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Archive for December, 2010


Was a pretty rotten year. While I hope 2011 will be markedly better, I am not holding my breath.  I see so many with enthusiasm for the new year; happy celebrations and looking forward to a “clean slate.”  A clean slate? How does one get such a thing?  Where do I sign up?

On the last day of the year, I woke up well past 9 am, which is a rare occurrence for me.  In a busy house, there are usually children arguing or dogs barking or any combination of noxious, sleep-prohibitive noises. But this morning, after getting up to see what the dog was barking at in the girls’ room at 4 o’clock in the morning, I actually managed to fall back asleep and stay that way, well past getting a jump-start on productivity.

“Aaaahhhhhh, ” I thought, “Maybe today I’ll write on the healing properties of restful sleep that gives one’s soul respite.”  Drinking my morning tea, I thought of any other number of topics, and came to realize that the laundry was piling up in my room, and in the room as well. And that being in such a state was counter-productive in getting a handle on the stuff (from yesterday’s post), so it would make more sense to put off the writing and get to doing something with tangible results.

I had great plans for yesterday, but alas, as typical of my life, it didn’t quite go as planned.  I didn’t get into the pile of “unseen” movies.  And the packing up of the Christmas stuff didn’t get totally done.  Today didn’t go as planned, either.  I didn’t get the stuff out to storage, although I did brave the crowds at Wal-Mart and had plenty of time to think about writing my reviews on the relatively new do-it-yourself-checkouts that were causing mayhem and terribly long lines. Tonight, though, I am going to kick back and watch the movie I was going to watch yesterday.

Unlike so many others that I know, I don’t have a lot of excitement for the new year.  We haven’t managed to stay up for the last several years to watch the ball come down, and going somewhere to drive home with all the drunks has never appealed to us.  So home we stay and to bed we go.

When I look back on 2010, it was a year of frustrations, most of which come from being chronically ill. As I look forward to 2011, I can’t help but anticipate more of the same, if today’s mail is any indication. Medical billing is broken, and is a source of deep frustration and never-ending stress for me. It still amazes me how much they can bill you for things like blood work.  They can bill to draw your blood; to send your blood somewhere else; then to test the blood at the other place; to read the results of the blood work tests, and then bill yet again to give *you* the results of those tests.

Have a surgery or procedure done that is bi-lateral?  But then they only do one side? Or only part of the <larger> procedure?  Nevermind that – don’t be thinking you get any kind of discount because you won’t.  Nope, they are going to stick it to you just the same. Here again, is another amazement at all the little pieces parts they can charge you – charge separate for the anesthesia, for the anesthesiologist services, which are not included in the thousands of dollars you already paid for the surgery; charge for materials/supplies, etc.  And then don’t forget the lab work from the surgery – this is more pathology that qualifies for the charge-for-every-step-we-can-think-of.

I have insurance.  Which I am immensely grateful for, because otherwise, I sometimes feel like a bullet in the head would make far more sense. I have learned that no matter how hard you try to play by the rules and follow your insurance’s guidelines, there is going to be someone doing something regarding your medical care that is not “in-network” which then requires you to pay more.  A LOT more.  Let me share a few examples.

Say you have a single hospital in town and for a reason, like a child requiring stitches after regular doctor hours, and that hospital is “in-network.”  Because you don’t want your child’s wound to bleed uncontrolled all night and risk infection, etc, you take the child to the emergency room, to this hospital, which is the only one available to you for 200 miles in any direction.  To this hospital, which is IN NETWORK. 

You get billed for all kinds of the things, like the privilege of walking in the doors (this from insurance, which doesn’t apply to the deductible and is only waived if you are admitted).  You pay for hospital services, which include being seen by someone on staff and medical supplies.  Then you get another bill, from the service that provides the ER doc.  Are you as confused as I am?  Didn’t I already pay for the doctor? 

Nope.  Because you are in a town that doesn’t have ER doctors on staff (except for the idiot who runs the department, but is also employed by the doctor supply agency), the agency provides the doctor services for a fee, to be paid by *you*, the unsuspecting fool who has no choice but to go to the ER. The kicker is  – THEY ARE “OUT-OF-NETWORK.” So, you play by the rules and go to an in-network hospital, who provides, as your ONLY option – doctors who work for an out-of-network service.  And the insurance, of course, pays them the out-of-network price.

How do I, as a conscientious consumer, do any better to keep costs down and follow the rules when stuff like that is going on???

Now, if that visit includes x-rays, you’ll be charged for the x-rays, of course.  Then, the x-rays will be read by another doctor there, who then tells the ER doctor the results.  That’s another bill from that doctor, too.  You hope they are in-network.

When this happens, you can usually call and talk with your insurance company, and I have never, to this point, not had them pay the in-network fee.  I have also written numerous letters of complaint to the charging doctor’s service (the one who is out-of-network but providing doctors to the in-network facility); and expressed that not joining the same networks as the facilites their doctors are working in and then expecting the unsuspecting consumer going to the emergency room to pick up the slack in cost is fraudulent and unethical.  If your doctors work at XYZ which is an in-network provider for company A, company B and company C, YOUR COMPANY should be a participating provider and also in-network with companies A, B and C. 

I mean, really.  What am I supposed to do?  Go to the only emergency room available to me and ask the ER doctor his network status while blood is running all over? Puh-leeze.  “By the way, don’t restart my heart if you aren’t in-network.  I’ll wait the 3 plus hours to get to the next nearest hospital, because those doctors should be in-network.” 🙄

I have called and written letters to the hospital, sharing the situation and sharing my perpective that *their*providing practices should not screw over the consumer making use of the only available IN-NETWORK services who then use OUT-OF-NETWORK providers!  Seems the hospital is over a barrel, because they are small and “need the doctor service.”

I had great hope that this kind of stuff would end once we got a second, physician owned hospital. It is in-network, and most of my in-network doctors use this facility for procedures and surgeries. For certain, it’s a MUCH nicer facility.  And not just because it’s new. The people are nice, in every department. They treat you like a real person with a brain, which I greatly appreciate.  In talking with my insurance company, as it turns out, they too, use the same doctor service for the ER.  You know, the out-of-network doctor service. ❓ ❓

What I have also learned, to my great annoyance, is that when you have unplanned surgery there and they send your stuff out to the lab, the lab isn’t in-network!!  Here again, I ask:

How do I, as a conscientious consumer, do any better to keep costs down and follow the rules when stuff like that is going on???

*sigh*

The first work day of the new year – the one that so many feel is a “clean slate” – is primarily going to consist of me calling insurance again. After I get done with insurance, I have the thrilling task of calling another hospital conglomerate (one that is 200 plus miles away; one direction) that has my one set of my specialists there.  I need to find out if a new charge is for the doctor calling me on the phone to give me my lab results, or if they are totally messed up, given that this bill came to my husbands first name with my first name as his last name. While I am getting used to be calling Mr. ______, this one with Hunny Me as the billed name is a new one for me.

That is another thing I find frustrating. It’s a reminder of the mess when I was there the first time, where the one part of the conglomerate -the one that took all my information initially – billed me just fine, but the other part of the conglomerate couldn’t find me listed with my insurance at all and therefore billed me the entire mutiple-thousand dollar(s) amount.

I am tired of the stress and frustration that comes from these things which are out of my control. I am tired of playing the game the right way, only to continue to have issues and trouble that ultimately would cost me mega bucks to ignore. It’s not healthy to have this kind of constant stress and the feeling of being completely overwhelmed that comes with it.

I would *love* to have a clean slate.  I would *love* to have a shred of optimism that so many others have with a new year, or a new month. I’d settle for a new week, even!

As this year come to a close, I can look back and wish to be able to close the cover, never to revisit. There are some things, though, that keep on “giving,” even when we don’t want to accept the “gift.” I know this is my struggle; one I didn’t wish or ask for; one I can’t control or really even impact much.  I don’t fall prey much to asking “why me” and having pity parties, but sometimes, I reach my breaking point where I cannot take any more. I think I am there.

I am not one who can walk away and decompress and just not think about things like this. I don’t relish the fact that I have a battle that I can’t wage for 2 more days. I’m going to have to think about this all weekend, and know that I have to deal with it on Monday. I’m a “deal with it and move on already” kind of person. I don’t generally tend to think that there is anything to be gained by sitting and waiting to address something. Do it and be done with it already!

It is hard to have “hope” for a new year, when you have left-over stuff from the last year to have to deal with.

Lest you think that I am depressed and need that shrink, this is my reality.  These are the kinds of things I deal with on a regular basis. This kind of stuff is the dirty diaper of life.

Overall, I still feel blessed. I know that in many regards, I am very lucky. I have a roof over my head. We have steady income. I have a loving family. My family is generally pretty healthy. I have insurance. Most of the time, I can function reasonably well. I recognize that many including those that I count as my friends – don’t have some of these things. My heart breaks for them, and my prayers go to them. ♥♥♥

In my effort of trying to keep on keepin’ on and staying on track, I am now going to do more laundry. And then I am seriously going to try to watch the movie I didn’t get to yesterday. My goal this year, as in years past, is to try to manage the stuff. 😀 I’ll keep you posted and let you know how that goes. 😆

May you all have a blessed new year, filled with good news, good health, and good relationships!

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Fly LadyStuff.  I have it.  Too much of it.  Really, thanks, I have more than enough.  Do you want some?

Here’s the cliché – cluttered home; cluttered mind.  I’d love to test this and see if it’s true.  There’s just one problem with it – I have too much stuff. It’s not a matter of cleaning; things here are generally clean.  The adults are clean.  The children are clean.  Shoot, even the dogs are clean, as dogs go.

We’re not hoarders, so don’t think in terms like that.  And I’m not one of those people who IS a hoarder but is in denial, just a person saying they are “collectors” of things.  Nope, don’t do that, either. Except books, which was largely unavoidable, until my Christmas shopping resulted in a much-loved Kindle so that I don’t continue to add to the boxes but I digress.

We are very good, in general, about throwing broken items away and donating outgrown clothes and whatnot.  I regularly purge my closet, although I confess that since I despise shopping, I would rather wear clothes something I’ve had for years as opposed to going and buying something new.  I’ll save that for another post.

“So, what’s the problem?” you might be thinking.  My conclusion, which remains the same, is the house.  We’ve been in this house for over 8 years, and almost immediately, I knew we would have problems.  We lost a ton of storage (and a great garage) for a house with more space.  Problem is, we lost necessary storage space and gained things like living space – in all of the *right* areas, I might add.  It’s not a total bust.  I love the spaces we DO have; we just need more of the other kind of spaces.

When we left our other house those eight plus years ago, we were minus a cat, a dog, and a child.  While the bedrooms are bigger and have better closets, having three children of the female variety in one room – one of whom is a tween – the medium-sized walk-in-closet has not come close to solving the chronic issues with having three girls in one bedroom. I, in my naiveté, thought that having another baby that could be a girl would not be too much of a problem, at least until the time came where we sold the house to solve the problem.  So here we are, six plus years after said third girl, and having tried to sell the house for nine months in a failing market, feeling a bit at the end of the rope, and up to my ears in stuff.

If anyone is to blame, I blame myself.  Not so much for having another baby; or for having “too many children” for this house (I mean, who does that, right?  Live your life based on how many you can fit in a car you like or take a chance that you might not fit back into your clothes post pregnancy, requiring more money spent on a new wardrobe?); or even for the amount of stuff this many people require. 

Nope, I blame my lack of inner Martha Stewart.

Back in the olden days, when I had just the one and then just the two kids, I was making all kinds of things.  I made things for their walls, for their beds, and things for other people. I made wall hangings with cute little decorated frames that were painstakingly hand-decorated; I made bedding, including sheets, bedskirts, pillowcases and curtains.  I even made a crib skirt and matching curtains for the nursery.  I made clothes; I sewed clothes and crocheted everything you can imagine – and those things are taking up space, too.  I thought of myself as being generally “crafty,” and was well pleased, feeling like my life was progressing as planned.

By the time baby number three arrived, kindergarten for the oldest was underway, and everything changed.  I didn’t have so much time anymore for making new stuff, so the projects tended to linger for days at a time, on the dining room table, while we moved it aside or ate in the living room. We talked about adding on to our existing house, but decided a different location would probably be better. It wasn’t long until we decided to find a different house, with more space. 

I had been looking off and on for several years, but then I found this house.  And I knew it was a home run – less the storage issue.  I convinced myself (and probably my better half, too) that we would find a way to get through the loss the of storage and everything would work out just fine.

Eight years later, and I am still trying to find a way to fix, treat or solve the storage issue. (Aren’t you proud of me?  I’m trying not to habitually use the Oxford Comma, just to shake things up a bit.  :D)  Yesterday was a day of complete frustration; knowing that not only have I not resolved or adequately treated this issue, but am quickly losing ground.

Yes, this means I – rather, *we* – are trying to put the Christmas things away, including newly added items to the overwhelming stuff problem.  And part of this overall problem is that, really, these are things that are needed, like socks and underwear (indeed, I’ll wrap just about anything, so long as it’s not alive). And other clothes.  And then the more fun items, like a few toys and books.  Did I mention we have a book problem? 😆  In our defense, we’ve been homeschooling for the last eight years, so that endeavor has justifiably added substantially to our ongoing dilemma.

Yesterday, in an effort to combat my overwhelming stuff problem, I grumbled and griped heavily at the kids – who, being kids, are generally unwilling to put good effort into helping clean things up, like putting clothes away appropriately, i.e, hanging in the closet, when it’s much easier to pitch everything on the floor. Logically, I know griping backfires, as does giving praise ;). We’re still working on the concept of children gaining inner satisfaction for things being put away where they belong, which is still a big part of the overall problem.

I got started cleaning the things I can control, like my file boxes, which are organized.  If you know me, you know I am anal when it comes to organization. 😀  Yep, that’s me, known in my work world as a person who has a gazillion files, but can find anything – unless it doesn’t get filed. I *love* ♥♥♥ being organized.  It helps me feel calm, and feel a sense of “all is right with the world and I don’t have to struggle to find what I need,” which let me tell you, is a HUGE thing for me. 

My desk is now mostly free of stuff, and contains my Swiffer, so I can dust my electronics as many times a day as I want.  This will require me to buy another one, but this is a step I am willing to take. If something small like that can help me not to explode while trying to find the one thing on my desk that has sprouted legs and gone wandering off, that is a little bit of progress I am willing to count as a victory.

I go out of my mind – literally – when I can’t find something, particularly when it was *just* right in front of me. In addition to that “Not Me” person who lives in my house, there is also a gremlin that follows people around, snatching up recently set-down items, just for the point of infuriating them. While I know he visits many of you as well, I think he finds my house to be a particularly comfortable environment in which to thrive.

I have a constant battle with stacks. I’ve tried using the Fly Lady method of spending “x amount of time” every day sorting/purging or taking  “x number of items” off the pile every day.  I’ve even thought about getting my shoes on first thing in the morning. Do slippers count?  If they do, then I’m good.  

But shoes “to lace up?” Nope.  Not for me.  One of the things I do the mornings I’m home during the week is run on my treadmill.  The shoes go on pretty early – just not when I first get up with hunny before work.  I get dressed twice as it is.  I don’t think I need lace-up shoes on my feet by 6 am. 😆  Since I’ve now delegated the dish-doing to the kids, the personally shining of the sink every day is off the list, too, although I do try to nag them to shine the sink every day.  That’s not going so well, as you can imagine.  😉

But, I do ok with the stacks, even though they tend to pile up.  I have come to realize that my nemesis in this category is not the junk mail, which I am faithful about shredding, but the magazines I don’t have time to read.  Yes, I read books.  Magazines not so much.  I used keep the pile so I could take my own magazines to the doctor’s office, or when getting my hair done.  I used to have great enthusiasm for the topics in my magazines, mainly Trailer Life and the Good Sam Club’s  HighwaysI also enjoyed reading gift subscriptions to Better Homes and Gardens and Reader’s Digest  for a while I think the reading in public while waiting is a task that now goes exclusively to my new Kindle.

What I’ve learned, interestingly, is that because they come, I feel obligated to read them.  The RV camping magazines were good when we were new at it all, and it was great to get educated about RV/camping and find suggestions for good places to go. What I came to understand, however, is that many of these places often weren’t set up to accommodate busy children or were too far away to get to and back on a week’s vacation.  Plus, through the years, I’ve found my own good ways of searching for campgrounds and destinations that will fit our evolving family,which largely involves using the forum accessed by either Woodall’s  (linked from the Woodall’s site) or RV Net. I’ll share those in another post that is more pertinent to camping.

Back to stuff.  Other magazines have involved crafts; crafts which I don’t seem to have time or space for anymore. As a result, reading my magazines no longer has a top spot on my “things I like to do” list, which is getting shorter and shorter these days. Clearly, I resolved a long time ago not to renew these magazines, but one comes as part of a membership (which gives discounts that we regularly use), and one I ordered for several years, several years ago, that I keep hoping “this is the year it expires.” As you can see, the magazines coming into the house will continue to come into the house, and will continue to be a topic taking up gray matter.

The kids’ magazines, on the other hand, like Kids Discover and National Geographic Kidsare considered part of our homeschooling curriculum. This qualifies them as a necessary evils. The kids really like them and get knowledge, so who can argue with that?

The one set of magazines became “bathroom reading” once I was done with them, but it didn’t take me long to realize that I had moved one pile to another pile, and into a place in the house I desperately try (notice I said “try” 😉 ) to keep as “stuff-free” and as “serene” as I can.  Given the stack of books on the dresser, I know I’m not doing so well in that category, either. At least now I have a Kindle, and therefore some hope for that situation.  Moving one pile from one room in the house to another room in the house is not what I would call “solving the problem.”

For years, I have tried not give the kids stuff that has a lot of pieces. Hum. At least most of the incoming items relate to camping, education or have a box to contain the pieces (like puzzle pieces). Progress? The jury is still out on that one.

And I have food stuff, too. While I am lucky to have a large kitchen with more-than-the-average-number-of cabinets, I have learned that once you get hooked on canning your own food, you will never have enough space.  And I mean that genuinely, with great love. 😆 ♥♥♥  There is nothing more satisfying than filling your cupboards with your own food; food that you know how it was processed and food that isn’t loaded with other stuff.  I am unabashedly a canning junkie.  The problem here again, is space.  I don’t have enough space to contain all the stuff I would like to can; therefore, I don’t can as much as I would like to.

Stuff, stuff, stuff and more stuff.  It is oozing out of my ears! I used to keep boxes in the garage, so that I could pack away stuff (like clothes that weren’t ready to be used by the next child) and keep the room organized.  When we tried to sell the house, I purged – and used – the boxes I had saved.  See the problem?  I had a span of nearly a year without new boxes to store stuff in, which meant………stuff piling up the room. Since I can’t justify buying plastics (which my attic is full of – containing mostly yarn and miscellaneous other craft stuff) because eventually the stuff will either be used or donated, I’ve had to wait for the cardboard boxes which usually only come during this time of the year.

Now, unfortunately, I find I am terribly overwhelmed with the task set before me.  This is primarily why I am sitting here writing instead of trying to sort through all the stuff.  😆  My real world consists of a days that are packed full of stuff to do – schooling every day, running every morning I’m home, being someplace where people count on me the morning I’m not home, and least two afternoons a week at the job. This schedule has to work around being chronically ill, which in-of-its-self is a never-ending guessing game of “how much can I get done today?” It is no wonder that, come the weekend, I am not interested in doing much besides kicking back and trying to do something I enjoy and find relaxing.  Organizing stuff is not relaxing.  😀

While I know it needs to get done, and probably will get done someday, I am not in a hurry. Logic dictates that the longer the stuff goes unaddressed, the more it’s going to accumulate. This isn’t an untested theory, either. 😆 I know this to be true, because the stuff is oozing out of my ears. Next week is back to normal, and if I let myself think about it, I could get worked up into a real panic. I try to remind myself that, as the Fly Lady says, “….your home did not get this way overnight and it is not going to get clean in a day.”  I have the clean part down ok; it’s the stuff getting organized in a place that it will stay that is the issue here.

What am I going to do today?  I am going to doodle online and then tackle the stack on my dresser, which includes movies I haven’t watched yet.  This, I am confident, will help my overall goal of finding a home for more stuff, since we actually do have a place to put the movies.  Once I’ve worked my way through the pile of “unseen,” I can move them to the “seen” pile, which can then be put away.  See how easy that is?!  If I apply this thinking to other things, I will surely end up with more books read, jewelry made, and magazines thrown away.

But in the back of mind, I know I’ll be thinking about how to tackle the storage problem in the one bedroom, and thinking about whether or not perhaps a storage cube can be of help.  Will it help the containment issue? Do we need to put another bookshelf in there for the growing collection(s) of books? How much will it cost?  How will it wear?  Will it be durable and look good in a month (a year, two years – dare I ask – five?)?  Will it actually get used, or will things still be scattered from one end of the house to the other?

My desk is clean, so I am feeling lighter, at least in this space right here. I’m going to cut myself some slack, and do something more that does not involve tackling the stuff. All the while, though, I’ll be thinking about the stuff, and what to do with it and how to combat and it and wondering if my efforts will make a difference long-term.

Stuff. I’ve got it. And it needs to be organized. Less thinking; more doing.  I guess I’m off – to try to tackle one small pile of movie stuff.

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Mojo


I’m looking for this, too.

Did you ever feel just lost?  Not like you don’t know your place in the world lost.  But lost.  Like, somewhere along the way, while you were merrily progressing on schedule with the plan you had made for your life, you woke up at some point and just didn’t feel it any more?  That kind of lost.

I keep trying things- crafts, hobbies, challenging myself to do new “stuff,” and I just don’t feel it.  I have a sense of “whatever” <shrugs>.  And, lest you think I need a shrink, I’m pretty good at playing one at home.  🙂  Maybe I missed my calling- and I’ve thought about that, too.  But you know what?  I don’t care. 

Herein, it seems, lies the crux of the issue.  I spent a long time- nearly three quarters of a decade- caring deeply and strongly; having a passion for my work and the help it gave to others.  And I was *good* at my work.  I helped a lot of people.  I know I made a tangible difference in some of their lives.  I was “on call” most of the time; staying up into the late hours of the night helping people I would never meet in person.  I answered panicked calls after my kids my had been soundly sleeping for hours- and waking my husband, who found another reason for the work to annoy him .

While we knew it was probably coming, the day it came left me with an excited and relieved feeling.  Relieved that because I knew the home conflict it had caused all those years would finally be coming to an end, since I couldn’t walk away on my own- not when it had been a large part of my identity my entire life.  Excited about the possibilities in a life that didn’t revolve around it.

So blah blah blah, right?  Move on with living already!  Well, I am, of course.  Life moves on, and we all keep on keepin’ on.  But in this “new” life, I am finding that my “give a damn is busted.”<thank you Jo Dee Messina>  I’m finding I lack the ability to feel like I care about really anything deeply any more. 

There is logic to what I know I feel- I love my kids, my husband, my pets; I love camping (and really, would have gone completely and utterly insane by now without that escape)- yada yada yada, but I don’t have depth of feeling.  Sure, I can cry during a movie with the best of them because I feel the emotion generated, and I can generate plenty of my own tears.

But past that- I don’t feel like I *really* feel.  I do my new work with the sastisfaction of the dollar coming in.  I enjoy my work environment overall. It’s something completely different, with a different kind of stress, which I have to say, I don’t enjoy. Most of the work is fine; not unpleasant. I do it because, like everyone else, it’s a job.

Did I live my life with such intensity of emotion all that time that now I don’t feel like I’m “feeling” without that same level of ________? Has chronic illness (or the medication :)) switched me to the point where I fell it’s all really just pointless?

Am I just lost?

Am I totally mental?  😀

I try to have faith that one day, I will wake up, feeling refreshed, feeling like I have a genuine purpose and passion again for doing things.  I try to have faith that I’ll find my mojo, although much of the time I wonder if I ever actually had it to begin with.

So if you see my mojo, send it my way, will you?  In the meantime, I’ll be marking time and listening to the……………

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Serenity. I’m looking for it. Any idea where I can find it?

I’ve been plagued with thoughts. My brain seems to be on  overload – thinking thinking thinking thinking all the time. Are those words stuck in my head? Will getting them out help me find the elusive serenity?

I don’t know. I have no idea. I’m not sure I can sustain the pace of writing regularly maybe it will be cathartic. I don’t know.

Let’s give it a try and see what happens.

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