Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ER punch card - pay for six visits, get the seventh free! Not.

Surprisingly, although I have four kids, when they were little we made surprisingly few trips to the ER. No one even got stitches until a couple of years ago when Harrison tried out a new Cutco knife on his finger (it worked!). When Hannah had a ruptured appendix it still took us a couple days before we decided she needed to go to the ER (duh!). Arlie fell off the bleachers after soccer practice once and we took her to the ER only to spend over three hours on a school night waiting while they repeated the x-rays they lost the first time. Most of their medical emergencies happened during office hours (Hayley's broken wrist, Hannah's broken elbow) so going to the ER wasn't a frequent occurrence. the last six months we've been to the ER five times! If they had a punch card, we'd be on our way to a free visit! Alas, they don't. I've spent some long days (and nights) in the ER with different members of my family, and I've declared that if I spend the night in the ER, I get to take a sick day the next day. I'm too old to pull an all-nighter, especially one that doesn't involve alcohol.

Last night I got to make another speedy trip to the ER, this time with Jeff, who woke up with a horrible "niacin flush." For those of you who don't know, a niacin flush is a reaction to niacin, which Jeff has been taking for his cholesterol. Typically, this "flush" causes a feeling of being overheated along with some itchiness that lasts just a few minutes. It can be countered by taking the pills just before sleep (so you sleep through it) and sometimes taking aspirin or ibuprofen.

But.....sometimes it's worse. A LOT worse. As in, you wake up a couple hours after sleeping to your whole body being red like a sunburn and itching worse than you can ever imagine. And it doesn't stop after a few minutes. In fact, last night, Jeff woke at 12:30 in agony. At 1:30 I gave him two Benadryl. At 2 he took three aspirin and another Benadryl. At 2:30 we went to the ER. What transpired in between that time was both awful and hilarious.

While Jeff suffered and tried to get something, anything to stop the itching, he was alternately in and out of the shower, going outside (once with no shoes - "FUCK SHOES!" he shouted as he flung out the door), and falling on the floor because his legs were so twitchy. We tried a fan, cold air, cold water, lotion, the meds.....and nothing was helping. He mentioned how forcing someone to take niacin and have this result would be an excellent torture, and asked me if I would please "just cut off my legs!" Several times I suggested we go to the ER, but he kept saying "no" until all of a sudden he said "I'll just drive myself" at which time I jumped up and threw on some yoga pants. Jeff was happy to go in his underwear but did have the presence of mind to throw on a sweatshirt, shorts, and flip flops.

While we drove there, he kept saying "You are taking the longest possible route to get there!" I drove the shortest possible route and went 85 mph. We approached the ER and he said "Go in that way!" which took me in the wrong way, and I pulled up next to the wrong door. He shouted "It's up there, whatever, I'll just get out here!" and he barrelled out of the car while it was still moving. I parked quickly as he staggered like a drunk into the ER and right into the intake room (no waiting, I guess - lol!).

While he was being questioned, he mentioned that his discomfort was an 11 on a scale of 1-10 and that it was "worse than death." He also commented that he was never, ever, ever taking niacin again, and that he would rather have a heart attack.

After examining him the doctor said he was having a severe reaction, they didn't know why, and that there was nothing to do but wait it out since he had already maxed out on the Benadryl, but he did give him a nice aspirin and some lorazepam. It wouldn't take the itching away, but it would help him not care as much. Except it didn't work - he still cared. Because he still itched. At one point, his feet were cold and he asked me for some of "those fucking booties" to keep them warm. I rummaged around in the room for a pair of those lovely gray socks with rubbery tread painted on both sides. Jeff liked that they helped "scratch" his legs. When I pulled out my phone to videotape his misery, he said "let's play a game of go fuck yourself, you go first!" That only made me laugh harder at his expense. I'm horrible. I know.

It wasn't as funny as time went on and it wasn't getting any better. I finally asked the nurse for something else - more Benadryl and/or lorazepam and she gave him both. At long last, he stopped twitching miserably, stopped scratching, and began to droop as the drugs took effect. As soon as he was almost comatose they declared him fit to go home. He stumbled to the car and said all he wanted was a McDonald's frappe. We stopped at the first McD's we saw but they weren't open at the early hour of 5 a.m. so we went to a 24 hour one. And guess what? Their frappe machine was broken! By this time we were both hungry so we ate bacon, egg and cheese biscuits on our way home. Jeff sort of oozed out of the car and said in a slurred voice, "Man, that stuff is a good combination, I'm really feeling out of it" and then proceeded to try and walk up the stairs, saying "My feet have cement blocks on them, I can't walk!" He fell heavily into bed and hasn't moved since.

I slept for seven hours. Jeff hasn't been up all day. I did talk to him, so I know he's alive, but I'm guessing he'll be sleeping off the drugs for a few more hours. And that he'll never take niacin again. Scratch, scratch.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mountain man..........

Jeff took some time this morning to head out to a "mountain man" club and their shooting range where he was able to shoot his muzzle loader. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be hyphenated, and I'm not sure why it's called that because he certainly does not load it with muzzles. Unless that's what you call those metal ball thingys but I'm pretty sure those are called "musket balls." Or something.

Anyway, Jeff became acquainted with this particular group of nut jobs men when he dragged me to a mountain man show at the fairgrounds a few weeks ago. He talked at length about this muzzle loader gun thing of his and the need for a powder horn and used words like "flint" and "primer" and other things that made no sense to me.

This mountain man show had tables full of handicrafts, knives, skulls, and other oddities. Let me paint a picture:
This ain't no teddy bear!

I was fascinated by this old guy's headdress which he told me was his grandfather's from long ago. I suggested a picture and he said "If I had a pretty lady like you, I'd hold her and squeeze her real tight" and then he did! Dirty old man. 

Because everyone needs to shoot GOLF BALLS. 

A comfortable abode. Not. 

There was a lot of emphasis on "period dress" and a lot of people there dressed like they lived a long, long time ago. I guess it was like comic-con for mountain men. 

But what really got me was that Jeff struck up a conversation with a man who told him there was a special event for "the ladies" - a whole week of primitive camping in the woods, where "the ladies" wore pre-1860's attire (required) and learned things like candle and soap making (and, the only cool thing I saw on the list, archery). Jeff thought I would LOVE doing it and he even picked up a brochure for Hayley, our oldest daughter, and suggested we do it together as a mother-daughter bonding time. Hayley, the child who spends 99.9% of her day "plugged in" to her cell phone and computer. Who doesn't like to be cold. Or dirty. Or to do hard labor. Or use a primitive toilet. 

Now, I'm not saying it was my cup of tea, either. The idea of spending a sweltering summer day in layers of wool or muslin or whatever the hell they used to make clothes back in the day sounds like pure torture to me. I mean, I watched "Little House on the Prairie" as religiously as any other young girl my age, but that doesn't mean I WANT to use a pit toilet. Or cook over an open campfire, while smoke gets in my eyes. Or sleep on the GROUND. Wtf? I have a camper, for cryin' out loud. I retired my ground sleeping camping days long ago, and even then I used an air mattress. I suppose I'd be required to make a "ticking" out of hay and some scratchy fabric to sleep on. And snuggle under an itchy wool blanket. No freakin' way. I just bought a blanket at Costco that is softer than anything I've ever touched and I love every fake fiber of it's being. 

I took the brochures on the sexist camp from hell ladies only camp and kept them on my desk for the requisite ten days or so before depositing them in the recycle bin. Because the thing is, I like electricity. And plumbing. And Starbucks. 

But Jeff pursued the mountain man idea further when he went to the range today to shoot his muzzle loader. He came home with a bit of fabric tied to his shirt button. I inquired as to what the fabric was and was treated to a long story about how he had the wrong ball thingys and how they didn't like his smokeless powder; they were black powder guys (grunt) and how he had to wrap his ball thingys in this fabric, but FIRST he had to put it in his mouth and chew it and wet it and THEN he had to wrap his ball thingys in it so they would fire out the gun, and so on. 

And I was thinking, by the time you do all that crap, the bear, or moose, or wolf, or whatever delicacy you were trying to shoot for your dinner has already trampled you and is now ripping your guts out with it's shiny white dagger teeth. 

Plus, he came home smelling like sulphur, to which Hayley said "You smell like poop and nature." 

Did I mention how much I enjoy indoor plumbing? 

Escape from the airport parking lot..........

A couple of days ago, my husband and I returned from a trip to San Diego. Four days previous, we were unable to get our daughter to drive us to the airport because she got an on-the-spot hire at a local pancake house as a weekend hostess, so we decided to drive our trusty minivan to the airport and park in an off-site parking lot. You know, the ones with the handy shuttle bus. In fact, when we pulled in, the overly eager shuttle bus driver actually followed us as we parked and was right there waiting to put our bags on board. He stressed me out! Too much pressure! I need at least five minutes after we park to count my bags, pat my pockets to make sure I have my cell phone with me, look back into the car four or five times to make sure I didn't forget anything, check to see that I left nothing valuable in the car, glance briefly at the $1.97 in coins in the change holder and decide I don't really need to hide that, look back in the car, pat my pockets one more time, stare into the trunk waiting for a forgotten item to materialize and, finally, shut and lock the car with a feeling of trepidation that maybe, perhaps, on the off chance, I might have forgotten something important like my ID or a toothbrush. But, anyway.........

Our minivan sat in quiet repose for four days and upon our return we embarked on the self-same shuttle bus (albeit with a different driver) back to the parking lot to retrieve our vehicle. We schlepped the bags off the bus and into the trunk, while Jeff fished around in his wallet for the ticket to our freedom. Apparently the claim ticket needed to be inserted into the machine at the gate thingy so the gate thingy would go up and we could drive through unhindered.

We approached the machine, which was clearly labeled with these instructions: 1. Insert ticket stripe side down. 2. Insert credit card stripe side up. 3. Push button for receipt.

Let me just stop here for a minute and explain: the above are INSTRUCTIONS. Those are guidelines that help you do something you are not familiar with. Since we speak and read English, those instructions were adequate for my husband and I. Well, they were adequate for me, anyway.

My husband completely ignored the instructions on the right side of the machine and chose to follow the picture instructions on the left side. So, obviously, he inserted the ticket stripe side up, instead of down.

Me: Stripe side DOWN! DOWN! Duh! It says right there, insert stripe side down!

After getting that part right, he inserted the credit card stripe side down, instead of up.

Me: OMG! Jeff! Read the instructions - it says "insert credit card stripe side UP!"

After a quick change, it appeared the transaction was going well. We sat and waited. And waited. And waited.


Jeff: Pushes flashing button that clearly says "cancel transaction." Out pops both credit card and ticket. Starts the process over, inserting ticket stripe side up.


Jeff: I AM reading the pictures.


Jeff: Oh.

The entire time he had not even noticed the instructions on the right side of the machine. They were written bigger, bolder and more clearly than the small picture instructions on the left side. He fumbled with the cards, screwed up one more time, and finally got it right, AND pushed the button that said "push here for receipt."


Next time, I'm driving.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The inadequacy of egg skills..........

So, we're visiting Jeff's grandpa in San Diego. He's a lovely, funny, full-of-stories, almost-92-year-old man who has a house that's neat as a pin, full of antiques. Just walking around the house is entertainment in itself, wondering about each unique piece of glassware, or furniture.....what are their stories?

Grandpa comes from a very different time. He wakes up early, fully dressed and ready to take on the day. Breakfast is cereal, toast and tea - routine is comfort. When we visit here, I always feel self-conscious if I sleep too late, and I would certainly not lounge about in my pajamas like I do at home on a weekend. This guy used to wake up at 4 a.m. to milk cows and do barn chores BEFORE school. My kids wake up fifteen minutes before they need to leave and run a comb through their hair. Chores in the morning? They would seize at the mere thought.

So, this morning, Grandpa and I decided to change things up a bit and have Eggo waffles for breakfast. Easy enough. But then he pulled out the eggs. I guess some people like an egg on their waffle? Gross!! And I thought, oh, lordy! As my kids can attest, I suck eggs. Well, I suck AT eggs. Making them. In any fashion except fried, yolk broken, brown on both sides. Over easy? Sunny side up? I don't even know what those mean, and I certainly can't make them to order. I CAN scramble eggs, but even those often end up browned and dry. Breakfast, in an of itself, is not really my favorite thing. If I had it my way, I'd grab Starbucks every morning and a carb-loaded pastry on the side. As it is, I'm always scrambling (heh heh, see what I did there?) for something nutritious to eat for breakfast (besides, you know, leftover chocolate chip cookies).

When the eggs came out, I knew I needed help. But I also knew Grandpa would be aghast at the knowledge that I didn't know how to make decent eggs. I mean, that's women's work, no? Yeah, not so much in our generation, but Grandpa hails from a time when women did the cooking. Not to say he doesn't do his fair share - he certainly takes care of himself on a daily basis, and he took care of an ailing wife for many years before she passed. I'm guessing Grandpa has made many an egg. But the fact is, I cannot make good eggs.

So, I did what I always do when faced with a cooking dilemma - I ran to the bedroom and pulled Jeff away from his work computer and said "Emergency! Grandpa wants eggs! I suck at eggs! Help me!" Jeff reluctantly came in to cook up the eggs but not before a few awkward minutes passed where Grandpa kept waiting for me to start the eggs ("Go ahead and do your thing!" - GAH!). Thank God for Jeff who cooked the eggs to order and helped me save face.

Who needs eggs anyway? I am SO not into breakfast-making in any way, shape or Mickey Mouse pancake form. My kids would come home from sleepovers gushing about their friends' mothers who cooked up feasts of french toast, bacon and fresh fruit, and I considered myself a kind hostess when I set out five different boxes of sugared cereal for their sleepover friends, and cut up some oranges.

I think it's important to own your shortcomings. And so I decree: I suck at breakfast. But I WILL buy you Starbucks. And a pastry.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kick-ass domestic goddess...........

So, we have no food. I mean, I'm not sure how that happens, when I spend $264.93 daily at Fred Meyer, but somehow we've reached that critical point where there is NOTHING TO EAT in the house, which coincides nicely with the fact that there is NO MONEY IN THE BANK. What I need is a nice, big trip to Costco, but that runs me about $600 every time I go, and even a "conservative" trip to Fred Meyer teeters close to the $200 mark, so I'm practicing what Jeff likes to call "eating from the pantry." I mean, we HAVE food, right? A whole pantry full and some more in the garage in what my mom likes to call my "Mormon pantry." I am not Mormon. But I like to stockpile important things like sugared cereal and ramen noodles. I have a shit-ton of cream of chicken soup, because you never know.

Tonight I had some leftover chicken - some that I cooked a few days ago and one big leftover chicken breast from KFC. So, I cut all of that up and put it in a big pan. I added two jars of turkey gravy I bought at Thanksgiving in case of a gravy emergency (there wasn't one). I served it on top of instant mashed potatoes, purchased when my oldest had her tonsils out a month or so ago. Fresh out of veggies for a side, I cut up carrot and celery sticks and served those as a side dish with a big ol' glob of ranch dressing. Plus, a nutritious glass of milk to round it all out. I felt like I had just been transported back to 1954.

The funny thing is, my kids loved it. They actually made sounds that didn't sound like "ick" or "bleh" when they saw it on their plates in all of its gelatinous grayish-brown glory. They went back for seconds.

I'm glad I didn't waste my whole afternoon whipping up a gourmet meal if that crap made them happy. I told them it was "poor food." Payday is a week away. I'm not sure I can actually wait that long before I pick up some produce at least. I wonder what tomorrow night's dinner will be? What can you make from cream of chicken soup, some eggs, and chicken broth? And why can't we just have fresh cookies for dinner? Baking is so much more fun. And I have flour and sugar. What's your "nothing to eat" go-to dinner? Ready, go!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Angry momma..........

Today was a cluster f**k of confusion with all things medical.

First of all, this morning Hannah told me she needed a refill on her medicine. She looked at the bottle and realized she had been taking 70 mg of a medicine she's supposed to be taking 50 mg of! The reason? One bottle, with  40 mg capsules says "take one daily" while the other bottle with 10 mg capsules in it says "take THREE daily". Which she did. For WEEKS. Because that's what the directions say. Now, I'm not sure who screwed up - the doctor in writing the prescription, or the pharmacy in printing the label, but that's a pretty dangerous mix-up. Lucky for her, she wasn't at the maximum dose or anything, but she may have been having side effects (like difficulty sleeping!) that she didn't even realize because the dose was wrong. So, I called to get it fixed. And had to leave a message. Which was relayed to the nurse. Who called me back and left a message.

I also left a message about some test results that my husband had not received in the mail. Normally we always get a copy of our lab results in the mail, but not this time. It was important to have, because we needed to check them against later lab results from another doctor's office. THAT doctor's office sent us test results yesterday, but they listed Jeff as a "female" and the notes accompanying them had such poor grammar, I'm not even sure an adult could have written them. Words were misspelled and one sentence made no sense at all. I'm sorry, but I have no tolerance for poor grammar in medical records. Where is the professionalism?

Then, Arlie ran out of a medication and needed a refill. Only trouble is, she's due for a check-up before they will refill it. So, I called to make her an appointment. They had an opening at 3:30. She and her two siblings had orthodontist appointments at 3:45. Obviously that was too tight, but the agent at the doctor's office said we could make it work since her siblings could go first at the ortho (right down the street) and it was "only a 15 minute appointment." I, stupidly, believed her and booked the appointment. We arrived just before 3:30, and the first thing I asked was if the doctor was running on time. I was assured that she was. At 3:50 I asked the front desk how much longer it was going to be. At 3:55 a nurse came out to tell me that the doctor couldn't see us for "at least" another 30 minutes! That's nearly an hour after our appointment time! Of course, we had to leave, since we had already scheduled the ortho appointment. But first I had to get a refund on my co-pay and let them know how unhappy I was. Then, the nurse (who had the biggest, nastiest cold sore on her lip - seriously? You work in a doctor's office - get it treated or don't come to work - who wants to see THAT in a doctor's office?) tried to take me aside and called me "ma'am". She got on my last nerve when she said "let's go tuck away somewhere and talk about it because you are being kind of loud." Oh, sista, you don't KNOW loud. (By the way, there was NO ONE ELSE in the waiting room, so I was not causing a scene that would embarrass anyone but the office staff, and, frankly, I thought they SHOULD be embarrassed for their inefficient organization). I told them they could have the doctor call me ASAP at which time Cold Sore said "She won't be calling you until probably 7 p.m. because she is SEEING OTHER PATIENTS." No shit, my daughter being one of those patients she was supposed to see. As I type this it is 7:15 p.m. and I have yet to hear from her. We have had issues with waiting over an hour to see the doctor in the past, and ALWAYS wait at least 30-45 minutes. My husband has been complaining about it for years and wants to change doctors. But I have always been the holdout because we've been seeing those doctors since my kids were born - they KNOW us, and our medical history, and I actually like the doctor we see. But lately, not so much. At my annual exam, she asked me to change into a gown. So, there I sat, naked in a thin cotton gown, expecting her to pop back in after five minutes of courtesy changing time. Nope. 45 minutes later (I shit you not) she came back in and said "you don't have young kids at home any more so I don't mind keeping you waiting as much". What the f**k? My time is not valuable? Thanks for pointing that out.

So, we headed back to the orthodontist's office in time for Arlie to make her appointment. THAT experience is, and always had been, totally pleasant. Super nice staff, great ortho, always on time. After that we headed to the pharmacy to (hopefully) get Hannah's prescription mistake fixed, get a refill for me, and beg for Arlie's meds (since now we were SOL because she wasn't able to get her "meds check" - such a waste of a co-pay!). The pharmacist found out that Arlie already had a prescription called in from several weeks back (HUH? The doctor told us she could not have a refill without a check up), Hannah was screwed because the dr office had to "call them back" and my med was out of refills! Just my luck!

At this point all I wanted to do was grab a bottle of whatever alcoholic and head home. I refrained, but I did have a strong desire to kick something. I am so fed up with medical bullshit. The waiting - I expect to wait at the doctor's office, but not an hour! And certainly not over an hour. I actually have to block out two hours' time every time I take someone to the doctor, because I'm never sure if we will be out on time. Then there is the co-pay which we have to pay every time, even if we are following up on something - you know when they say to check back in 4-6 weeks? No wonder most people don't. Who wants to pay a co-pay so you can tell the doctor face-to-face what could be accomplished over email for free? And I'm SO thankful we have insurance because we have had huge medical bills the past couple of years. But we still owe a portion of that on every bill and sometimes they all come at once. I currently owe the hospital about $1400 for a tonsillectomy (Hayley) and a trip to the ER (Harrison) for a bloody nose. All they did for him was tape two tongue depressors together and pinch them on his nose for a half hour. Seriously. That is ALL they did. And they charged us $900 for it. Insane.

So, when medical care bleeds my wallet dry, I at least expect the courtesy of them respecting my time. I know we are all busy, but let's meet in the middle somewhere! I think a half-hour grace period is acceptable. But don't tell me we can get in and out for a "15 minute" appointment when you know good and well that your clinic averages an hour wait per visit. The last time we had a long wait issue, I spoke to an office manager who was working on improving the clinic policies and wait times. She assured me that it was "unacceptable" to wait that long and that they appreciated input because it helped them make changes. Well, they didn't. But I guess we will. Time to find a new doctor and clinic. I'm not happy because it will take hours of my time to research doctors and find the right place for us. But I will be happy to find someone who values my time as much as I value theirs.