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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.

Stuff and Other Stuff

July 23rd, 2018 at 09:02 pm

I managed to pick green beans on Saturday night and then took a hot bath and then iced my back after that and used some Valerian root as a muscle relaxant. That really helped. I had to pick them again today and will again in a couple more days. The combo of a hot soak followed by ice seems to be keeping things at bay. I got a belt that I can wrap around my body that holds two ice packs so I can get them in the correct place and not just have to lay on them so that is very helpful. I've also gotten decent sleep the last couple of days so I am feeling more positive.

Tomorrow is DD's appointment with the endocrinologist. I am really hoping we come out of this with some proper treatment so she can get her life back. I tend to be quite hesitant with trusting doctors because so many of them have been so lackadaisical about trying to get a proper diagnosis. Not just for her, but I've gone through it for decades myself, first with the endometriosis, then with the tumors, then with the gall bladder dying, then with the RA. It has been very frustrating to watch my daughter go through many of the same issues.

I will try not to bring an attitude of skepticism or despair in with me, because based on what little interaction we've had, this doctor appears to think there is something wrong and based on her test results we know that there is. Still, it is hard to be hopeful when meeting any new doctor and it is hard to take at face value that they actually want to help when we've both been jerked around for so many years.

Once things get settled (if they do), I want to have my own cortisol levels tested. I have some of the same symptoms as my daughter, though not to the degree. Enough, though, that I want mine checked.

I finally made it to the grocery store today, but I am too tired to do a grocery tracking post. I went to Trader Joe's and I did buy some convenience items because I am just too strung out. I think I may have a sinus infection and it is draining me, but I can't even think about going to the doctor until I get through this week's current appointments.

After DD's appointment tomorrow I need to can the green beans. Fortunately green beans have a fairly short processing time and it won't take all day to do them. I hope to get some more planted this week for a second crop as well. I did finally get the cilantro out of the pots and into the garden. I hope it makes it. That leaves the celery and the onions to transplant. It is probably too late for them to do well, but I ought to get a little something.

Rough Week Physically

July 21st, 2018 at 03:27 pm

My rheumatoid arthritis started flaring up on Tuesday and steadily got worse through the week. On Wednesday I started fighting off a migraine, successfully with medication, and on Thursday I strained some muscles in my low back because I had to pick the green beans and apparently I stayed in one position too long. I also started seeing floaters in my good eye. Yippee. Who needs to be able to read clearly? *sighs*

I need to pick green beans again and I am just really not wanting to. DH worked on my back for a couple of hours last night so I am doing better, but I'm afraid if I pick them it will go back into spasms.

Just to add to the fun, DD started throwing up blood, so Wednesday night was an ER visit, and it seems like on top of all her other issues, she has an ulcer. We will follow up on that after she sees the endocrine doctor and I see the surgeon for a follow up on my toe next week. At least is wasn't a bowel obstruction. They took x-rays.

At least things are going well for DH at work and things are running smoothly on the financial front. Since going full force onto Dave Ramsey's plan, I can really see the difference in the budgeting and accountability, as well as the intensity to get this last debt paid off. I try to watch at least 3 of his live streams each week and I have read three of his books now and one of his daughter's books.

I am currently reading Zero Debt by someone else. It is large print so that helps with the eye issues. I am also working my way through The Tightwad Gazette. I had to turn it back in once because someone had put it on hold, but I got it back again a couple of days ago.

I have been reading a fiction book, too, but I'm about to give up on it, even though I am halfway through. I don't really like the main character that much. She's hard to empathize with. I may just stubbornly forge on as I hate not finishing a book. I don't usually read mystery novels, but when I do, I expect to be more interested in the outcome than I am here. I've been trying to read this book for 9 weeks. The only reason I checked it out was because the title was a funny pun. I should probably stick to sci-fi and romance novels in the future.

I wish I could read more, but my eyes can only handle it for so long with these stupid floaters swimming around while I try to focus. I am feeling a little negative because of the amount of pain I am in and the amount of swelling that is going on in my body right now. I would appreciate prayers for healing and for a more positive attitude.

Benefits Continued--Vacation, Holiday, Sick Leave, Insurances

July 15th, 2018 at 10:39 pm

So the additional information on benefits I have follows.

Vacation Pay:
During the first five years vacation accrues at the amount of 80 hours a year. Each year after that 8 hours a year is added up to a max of 160 hours (or 4 weeks) of paid time off. You can also convert some of your salary to extra vacation time as well (like if you were working overtime, instead of getting paid the overtime, get the pay saved towards extra vacation time).

Paid Holidays:
7 a year with New Year's, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and one floating holiday.

Washington state requires 1 hour of sick leave to accrue for every 40 hours worked, so it'll have to be that amount.

Health Insurance is free for the employee, $167 a month for the spouse, and $83 a month for children. So $250 a month. A far cry from the $1500 a month we are paying now. The deductible is $2000 a year. Free preventative well care visits, up to $500 per person, are allowed per year without a co-pay. I will get a further breakdown on benefits later on, probably the day he actually starts as a direct employee.

They also offer two dental plans. One is $167 a month and one is $255.09. The high one is worth it if you are going to get crowns, implants, dentures, and other high cost items done. The lower one covers 2 visits a year per person and x-rays with a $50 deductible. I did the math against private paying with the 10% cash discount and that one would be a wash, but since it would be pre-tax dollars instead of after tax dollars it is still worth doing. If someone gets a cavity and fills it, that will make it even more worth while.

The vision plan will cost $14.87 a month. We'll have to see what kind of restrictions it has. I won't get my glasses at a cut throat vision place again. And I won't get my eye exam there, either. They screwed up my prescription and my glasses. So it needs to at least allow us to go to whatever doctor we want. It works out to $178.44 a year and one eye exam is $90. Multiply that by 4 people and it is $360. So even if we have to pay to get our glasses made elsewhere, the cost savings on the eye exams would still make this worth it.

They provide a company paid $50,000 life insurance policy, which is doubled if there is an accidental death. If we want to take out more we can take out more at a discount through them, up to $250,000 without a health exam. We are probably going to do this. DH only has $250,000 of term insurance currently and we really would like to have $500,000 on him, but because of his weight he can't get more on our current insurance without an exam, which would shoot our premiums up way higher.

They also provide company paid short-term and long-term disability coverage.

Hopefully, I will get the nitty gritty details on everything soon. I like knowing exactly how much co-pays will be and how much prescriptions are covered and what the out of pocket max is. I also want to know which companies are providing the insurances. Especially the health insurance, vision, and dental. And then if the health insurance will play nice with my sleep doctor. Aetna doesn't. They won't cover anything from them. Everyone else does. So I am hoping that whatever it is, it isn't Aetna.

The benefits are fantastic. These are on par with old time (not modern day) union benefits, only no union. Like the benefits my dad had when he was a mill worker. Only no pension, but I'd rather have a 401K I can control any day of the week.

Benefit Info Trickling in--Retirement

July 15th, 2018 at 10:11 pm

So information about the new job is slowly trickling in. I'll start with the retirement information. They have two choices: a traditional 401K and a Roth 401K. I have only recently even learned of the existence of a Roth 401K. With the traditional 401K they will match 100% up to 5% of your income and of course it is pre-tax dollars. With the Roth 401K you put in after tax dollars, and they will again match 100% of what you put in up to 5% of your income. Their portion will be taxed upon withdrawal, but what you put in won't be since you have used after tax dollars.

My gut says the 401K Roth is probably a better choice, but I have done some reading and some have said that it might be better to use pre-tax dollars now when we are earning more to lower our effective tax rate, because when we retire we won't be pulling out as much as DH is currently earning per year, so our tax rate then will be lower than what it is now. Could some of our accountant/tax people weigh in on this issue?

They also may contribute an additional sum to the 401K called a performance contribution, which is divided among employees in proportion to their wages and based on how well the company does each year. Basically an end of year bonus, but to the 401K. It varies from year to year.

They have an ESOP or Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The company contributes stock to employees at the end of the year based on wages and a pro rata basis. They will start doing this once you have worked 1000 hours. It is fully vested after six years, vesting 1/6 per year. DH said currently one share of company stock is worth $16,000. Stock must be sold back to the company on retirement or quitting.

I am debating whether or not we should start whichever 401K we choose immediately (match is immediate) or wait until the debt is paid off. If we do it immediately it works out to $90 a week. That is $360 a month that should be going to debt payoff and we are hoping the debt is gone in the early part of next year, but that depends on overtime. I hate giving up the free $360 a month, but I know it would be for a short time. It bothers me that our retirement is so low, but the whole point of the Dave Ramsey plan is you cannot split your focus.

As soon as the debt is paid off, we plan to get the EF to three months of expenses and then hit retirement at 10% while getting the EF up to six months of expenses. Then once the EF is at six months, start saving for a large house down payment. I don't know that we can do the recommended 15% to retirement and still save for a house, though once DH starts getting raises we might.

We figure anything MIL gives us will go towards either the EF build or the down payment. In later years, we could put any gift money towards Roth IRA's or towards paying off the house early once we buy one. I guess in those years we would hit 15% of retirement if MIL gives like she has said she plans to. We can't count on that money, though.

We will have to use some of the money MIL gave us already to get through the job transition period. DH officially starts working for the company direct on the 21st. His last paycheck from the contracting company is on June 27th. Then he won't get paid again until the 10th and we will move on to a 2 week paycheck. So we need to get through the time when we would have had a check on the 3rd, but now won't.

Also, his old company has said that we can pay the August insurance payment out of that paycheck on the 27th, which means that paycheck will be quite short, even with OT on it. So some of the money will also have to go to cover what is taken out for the insurance. But starting on the 10th we will switch to biweekly budgeting instead of weekly budgeting and everything will be fine. The new insurance starts on September 1st. That will make life easy and we won't have to worry about dealing with COBRA at all. So, yay! I am just very grateful it is all playing out like this and that we have the money in savings to smooth out the bumps.

Toe Surgery

July 12th, 2018 at 02:54 pm

I had my toe surgery yesterday. It went well. I had a $50 co-pay, and then I will likely get billed for the rest since my deductible started over on the first with the new insurance. There is enough money already in the Medical Fund to pay for it.

It seems to have thrown me for a loop, though. I think it is my body trying to rid itself of the anesthesia, which takes longer when you have an auto-immune disease. I ended up getting in bed last night around six because it was the easiest way to keep my foot elevated and have an ice pack on it. Also, I was just drained. I snuggled up with season 10 of The Big Bang Theory, which I will finish watching today.

Today I still feel pretty out of it. I got out of bed to let the animals out and then went back to it and just listened to Ben Shapiro and Dave Ramsey and Hellfreezer (he tells scary stories) until about 1 p.m. when I decided I should feed myself. I hope this wears off. I have stuff to do, but probably won't get anything done until tomorrow.

I can walk okay on the toe, I'm not sure I want to do much, though. Tomorrow is payday so I will need to go grocery shopping, unless I decide to put it off until Saturday. DS goes with me, though, so maybe I can get a ride on cart to use.

Mattress Shopping and Medical Things

July 10th, 2018 at 05:45 pm

DD and I went mattress shopping today. We found a mattress and originally it was going to cost us $763, but we ended up getting it for $740, because the guy did not have any cash in the store. I had 10 $100 bills to pay for it and he asked if I had any other money. He asked if I had any twenties. Well, I had a twenty in my allowance envelope and I twenty in my household envelope so I told him I had two 20's. He didn't ask if I had any other money, which I did, but I wasn't going to volunteer it to see what he would do. So he ended up giving it to us for $740. Salesmen know that if you walk out of the store without buying they may not get you back in the door again.

He said usually he has cash in the store, but everyone who bought mattresses today paid in cash. He's so used to everyone paying by credit card or financing, that the small amount of cash he keeps on hand was wiped out. He even checked his wallet! It's his store so he can do that.

I wonder what he would have done if I hadn't had it. Maybe he would have knocked it down to $700. Maybe I should have hemmed and hawed, but I felt like $23 off was a nice discount already and I did have lower bills, even if I did have to rob another envelope. Now I will have to straighten that out, but I will have to break one of the $100's before I do.

We used some of the $5000 MIL gave us to make this purchase. DD has been having major back issues on the garbage bed she's been using. Hopefully the new bed will improve things. I know it did for me and for my son when we got new mattresses in the last couple of years.

We got a call from the endocrinologists office and they are getting DD in on the 24th of July. It was their first available emergency appointment and she's on a wait list for if someone cancels. Usually it takes 3 to 4 months to get into this guy, but after he looked at her test results he wanted to get her in quickly, hence the "emergency" appointment.

So even though no one has actually explained the test results to us yet, they are clearly significant. From what we were able to decipher online from our copy of the report, there is stuff wrong with her pituitary, her adrenals, and then of course the hypothyroidism. So two weeks and maybe she can start getting proper treatment for everything and maybe she can start functioning as a human being again.

Two weeks feels like a long time right now, but in medical time it is very fast. If I had gotten the message a little sooner we would have been able to get her in tomorrow, but between the time the front desk guy called and she called back it had been filled. Oh, well.

I have surgery on my toe tomorrow anyway. I am having the toenail root killed on the inside of my big toe because of all the reoccurring ingrown toenails I get. I've had one of the smaller ones done, and it destroys a small sliver of the nail bed so that the toenail just doesn't grow back along that part. It has worked wonders for the other toe. So I will likely be out of commission around here for a day or so and then be limping along for a few days before it is fine again. They do cut out the portion of the nail that has already grown, so that is why it'll mess me up for a bit.

Maybe tomorrow I'll give in and do take out. We have enough money right now to do so, I've just been holding on to it. If it is intentional spending I feel okay about it. It's the "I'm too tired or too lazy to cook," that is the problem. Not a planned for take out meal. We'll see how I feel once the lidocaine wears off.

FPU and ACTH Results

July 8th, 2018 at 03:47 pm

DH and I found a church website that has put up the Financial Peace University lessons and we have been watching those. We watched the first two on Friday night and the second two on Saturday night. We might get another one or two watched tonight. I wish we had money in the budget to purchase it, but we don't and we don't have time to go to a class together anyway with DH working so much overtime.

DH had to work a few hours yesterday and he's at work right now as well, just for 2 or 3 hours. They are finishing up a package that was wanted for Monday, but the stuff needed for it didn't get to him and the other guy until Friday at the end of the day. He will adjust his schedule this week accordingly, since they are only allowed 15 hours total of OT per week. The work week there ends on Friday so any work this weekend counts on this coming week. That seems weird to me since every where else he's ever worked or I ever worked started their payroll week on a Monday and went through the weekend.

This last paycheck had a few more dollars on it than the one before due to the change in insurance. It was a difference of $14 and some change. So that'll be $56 a month difference from the old insurance to the new one.

DD had a couple of prescriptions filled this week and they were $0. So I guess the company did carry over the fact that she'd hit her deductible and her out of pocket max like they said they would. That's good, because we still don't know what is coming up with medical expenses in her future.

She got her ACTH stim test results in her patient portal on Friday, but we never heard from the doctor. I am assuming he hasn't had time to look at it yet or wanted to consult with the endocrinologist first. From what we can interpret from the test, there is something wrong with both her adrenals and her pituitary.

I'm trying to get her to not jump to conclusions and to wait until we've spoken to the doctor and to not try and diagnose herself. Personally, I think she has Addison's disease and possibly Hashimoto's. Both are auto-immune diseases. We know she has an undiagnosed auto-immune disease due to blood work in the past.

I just hope we get actual answers this time. We have been chasing this thing for years now. I have wondered if the brain damage that happened when she cracked her skull and had the stage 3 concussion 8 years ago damaged the pituitary in some way. That is when all of these symptoms started and they have just become more aggressive as the years have gone by.

Hopefully we will hear from the doctor on Monday. If not, I will give them a call on Tuesday.

I did spend the rest of the grocery budget. I made a quick run to Trader Joe's and spent $52 there and then to Safeway and spent $17 in groceries there and an additional $4 plus tax out of the household envelope for a box of 100 count multi-sized bandages. I can't find where I put my receipts so I can't do a break down. Oh, well. The point is I got everything I needed this week and the budget envelopes are working as intended.

New Glasses Came

July 3rd, 2018 at 04:52 pm

I got a call last night that my new glasses arrived and so went in and picked them up today. I am already seeing so much better. I can read the tiny print on my nasal spray bottle. It is amazing. I might have to go back in and get the tightened up a bit more. They keep falling down my nose a little. And they came with magnetic snap on sunglasses which work really well.

I love the glasses. They are a sort of tortoise shell pattern with green, blue, yellow, brown and reddish brown. A little more fun and funky than my normal style, but I love them. They don't have nose pads, which is fine with me, because I don't like them. They always turn green inside and are hard to clean. I think I will be happy with these ones for a long time. I just need to not fall asleep in them like I kept doing with the old ones.

I also stopped in at the grocery store to use the restroom and they had marshmallows for sale on an end cap, 4 bags for $5. It was a great price and sure beat the more expensive brand that was 2 bags for $5, which was more prominently displayed. I think this gives us enough marshmallows for the rest of the summer.

Payday Report for 6/22/18

June 22nd, 2018 at 04:11 pm

We still haven't managed to get 100% away from the credit card, so there was a small payment today to bring the balance back to zero. We are getting better at it though. I meant to go into the credit union today to order debit cards for our checking account, but the parking lot was packed and I ended up just going through drive thru, which only had one car in the lane I chose.

I still have trouble standing for long periods of time. Walking is okay, but standing and waiting is very hard on my left knee and hip and my right ankle, so waiting in a long line inside is not appealing. Monday shouldn't be bad since it is not a payday for most of the town like today.

After I did the banking, I went and bought new glasses. I had put $500 into the medical fund and the glasses came to $460.80. I also paid the radiologist from DD's first ER visit. I know MIL said she would pay the medical bills for DD, but I think we can handle this one. That was out of the Medical Fund, not today's paycheck, though. There is now $203.66 left in the Medical Fund.

$200.50 Tithe
_600.00 Monster Mom Loan
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
_500.00 Medical Fund
__50.00 Household Envelope
__25.00 My Allowance
__25.00 DH's Allowance
__50.00 Animal Feed Envelope
__35.00 DS's Allowance
___5.00 DD's Allowance
_217.38 Citi
_141.37 Radiologist
-------------
1857.88

I'm Going to Get Glasses and Tzatziki

June 21st, 2018 at 06:46 pm

The weather broke today and I am very happy. It was a cool 66 degrees F, which is so much better than 88 and 90. It was lightly overcast as well, so I didn't have to wear sunglasses while driving. I really don't like to because I have to wear the kind that go over my glasses, but there are certain times when I absolutely must. I've tried having prescription sunglasses in the past, but it doesn't block the peripheral vision from strong sun and I need that since the retinal tear as I am much more sensitive to sunlight now.

Speaking of glasses I have decided to take some of the overtime money and get new ones. These ones are just giving me such bad headaches. My eye doctor thinks they last people screwed up the prescription. He says there is too much difference between the one previous to it and the new one in the opposite direction it is in now, for the last one to have been done properly. He thinks they must have wrote it down incorrectly.

We had to use that place the last time because it was the only one the insurance we had at the time would pay for. I should have just gone where I wanted and just had the glasses made there. Although I won't have them made there again. Since we don't have vision insurance currently, I will just go where I want to, which is a local shop that is not part of a chain and isn't in a mall or strip mall.

I am figuring that it will cost close to $500 for my prescription, which means about half the amount I had earmarked for debt this week, but hopefully I'll find a more inexpensive set of frames I like and I can come in closer to $400. I thought I'd saved the frames from the previous pair that I really liked, but I can't find them and think they may have accidentally gotten recycled when we did a bunch of old glasses. I did find the pair before that, but those ones are way too small to support my current prescription.

My mother has offered to teach DS to drive. She has the time and doesn't want us to have to pay for a class. So that will work out nicely. At least it will if she doesn't freak him out too much. She was a good teacher back when she taught me, but these days she isn't as fast with the reflexes. Still, if they go out when it isn't a busy time of day it should be fine.

There isn't much going on around here. I made tzatziki today because tomorrow I am going to be trying an Instant Pot recipe for Chicken Shawarma. I will also be making my own pita bread tomorrow. It looks fairly straightforward. I figure if I can master English muffins, hot dog buns, and French bread, pita bread should be a snap.

If you want to see how I made it, it is on my youtube channel here: https://youtu.be/XyvHtZtzuNg

Finally, A Lead

June 20th, 2018 at 11:35 pm

Well, we finally have a lead on what is causing so many problems with DD. Her cortisol levels are extremely low. We've got an ACTH Stim test scheduled for the 29th and tomorrow we get her fitted for Holter Monitor which she will have to wear for 24 hours to check for heartbeat irregularities. She also, for the first time, finally came up as having something wrong with her thyroid, hypothyroidism. It's never tested high or low before, not even on the more specialized tests. The doctor could never believe she didn't have something wrong with it, though, based on all her symptoms. But now at least it registers and eventually she can be treated for it.

She can't start on thyroid medicine yet, though. Not until the results from the ACTH Stim test come back. The doctor did consult with an endocrinologist and he's put her on a medicine that will help with the cortisol levels without messing up the results of the Stim test.

Both tests will be on the current insurance where she has hit her out of pocket max. DH's job recruiting company will honor any deductible that has been met with the new insurance. That is just DD's, but that is where the primary expenses are. My stuff has not been processed through yet so I haven't officially met my deductible. Of course DH and DS have not, either. DS has had one prescription this year and nothing else through the insurance since the wisdom teeth removal was not covered. DH just has his one monthly prescription.

It looks like our costs will be pretty low for DD's surgery. Or rather MIL's costs, since she is paying DD's medical bills.

So we think DD has Addison's disease, but we have to wait on all the test results. This is just based on our research, not the doctor's, but we set him on this path. And it's possible she has Hoshimoto's as well. She does have an undiagnosed auto-immune disease. We've known that for a while based on blood work. She also has granuloma anularae, which is a different autoimmune disease.

It is taking such a long time for them to figure things out, but at least now I feel hopeful they are finally narrowing down what is wrong with her. We've felt for years like no one was taking this seriously. I only hope we have found our answers and if we haven't, that they won't brush it away again.

Follow Up + Store + OT + New Sinking Funds

June 11th, 2018 at 02:55 pm

DD had her follow up this morning with the surgeon. I thought I was going to have to pay a $55 co-pay, but it was actually considered part of the cost of the surgery, so I didn't. Everything is healing well and DD is on track. He thinks the reason her body sent her to the ER the last time was that she was trying to do too much too soon.

I agree. I've made her stay in bed or in her computer chair for the most part in the last week and she hasn't had a return of those symptoms. If she wants to get up to talk to someone elsewhere then she has to sit down while talking and not just stand there. After another week has passed then she can start doing a little more. She's a bad rester, so I am having to be pretty strict about it.

She does get to walk the length of the house a couple of times a day for circulation, though. She's bored so I gave her my TBBT dvd's to watch. If she makes her way through the 10 seasons I have then I'll start her on Buffy, Angel, Charmed, Roswell, Lost, Farscape, or Fringe.

I did go to the store and pick up the oranges I forgot to buy on Friday and also some cherries that I impulse bought, but they were gorgeous. I bought less oranges so I could have the cherries, too. I still have enough money left to buy some Kerrygold butter, which DH will have to pick up on his way home from work since he goes right by Costco.

I had DH run the numbers for me and with the amount of overtime he worked last week, this week's paycheck will have an additional $590.83 give or take a penny. Most of that will go to the Monster Mom Loan, but I am going to put $100 of it aside to start funding a laptop fund. DH's laptop is giving him trouble and I'd like to have the money in place to replace it before it gives up the ghost. While we can do 18 months same as cash, that is still a debt and we don't want to do it that way anymore.

I'd also like to start funding a clothing envelope. DH needs new socks pretty soon. DS will need sweat pants in the fall and he still needs one more pair of regular pants then as well, since he only has 2 pairs of pants now and 1 pair of jeans that he doesn't like to wear. He's never been a jeans kid. So I will try to fund that up to $300 while DH has overtime available. I think I'll do $50 a week for that until it is funded, then switch to $50 a month.

I am considering whether or not I should try to start a Christmas Fund or not. While we have been paying back debt, Christmas has always been pretty limited, but I'm not sure I want to try to cash flow it at Christmas time or not. Maybe when I get the clothing fund funded I can switch to Christmas. I just really want to throw the majority of this at debt and get the Monster Mom Loan paid down as far as we can.

If DH gets 10 hours of OT a week through August we should be able to pay back $7000. If he gets the max, 15 hours a week, it'll be quite a bit more. I don't know if overtime will be available after that or not, but I certainly hope so. For example, if he has it through December we could pay off an additional $10,000, which would make our progress astronomical, cutting the debt almost in half. But there are no guarantees that it will last past August.

It really depends on which projects he ends up working on. Some have OT built into their budgets and others do not. Holiday weeks can throw things off as well. He will have enough paid time off to take off Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, but how that would affect overtime I'm not sure. He will likely just work on the 4th and Labor Day, though. We never do anything on those days, and the only thing we do at night on the 4th is take our chairs to the end of the driveway at 10:30 and watch the Blast Over the Bay fireworks show. We're still in bed by midnight.

So I guess I have two plans in place, one with OT and one without OT. And we'll just have to see how it all goes.

Changing Insurances...Again

June 10th, 2018 at 04:00 pm

So the job recruiting agency that DH is employed through is changing their medical plan from Aetna to Regence in July. This just got dropped on us on Friday. I've had a chance to go through it and they don't have a silver plan. They have two bronze plans, one gold plan, and one platinum plan. Can I just say the platinum plan is off the charts crazy with its premium of almost $2000 a month.

The gold plan is basically what we have now, but is $85.40 less in premiums a month. The co-pay for doctors is $5 less at $30 and the co-pay for specialists is $5 less at $50. Prescription costs are $6 less at $4 for generics. Since we have 12 prescriptions a month for the family, that will drop our costs there from $120 to $72, a savings of $48 a month.

The only downside is that the deductible we just met will start over again, and then again in 6 months. The deductible is $4000 per family. Not enough for an HSA. If MIL wasn't paying for DD's recent medical bills that would be very hard to absorb, but with it, we can manage to pay the deductible on our own. And having an additional $133.40 in the budget (minus whatever they take out for taxes on that) will be nice. The out of pocket cap is higher at $7500, though. Still, it's a prety good plan over all.

We can't even look at the bronze plans. They have $10,000 deductibles and pay for nothing until you hit that and have a $14,000 out of pocket cap. They don't have co-pays until you hit that deductible either and then it is 50% of the visit cost. That is basically not having insurance at all unless you have a major catastrophe. No good for us. No insurance would be cheaper if we are paying out of pocket for everything, but we don't dare go that route again after what happened last time.

Of course if DH does get hired on direct, and there is no sign of that yet, it would mean switching insurance yet again with another, albeit much lower, deductible.

Medical costs have skyrocketed in the last 9 years. I am not sure I will ever stop resenting the men and women that caused this or the Unaffordable Care Act they rode in on that drove insurance costs sky high for the majority of the country and drove many families to not quite poverty, but with an income just high enough to not qualify for subsidies and no way to get back ahead, because 1/3 to 1/2 of their income now goes to pay for insurance premiums and high deductibles. Medical should not cost as much as a house payment. /rant

Check Up

June 6th, 2018 at 02:04 pm

I had my six month check up yesterday for blood pressure and cholesterol. Things are still under control with the medication and I've lost 5 pounds since my last doctor's visit about 3 weeks ago for the infection. He'd like to see my HDL a little higher and my triglycerides a little lower. He wants them down about 6 points.

I also got a pneumonia shot. I am having a little bit of a reaction to it on my arm. It doesn't hurt though. The nurse said it might over the next two days. I used to get pneumonia every year and haven't gotten it more than once in the fifteen years since I started getting the pneumonia shot when needed. Unlike the flu shot, it actually works for me.

The co-pay for the visit was $35. I wrote a check out of the medical checking account for that. I am really liking having that, but I have to remember to grab that checkbook before I leave. I forgot the first time and had to go back for it. Fortunately I had lots of time before my appointment as I tend to get there early and I remembered before I got off my block.

We still haven't been able to get DH's debit card for that account working. They did a hard activation on Friday, but it still won't let him choose a pin. We double checked to make sure it wasn't thinking we only needed one pin between us and it wasn't. They don't have a way to resolve it over the phone. They just keep saying see your financial institution even though we already have. DH is going to pop in again today to see if they can give him a pin there instead. I miss the old days when they would send you a pin in the mail. I know it is safer for security to do it this way, but it has to actually work to work.

Good News!

May 31st, 2018 at 06:21 pm

I know I already posted today, but I just had to share. DH just texted me to tell me that starting next week he will be getting overtime again. He will be able to get 10 to 15 hours of OT a week, which if I did the math right and I just do it at a base of 10 hours OT, will be an additional $1200 a month after taxes. Well, every four weeks. If he gets 15 hours a week it will be an additional $1800 a month after taxes. That would start with the June 15th paycheck.

They told him he would get it through August, which also means DH has a job through August. Now if they will hire him on directly after the waiting period is up on June 4th, I will really feel like things are on the right track again for our future. If he does get hired on direct I will have to get used to getting paid every 2 weeks instead of every week, but that's not hard to budget for. It beats budgeting the weird, irregular pay he got when working 3 weeks on/3 weeks off.

I don't know how much OT will go towards medical bills and how much we can throw at the Monster Mom Loan. I wish I knew how much the operation out of pocket was going to come to. I want to plan for it and then see how much beyond that I will have to throw at the loan. We haven't had insurance this good since the first six months of our marriage.

I know DD has hit her deductible. I just don't know how much else we have to cover. Actually, I think her out of pocket might be $3000. I'll have to have DH check on that. If it is I can start planning. I just hope no one turns out to have been out of network. It's an in-network doctor and an in-network hospital, but you never know with the anesthesiologists. That's what could get us. We did pay $413 to the doctor before surgery, but that was to hit the deductible.

There is also a possibility she could get something like Bridge as she is unemployed and an adult who has been disabled with this. I think we probably make too much if they consider DH's income, but if it is just based on her, maybe. I'm not counting on it, but they did bring up something about it, so we'll see.

I just want to know what the future brings so I can be prepared for it. But then, don't we all?

Payday Report for 5/25/18

May 30th, 2018 at 12:24 pm

I had some money leftover from this paycheck but we ended up using it to go over on the grocery budget. I had to buy pudding and Jello and extra milk to make the pudding for DD for after her surgery. I didn't think about that ahead of time. The Jello and pudding were on sale for 99 cents a box if you bought four boxes. I'll get the hang of this, but it may take a few more weeks. There is about $30 left in checking.

I added the tithe for my Thrive commission check into the tithe from DH's paycheck so it is a little higher than usual. My commission check was close to $50.

$128.72 Tithe
__55.00 Co-pay eye doctor
_175.00 Sleep doctor
_175.00 Groceries
__50.00 Household
__81.00 Truck Tabs
_125.75 Van Tabs
__35.00 DS Allowance
__25.00 Blow Money Me
__25.00 Blow Money DH
_100.00 OTC Medications and Vitamins
_150.00 Gas Money
---------
$1125.47


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