Friday, October 08, 2010


Since I'm having some trouble with my new website store, I've been asked to place a gallery of pictures of my hand made items here for viewing. If you see something you just MUST have, send me an email, and we can discuss it.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We're Moving!

Our retail site is now open at Come on over to find our Vegan Bakery and Fiber shop to find something hand made, just for you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

We figured out how to upload pics, finally!

Pathetic, I know. But at least we did it!

I'll upload a bunch of pictures here now, but I want to notify anyone who follows this blog (is there anyone, really?) that I am going to be moving my blogs around a bit. I plan to end up with three blogs; Madhyatmika, for my health/spiritual/personal journey, this one, which will be moved to WordPress as a retail site for my handmade goods, and a new family blog, yet to be named, for all family things. I find WordPress much easier to use in a number of ways (sorry Blogger!) and think I'll be far more likely to post more often there.

So for right now, here's the last year, in pictures.

Last Thanksgiving. The Beloved, and cousin Kevin, passed out on the couch after an overage of Turkey Dinner. Aren't they adorable? To me, this is the greatest compliment to a cook. Can't wait for this year! (Vegan Turkey, anyone?)

Then, Halloween. We didn't seem to get any pictures of the costume, but we did get some of Murphy's first attempt at one of my favorite Halloween games. It's harder than it looks! Is this just a New England thing?

My asbestos friend Barbara came to visit us, and we had a blast. Here and gone way too fast. And of course, not enough pictures. (When will I remember to take them?!)

And then, just one lone picture of Eric. We were at Los Corporales, just this month, watching the Beloved play the blues. (I did get some pictures of that too; maybe I'll get them up soon.) It was a fun night. There is nothing better than having your family around on a cool summer night, listening to some awesome music.

That's it for now; but be on the lookout for the new blogs; hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Murphy's Baptism

Murphy was baptized today into the Mormon Church. He looked so grown up and so handsome. Everyone was so kind to all of us. It was a beautiful day, and the ceremony was lovely. Tomorrow he goes for Confirmation. He's very excited about it.

The thing that touched me the most was this lovely poster that Primary made for him. It's so sweet (both literally and figuratively!) A lovely reminder and momento.

It says There's a Symphony in heaven today because of your Grand baptism. All of your sins are Rolo washed away this Payday. The holy ghost you receive will help you make Good and Plenty choices Now and Later. So when you get in a Crunch remember your promises and choose the right! We are proud of you and love you to Pieces!

All the words with caps are replaced with candy of the same name.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Big Happenings!

Ok, so it's been a while again. We've had big things going on though, so I'll take some time to update you.

Murphy has been busy. Playing baseball, doing really great. The Tigers have clinched first place in the division; playoffs start next week. As does the home-run derby; we have high hopes for a run or three by our slugger.

On one hand, he's the jock, slugging it out on the baseball diamond, and running like a madman on the soccer field. But he's got his sensitive side; he takes after his Dad. He's learning guitar, and is a chip off the old block. This week Montessori had their annual Spring Sing, and the Mankins were stars!

Dad is teaching there, the very youngest kids, and he got them to sing some great songs. They were so cute you just wanted to squish them all.

Then Murphy got to play his first gig on guitar, head banging to Pantera's "Walk." The parents in the audience were a little taken aback, but the kids worked hard on something they really wanted to do. Murph was AWESOME.

There's more pictures coming soon, and some of my cool new office also; but enough for tonight.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Family Updates

Murph had a game today, and played GREAT! They won (GO TIGERS!!!!). His leg is getting better through strategic rest, proper stretching, and advil. He still isn't back to normal, but he can run well enough to play. Today he played first base, and he's getting really good at it.

Flash seems healed too. He's done with his anti-inflamatory meds and isn't limping anymore. He's back to jumping all over everyone and slobbering us all with kisses. We are very VERY happy about it.

Eric's had a bit of a delay with his job; worked for the first week, but complications (having nothing to do with him!) forced a delay in opening; hopefully next week he'll get to go back.

Billy, here to have some eye surgery in Ventura, is recuperating and going wild on our yard; the orange tree in the back looks better than it ever has done since we've been here. He's currently ripping up the sprinkler system to find a leak. He's an amazing guy! He even tackled the "stuff" garage, which is so far above and beyond the call. He found my music I'd written a decade ago; I"m so grateful!

Peru and I celebrated our TENTH anniversary on April 1. It has gone by in a flash. Doesn't seem possible it's been ten years. They've been the happiest years of my life, and I thank you, my beloved. I am praying for many decades more.

I'm still recuperating too. Breathing is better, though I still get short of breath with physical labor. Life has pretty much returned to normal. I go for my follow up visit to the pulmonologist on Monday to be cleared.

At the end of the month, Barbara is coming to visit; I can't wait! It'll be so good to see my asbestos friend.

Happy April to All!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Osgood Schlatter Disease

That's what Murphy has.

Sounds terrifying, no?

Not as bad as it sounds, luckily. It involves the stretching of a tendon attached to the kneecap, aggravated by exercise and a growth spurt in preteens and teens. Hopefully it will resolve with NSAIDS otc and rest, and he'll be able to get back to the Tigers soon.

Ironically, I've been lecturing Murphy on the importance of stretching before exercise and cooling down after. He has not seen the import until now. Once again, Mother Knows Best. Heh heheh.

Off to study Spanish and Notary stuff...

Monday, March 29, 2010

More ramblings

Almost a month later and I'm still hanging. I'm better, but still go into coughing wheezing fits when I do anything much. Saw the pulmonologist, who was very nice, helpful and sympathetic to the cost of all these inhalers. He gave me a new med and was thoughtful enough to give me three packages, enough to last six weeks so I could avoid the $200 copays. I went back last week to have pulmonary function tests, and I go back next week to follow up. So I'm slowly working a little around the house, trying to get some stamina back. Hoping to get back to work next week.

Speaking of work... Eric got a job! There's a new Quiznos opening up and he's working there right now helping to finish setting up the store. He likes the people he's working with, which is always a good thing. YAY, Eric!!!!!

Murphy started his baseball Little League season doing really well, but somewhere along the line he hurt his leg. He's limping and unable to play right now; checking with the doctors tomorrow to see if he'll be able to play on Thursday. Get better soon, Murph, and GO TIGERS!!!!

In my down time here, I've knitted a pair of ankle socks, finished a pair of crew socks I started last year, and started a new lace scarf project. Might get around to spinning some of Flash's first cut soon too! Pics later. Maybe.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Saga becomes an Epic

Welcome to another edition of American Health Care in action.

Yes, I'm still sick. The labs she did last week came back negative. I've finished the Advair inhaler, so yesterday I called the doc to see if she wants me to continue. I also need my regular synthroid prescription refilled.

The woman who takes my call in the office is brusque, to say the least. She takes my request quickly and practically hangs up on me, before I can ask a question or two I had.

So this morning, I wake up with a sore throat (new symptom, yay!), coughing up the grossest gray-green plugs, slightly less short of breath however (meaning I was SOB but didn't need to take my albuterol after putting my pants on, wheee!)and I don't know if I need to pick up the letter I requested at the doctor's office or will they mail it, not knowing if they called in the script for the Advair or not... Finally, around noon, a much more pleasant person called from the office to clear up those questions. Yes, they called in the prescription for Advair. Yes, I need to go pick up the letter. (Does it seem reasonable that someone who is sick enough to be out on medical leave needs to wash, dress and get their butt to the doctor's office somehow in order to save the office a $0.44 cent stamp? Just wondering.)

So my incredibly patient, wonderful husband, after working all day, comes home, picks me up, takes me to the office. I pick up the letter, then we head for the pharmacy.


Advair has a TWO HUNDRED DOLLAR copay.

Are you kidding me?

I don't need to breathe that much.

I decide that since it hasn't improved my breathing an enormous amount, I'll wait until I see the pulmonologist. I have the albuterol for acute attacks. And it's possible my sore throat and a few other symptoms are from the Advair. So we go home.

At home, I google Advair. The first online pharmacy I check (Canadian, of course) has a generic form of advair. Guess how much it costs. C'mon, guess!

Thirty bucks. Thirty. $30.00.

According to eMedTV:

Currently, GlaxoSmithKline holds exclusive rights to make and sell Advair in the United States. There are so many different Advair patents listed with the FDA, it's hard to predict when a generic Advair will become available. To make matters more confusing, it is likely that legal battles could affect when a generic version becomes available.

When Will a Generic Version Be Available?

Because there are many different patents for Advair listed with the FDA, it is difficult (probably impossible) to accurately predict when a generic version may become available. As is common with popular brand-name medications (emphasis mine), there will likely be one or more legal battles concerning the generic availability of Advair. It is simply too early to even guess when a generic may be available.

Too early to even guess. Lovely. Yet there are generics available in other countries.

Remember that more expensive version of albuterol I complained about earlier? I discovered that prior (cheaper) versions of albuterol were taken off the market because the propellant was not environmentally friendly. Well, that's ok; I'm a fan of the environment, and if its not good for the environment, the idea of breathing it deeeep into my lungs gives me pause.

But check this. Any changes made to a patented drug makes it a totally NEW drug, with a new patent, a new wait time before the patent expires and generics can be made. So a change to the propellant in Ventolin and other albuterol inhalers now means it's a new drug. Mind you, the effective medication hasn't changed. The drug, albuterol sulfate, the substance that IS the medication, that has not changed. Only the propellant. So now millions of asthma sufferers must pay twice or more the amount for the same drug they may have been taking since childhood.

It doesn't seem right.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Continuing Saga

Still sick.

Had the chest X-ray Thursday. Took the antibiotics, the oral steroids, the inhalers all weekend; finished them Monday. Not better. Still wheezing, coughing, short of breath with minimal exertion. So I called in sick Monday, went back to the doctor. Third time, for those keeping score. Since the steroids didn't help as much as expected, she wants me to see a pulmonologist. She did an EKG, blood work to rule out things, (chest xray was negative, I'm told). Changed inhaler to Advair. She said to expect the consult appointment to take at least three weeks, and that I should take a leave of absence in the meantime. Sure, no prob! Who needs the money; I work for the love of bookkkeeping....

So yesterday, I went in to work to try and finish all the fiscal year end stuff for the accountant. Worked my ass off. For 12.5 hours. I cannot tell you how badly I felt when I finally left. At 6:30, having been up since 4:00 am. But I also feel like I got a week's worth of work done. And I called and got an appointment with the pulmonologist for March 9th, earlier than expected, so that's good, at least.

At least, I thought so. Til I got a call from the office this morning saying "you know that appointment you have? Not so fast..." Apparently, there's a problem with (drum roll, please) my insurance. I'm only allowed 4 visits a year with the doctor. Four? Let's get this clear. I have a $3,000 deductible BEFORE they pay. But if I see the doctor four times, they no longer pay. Anyone see a problem there?

And this doctor, I'm told, does not take cash patients. So even if I want to throw cash at him (cuz, you know, I sort of like breathing?) he will not see me.

The next person who tells me America has the greatest health care system in the world better duck.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Still Sick

Two weeks to the day after that expensive trip to the doctor, and I'm still sick. Not able to breathe. Made a return trip today. Now have a bag stuffed with steroids, and antibiotics, cough suppressant, and drugs to counteract the side effects of the first drugs. Another hundred bucks in copays. Add to that a lost day of work tomorrow to get a chest xray. And of course, the copay for that as well.

America may have the best healthcare in the world, but it don't come cheap.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

My Experience In America's Health Care System

I’m sick. It’s some sort of respiratory deal. It started last Friday with a sore throat and cough, settled into my chest and took up residence. Tuesday (yesterday) I decided that the wheezing was getting to a point of concern, and thought a call to the doctor was in order.

I’ve been seeing this doctor for five years. In fact, my first meeting with this doctor was for a very similar issue, five years ago. So she knows me. She knows I have a background in nursing. So, I think, well, let me just call the office, see if she’ll write me a prescription for an albuterol inhaler. I’ve been using one, left over from the last respiratory deal, and it helps, but it’s almost empty. Of course, I know she’s a very cautious, very thorough doctor, and think she might want to see me before she writes a script. Well enough.

So Tuesday morning, the fourth day of illness severe enough to keep this family breadwinner away from work for two days, I call at 9:00 am. I speak with the office person, who does a lovely job taking the message that I don’t know if the doctor would wish to see me or not, but if she could I’d like a prescription for an inhaler, as I am wheezing.

I hear nothing back. I ask my husband to check the pharmacy on his way home from work; but nothing has been called in, and of course, the office is now closed.

So now it’s evening, and into the night. I cough hard enough to shake the walls and literally frighten the dog. Any trip to the bathroom makes me so short of breath I can’t string two words together. I consider going to the ER, but it’s too expensive, and mostly I’m ok, as long as I don’t move much. Or recline too far. Or have a coughing fit, which only happens hourly. Or so.

So I pass a fairly sleepless night and call the doctor again, asking why hadn’t I heard? They tell me a message was left to call the office for an appointment. I have been sitting in a chair next to the phone 24/7 since I’ve been sick and other than a few telemarketers it hasn’t rung. I check later; there’s no message on the machine. Oh well, whatever. I make an appointment for 10:45 am (approximately an hour away).

I mentioned some shortness of breath? I try to wash up a bit, brush the hair and teeth, put on some clothes. It takes about half an hour. I do a little, and then I sit and breathe and try to get my self together, do a little more. I keep thinking this would have been a lot easier if my husband had been able to pick up an inhaler yesterday…

I get in the car and drive to the office. It is lovely and close, except for the walking across the parking lot part. I get to the window to check in, and there are three people standing there. I grab the obligatory mask and sit; wait for them to move away, trying to catch my breath. I notice an older woman looking at me like she’s afraid I’m going to code any second. The people start to move away from the window, but before I can get up, a drug salesman hits the counter. I wait a little, but I know that if I don’t sign in, I won’t get called. So I go stand beside him. Luckily a coughing fit takes me about then, and he quickly moves aside.

So I fill out the new form that has taken the place of the simple signature sheet to prove to the insurance company that, yes, I really was there, it’s okay to pay. And I fork over the $20 co pay required, all the time breathing like a steam engine gone crazy. She finally says “Have a seat, we’ll be with you soon,” and I do.

It literally takes about ten minutes for my breathing to subside to something that makes the older woman’s shoulders relax, and I finally pick up the spindling I brought to pass the time, knowing that they were “fitting me in.” But there’s a problem; the woman at the desk calls me back to the window, saying that I owe $20 from my last visit. Are you kidding me? Just moving from the chair to the window brought the freight train breathing sounds back, so I fish in my bag for my card again and pay the twenty. I couldn’t have even begun a conversation to dispute the charge. I take my receipt and head for the chair again.

Another five minutes or so and I’m still wheezing pretty violently, and I begin to wonder if I should just walk out and head for the ER. Just then my name is called.

I follow the nurse to the exam room, where she takes my vitals (T99.1, hr 117, r 24, bp 120/80, pulse ox 98, and since when did pulse ox become a normal part of vital signs anyway? You know they charge 300 dollars for a simple pulse ox in the hospital?) She asks if it’s ok that a student examines me, and I nod yes. I remember being a student.

So, another wait. This time I’m so wheezing and straining my eyes are watering, and I can’t even attempt to continue my spindling; I just sit on the edge of my chair and gasp. The student enters, and she’s nice, and she tries to frame her questions so I can just nod or give one word answers, which I appreciate, but I can’t help thinking that someone, somewhere along the line might have thought it appropriate to take a quick listen to my lungs and pop me on an albuterol respiratory treatment before getting too in depth into the history. Finally, she finishes her H & P, and the doc pokes her head in the door. They leave to discuss her exam, and a nurse comes in to set up the treatment. I’m so happy I tear up!

Then the doc comes back and explains the treatment plan. An IM shot of steroids, oral antibiotics, albuterol inhaler, and steroid inhaler. Fine, I just want to breathe. She leaves, I finish the treatment, thank heaven I’m not gasping anymore. I’m still wheezing, but comfortable, at least. The student returns with my prescriptions, and I see trouble ahead; she’s written for the same steroid inhaler she wrote me five years ago. The CO-PAY was almost a hundred dollars. I ask the student if there’s anything else, more affordable. She leaves to ask the doc, and returns with a sample of a different med. She tells me to not get the other filled. Ok, that works. (Did not give me instructions on how to use the new med, which has a different dosage and administration method than the original, but luckily, I can read package inserts.)

I get my shot, pack up my stuff and make it out to the car. The treatment has helped so much that I only need to pause for about a minute of gasping before I can start the car. I head to the pharmacy.

I arrived at the office at 10:40. I left at 11:50. Must have gotten the treatment around 11:30 ish. An hour is a very long time to be that short of breath.

At the pharmacy, I’m in for another treat. I’m told that albuterol no longer has a generic form, so my co-pay is $40. The spacer the doc wants me to use is another $35. I opt out of the spacer, get the albuterol and antibiotics they’ve prescribed and head home. I realized while writing this that the reason the albuterol co pay went up was because the doctor wrote for a specific form, albuterol HFA, instead of the perfectly good regular medication that has always worked fine.

I have spent over a hundred dollars out of pocket that will not be reimbursed. At that; I got off cheap. If I had done all that the doctor wanted, it would be: $88 + 40 + 20 + 20 + 22 + 35 = $225. And I still don’t know what I’ll be charged for the shot and the respiratory treatment, which will be billed to my insurance, and the plans we have are so complex I can’t even begin to figure out what my responsibility will be.

I know that I’m lucky. I have decent insurance, which my employer pays 100% for not only me, but for my family as well. I am acutely aware that this is unheard of, and it is in fact, the only thing that is keeping me at a job that has become more than slightly unpleasant. I could take a cut in pay, but I can’t take a cut in my insurance.

I’m also lucky because this, comparatively speaking, is minor. I mean, it’s not fun not being able to breathe, but after all, it’s not cancer, or something permanent. In a week, I’ll be fine, back to my normal self. And while I live paycheck to paycheck, this hundred dollar expense won’t break me. I’ll manage.

It does seem like there should be a better way, though. What if I didn’t have a car to get to the doctor? What if that hundred bucks WOULD break me; the difference between eating or having rent and not? Is it really necessary to drag a person this sick out of his home, to infect every person he passes, to risk complete obstruction of the airways because of activity? Is it really necessary for the prescription to be written for the latest, trendiest, most expensive medications? What if I had the ability to choose my job based on what I like to do, rather than on medical benefits?

What if we had Medicare for all?