Saturday, August 29, 2009

he who hesitates is los loserface

And his wife, los loserest loserface of all.

It was summer 1990. Late July, I think it was. Sam and I were still dating at the time. In a few weeks I would be moving away for a year. Far away and out of state. When you live in central Texas, anywhere out of state is far away, but I was moving many states away. At the time I didn't know if I would be returning to Texas.

Sam was a big fan of Austin music legend Stevie Ray Vaughn. Had been since Stevie was an unknown playing Miranda's at Northgate in Aggieland College Station. And later, when Sam would drive to Austin on weekends to catch him at the Soap Creek Saloon.

During 1990, Sam and I spent a lot of evenings listening to his albums. I didn't think I liked blues before then. Sam helped cultivate my taste for it. I had never been one for loud lead guitar riffs, but I did favor rhythm and blues, so Sam took the time to find SRV songs I would like. By summertime, I was a fan.

So on this particular Wednesday in July I heard that SRV was playing that night about 45 minutes away. Now was my chance to see this guitar wizard on stage.

"But it's a work night," complained Sam, sucking the wind out of my spontaneous sails. But then, he was the only person in the room with a 7am wake up call. "We can hear him in Austin anytime. We'll catch him during one of your weekend trips back."

So I went by myself plopped down on the couch and pouted kept the 8-to-5 working man company.

A few weeks later, I heard the sad news.

Stevie Ray was killed in a helicopter crash August 27, 1990.

I can't hear his music without feeling incredibly sad. And gypped.

So this is for you, Stevie. The sky is still crying and the telephone lines are still down.

Looks like I'll have to catch a performance on the other side. Until then, it'll be Sam's albums and youtube. Like these two, below, my favorite SRV tunes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Health Care Stories, Austin, Texas

This month Tome of the Unknown Writer is featuring a Health Care Stories Project "focusing on health care stories and opinions from the US and countries with universal health care all this month." Here is my story, fresh in my mind, as my young daughter required emergency surgery a few weeks ago.

The physician's assistant (PA) at the urgent care center diagnosed her with a kidney stone. She ordered a CT scan for later that afternoon, explaining that 90% of all stones are small enough to pass but a scan would alert us if the stone was too large to pass.

As the morning passed into the afternoon and the time of the scan approached, my daughter's pain moved from her back to the lower front of her abdomen and seemed more tolerable. We deduced she was passing the stone.

But let me back up so I can explain our health insurance situation. Husband and I are both self-employed. I'm a psychologist. He's a home builder. Husband is covered under a separate policy from the kids and me. Why? Because no individual underwriter will cover his chronic disease, AKA his pre-existing condition (diagnosed at 18 years old). He has special coverage under the Texas "high risk pool" (subsidized by the state). As a result, we pay two high premiums for two separate plans. We have high deductables ($4500 and $2500) and high copays ($45) so that we can keep our premiums to $1000/month. That makes for a combined total of $12,000 per year, math majors. And with copays that high, we see the doctor almost never only if we think it's absolutely necessary.

Given the high deductable, we knew the cost of the urgent care and the CT scan would be coming straight out of our pockets. Because we believed she was passing the stone, her dad and I considered skipping the CT scan because of the cost. I called the PA and ran it by her. She urged us to go, this time saying she wanted to rule out a few other conditions. We decided to play it safe and take her. But we still wondered if we weren't "wasting" a huge chunk of money.

The CT scan revealed that the source of her pain was not a kidney stone but, rather, a large cyst. At 4:45pm we were told to get her to a hospital emergency room (ER) immediately, that the cyst required removal.

Since then, my husband and I keep thinking, "What if we hadn't gotten that scan?" All because we can't afford a low deductable.

One last note on affordability. We're grateful we're able to maintain our current coverage. The recession has hit our family pretty hard. My biggest fear is that a harder hit will force us to join the nearly 50 million uninsured Americans. I don't even want to think about where we'd be, where my daughter would be, if we weren't able to flash that BCBS card at the medical centers.

But for now we're scraping by and paying our insurance premiums. To say I feel uneasy is a gross understatement. I think its unfair that small business owners have to pay so much more compared to someone working for a large corporation. Supposedly this country is all about supporting small businesses. Not where health insurance is concerned.

So I strongly support health care reform with a public option. Have been holding my breath for it, in fact, since we dropped husband's long held individual policy in hopes of the Clintons promised reform in the early 1990's. But the strong insurance lobby pushed back. And now here we are, more than fifteen years later, trying again.

To all of those congresspersons against reform legislation? Here's a challenge: Surrender your federally funded health insurance and join we hard working Americans who pay out the nose for our supposedly "best health care system in the world." I bet know if you were out here in our world you would pass something quick.

Monday, August 17, 2009

hammer toes

Today it was announced that former House Majority Leader, Tom Delay, will be Dancing with the Stars this season.

What's that going to be like, I wonder?

Will we be treated to the smiling mug of twinkle-toes-Tom, whipping the majority of the audience into a frenzy, exterminating the competition?

Or, more likely, will we see hammer-toes-Tom, leading his partner with a powerful hand down K Street, stomping on her pretty liberal feet whenever she doesn't follow his conservative moves?

Typically I'm not a huge fan of the show, but you can bet I'll be casting my vote this season to send him back to Sugarland.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

now hurry up and relax

My favorite way to relax on a hot August day is to be fully submerged in a spring fed river, feet floating in front of me, collecting smooth, flat, round river stones with which to balance tiny rock pyramids while drinking snorkely-slinky.* It sounds easy, but after a few snorkely-slinkies? Perilous.

Reader, how do you like to relax?

*The drinking alcohol part is optional. Unless it's a typical day at home when a spring fed river is not readily available, in which case, the drinking alcohol is mandatory.

*Oh, but wait. You're probably following the (*) to find out what a snorkely-slinky is. It's my personal favorite mixed cocktail of Svedka, club soda and cranberry. Or better, when I'm uber organized, prickly pear juice, in which case, I should be calling it, snorkely-prickly.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

pass that wand to me, please

Blognut at More Mindless Rambling wishes she knew magic whenever her kids ask her to find their lost items.
Well I say to Blognut, if you find that elusive magic wand, pass it to me, please. And I will then immediately pass that wand right over to my kids. Leave me out of the equation altogether, thank you so much.

I don't want to know that the goggles have grown fins and swam away for the thousandth millionth time this summer.

I don't want to be distracted by the search for a matching pair of socks because noone bothers to go through the unmatched sock bucket sitting right on top of the dresser.

That goes double for the husband looking for his mango pomegranite yogurt in the fridge but refuses to kneel down before the altar of the bottom shelf and move the tupperware containers blocking the view. No, he wants me to kneel down. He always wants me to kneel down. What is up with that? Zheesh.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

everybody go, pet scan, cat scan, hospital inn

say if your girl
starts actin up,
then you take
her friend.

Or make that, then you take her to the children's hospital.

What a shocker of a weekend.

One minute I was on my way out to play tennis, keys in hand, the next I'm rushing my daughter to an urgent care center with severe abdominal pain and vomiting.

A few hours and a myriad of uncertain diagnoses later, we're at a radiological center for a CAT scan of her abdomen.

By the end of the day we were told to rush her to the children's hospital for emergency surgery. As much as one can rush while crossing town during Friday rush hour.

By evening she was recovering in her hospital room, two small incisions and a heart shaped bandaid on her belly button, quietly but happily in control of the remote, eating graham crackers and apple juice.

By bedtime, chocolate pudding. (That's my girl!)
By lunchtime the following day, discharged. The family in the car, taking her home.

Finally, a stop off at Sandy's for an ice cream cone.

I said a hip hop the hippie to the hippie
the hip hop, a you don't stop the rock it
to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat
skiddlee beebob a we rock
a scoobie doo
and guess what america we love you

Especially when you provide surgeons and hospitals who return my daughter to good health.

And that's this Rapper's Delight: