loan payment to my mother each month. If MIL gives us any more money this year we can save some of it for college costs, too.

I'm hoping DS will be able to get a job soon. It's hard when no one is even responding to his applications. That is what I really hate about online applying. When you could go in and hand the application to a manager in person, they had to deal with you a little bit. This faceless, easy to ignore way of dealing with things the fast food places do these days is irritating. But they won't even accept applications in person. It makes me mad when they continue to post help wanted signs and yet never respond to the applications in any way. He has completely open availability, too. So frustrating.

Well, anyway, that's what is going on in the Robin's Nest right now. I best get back to my chapter now.

Just Trying to Keep Her Alive

October 10th, 2018 at 02:20 pm

Things are getting pretty bad for my daughter. It really feels like we are fighting for her life here and everything is just too darn slow. Her hair has been falling out for a while now, but now it is starting to come out in clumps.

She had a lot of hair to start with so it wasn't so noticeable, just the sheer amount on her pillow or when she brushed her hair or that we were pulling out of the shower drain showed it. But now it is starting to get much more obvious. She wants to just cut it very short, but then the clumps will be very obvious. Right now she just looks like she has thin hair.

She went to the ER on Thursday because on top of the same symptoms her nose had been bleeding for six hours. Then she went in again on Sunday because it felt like her head was going to explode and she collapsed. They did a CT of her head and found nothing.

I wonder if this all can be caused by starvation and dehydration? Almost everything she eats comes up now, sometimes even as she is eating it. It is so frightening. The only thing I don't understand is why she isn't losing any weight. How can you not lose weight when the food doesn't stay in the system?

She's basically eating baby food now. Homemade baby food, but everything is pureed to try to help her digest it and we have eliminated a lot of foods altogether. She can't have lectins, so beans and lentils are out. She can't eat beef, pork, or lamb. She can have chicken, rabbit, or turkey if it is teeny, like in cream of chicken soup, but not very much of it. She had been doing okay on fish, but that's coming up now, too. She's had to eliminate all but a few fruits and vegetables, anything with a lot of fiber. She can't stomach whole grains or nuts or seeds. It's a nutritional nightmare.

Her endoscopy and colonoscopy are scheduled for the 16th. Only six more days now. It can't come fast enough. I am so, so worried about her. I worry she won't be strong enough to do it, or that she will have a fever and they'll try to reschedule. It took us 3 months to get this appointment. If she has to wait that long again, I really do think she will die.

Her endocrinologist got back to us with test results from the latest blood draw and even though they doubled her meds for adrenal insufficiencey, her cortisol levels are not, as he put it, reassuring. So now he wants her to repeat the ACH stim test, the one that almost crashed her the first time. It's been a few months and has to be done in the hospital at the same place where they do chemo and infusions. We are just waiting on the go ahead from the insurance company to schedule that. Her dose may have to go up further depending on the results.

The hypothyroidism meds were raised by 50 mg or mcg, I don't remember the actual unit, the last time and they didn't say anything about that, so I'm hoping those are doing okay now. The stress is messing with my stomach. I just want her to be well again. And then I want us not to fall back into some kind of financial nightmare due to medical bills. So far we are staying ahead of them with the Medical Fund, but that may not be enough. I still have $4000 in the Emergency Fund.

Writing is helping me cope. I've completed five chapters (12,347 words) on the first book in the trilogy and am ready to write the next chapter once I get this posted. I am glad I have this escape right now. You don't know how badly I just want to be able to run away from life right now and being able to write is keeping me grounded, even if I'm on another planet in my head.

Payday Report for 10/5/18

October 5th, 2018 at 03:36 pm

I do have some money leftover after paying all the bills for this pay period, but I am going to try to hold onto it, because DD had to go to the ER last night for IV fluids. I may need it for medical expenses, since the Medical Fund, including what I am putting in today, is basically wiped out after DH's new crown. The 16th cannot come soon enough for DD. I just hope they find something and it is something that can be fixed during the procedures.

$268.72 Tithe
_500.00 October Utilities
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_400.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Envelope
_275.00 Monthly Chiropractor Family Plan
__91.91 Internet
__36.00 Garbage Envelope
__50.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
_100.00 Gas Money
_100.00 Car Insurance
_120.00 Allowances
-------------
2416.63 Total Money Out

Medical, Medical, It's Always Medical

September 28th, 2018 at 01:09 pm

I've been losing my financial focus a little bit lately. Taking care of Mom and shlepping her back and forth to physical therapy and taking my daughter to multiple doctors appointments and blood draws has been very draining and we have gotten fast food twice this week because of it. I had one day where I could barely move because I sat in waiting room chairs for 3 hours the day before. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a painful disease and I think I've used more painkillers this week than I have in a year. I've also been drinking caffeine which is not a habit I want to get back into, but it feels like it is the only thing that is keeping me going.

So far, these are the things that are wrong with my daughter:

Granuloma anularae
Gastroperesis
Hypothyroidism
Adrenal Insufficiency
Nearly legally blind in one eye
Brain damage from the skull fracture a few years ago, though she has mostly learned to work around that, it affects her reading and her ability to process numbers quickly
PCOS and/or Endometriosis
Hip Dysplasia (born with)
Depression and Extreme Anxiety (controlled with drugs)
Some as yet undiagnosed auto immune disease (blood markers for something, but they don't know what)

It is expensive to be this ill. I am hoping we can get her on disability at some point, that point being before she is 26 and gets kicked off our health insurance. Maybe sooner. That way it can help pay for her medical bills or to purchase an insurance plan for her. She is unable to function well because of the pain and exhaustion and frequent vomiting from the gastroperesis that leads to dehydration and malnutrition. Some days the medicine helps, other days it does not. She has to be super careful on what she eats and her choices are quite limited.

I do not think she will ever be self-sufficient and be able to leave home. Every time she seems to be getting better another malady turns up and she gets worse again. But at least they are finally finding things. Things that are not easily treatable, but still, having diagnoses helps mentally.

Lots of Medical Expenses Forthcoming, But Then What Else is New?

September 17th, 2018 at 10:44 pm

Well, I made it through two of Monkey Mama's long posts without being logged out, so I am going to attempt to actually post an entry today. There hasn't been too much going on financially, but that's because we haven't been billed yet. Once things run through the insurance and we get billed, I expect we are going to take a big hit in the next couple of weeks. But our out of pocket max on the new insurance is $2400 per family, so it'll be capped at that.

So last week on Monday DD had an appointment at the gastroenterologist and she decided that DD needed to have a gastric emptying test, which is a very long test in a freezing cold room with a gamma camera. That may take DD's deductible and out of pocket max right there. For those who have no clue what this test entails, they feed you radioactive egg whites, 2 pieces of white bread and jam. Then they put you in one of those doughnut-shaped machines, but it is not a CT scanner.

They take a picture of your stomach to start for a minute, then later they do it for 30 minutes, then wait an hour, do it again for a few minutes and repeat like that until 4 and 1/2 hours are up. All the little specks of food glow on the camera and the computer counts how many there are at each interval. The room is kept cold to keep the camera cool. I really could have used a blanket. And the waiting chair was atrocious. It took me until today to have my back, hips, and tailbone feel normal again and the test was on Thursday.

On Tuesday last DD and I both had dental appointments while DH had one on Monday with the new dentist, which we didn't actually have to pay anything on because we have dental insurance now. DH had a $50 co-pay, but that is it for the year on co-pays for normal services. He's going to have to have a crown though, and that will cost us $670 out of pocket, but at least they cover half. He will need some cavities filled at some point as well.

I do like the new dentist and the new receptionist, but I am very grateful that my hygienist is the same person. I get anxious at the dentist and I don't like change. But I really like the new dentist a lot. He reminds me of Dr. Sweets on Bones, but without the curls, even though he is of East Indian descent. Facial structure, nose, and eye shape are almost identical. He's a very nice man, too. And I got a clean bill of health on my teeth. The only part of me that isn't falling apart, I guess.

On Friday I took DS to the eye doctor. We have vision insurance now, but we still had to pay $179 out of pocket between the exam and the glasses. That's okay, though, it is still way cheaper than $480 and I knew it would cost something. It'll be a couple of weeks before his glasses come, though.

My rheumatologist cancelled my appointment and couldn't rebook until November. I mean, seriously? She had another family emergency. She has A LOT of those. This is the fourth appointment in a year and a half that has been cancelled due to that. She's younger than I by about 15 years, so I doubt it is aging parents, but you never know.

Tomorrow is Mom's surgery, but she is driving herself there. We will pick up the Jimmy when we take her walker up later when she is out of surgery and in a room. They don't want the patients bringing their stuff up when they go in because they say they don't have any place to store the stuff. I find that less than believable considering I've seen some of the storage areas, but whatever. That's what they do. Mom should be in the hospital until Friday.

On Wednesday, DS goes to the dentist and then on Thursday I have to take DD in for labs. Next week starts 3 days a week of taking Mom to PT and DD has appointments that week for the endocrine doctor and the gynecologist. Endocrine doctor thinks DD has PCOS, so we will bring that up with gyno. Maybe we can actually get something done about it, but doubtful.

So yeah, it's been a big couple of weeks for medical stuff and I don't know what most of it will cost, but at least there is a cap. October brings DD's endoscopy and colonoscopy and DS's consult with a sleep doctor and possible scheduling of a sleep study. Plus lots of shuttling Mom to PT. Prayers that I don't go insane taking care of everyone but myself would be lovely!

I am looking forward to payday on Friday. I don't like only getting paid every two weeks. I know I will eventually get used to it, but I still don't like it. Even though everything is going fine with the budget and running smoothly. It is just weird and I hate change with a passion, as you all know.

I made up some TV dinners tonight. I made turkey meat in the Instant Pot and a combo of sweet potatoes, carrots, red potatoes, onions and green beans in the Power Cooker XL and a thin gravy in a skillet and then mixed it all together in some of those Glad plastic containers. I came very close to it tasting like the Stouffer's Fit Kitchen turkey dinner. We had some for dinner tonight and then I froze 3 dinners and put one in the fridge for lunch tomorrow.

My nutrition has been slipping lately or I've often gone to eating just once a day because of the stress. I have a couple of days with Mom gone where I can do some big batch cooking and get some stir-fry TV dinners in the freezer as well. Then when I am taking care of her and don't have much time to take care of me, I can just heat these up and eat them without worrying about it being garbage food. These will give me some lunches, at least. I do well on two meals a day, but really not on one and snacking on junk food.

Mom has also bought TV dinners this time. She refused to get them last time because she thought I could just cook her dinner every night from scratch after cooking for my family every night. IF she would eat what I made for my family, no big deal, but she's picky about what she eats, so she wanted me to cook our meal and then a whole other meal for her. After also cooking her breakfast and lunch. I don't have the energy for that. She also likes things that take a long time to prepare and a lot of baby-sitting the stove. I hate that type of cooking.

So at least she is eating the TV dinners, and I only have to make her breakfast and lunch and then dinner is easy. She also bought waffles, so I should only have to toast them and make a couple of fried eggs for her breakfast, which is easy. Lunch will probably be some kind of grilled or hot sandwich and soup, which is also easy. I'm just glad she finally realized just how hard it is on me, physically, to take care of her. Not to mention mentally, though she will never get that.

Okay, that turned into quite a rant, but sometimes you just need to vent.

Still Waiting on Insurance Cards

September 6th, 2018 at 10:39 pm

I have never had an insurance company so slow to send out cards before. Every other insurance we've ever had the cards have come the week before they were to become active. DH was able to print out something that would do for the short term from the website and then he reordered cards in case they got lost in the mail.

We've had two doctor's appointments so far this week. DD had her six month check up with the opthamologist to check her eye pressure and make sure there was no sign of the eyeritis. He also slipped an eye exam into the mix. She needs new glasses badly. Her one eye has slipped from -175 to -350. So we are waiting for the insurance card for vision benefits so we can get the glasses made.

DH has a dental appointment tomorrow and has printed that info out as well, and he is going to have the receptionist put it in for all of us, since DD and I both have cleanings next week and DS has one the following week. That way I won't have to deal with it. He's also taking care of the pharmacy when he picks up my prescription tomorrow.

It's a little frustrating, but we are managing to get our ducks in a row despite somewhat poor management on the parts of the three different insurance companies.

Birthdays Behind Us and Surgery Ahead

September 1st, 2018 at 09:03 pm

Well, we've made it through the glut of August birthdays and now I don't have to worry about any until mine in February. Now the money that will be funneled into the Holidays/Birthdays Envelope will go towards Christmas, at least through to December. Right now it has $100 in it. My budget for Christmas is $500, so I just need to save $100 a month to meet that.

I don't think we are going to go to the ranch for our turkey this year. I think I am going to go to the young man we buy our chickens from instead. We seldom go to the ranch anymore as the gas is a little too expensive. If I have a rabbit to sell we will go, but that is it lately. We just really need to stick to our budget and that includes gas money, so going to someone in our own county instead of the next one over saves us a half a tank of gas. Our gas budget is $100 a month and I don't really want to go over that.

It's official that there will be no more overtime on this particular project, so I don't know if we will be able to make progress on the debt payoff in September.
I mean we'll be able to do the $500, but I don't think anything beyond that. This project is wrapping up, though, and then there will be the next one which might have some OT.

This next paycheck will be the first one with everything being taken out of it, but without any OT on it, so I will be able to see what the real base paycheck looks like. I have numbers pretty close to it, but I'd like to have the exact ones. It's the accounting nerd in me.

DH and I have to go through and allocate our 401K money to one of the plans, so that is on the agenda for tomorrow. I hope there is one without bonds in it, because I don't feel like bonds are worth it at this stage of the game. If not something like only 10% in bonds would be good. I wish there were more options, like with the IRA, where we could pick each mutual fund that we want, but there should be something decent in their choices. Most plans have at least one option that is for good growth.

We also need to finish going through our IRA. We only have 2 of the four funds picked out that we want, so it is sitting in those for now. It just takes time to research the funds and we haven't had much of a chance to sit down and look while he has been working all of that OT.

Our new insurance cards have not arrived yet. I hope they do soon as DD has an appointment with the opthamologist on the 4th, DS has a physical on the 6th, and I have a dentist appointment on the 11th. I have never had an insurance card not be here the week before the insurance kicks in so I am starting to get nervous it won't be here before we need to use it.

In fact, I can guarantee it won't be here in time for the 4th since there won't be any mail on Monday. Here appointment is at 3:30, so there is a chance the mail will come before that, but it doesn't always. It depends on if it is our regular carrier or a sub. DH will have to email the details so I can at least give the doctor's office the info that will be on the cards.

September and October are going to be full of appointments. Not just for my immediate family, but my mother has her surgery on the 19th and then the following week starts PT three times a week for two weeks and then twice a week for several weeks after that and I have to drive her, at least for six weeks. She is having her other knee done. This is her left knee so she will be able to drive sooner, supposedly.

I am still annoyed with her for refusing to go to a nursing home to recover for two weeks. She knows how difficult it is on me to take care of her and my daughter is in no shape to help. My husband is taking off the second half of the day the Friday she comes home so he'll be around for the first few days when she's at her worst, but after that I'm on my own. I barely make it through the day taking care of myself and my disabled daughter, but she doesn't care how much of a load it adds and it frustrates me.

This is her third surgery in a year's time and I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't try to slip the other shoulder in before the year is up and her doctor retires. I swear I will have a nervous breakdown if she does. If one of my sisters would help it would be manageable, but nope. It would interfere with their lives too much. Even the one who actually lives here in town. I just really wish she would have had them all done at once and gone to nursing home to get better. It would have been a lot less stressful.

At least this time I will have my diet in order. I just hope taking care of her doesn't make me stress eat. But right now I am firmly in control and I am determined to stay that way. I have lost 15 pounds and she is not blowing this for me. I won't let myself get derailed again no matter how crazy she makes me.

ER Update

August 3rd, 2018 at 06:47 pm

So on Wednesday DD went to see the doctor and he told us to take her to the ER, that she needed a couple of bags of IV fluid. Meanwhile he started a referral to a gastroenterologist. So I spent 7 hours in the ER with her on Thursday, but they would only give her one bag of IV fluids and they gave her an anti-nausea drug that wasn't working and hadn't been working for the last couple weeks. They also sent a referral to the gastroenterologist, figuring two was better than one, and sometimes they go faster from the hospital.

I told them that the doctor had said she needed two bags of fluid, but after one she looked better so they sent her home and told her to drink Gatorade. She's been throwing up everything, including water, for two weeks. What made them think the Gatorade would stay down? It didn't. But they didn't want to give her a second bag of fluids, they wanted the bed and it was very clear they wanted the bed, they were talking about needing to clear beds, so they sent her home.

So after another 24 hours of vomiting, and her urine turning brown and being almost non-existent, she was thoroughly dehydrated again, so DH took her back. This time they gave her two bags of fluid and Reglan, a different more powerful anti-nausea drug. This one works.

The night time staff seems much better than the day time staff at the ER. I've felt that every time we've gone there. The night time staff always seems to be able to find her veins while the day time staff seems to make a game out of how many holes they can put in her without finding one. Okay, that's probably not fair, but seriously, if drawing blood is part of your job, you should learn how to do it well, not just stick someone and then poke around hoping you can slide into the vein from the side. Or miss it altogether and still start pumping the IV fluid in under the skin. That was a fun one a few weeks ago, but that was pre-surgery, not the ER. Same hospital, though.

They sent her home with a prescription for Reglan, too. She was able to eat at 4 a.m. and so far everything has stayed down. She has slept for most of the day and has been able to walk around without her cane, though she is still hugging the walls.

I am hoping this new drug will settle her stomach long enough for us to get in to see a gastroenterologist. But we still haven't heard from one and probably won't until some time mid-week next week. I wish they would be faster in getting back to us, but referrals seem to always be incredibly slow. And then it generally still takes weeks to see anyone once you can get an appointment.

I just hope we don't have to go back to the ER in the meanwhile. I know they can only do so much. It's just that when they don't do what they can do, that I get horribly frustrated. Most of the nurses have been really good, other than not being able to find veins. The doctors have been more of a crap shoot, but she got a good one last night. Not so much on Wednesday.

And at least this time when she used the restroom before leaving she didn't see a nurse come out of a stall, fluff her hair, and then leave without washing her hands. I mean, gross. Who would touch their hair without washing after using the toilet, for one thing? And for two, medical profession, wash your freaking hands after using the toilet. Ick. And for three, to do that in front of a witness? Not sure what she was thinking. When they send the survey that they always send after an ER visit, we are going to mention that incident, because seriously, ew.

I think I picked up something in the ER waiting room on Wednesday, too. I am running a fever and feeling mildly nauseated and exhausted and sleeping a ton. No other symptoms yet. I was fine before that. Hopefully it will pass quickly. I always get sick after spending time in the ER and their were people puking, so yay.

Thanks for all the prayers, people. They are appreciated.

We Live at the ER Now

August 2nd, 2018 at 11:06 pm

I spent 7 hours at the ER with my daughter yesterday. DH has taken her back tonight. Over two weeks without being able to hold down her food. This is her third visit in less than 2 weeks. I don't understand their inability to make this stop. It's like they don't even want to try to get to the bottom of it. She says she feels like her body is shutting down and dying. It shouldn't be this hard.

New Health Insurance Information

July 27th, 2018 at 02:41 pm

So DH's company is self-insured. I hope we don't bankrupt them. Anyway, here are the numbers.

Deductible is $1000 per person and $2000 per family. Co-pays do not count towards the deductible. $500 of well care is covered before meeting the deductible (like physicals). The out of pocket max is $2000 per individual and $2400 per family. If we go outside of network the deductible is $4000 per person and $4800 per family. Prescription co-payments are not included in the out of pocket max, unfortunately.

Our co-pay is 20% whether it be for a regular doctor or a specialist if the provider is in network. It is 40% if out of network. I have no idea yet about my doctors, but 40% is still less than a $55 co-pay for a specialist. I think. Diagnostic testing is 20% co-pay.

The prescriptions are high, though. $30 for generics and for brand name without a generic equivalent, and $50 for a brand name that does have a generic equivalent. So with me having 8 prescriptions and my daughter having 9 (currently, this may go up), and my husband having 1, all generics, that will come to $540 a month in prescription costs. Ouch. I wish it went towards the out of pocket max and you can see why.

I am used to prescriptions being $10/$20/$50, and some of them have been free, so this will be quite a jump. Still not anywhere near having to pay full price, though. I think we can get some of them for the monthly price if we get a 3 month supply through their mail order company, though. DH mentioned it, but I haven't seen any paperwork on it. A couple of our drugs won't qualify for that because the insurance and the government don't allow you to have more than a 30 day supply. For me that is only one drug, it might be two for DD.

The do have an FSA so I may do that with $540 a month going into that because we know for sure we will use that much, and it is pretax dollars. That is always better than post tax dollars. We'll have to see how much of a rigamarole it is to get reimbursed. If it is one of those nice ones that allow you to use an FSA debit card from the money you put into the account I will be very happy.

We will be coming out very far ahead, though, because the premiums are so much lower, so despite the high prescription costs, I have very little to complain about here. So long as I don't have to change all of my doctors, but I'm pretty sure that the primary care and the rheumatologist are in network as they have been for every one of the various insurances we have had for the last several years. It is probably my sleep doctor they will have issues with if they have issues with anyone. For some reason a couple of the insurances don't want to go with them. I only see him once a year now, though so it shouldn't be that big a deal if I have to have a 40% co-pay for an out of network doctor.

As soon as we get the paperwork in September about the mail order prescription company I will have to go and get written 90 day prescriptions from 3 different doctors, which will be a bit of a hassle, but I can call ahead and have them notify me when they are ready. None of my doctors are anywhere near my other doctors so I'll be running all over town, but so be it. I'll do it to save the money.

Grocery Ad Lull, Endocrinologist, and Wal*Mart Trip

July 24th, 2018 at 06:40 pm

Well, this is the second week in a row where I have gone through the grocery ads in preparation for my Friday shopping and only found one thing that was worth buying. Last week was a milk sale and this week is a beef roast sale. Since I am not sure when we will get down to the farm to buy more beef, I will probably stop into Safeway for the meat deal and for the organic milk, lettuce (mine has bolted), and radishes, but the rest of my shopping will be at Winco. The other stores are just so high priced when there is not a good sale going on.

Things went well at the endocrine doctor. He has ordered more specific blood tests, checking individual hormone levels. The took 5 of the large vials of blood. DD was a little woozy afterwards, as she hadn't eaten in case they needed fasting bloodwork, so I got her some onion rings from the last of my blow money. I get more on Friday, though, so that is okay.

We stopped at Wal*Mart as well and I got two packages of white wash cloths. They had product shrinkage though. Used to be those were 12 packs. Now they are 9 packs. It has gotten so hot here that we all need to wipe down during the day at least twice. It's too expensive to keep hopping in the shower every couple of hours! So having a big stack of wash cloths will be very helpful for quick, icy cold sweat relief. I had 12 white ones that were just for me, but I use those on my face morning and evening and the others kept stealing them even though they have their own color codes ones. Now maybe I can keep up.

I also bought a couple of cheap notebooks for budgeting and meal planning since the back to school sales have started. I'll probably get a few more in the coming weeks, but two was sufficient for now. It took me forever to find college ruled, but I did. I also got an accordian file for my daughter to keep her medical records in and a dry eraser for the white board. I also got DD some gum. I spent $20.83 out of the household envelope.

I really should have picked up tissues while we were there, but I totally forgot we needed them by the time we got there. So they will be on Friday's shopping list. I'll probably just stop into Kmart, though, because it is closer. Wal*Mart is a ways out, but it is near the endocrine doctor. I don't like making special trips just to go there.

I don't want to make dinner. It is so hot. But I really don't want sandwiches two nights in a row, either. Maybe I will make fajitas in the Instant Pot. Then at least I won't be heating up the house further. Man, I wish we had A/C.

I had to go change the ducks' water around four today as it had gotten so hot they couldn't drink it. I moved it further into the shade and they were so happy to get cold water. They all splashed around in it and then I filled them again and they drank it. Then they all waddled off in their little line to hide out under the raspberries where it is cooler.

I feel bad for the rabbits with their fur coats, but they all have an individual fan attached to the front of their cages and they are hanging out directly in front of them and seem to be doing fine. I'll have to watch them closely if we crack the next temperature decade. Or whatever you call groupings of ten when it is temperature.


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