Friday, January 20, 2017

THAT's not the problem.

I usually stay away from posting about politics on Facebook and social media.  My liberal views are pretty evident given the information I share or the posts that I support, but I have chosen to live a quiet, neutral virtual life as I have family, friends, and acquaintances from all walks of life, with varied and unique views, all of which I respect, even when I cannot agree.

I want to share with you a real life situation – happening in real time  - affecting my family.  I want to preface this post with the information that I am a Director of Patient Care Services for a home care agency and have been for 15+ years, so I am well versed on the medical industry, insurance policies, government rules and regulations, both state and federal. I just want to be clear that I KNOW HOW THIS WORKS AS I DEAL WITH IT ON A DAILY BASIS.

Yesterday I received a statement from my PCP for a visit made on 1/5/17.  It showed I was responsible for the entire visit.  I immediately got online to check the insurance EOB (explanation of benefits) and saw that there was a footnote that the visit was not billed as illness or injury and not covered.  This morning I called the PCP billing office and said the bill may need to be resubmitted (codes often change year to year and clearly it was sent incorrectly).  Nope – they were advised it was subject to my deductible.  Wait, what?  No – this was an office visit with my PCP – what codes did you use?

I called BCBS.  Placed on hold.  I explained the conflicting information from the notes on the EOB and the information from the MD office.  Placed on hold.    “Ma’m…. There was a change from your policy last year.   MD office visits are now subject to the deductible.”

Blink, blink… heart race.  “Did I resolve your issue?”  No – you answered my question, but you did not resolve my issue.

I contact my husband’s HR department.  Is this true?  Yes.

I have read and re-read the 20+ pages (front and back) that were sent regarding benefit enrollment for 2017.   NO WHERE does it say that this MAJOR change in the policy will be taking place.  NO WHERE in the information did it inform the blue color workers for this nationwide company, who are likely working paycheck to paycheck, that they were now going to have to pay a combined $9500 (both payroll deductions and policy deductibles) before insurance will pay one dime towards a families care.

I am angry.   I am angry with the company for not disclosing this information. 

BUT - I understand that these changes where made based on ever growing costs to provide medical insurance benefits for employees. I blame my husband’s company for not owning this change.  I blame my husband’s company for not disclosing this information to employees and their families so they could be prepared.  So they could properly plan and know their responsibility long before the need for the care and not weeks (and sometimes months) afterwards once a visit has been made, billed, denied, and dropped on their lap – “SURPRISE!  This was covered last year, but not this year.”

I am angry with my husband’s company, but I am FURIOUS with the system.  I am furious with the corrupt broken system that is in place to assist EVERYONE’S need to treat and maintain life.  I am FURIOUS that people believe that the problem all stems with “OBAMACARE”.  I am beside myself that people think their troubles are ALL because the government came in and ruined it for everyone. 

Yes – policies that were being offered under the rules of the Affordable Care Act became more expensive.  Guess what – so did ours. The policy that is offered by my husband’s nationwide company – the one he has worked at for 13+ years - increased over 40% from last year.  That was shocking to us in October when we enrolled in the 2017 benefits.  The sting of the new terms of this policy subjecting much more to the deductible just adds insult to injury.

Please understand – the government did not raise these costs.  THE INSURANCE COMPANIES DID.  In order to maintain profits, the insurance company increased the cost of these policies. 

The government said – hey – it’s not okay to deny someone because they are sick.  It’s not okay to turn people away because they are going to be too expensive. 

The government said – hey – it’s not okay to not have insurance.  Our system is terrible and it costs way too much money when you are sick, so you have to be prepared.  You can’t wait and hope for the best.

The problem is that the medical industry is imploding on itself because somewhere, somehow, it became okay to profit from the most basic element of humanity – life. 


It is ugly out there right now.  Really, really ugly.  It is very easy to throw blame at each other and draw lines in sand.    
I am realistic enough to know, there is no one answer to the problem.  
I understand that we cannot throw the entire system away and start fresh, as it is just not possible.  
I am hoping for perspective.  
I am hoping for understanding that REAL change is needed in the RIGHT places.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

5 Years Post Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy

I gained it back.

Damnit.

The hardest 4 words to write.

I-gained-it-back.

I wanted to be honest and come here and spill the beans.  I wanted a true reflection of my journey, but admitting it has almost killed me.   For reals.  I tried to pretend that every extra pound, every extra 5 lbs, every extra 10 lbs that crept its way back on to the scale.... there was a valid reason.  It was a temporary set back to a long term goal.  I was just moments away from the big comeback and *poof*, I would be mini me again.

Nope.  Not even close.

To be fair - I haven't gained it ALL back - but I am certainly closer to the original weight than to the lowest weight, so I can no longer pretend the weight is just a temporary set back.  It seems every January,  I am 10-15 lbs heavier than the January before.

So ... what the f*#k happened?

Good question.

What didn't I do?  Well.... there are a lot of reasons and a lot of excuses.  When I really think hard - I think the bottom line was balance.  I had no balance.

In the beginning, I made the decision that this needed to be ME time.  I needed to focus on me.  I had managed to shove myself so far into the background of my life that I didn't even exist anymore.  I had to take the time to make myself the priority.  I had to set goals and I would not let ANYTHING get in the way.  And I did.  I made progress.  I had the surgery.  I started losing the weight.  I started exercising and making big goals. Exercise 5 times per week.  Do something outside of your comfort zone.  Sign up for a 5k...a 10K... a HALF MARATHON.  Do it!  Don't let anything stop you!  Don't let you stop you!

Three weeks after my first 1/2 marathon - I dislocated my knee in body combat class, one of those "out of my comfort zone" things.  Slow, long recovery.  But it was the first time I slowed down in 3 years.  And slowed to an almost stop.  No... NO!!!  Sign up for another 1/2 marathon - don't let the devil on the left shoulder win.  YOU HAVE TO BE BETTER THAN THAT.   And I did it.  It was a long, boring, cold, wet, lonely winter training for that 1/2 marathon, but I did it.  And then there was anarchy.  I told myself never again.  I did it because I "had" to do it, not because I wanted to do it.  I stuck the big middle finger up to myself and said - nope.  And I sat criss cross apple sauce in defiance of myself.

Wait - crap - I know this position.  I remember this hole.  It looks a whole lot like the rabbit hole I have been in before.  The one that I dive head first into and sit in the darkness staring up at the dim rays above wishing a rock would roll over it to block out what little light tried to make its way in.

I wasn't happy.  I wasn't happy when I was 300+ lbs.  I wasn't happy when I made it down to 176 lbs. I am not happy.

I lost the weight, but I did not lose the monkey on my back.  I lost the weight and gained the muscle strength to run with that gorilla pounding my head to go faster, but I didn't deal with the gorilla.  And to be honest with you, I have no clue what the damn gorilla is - but I know it has never left my side.  I never found life to be better as skinny me.  I certainly looked better, but in the mirror - nothing had changed.  I was still as repulsive as I was 100+ pounds ago.  I can remember very vividly throwing a temper tantrum in a dressing room because even at my smallest size, I still couldn't fit into something that I thought would help me fit into the world around me.

A year ago around this time, it got ugly.  I was so rooted in that rabbit hole, nothing around me was recognizable.  I remember putting up Christmas decorations and thinking - who the hell am I putting this up for?  I wanted to divorce my husband.  I wanted to run away.  I wanted to do whatever it took to get the hell out of this repulsive skin.  I was a complete and utter failure.  I had no value.  I had no self worth.  I was once again - nothing.

I circled in this madness for about 2 months before I realized, I either had to start building a ladder or grab the shovel and dig deeper into the rabbit hole forever, because it was painful - physically painful - to be in the condition I was living.

I have no idea where it came from, but I found the courage to make an appointment with a new doctor.  I pretended it was because I had not been to a doctor in several years and I needed a check up.  We made it through the entire appointment and then.... I sobbed.  I cried so hard I became mute.  It was like my body could not form the words to scream for help.  My doctor grabbed my hands and took deep breaths with me.  I managed to spit out the words "I am not handling things very well" in between desperate attempts to take air into my lungs.  She calmed me down and said - "Well, let's fix it together, okay?" I started medication.  I acknowledged that I have (and probably have always had) unmanaged chronic depression.

And so began the building of the ladder.

Have I lost the weight again - no.  Sorry.  That cannot be the focus right now. I have to focus on the weight inside, not the weight outside.  Nine months into medication and I think I am just-now-gaining some perspective.  I have just now started to realize that I am not sitting in the rabbit hole.  I am missing working out.  Not because I lost weight, but because I felt better and slept better when I sweat it out. I don't want to over eat, not because it'll show up on the scale tomorrow, but because it sucks to feel full.  

So there.... I said it.

I-gained-it-back.

Just another 1,000 baby steps in the journey.

The good news is that I am still walking.






Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Middle school is going to kill me

I have made a horrible mistake.  Little did I know that enrolling my son in the middle school Gifted and Talented Academy was going to bring back horrible memories of overwhelming school projects, unrealistic guidelines, and feelings of stress and inadequacy coupled with the paralyzing anxiety driven trait of procrastination.

And this is for me…. Not the child…. The 11 year old child who just entered this school, what… 6-7 weeks ago?

Weekly posters and projects. Emails, texts, app reminders from 8 different teachers with 8 different ways of communicating said projects, homework assignments, tests, quizzes, etc.

The notifications come within minutes of the start of the school day:

!st Period text – don’t forget to finish your magneto lab study guide, and study the rules of the labs which will be a minor quiz grade.  Major grade for rules of the lab poster due next Thursday!!

2nd period email – students – don’t forget to bring the zip drive for your notes regarding the essay which you will them turn into your oral speech presentations – presentations begin Friday
 
3rd period – (no electronic notification, you are just supposed to know to go to her weeble blog) – complete worksheet pages 4-7, due Wednesday

4th period – (no electronic notification, you are just supposed to know to go to the Edmodo account) Post on Edmodo – Major grade assignment due next Thursday, see folders for details and rubric……

blah…blah…blah….. on and on… you get the picture.

At this point, I am not really sure who is in school, him or me.  Because I feel like I am doing everything first, then sitting with my son to help him figure it out on his own with slight nudges here and there to “guide” him in the right direction.

Week one – I help Max, start to finish, with one project.

Week two – I don’t read the edmodo posts that indicate the due date of a major project (yes, a major project in week 2) and continue to blow Max off thinking we have one more day … only to wake up to Max (who woke himself up at 5:30) sitting at the computer, frantically typing away on a project due in a few hours.  He skips his bike gang morning ritual to finish the project and I drive him to school with minutes to spare

Week three – I send Max off on his own to work on the project, then sit with him later, tear apart the power point, basically make him do it again entirely, then spend another ½ hr going over it to make him fix spelling, grammar, formatting issues

Week four – science poster – I ask Max to tell me exactly what he plans to do and how he plans to execute it.  Pass the project monitoring duties to Daddy and tell him “this one is on you….”  Get home late to see science poster on table – looking NOTHING like what Max explained earlier,  I cannot even figure out what he is trying to “present”, and there are horrible handwriting and spelling issues.   I go to our bedroom and ask Michael – did you even LOOK at the poster – “He said he did it.” FACEPALM.  Next morning I wake Max up early – we re-do the poster, I drive him to school just in time to hear the 1st bell of the day


Now to the straw on the camel’s back:

Spanish project – major grade. – due Thursday Oct 2nd.

He has known about it for a week.  We started it last week because I was not going to have another “night before, morning of” drama all over again..  We started the research, we located websites for him to get information, we talked about writing notes/thoughts as he researched.

Research what? 
Spanish.
No Max – what about Spanish – what is the project?
A timeline
A timeline about WHAT?!?!?!?
S-P-A-N-I-S-H-!-!-!

The conversation has escalated to loud voices and tears.  Take a step back, breathe, settle down.

Max – what exactly is the timeline supposed to be about?  How the language developed? When Spanish went from country to country? The timeline of the history of Spain and its people?  What?
YES – ALL OF IT!!
Okay – how long is the timeline?  How many dates?  Just facts/dates or details info about each date?
I don’t know – she just said a timeline!!

(HELP ME BEFORE I STRANGLE MY CHILD THEN GO POSTAL AND HEAD TO THE SCHOOL TO STRANGLE THE TEACHER)

Did she give you instructions anywhere?
Yes, Edmodo
Of course – edmodo. 

We go to edmodo to see a folder for this project that includes 10 .pdfs/power points with non-descript titles.  (Oh dear lord I do not have time for this….)

Max – look at these and figure out EXACTLY what you are supposed to do.

Everyday:
Max – are you working on your Spanish project?
Yes
Max – how you doing on the project?
Good
Max do you have the project done?
Almost … I just have a little to do, it’ll be easy…

I get home tonight at 8:45 after Ben’s football practice.  Max is headed to his backpack with a printed power point with a beautiful graphic "Spanish" emblazoned on the front in scripty font.  Wow, I think to myself – all by himself…. Impressive.

Max – May I see it?
Hands it over
I realize it is 3 pages: the cover page, and one page about Christopher Columbus with dates and one page about conquistadors with no dates, just info.

Max – this is TWO things – and it is not even in a timeline?!?!? 
She said today we could just write paragraphs!
Okay – but it is only 2 facts and one of them doesn’t even have any dates!!
It doesn’t have to!!
Max – open edmodo and pull up the instructions – I want to see EXACTLY what you are supposed to do!!

And here is where my blood pressure shoots through the roof and I am fairly certain I am having a heart attack.

The project is titled Timeline and Puzzle project:
Use the attached research as well as individual research to create a time line -  50%
Create a hexagonal tarsi puzzle - 50%

There was a detailed rubric explaining point breakdowns related to presentation effectiveness/Historical accuracy/mechanics – but NOTHING specific – no info regarding how long, what to include, nothing.  Just – was it colorful, did the graphics relate, was the info correct, was everything spelled correctly?

There were tools to “help” the students organize their thoughts –
Example: Main causes of the expansion of Europe: economic causes, political causes, social causes, religious causes, scientific causes,

Wait – WTF?!?!?  Let’s just take a minute here and remind ourselves of our language classes when we were young.  Perhaps yours was different, but mine – we learned our numbers, colors, conversational Spanish to help me get to the bathroom and sang songs about the days of the week and months of the year.  College Spanish was really off the charts – we watched telenovellas and took quizzes afterwards to see if we understood who was cheating on who and why.

Political and religious causes of the expansion of the Spanish culture to Europe and the Americas?!?!?  For 11 year olds?!?!?  In a timeline and hexagonal tarsi puzzle?!?!

WTF is a hexagonal tarsi puzzle?!?!?  I had to google it, because the helpful graphic made me think she had accidentally added an algebra or geometry slide in the instructions.

Go ahead – google it – it still took me 4 or five images to figure out what the hell it is.

My head is going to explode.

MAX!!!!!!!  When did you think you were supposed to get all this done?!?!?!??! 
I was just about to start that part.
How many questions/answers do you have for the puzzle?
7
(which breaks down to 14 sides of the puzzle – and the puzzle he is supposed to create (according to helpful graphic) is supposed to have something ridiculous like 100 corresponding questions/answers… I think… I really don’t have a fucking clue at this point….Me – an almost 40 year old college educated woman who, until tonight, believed she was relatively smart – I have no clue what the hell this woman wants.

One week – my 11 year old, 6th grade student had one week to figure the above out.  My GT student, who is the classic definition of GT – disorganized, procrastinating, horrific handwriting and spelling, but brilliant mind – was supposed to figure out this project and execute it in 7 days – along with everything else he has to do for the other 7 classes in his school day.


And oh yeah – he is also supposed to study for a quiz for tomorrow – Spanish numbers 1-900 – spelling must be accurate – but that is just a minor quiz grade.


I can’t this time.  I just can’t.  I can’t stay up late or fly through another morning trying to figure this out with Max.  He is going to fail this one.  He is going to miserably fall flat on his face and fail this one.  He has to.  Though I think this project is unrealistic and unclear and he doesn’t deserve to fall flat on his face for it, he is going to have to because  I–just-can’t-this-time.  I may have fallen off the deep end and blown this out of proportion, but the teachers lack of clear instruction and over sharing of helpful tools that are not helpful at all have pushed me off that ledge.









Thursday, October 24, 2013

Where is that soap box?

*First - I apologize in advance if I offend anyone – my teacher friends in particular.   I am open to healthy debate with people who have differing opinions.  I understand my thoughts here are biased and riddled with past experiences that cloud my objectivity.

* Second –  I am so done with talking about this, year after year, I don’t even want to hear myself.  I wish I could just let it be.  Take my position on the subject (which is likely the minority), own it, and stand facing the hurricane force winds without falling over in submission… but I can’t. 

Max… reading… school… teacher….

DONE.WITH.THIS.CONVERSATION.

The latest round occurred this afternoon:

Max: Mommy!! Mommy!!  I need you to fill out this form!  I filled out the top part, but you have to fill out the bottom!  My Teacher said she wants 100% PARTICIPATION!!!  Mommy I need this by tomorrow.

I take the handout from Max and vaguely remember getting another form similar to it at the beginning of the school year.  I admit it… I didn’t read it… I glanced, I read “the majority” (of the article), I placed it among the other 10-15 pages of information regarding the new soccer program I could sign Max up for, the “does your child qualify for reduced or free lunch” survey, and every pink, blue, and yellow form that comes home in every kid’s folder but almost never has anything to do with my child.  This form is one of many that have come home this year with *new* and *exciting* enrichment programs for parents.  Seminars on how to prepare for middle school, requests for DADS to volunteer during the school year, etc. 

I immediately shuddered when I realized it was another reading log – neat columns and rows for 7 days a week – 30 minutes a day – detail what you read – parent’s signature. I hate these forms with all my might.  Only this time, I didn’t realize it was not Max’s form… it was MY FORM.  F.R.E.D. – Families Read Every Day.  This was not Max’s 30 minute reading log, it was an additional log for us to read together for 30 minutes a day. 

Read comic books / magazines / books out loud to your child
Write a play and read it together
Read and prepare a new recipe
Write the lyrics to your favorite song and sing it together

Do the people who make these things up really believe themselves?!?!

Then I was supposed to evaluate the program (check all that apply) – I feel closer to my child, I feel this enriched the quality of our time together, I feel my child is better in Math, I feel my child’s vocabulary has expanded, etc.

“Mommy!!! The Teacher says we HAVE TO HAVE 100% PARTICIPATION”

Max had gone through and written 30 minutes for every slot, every day, for 5 weeks.

I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t fill out the form “just cause”.  “Mommy!! Please!!!”

I took a deep breath.  I was bubbling with anger.  I don’t need homework.  I don’t need your help to parent my child. I will not be graded.  I will not be judged.

Breathe…. Step away from the ledge.  What are you really upset about here?

Max – I am not going to lie.  We did not do this.  I understand that you have been promised something if everyone turns in this piece of paper, but I can’t.  I will write Ms. Medina a note.  I will explain that even though we did not do this specific plan, we do read and we are making sure that we are working on this because it is important.  Do you understand?    We cannot fill out the form and turn it in for a pizza party (or whatever), because that is lying.

Sad face.

DAMNIT!!!  DAMNIT!! DAMNIT!!!

I am DONE WITH THE READING THING!!!  There!! I said it.  I hate it.  It is NOT the most important thing in the world.  It is not the focus of all that dictates the success/failure of a student.  I hated reading.  HATED IT!!  If you FORCED ME to READ SOMETHING I assure you, I remember NONE OF IT.  These forms/logs/programs do nothing but make people who are not readers hate it even more.  Guess what… I am not a reader, but I am a successful business person who has been successful in a variety of jobs/fields.  I know people who have surrounded themselves with books, but can’t hold a job or get out of bed in the morning.  I can read. I can write.  Have I read even 5-10% of the top 100 books of all time? Nope.

I am not sure how I am going to survive parenting in today’s world when it comes to my children’s education.  I cannot handle that 1 study or point of view then dictates how ALL children are supposed to learn.  I cannot handle that the way children are taught today is largely focused on how to take the tests.  Math isn’t about facts – it’s about averaging and estimating.  Why?  Because it takes too long to actually do 1476 + 273.  But if you round to 1500 and 300 – then you can figure out the answer closest to 1800 and pick that answer from the multiple choice.  You don’t learn complex problem solving, but you do learn test taking.

See, dear teacher/school administration, I get it.  I see what is happening.  I know your intentions are true.  I know you don’t come up with these programs.  I know the difference between your project and the programs that are coming from the muckity mucks in the admin buildings 20 miles away from the school.  The important people who went to the latest and greatest conference on child development but haven’t touched foot in a classroom for 15 years (or ever).

 I will support the hell out of the cloud science project.  I am with you when you tell me my child races through the tests and he doesn’t check his work. I know not to get mad when the test score is low because he didn’t understand the concept and when to take privileges away because he went too fast and he missed questions or forgot to answer them.

But I will be damned if you pull me into your studies on parent enrichment and grade my parenting based on a log that tells you nothing.  That log doesn’t tell you that we were out late cheering his brother at a scrimmage, so no, we didn’t read.  If we had stayed up late reading then the child who needs his sleep would have been worthless in your class the next day.  The log doesn’t tell you we decided to take a family walk and talk about what it is going to be like to walk to middle school next year, and be away from his friends since they are going to different schools.  That log doesn’t tell you that in this fast paced world filled with electronic distractions and mind numbing noise, my almost 11 year old still comes down – every morning – to snuggle before the day officially starts.


Thanks for the 1 page tool with vague instructions on how to bond with my student and make him a better reader.  No – your little 1 page form did not make my child better the past 5 weeks.  We did.  My husband and I did.  We got this.  We will have our own pizza party at home.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Parental Arts & Crafts

I didn't make it to Body Combat tonight.    I have a fog around me created by a laundry list of poor choices recently.  This fog was thick and so... it just didn't happen - but THAT is a post for another time.

What did happen was what I like to call Parental Arts & Crafts (we'll call it PAC).  One of those terribly mundane tasks that would make most parents scream or jump off the nearest cliff.  Not me.  I LOVE IT.  I love it as much as I love coloring books.  I love it because it allows me (grumpy tired adult with responsibilities) to zone out and let my inner child with OCD take over.

Today's  PAC moment came in the form of school box tops. I plan for these moments.  Well, inner OCD child plans for these.  It starts in the grocery store, casually walking down the aisles and checking off the grocery list.  Then we get there.  We get faced with the HUGE decision... generic or brand name:
Grumpy adult with responsibilities: Generic - save money.. tastes the same
Inner OCD child: WAIT... look.... a pink box... THERE IS A PINK BOX.  AND OMG - it is a 3 BOX BONUS!!  Please please please... PUH-LEASE!!!

Then we get home.  The inner OCD child mantra begins.... "don't forget about the box top... don't forget (that item) has box tops.. maybe we should ruin the box now and cut out the box tops because you know those stinky boys are just going to throw it away!!"  Several days (or weeks) later, I see that cereal box in the garbage about to head out for trash day.... "UGH!! What is WRONG with you people... you might as well just throw a dime in the trash... you are throwing away money!!!  Money for the children!!!"

So the tops get collected.  They get hoarded in a zip lock plastic bag (yes a ZIPLOCK BRAND plastic bag because there was a double box top for back to school).  The bag is filled and it sits there until I need it.  It has to be full.  It has to look meaningful.  It has to wow the teacher.  Yeah - I picture it.  I see it clearly in my head.  My precious glowing child presenting the plethora of box tops that will save the school budget and pay for the teacher's lounge coffee this semester.  All because of ME!!!

So here we are... tonight.... it's time.  I need some zoning out time.  I gather my tools.  Paper, scissors, tape.  I take time to cut each box top perfectly along the pre-printed white dotted lines.  I organize them - 3 bonus box tops here.. single box tops there.  Stack them in piles of 10 then divide the piles into two - one stack for Max, one for Ben.  For one beautiful hour we have done crafts and simple math to create art.

It's beautiful.  It's satisfying.  They are clean cut little pink soldiers ready to battle the evils of congressional budget cuts.  BONUS - Ben get's to enter a give-a-way!!  For every sheet of box tops, he gets one entry into the drawing. And THIS mother-of-the-year just bought her son 4 ENTRIES to win that stuffed Despicable Me Minion or Monster's University "plush toy".  SCORE!!!

It's the little things people.  The little things that help get me through the day.

Now I am going to put my pajamas on and watch TV 30 minutes after it has aired live so I can fast forward through the commercials.

BOOM!