Thursday, January 20, 2011

Temper Temper!

The header is my new one for the winter.  This is what it looked like for nearly 2 weeks.  There was ten inches of snow then three or four inches of ice on top of that and when I looked out the back door I knew we weren't going anywhere.  Not anytime soon.  Or as my Bubbles (Violet Loxley) would say, if the snow is shiny, it will hurt your hiney. 

So we've sort of been stuck in here together for days, getting on each others nerves.  War broke out once or twice, but luckily older son was iced in with us and acted as referee.  It could have gotten bad, but at least we never lost power.  That in itself was a blessing from heaven.  We had to go rake snow off the satellite a couple of times but other than that, we kept each other entertained with tales of who had cabin fever to the nth degree, me or him. 

Funny how much I love snow.  I mean I love our kind of snow, the here today gone tomorrow kind of snow.  Then we got Jersey Snow.  The snow that is here today and here tomorrow and still here in April.  Yes, I've lived through snow where Evil Sister and I had to hack a path from her back door to mine so we could play hours of Scrabble.  That was called keeping ourselves sane.  And the kids never missed a day of school.  The snow was half way up the picture window and they had school.  Chesterfield County in 1987 had 1 inch and the school was closed for days.  The boys really hated that.  A lot.

So here we are, with Jersey Snow, and high winds on top of that.  Mac had a colonoscopy scheduled for last Friday, but we couldn't get out to get the solution and tab he had to take.  So, it's was rescheduled for tomorrow.

I looked forward to getting out of here on my own Monday.  I dressed in my best wool slacks with my cashmere sweater, the beautiful shawl my sister Toni gave me and my fur hat.  I looked pretty good,  if I  do say so myself ,it made my spirits hum.  Put on my lipstick, grabbed my bag and hit the porch.  Slid three feet to the gate, looking to be sure no one saw me, straighted my hat and walked gingerly to the truck.  I was in such good humor! 

Now, we have had one insurance company for years, Tricare...most of the meds are mail order, but we get things like this from CVS and have never ever had a  problem.  I waltzed into CVS Pharmacy, handed over the prescription and went to wander around the store while they filled it.  I heard someone calling my name, and got over to the counter as quickly as I could.  The lady behind the counter told me that the insurance company had declined to pay because we had other insurance.  I asked what DOB she had used.  It was the right one.  I asked if it was Tricare.  It was.  She said she would call them to see what might be the problem.

So, she gets someone on the line and begins to explain that the prescription was being turned down for payment and that the customer claimed no other insurance.  She was nodding and rolling her eyes and she looked at me and asked if I would like to talk to her.  I narrowed my eyes and held out my hand for the phone.

"Now, just what seems to be the problem here?"  I asked her. 
"Well, " she says, "it appears that you have another insurance that should cover this,  madam, and you should use that one before trying to make  the government pay."

Remember the little girl in The Exorcist, the one whose head spun around and she began to spit green soup?  Well, no, I didn't do all of that, but I did choose my words carefully.  "Now, you listen to me, I don't know where you are, but I can assure you that where ever you are, my husband spent a lot of time keeping you safe.  It's a pity that a man can put thirty years in the Navy and then you make a statement like that!  My husband's time in service has more than paid for any medication or medical treatment that this government, such as it is, provides.  We only have the insurance that we have had for the past 21 years the one that you are trying to represent.  I suggest you fix this error and quickly. And DON'T CALL ME MADAM!"  I handed the phone back to the lady behind the Pharmacy counter.  She was smiling from ear to ear.  She kept saying "yes, yes, of course.  No the customer is still here, we'll take care of it right now."

She hung up as I was straightening my hat again and looked out at me and told me that they had taken the red flag off the account and the order would be filled.  Then she started laughing outright.
"Mrs. McBride, I don't know when I've enjoyed a conversation with an insurance company more.  And might I say, you looked quite elegant up there on your high horse!"  I started to laugh with her, and told her I might need some help getting down from it to insure I didn't do myself an injury.  I don't know when I've enjoyed losing my temper more!


Monday, January 10, 2011

The Pie Chart

As I know a lot of you are aware, I recently celebrated a birthday (on the 7th as it happens).  When I got up that morning I felt rested and energetic enough to take the wild tail girlie (a mix of some ungodly breeds of dogs who are apparently site hounds and Heinz 57 doesn't even begin to cover it) for a walk in the early morning dew.  I felt 20 something.  I may walk with a limp, but my spirit is free of any such affliction.   So we walked down through the woods and up the other side and she picked up the scents of rabbits and squirrels, deer and maybe a lynx or two...and dragged me through brambles and wild berry bushes, around pines and between two cedars growing together.  When I finally made it back to the front porch, I was a bit winded but other than that in fine fettle.  But I felt about 30 something. I unhooked Chase's leash (she is aptly named, believe me) when we got inside and gave her the expected treat.  Faux bacon is her treat of choice barring a little  ginger mailman with dog safe ingredients baked inside.  I looked over at the Keurig and drooled.  My very favorite Christmas present, it offers me any blend of wonderful coffees, Doughnut Shop, Kona, Black Silk, French name it.  So I went over to this little gem and putting my cup beneath it's spout, lifted the coffee tub holder and placed my coffee of choice in the slotted area.  Black Silk by Folgers.  Oh my.  Pulled down the handle and saw the red flashing light which read "add water".  Cursed the last person to make a cup and not check the water reservoir, and then drew up water from the Brita filter contraption that is attached to my faucet.  By this time I had run swiftly through my 30's and the 40's were almost in my rear view  mirror.  It was only 7:30 in the morning.  I brewed myself a cup of coffee without offering anyone else a cup, sat on the sofa with one leg tucked under me and watched the news of the morning and night before all the while  letting  that cup of coffee wash 10 years off my attitude.   Ah, pleasure, just pure coffee addiction pleasure.
I had decided that this was the birthday I would ignore.  After all, no one but me much ever remembered it anyway.  I decided years ago that it was no big deal that Mac could never remember when my birthday was or even when our Anniversary falls, so deciding that since I'd already hit the big 60, no need to worry about such trite things as birthdays anymore.  Then the Face book greetings started pouring in and I discovered that I really did care after all.  It was pleasing to see all those lovely comments, even from people who have known me 30+ years.  And a few who have known me 50+ whom I thought I'd   offended years ago had found my face book page and made mention of the day. When I saw all that, I felt 20 again.  Okay, so the afternoon approached quickly and we were trying to decide whether to run out to Roger's Smokehouse Restaurant for dinner or wait and take in breakfast with him the next morning.  I chose breakfast, because the 50's had slipped by me somehow and I was really too tired to think about doing much more than grabbing a hot bath and flannel Jammie's and warm socks and reading the book (The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters) I'd started just after Christmas. 
It was while I was preparing a quick supper of grits eggs and toast that it happened.  I had taken down the grit pot (all Southern cooks know that once you have found the perfect grit pot, nothing but grits ever gets cooked in it) and put the water on to boil.  I started looking for the lid to it (or led as I remember my Great Grandmother calling it).  I looked on the counter, no lid.  I looked in the pantry, no lid.  I knew I'd just had the dingdanged thing so where could it have gone?  I spent a good thirty minutes looking for the blamed thing. My mother always said that I was so high strung I could  thread a sewing machine needle with it running. I let things get to me sometimes.   Finally I just  turned off the water and we had turkey sandwiches for supper.  It really bothered me that I had misplaced the lid, and now I felt my 60+ years.  After supper I went over to the kitchen table and picked up the book I'd been reading.  And there it lay in shameless glory, the lid to the grit pot.  Right then I remembered the cute thing  that a friend had sent to me as a birthday joke  and realized the truth of it.  I spend way to much time these days looking for things that are always in the last place I look when I am no longer looking.  Being highstrung may have few advantages, but at least I can laugh at myself when the search is over!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Of Cabbages and Kings and Hospital Things

Okay, you all know Mac and how into his gardening he is, right?  You know we're early risers and out and about checking on the collards, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages.  We even pulled  a collard on Sunday and ate him right up with squash and field peas and cornbread.  Unless you're from the South you probably don't know collards from succotash, but it's very similar to kale.  Just better.  So Mac planted these lovely plants from seed in August and babied and pampered them and we've watched them grow into these lovely huge leafy beasties.  I was out there wandering amongst the beasties and choosing the one to "kill" for Thanksgiving.  Mac, who is King of the garden, caught me fondling the large leafy beauty that was going to grace my cook pot.  I had told him that since we'd had two frosts, I saw no reason to wait for Thanksgiving to have our first taste of heaven.  I'd cook this lovely right up and we'd freeze what was left for Thanksgiving dinner.  He fell for it hook line and garden shears. 

Yesterday Mac did nothing of his normal routine.  He got up early, sure.  But he didn't go out to check the garden or the trees, he didn't shuck corn for the guinea hens.  He said he didn't feel all that well and wrapped up in fleece blanket, lay back in his chair.  I took his temperature, it was 97.4.  He didn't have much of an appetite, in fact ate nothing all day, just nibbled.  He had one cup of coffee and the rest of the day drank lemonade.  I was concerned about him but whenever I asked how he was, he would only say that he felt some better.  At 9:30 he announced he thought he would go to bed.  At 10, I followed.  At 2 a.m. I felt him get up and sit on the edge of the bed.  I asked him if he was okay.  He asked for his nitro spray and I got it for him.  By 2:30 a.m. I had called 911 and gotten an ambulance on the way.  When he had gotten up to get a drink, he collapsed into unconsciousness on the living room floor.  I could not bring him around as hard as I tried.  After 911 I called for my son Wallace to come help me.  He finally came around but had no idea what had happened to him.  Wallace let the squad members in and within a few minutes they were on the way to the hospital with him.  Wallace, seeing I was in no shape to drive took over those duties. We made it to the ER seconds behind the ambulance.  While on the road he had been given two medications to bring his heart rate down from the 200+ beats per minute.  Having gotten him converted, he was awake and fully responsive by the time they let us back with him.  But suddenly, while the nurse was checking his vitals, he went into a full blown seizure that I knew was serious because she lost her calm and began yelling "I need help in here guys, send me a Doctor stat".  His face was grey, his eyes were wide open with pleading and his entire body was stretched out as if some unseen forces were trying to pull him apart.  To say that Wallace and I were now in a state of panic is an understatement.  I was  begging God to help and telling Mac at the same time, we're here we're here. 

Okay, this is where we were on November 18th,  2010.  Funny, it doesn't seem to have been that long ago.  I was sitting by his hospital bed after several harrowing hours in the ER and found I couldn't concentrate enough on anything but him.  Wallace  had brought me my laptop after he made a flying visit to the house to bring me clothes other than my night clothes.  I sat in the world's most uncomfortable recliner, laptop in front of me and determined to make some sense of the past few hours.  I failed miserably.  He moved, I stopped.  He groaned, I stopped.  He called my name, I froze.  So, putting the usually comforting laptop away and any idea of expressing my feelings about what was going on, I concentrated on his condition.  The Cardiologist came in and expressed complete puzzlement over what might have occurred but offered any manner of tests that might offer an answer.  By this time the children and grandchild and minister had arrived and Mac was converting to his John Wayne persona.  "I'm fine, nothing going on here, I have work to get back to, leave me alone blah blah blah".  The blah blah blah is where I quit listening to him and turned to the doctor and asked about the importance of having yet another catherazation even when he had passed a stress test with flying colors not three months previously.  "If he were a family member of mine, he wouldn't leave here without it" pretty much sewed it up for me.  Meanwhile, Mac was busy pulling the stitches out of my resolve.  Finally I looked at the drawn faces around me, my older son in particular (he had been in the ER with me at the time of the unexplained seizure and near death experience, after all.  "I need some help here, guys, " I demanded of them.  Wallace looked at his father, his face pale his voice determined.  "Dad, you don't understand, I thought we were watching you die."  That did it.  Mac simply laid back and gave in to our demands.

Where we stand now.  The catherazion found a previously thought closed graft wide open and flowing blood like a champ.  Why his heart rate went to over 200 we may never know, but he has had one episode of rapid heart rate since we returned home.  He will have to wear a heart monitor for several weeks to keep track of any episodes we aren't aware of.  The mystery may never be solved.  But here's the thing...I have been hesitant to write of this episode because so many of my friends have experienced some devastating events that make mine pale in comparison.  I have said so many prayers for them and their loved ones in the past few months, that I had put God on speed dial.  I think in particular of Anya who recently lost a similar battle for her dear husband's life.  I think I was suffering from survivor's guilt.  I didn't want to share and yet I needed to share.  I didn't want my friends who have been through such similar things and had a quite different outcome to think I was insensitive to their recent losses.  But, here I am, 2011 and making another resolve to get out there and visit my friends and continue to keep on keeping on.  After all, that's what life is all about, isn't it?