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Archive for February, 2011


Mysterious small town murders in Missouri.  A stranger brought to the town by a package originating there. Will she find the answers she’s searching for? 

Lauryn manages the family estate auction house business, now that her dad is failing due to Alzheimer’s. An only child, she struggles with his care and downward spiral. The current estate causes a town tangle, the likes of which have never been seen before.

As Lauryn sends the package, she has no idea what is being unleashed. Is the package connected to the recent murders in Abbey Hills? What troubles lurk, should the package recipient come to town, looking for answers?

At first blush, the previews of this book read like a classic murder-mystery.  By page 13, I had figured out that nothing could be further from the truth! What a thrill it was to have something completely unexpected crop up in what I thought was going to be a routine who-done-it read.

Not having read any of the author’s previous thirty books, I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into. I make it a policy not to read reviews of other books written by authors I am reading for the first time, nor do I research an author before reading. I’m intrigued now, and will make a note to read other books by Tracey Bateman when I get the chance.

If you have an open mind and like books that aren’t run-of-the-mill and have plots with major, interesting twists, this book is right up your alley.  If you prefer straight, literal reality-based stories and shy away from the funky, Tandem may not be one to put on your list of must-reads.  As a book-of-all-kinds lover, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I give it 5 stars out of 5.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  Click below to help me out by ranking my review!

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I have a confession to make.  I did something today that I have been trying very hard NOT to do for a considerable amount of time.  I can only hope that my transgression today won’t unravel all the good I’ve done while working on this problem for lo these many years. *sigh*

 <whisper> I bought yarn. (pause) Yarn that isn’t involved in a working project. </whisper>

Can you see me dancing with delight? 😆

As you may know, I am in the midst of making baby things for a new niece.  While I bought all the yarn they had in the main color I’m using, I have since run out. Since the yarn is the Hobby Lobby brand, there is no where else to get it.  And, even if I could, the only other store in my town that sells yarn is Wal-Mart.  You can see my limitations.

Two weeks ago, slightly before I ran out of yarn, I went to my local Hobby Lobby to get more.  They were still out.  I filled out the form to special order it, and they were supposed to have it on the following Thursday. They never got any in.  I confirmed that my order on this regularly stocked item was still in the system, and was assured that surely, they would get the yarn the following week.

Yesterday was the day the yarn was supposed to arrive.  They said they would call me one way or another.  Another Thursday passed; another day of silence. Today I went back to the store to see if it had arrived.

It had not. 😥

In my desperation, upon arriving home from my weekly shopping, I went online and ordered more yarn. I am annoyed.  Not only was I charged tax (because we have a local store) but I was also charged shipping.

I emailed customer service to express my displeasure.  Surely, if I can order the yarn online, why can’t the local store get a shipment? And WHY should *I* have to pay for shipping when I ordered it through the store and it didn’t arrive?  Clearly, there is a lack of logic with regard to this situation.

But, this is not the transgression yarn of which I speak. 😀

Since my baby-things-making has stalled, I shifted gears back to the troubled sock. I am pleased to report that while being very large (I used much larger needles on my first practice sock so I could more easily see what I was supposed to be doing) and not necessarily “pretty” in some spots, it actually looks mostly like a sock.  I am starting on the second sock and will try to shrink them to a useable size. 

I have to say that I ♥♥♥ self-striping yarn. I picked up some more smaller sized double-pointed needles (dpns), a thin book on sock making for beginners, and a few small skeins of sock yarn for the next socks I plan to tackle. I am planning on sock making for the forseeable future.

This batch of yarn, too, is not the yarn of my transgression. Indeed, that yarn came at the next stop; my local Wal-Mart.

Since being completely remodeled a few months ago, the craft section has gotten considerably smaller.  I was happy that they didn’t get totally rid of the fabric and yarn, though.  And, they have added beading and jewelry making supplies, which is great, considering I have supplies for that as well. I haven’t gotten into that craft yet, though, since I’m knitting.  I also promised my hunny that when I was done with the baby stuff, I would finish his “lap blanket” (which will be a full-sized blanket at the very least, if not a queen size).  I cannot, in clear conscience, move on to jewelry making until I get the blanket done.

In a total moment of weakness and while seriously crunched for time (because I spent over an hour in Hobby Lobby looking through pattern books), I sped back to the craft section.  And lo and behold, they had nice sock yarn skeins for a buck.  Yes, that’s right – 2.47 ozs of bliss for $1.

In solid colors!

Given that I had just come from Hobby Lobby, which didn’t have *any* solid colored sock yarn, and given that I wear socks with pants, mostly in the non-sweltering months here, I tend to primarily wear solid colored socks.  While I appreciate and am excited to wear the striped socks that will eventually be made, there is something very utilitarian feeling about having the opportunity to make socks that will be worn perhaps more frequently (than striped).

It was the combination that got me, truly.  Finding the elusive solid colored sock yarn for $1 – well, I can’t even describe the shivers that overcame me as I stood there in sheer delight.

Now I have another stash of something under my bed. And, unlike stashes of the past, I really feel like this yarn will get used sooner than later.  Socks, while more challenging at this point, seem to be more portable and easier to take places than other, larger projects. I can work on them and not get hot (like making a blanket), and there seem to be infinite patterns to help avoiding boredom. 

BUT. This motion in reverse has me considering another step in the backwards direction: magazines.  😆  I have years and years of crochet magazines, but not knitting.  Since knitting is my new endeavor, I wonder if I would enjoy a knitting magazine like I did with my crochet magazines.

This, in turn, leads me to think about an electronic subscription, but I’m not sure if it would be as enjoyable.  I enjoy seeing the glossy pictures and the easily being able to flip through the pattern.  Would I miss that experience? Even as I write, that “bad” part of my brain is telling me to give the print issue a try first, and then move onto digital, if it seems like that would work better.

Someone talk me down! 😆 Ah, well. 

You know, even if you go in reverse sometimes, every now and then you can still end up where you want to. I’m feeling optimistic that this is what’s happening here.  I’ll keep you posted!

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There’s something I want.  I submit that I *must* have it, in order to survive.  Problem is, I don’t have the money to pay for it.  Who’s gonna pay? 

I’ve been watching with great interest the debate going on in Wisconsin over pay raises for public employees, like teachers.  At first, by all accounts, it was the teachers who flooded the state capital; now it seems all kinds of public employees are there too. 

Except, of course, for the Democrats in the state Legislature  who literally ran away to another state to hide, so they didn’t have to vote on the budget.  The government is at a standstill, and who knows how much money has been spent unsuccessfully trying to use the State Police to find and bring home the missing elected, public servants.

I don’t think those folks are living in the same world I live in. If I ran away from my paying job because I had a difficult decision or an unpleasant task to have to do, not only would I be disciplined for insubordination, I’d also be fired by this point and time.  There’s a term for that – it’s called job abandonment.

At the crux of this debate is money. Some will say it’s about all kinds of other things – denigrating public employees (particularly teachers), usurping the ability of public service unions and their members from exerting the power they feel they are “entitled” to. Statistics from the Washington Examiner says this about unions:

“Only 7.3 percent of all private sector employees are union members, while 37.6 percent of all government workers are unionized. Fifty-one percent of all union members are government workers.”
 
I am not in a union, nor have I ever been.  My husband is not in a union and hasn’t been in one for over 17 years.  Yes, at one time he was in a trade union, but not by choice.  He either had to be in it or he didn’t get the job.
 
Regardless of choice, the issue at hand here is money.  People there want more.  The state doesn’t have it. Where is the money going to come from?  Do we rob Peter to pay Paul? Do we roll the dice or throw darts? 
 
As an adult, I am responsible for my finances.  Me.  I don’t have a money tree in my backyard.  I have to balance my budget.  It’s as simple as that.  No one will pay bills for me if I want something I say is necessary for my survival. I have “x” amount of dollars coming in. Thankfully, this isn’t a flexible amount like it is for a state, which has to estimate income (like taxes) and hope it meets up with actual spending at the end of the year.
 
In my budget, something has to give when there are unexpected changes, like medical bills or plumbing issues.  So, what’s it going to be?  What is going to give?
 
Seems to me, in this situation, pensions and medical plan costs are being passed down to teachers, which yes, affects their take-home pay.  I have heard the argument that “teachers are taxpayers, too, and their pension/retirement plans have taken huge hits – why should they have to pay more and make less money?”
 
Welcome to reality, friends. Over the last few years, our retirement plan has also taken huge hits. Over the last 5 years or so, our medical plan costs and deductibles have continued to increase, while the benefits change. I read an article a while ago about the teacher’s union (New York) being up in arms because things like Viagra and plastic surgery were “benefits” that were going to be cut.  We here in this world have been dealing with all the things the teachers and other public employees are upset about. 
 
Viagra has never been part of our benefit plan.  Neither has birth control pills, although I heard a rumor that if it was medically necessary, it would be covered.  I tried that a few times and never got it covered, despite it actually BEING medically necessary. The upside is that birth is covered. We don’t get plastic surgery at all, unless it’s reconstructive. Our company has thousands of employers and is a Fortune 500 company.  This generally means they have some pull and can get better rates than smaller companies.
 
We also don’t have the ability to go on strike or otherwise fight for wages.  Yearly wages are predetermined, according to the budget.  There are annual reviews, and if you are management, you have the opportunity to meet your objectives and get a bonus. If you are hourly, you get the raise they give you, if one is given.  I’m sure there is more to it, with nuances that I, the one not being reviewed and employed, don’t have first-hand knowledge of.  I can say that my boss (for my very part-time job) went and asked for raises for us.  The answer was no, of course.  Times are tough.
 
I know a lot of teachers.  I’m related to a lot teachers (and administrators).  I’m friends with teachers that I had in high school, and have great regard for those  (teachers) I’m friends with and some others that made an impact on me. I grew up in a household where my dad was a teacher and then moved on to administration. I think there are some wonderful people out there who are wonderful teachers.
 
Let us please be clear on those points before y’all start flaming me.  🙂
 
The public school system is deeply flawed.  While there are a number of excellent teachers, there is also a great number who are not. In some districts, people can teach school without ever having gone to school to become teachers.  I think this is some of the problem with schools. I think another problem is that there are people who become teachers simply because of the benefits.  I mean, who wouldn’t want a job where you only have to work 9 months out of the year, and where you have great benefits, including retirement, right?  And that’s not to say that it is a gravy train, because as good teachers will tell you, there is a lot more to it than that. I will tell you that I have known (casually) people who went into teaching *only* because of the benefits and shorter work year.
 
I’m not putting it all on the school districts themselves, because let’s face it, the No Child Left Behind Act had goodness behind the concept but is a boat anchor in practicality. We can’t blame any one group. We can’t blame only the Democrats; we can’t blame only the Republicans (despite a lot of people wanting to point fingers at them and the Tea Party and others who are fiscally conservative and trying to balance budgets, like the Republican Governor of Wisconsin.); we can’t only blame the former or current administrations.  The point is not to place blame, but to find a realistic, sustainable fix.
 
I don’t have one.  🙂  Just thought I’d clear that up.  😆
 
So here’s the thing.  Pretty nearly every career job requires more than an 8 hour work day. More often than not, there is work that goes home and is worked on during non-clocked hours there as well. More often than not, there are difficult people and situations to deal with, too, in these other jobs.
 
I had a note come across my desk today that likened teachers to babysitters ( as in, this is how some people see teachers and are therefore justifying not paying them more), so let’s see what we should pay them.  The math was $3 an hour @ 6.5 hours for 30 students X 180 days a year.  That’s not including planning hours or parent-teacher conferences or any kind of extra.  Sound low?  Well, according to the math, the income “should” be $105,300. 
 
Now, if you were a more educated teacher, like a special education instructor with a master’s degree, you could charge more, like minimum wage, which would result (using this math) in a wage of $280,800.  This formula has been applied for stay-at-home-moms, too, so if you combine that with the teacher wage, since we homeschool, I’d be rolling in dough.  🙂 
 
It’s my opinion that you have to throw that kind of math out the window, because it’s not reality (and no, I’m not saying using that kind of math in this example is anything more than a show of support).  The realities of a job are the duties to be performed.  Every job has details and responsibilities.  Depending on the job, those things are going to vary.  That’s part of the job. You know that going in. If I work in a nursing home, I am not going to count (except for charting purposes) residents I care for, and how many times each is taken to the bathroom, helped, or responded to and expect that to be taken into account into my paycheck.  Why? Because that is not how the job and payment for the job work. Employment payment doesn’t generally work like that.
 
Here are some numbers to look at that have wage information:
High School Teacher $43,355
Elementary School Teacher $40,432
Middle School Teacher $42,311
Special Education Teacher, Preschool, Kindergarten, or Elementary School $41,016
Special Education Teacher, Secondary School $43,889
Secondary School Teacher $42,223
Special Education Teacher, Middle School $42,060
Measure  Some High School High school graduate Some college Associate’s degree Bachelor’s degree or higher Bachelor’s degree Master’s degree Professional degree Doctorate degree
Persons, age 25+ w/ earnings $20,321 $26,505 $31,056 $35,009 $49,303 $43,143 $52,390 $82,473 $69,432
Male, age 25+ w/ earnings $24,192 $32,085 $39,150 $42,382 $60,493 $52,265 $67,123 $100,000 $78,324
Female, age 25+ w/ earnings $15,073 $21,117 $25,185 $29,510 $40,483 $36,532 $45,730 $66,055 $54,666
Persons, age 25+, employed full-time $25,039 $31,539 $37,135 $40,588 $56,078 $50,944 $61,273 $100,000 $79,401
 
Now let’s compare. Let’s use the numbers that we used earlier. We will start with a high school teacher average: $43,355 / 180 days of work = $240.86 a day / 8hrs (standard for most companies) = $30.11 per hr.

Male, age 25+ w/ earnings with a Bachelor’s degree earns $52,265 /245 (let’s give 2 weeks vacation per year and 5 holidays) = $213.33 a day / 8hrs = $26.66 per hr.

It looks to me like the average teacher is making a higher per-hour dollar amount now using those numbers.  But WOW, take a look a the report with figures from the National Education Association report on salaries, which states in part on page 10:

Classroom Teacher Salaries:   The U.S. average public school teacher salary for 2008–09 was $54,319.”

Another article worth checking out come from Michigan, and can be found here.  This table shows:

State Average Teacher Salary
New York $71,470
California $70,458
Alaska $69,864
New Jersey $68,703
Connecticut $68,412
Massachusetts $68,000
Maryland $65,902
Michigan $65,285

 

While I couldn’t quickly find that chart, I did find the chart on page 110 with 2010 estimated teacher salaries for Wisconsin.  This estimates an average teacher salary of $52,644.  Using our math per hour, that gives us an houlry rate of $39.59.

When working a shorter monthly schedule, there are about 3 months of the year where, if needed, another job, albeit temporary, could be considered.  And, in fact, I know lots of teachers who do more than just teach school, and therefor are paid additional monies.

So, back to the money.  Where’s it going to come from?  “Teacher’s can’t pay their bills.”  The reality is that given the current economic climate, a good many people can’t pay their bills.  We’re all in that same boat.  That’s reality.  Except, most of the rest of us don’t have a summer where we could find extra work to help offset the bills because we’re already working a 40 hour plus work week.

We all want more money. We’re all paying more out-of-pocket for groceries and gas and health care, etc.  Some of us want to sell our houses, but can’t. There are a whole variety of reasons a person may want to sell his house, like to get out of a mortgage that couldn’t afforded without the sub-prime rates; balloon payments (and lowered value in many real estate markets); payments at regular rates that can’t be afforded; to upgrade and get more space, to change locations, or to get away from rotten neighbors. We are all affected by the lousy economy!

It there is anything that we should have learned from the recession, it is this:  You shouldn’t spend more than you make. You HAVE GOT TO plan for the unexpected, which usually means living a little lower and socking some money away for those unexpected things.  We each need to be financially responsible. Counting on someone else (who??) to save us is not going to work. The budget HAS GOT to be balanced. 

So. Who’s gonna pay? 

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Yep.  That’s me. Are you being screwed, too? 

I cannot think of another way to summarize the health care system besides using this term. When you live in a small, rural community that is isolated from the rest of the world, I really do think that the health care systems feels you are supposed to feel indebted to them while being screwed. And if you don’t?  Well, they don’t give a rip.

You may recall my earlier post about 2010 and the struggles I’ve been dealing with regarding medical billing. Yes, they continue. I spent nearly 6 hours non-stop today scanning, copying and summarizing the one situation in my complaint to my state’s Public Regulation Commission (PRC). 

Do I feel better? No. Why not? I’m expecting to be screwed yet again for reasons that are presently unknown to me.

The health care system is not just screwed up, it’s totally broken.  I have *zero* hope that it will ever get fixed.  Socialist health care won’t fix it. Goodness knows having insurance doesn’t contribute in any way past lowing the dollar amount owed by those with good insurance by which the consumer gets screwed.  It’s like having a bullseye on you when you have insurance.

Seriously.  One test now in dispute was billed at over $220.  Insurance says “reasonable and customary” for that procedure is around $40.  Insurance paid at 90% even though the PPO provider sent the labs to a non-PPO lab.  Which means…… I am “responsible” for paying the difference.  See -that’s getting screwed. 

Insurance says the contracted amount should only be around $40 and will pay over $35. My portion, if the lab had been under contract with my insurance group, would have been around $3.95.  But I, the consumer playing by the rules, is going to be billed the remainder of that $220 plus amount, and will be screwed if I don’t pay.  And, I’ll be charged tax on the whole amount because, since the provider is not in network, neither is lab testing, which means they can charge me gross receipts tax for any non-covered procedure.

I can’t tell you how darn tired I am of getting screwed. The consumer, as far as I know, has no recourse, except to file a complaint and ask for an investigation. It feels like everyone is out to take advantage of people who do have insurance, especially those in poor, rural locations where options for care are not abundant. 

In my opinion, if I go to a PPO (in-network) provider for a ser vice that is contracted and covered by my insurance, it should be the responsibility of the provider to perform and likewise send labs to other PPO providers. I was never given a warning that this would not be the case, nor the option to specifically chose who labs get sent to. Rest assured, I would have travelled 200 miles in any direction to ensure that things would go to ONLY PPO providers had I known the alternative. Traveling would mean ultimately paying more out-of-pocket, but to not have the battle afterwards would justify the expense, in my opinion.

I’ve also recently been told that no one cares about pursuing this because of the low dollar amount.  Excuse me? For me, it’s not so much the dollar amount as much as it is the principle of the thing.  I’m not one who says, “Oh, gee, because this one only costs “x” amount, I will pay it.” It doesn’t matter.  The point is that they could charge you *ANY* amount.  Dollar amount does not make something right. The could charge $2,000 for the labs or the procedure – they could only charge you $2. Some might say that the lower dollar amount isn’t worth their time to fight.

Who is going to pay me for the 6 hours I spent today to speak up? If they charged everyone $2 and no one complained, it wouldn’t take long for it to add up. They can screw up my credit rating over $2 if I don’t pay it, yet I have no recourse for unethical and fraudulent billing?

Here’s another problem with the medical community where I live.  In order to get into a doctor, it takes as a new patient nearly 3 months to be seen. Most doctors here are already overwhelmed and aren’t accepting new patients.  Until I got sick 3 years ago, the only medical person I saw in the last 15 years was my midwife. That’s right, I don’t use doctors unless I have to.

Now imagine you don’t have a family doctor and you or your child gets really sick with a respiratory something. Is it reasonable for you to wait 3 months to be seen – or even 2 weeks if someone is willing to try to squeeze you in -when you are very ill and having difficulty breathing *now*?  No, it’s not.  So, what to are your choices?  In the last year, we have finally gotten a single non-emergency after hours clinic that is open on Saturdays and until 9 pm. Before that? Nada.

It was no wonder people went to the emergency room for non-life threatening problems! Initially, my company’s health insurance plan responded by changing the deductible for emergency room visits.  At first, it was $300 out-of-pocket, which did not go towards meeting the deductible, and then it was contracted plan amounts after the deductible was paid. Then, it went up to $500 out-of-pocket etc. This extra amount was waived in the event you were admitted to the hospital. 

I don’t know what it is now, but our family motto is that unless death is imminent, we’re not using the ER (which only works unless stitches are needed). And, even though you go to an in-network/PPO provider like both of our local hospitals, the ER doctors are provided by a company/service which was not contracted with my PPO, which meant that we got charged all the excessive charges because they weren’t bound to a contract.

Both hospitals used this same service because since we are in a rural town, they weren’t able to ever get enough people on staff to cover the ER. So now you get totally screwed again. And charged tax because the doctors are providing the in-network provider with out-of-network services.

Yes, I know the world isn’t fair. Yes, I know I have no real impact over anyone doing (or not doing) the right thing. But I am TIRED OF GETTING SCREWED.  If that means I have to waste my time to complain and go public, then I will. Until you and I, the consumer, keep at it until someone gets tired enough of hearing from us to address the issue, unethical and fraudulent medical practices will continue.

But darn, I am tired of the fight. I’m tired of the hassle, the headache, the stress and chasing things down trying not to get screwed. If you have answers, please share!

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The Bridge of Peace; Cindy Woosdsmall 

The Bridge of Peace; Cindy Woodsmall

This is a book with a solid story line. It has it all – suspense, soul-searching, tragedy, complicated relationships and a bit of romance – set to the backdrop of an Old Amish community. The author weaves together the stories of the local schoolteacher and a childhood friend, who also happens to be on the school board. They both face challenges in their lives; she struggles to make a life despite a birthmark that leaves her judged; he struggles to connect with his wife in their dead marriage.

Initially, the amount of characters was a bit overwhelming, trying to remember who was who and how they were related. Once I finished the book, I saw the list of main characters in the back of the book.  I wish this list had been in the front of the book, so as I began reading (which was my first book to read in this series), I could have used the list for reference instead of reading back and having to sort through on my own.

I would like to read the other book in the series, but as a stand-alone book, the reader is pretty quickly brought up to speed. The author set up several scenarios for disaster (at least in my mind), but those didn’t play out. I liked that the plot was not completely predictable.

I would read other books by this author, and would recommend it to folks who liked reading stories of this nature.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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And loving it! I love the sensation of being bundled up. I love having the ability to kind of be at the right temperature. One of my chief complaints about my location here is the heat.  I don’t tolerate heat well, and I can’t control my body temperature. Much of the time, it feels to me like I have heat radiating off of my legs, like when I put a blanket on. Then there are times when I can’t get warm, and have freezing arms, legs and feet. The upside to the cold is that I can add layers to try to get warm, which might take a while, but can happen.  I have learned that when I am hot, I’m just hot, and even cold showers only help for a very brief amount of time.

We’ve been in a cold snap here, that is not breaking records, but is something not seen in over 50 years.  We’ve been well below zero, with morning temperatures at -17 and a daily high of below 20. Many people move to the desert southwest (and certainly, a very large percentage of our population are retirees) to avoid the snow and cold.  Our town doesn’t have a snowplow. We usually don’t get much snow, and if we do get snow, it is usually gone (regardless of how many inches) within a day or two.

This cold snap has been hard for our state, primarily because we’ve had a gas shortage.  Some folks have been without gas for 6 plus days.  Not all of those days have been brutally cold during the day, but temperatures are very, very cold at night in particular. So, last week, we had days off of school.  While we had just a dusting of snow on the ground (a little more than an inch in places), we had no public school for two days.  Because of the gas shortage, the governor closed the schools.

What I’ve found particularly interesting is the amount of damage the cold has done to the state.  The state’s major school district has had numerous pipes burst.  When we had a cold snap about a month ago, there was a lot of damage from frozen and then thawing pipes.  And that town has also had major road disruption from water main breaks as well. Now this week, we heard about a school that had 7 to 8 feet of water in the basement, before the leak was found.

Now, I know the water was in the basement. And I know that over the weekend, there probably aren’t people poking around in school.  But, knowing the cold, wouldn’t have someone gone and checked?  I remember numerous times my dad (a former school superintendent at the same district for 40 years; 31 as superintendent) going to school and checking on things. I can only assume that building codes for things like pipe insulation are vastly different depending on state location.  I admit, this situation left me scratching my head.

Today, heat (natural gas) is back on for most everyone in the state.  To add insult to injury, the  gas company is going to ask the PRC (Public Regulation Commission) for a rate hike.

The thing with the cold here is that there are legitimately people who don’t have the clothes – and the means to buy new clothes – to keep them warm.  A trip to the local Wal-Mart will show you this. People are worried about the rising cost of necessities, and for those living in a temperate climate like we usually have, that can mean clothes that may or may not be needed don’t make that list.

I love the cold.  I love the snow.  There is something soothing to my soul to watch the snow come down. I am often reminded that I feel this way because I don’t have to be out in it on purpose. 😀

I know so many others that are tired of the snow and the headache of daily life in miserable and often dangerous cold conditions. I wonder if I would be in that camp if I was living there, too?

So, as I sit bundled up under blankies and shawls, holding a hot cup of tea to warm my hands and chuckling as my glasses steam up as I drink it, I am grateful. I am appreciative to have had days off from running with “legitimate” reasons besides pain. I am grateful to have the ability to get warm. I am grateful to have the ability to hunker down with the kids on days off from school. This is something I could get used to!

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I wish I had one.  Since I don’t, I keep track of my pain in other ways.

You may recall that I added more exercises specific to the hips as a means of hopefully combatting the chronic pain I’ve had there.  This has given me mixed results.  Initially, I was very optimistic.  I even had a whole day without the pain!  What I will say is that the hip pain overall has been better.  I don’t have the amount of intense hip pain when running.  Some days, I can feel the ache, but don’t have a lot of hip pain.  This is encouraging.

Foot pain, on the other hand, has long been an issue.  I’ve been paying more attention to this, since some days I can barely walk.  We have long considered this pain to be of the plantar fasciitis variety.  To date, this seems to be the most likely, although there are parts of this pain that don’t fit the profile.  I seem to have more problems in the winter when it’s colder. The high heels seem to help, sort of. I stretch every few hours during the day, etc etc.  This is not a constant pain, but has been sporadic for at least the last 5 years. 

Unlike typical plantar fasciitis, this pain *does not* go away after getting up and walking around a bit.  This can be a near constant, throbbing pain, regardless of whether I’m sitting down or standing up.  And, there are times when heel cushions in my shoes *do* help.  While I can press on the middle of the bottom of the heel and have sharper pain some of the time, what gets me the pain of the back of the heel.  Massage and compression alternately feel painful and good, but massage of the back of the heel can relieve some of the throbbing on occasion.  Basically, that whole area is bad.

What nearly brought me to knees, literally, on Tuesday was the pain in my leg.  While in many regards, this feels like run-of-the-mill shin splints, the sharp, shooting nerve kind of pain in the leg nearly rendered me non-weight bearing several times during my run.  I took it easier; I didn’t run as hard or as fast, and did more walking, which was still painful, but bearable.  I wrapped and elevated until evening, when the throbbing and shooting pain was too much, and I took some ibuprofen.  Twice.  This allowed me to sleep, and the pain in my leg and feet was not as bad.  Normally, I wake up and before getting out of bed, the feet are throbbing. I do several minutes of feet stretches in bed, knowing it’s going to bite when I put my feet on the floor.

I’m keeping my eye on this.  My debate is whether to exercise at all tomorrow, or, given another snow day, to just keep my feet up and knit.  I am leaning towards knitting. 😀 At the very least, I’ll just walk unless things feel really good, and I’ll wrap and wear my ankle brace.  I am not ruling out an issue with my Achilles tendon. In many ways, given the leg pain, this seems to be something that could be likely in the heel, if not the calf, since my pain is more the front of the leg.  If an issue with my Achilles tendon is the problem, the help (wearing heels) for plantar fasciitis is contraindicated, so what to do with that?

In the back of my mind, since I have had the feet pain for so many years, I have to wonder if it’s related to the whole body issue, and is a symptom of that?

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of pain!  When you have issues with pain, it is hard not to have it consume you.  Pain is physically and emotionally draining, to say the least.  Maybe I don’t need a painometer – maybe I just need consistent relief!  I had really hoped the heavy-duty anti-inflammatory I am taking now would have helped something. 

If anyone reading has experience with this kind of pain, feel free to share!

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