Copyright

All blog posts, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted to the Author (that's me) and may not be used without written permission.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bureaucracy, or, How to Kill a Person's Soul Slowly and Without Remorse

I get a little frustrated at times.

Issue 1

Calling today to continue the immigration processes. I needed to talk with each of my doctors and request a medical history that I could take with me to the Designated Medical Practitioner (DMP) for the Canadian government. All three of my doctor’s offices open at 8 am or later, are open until 5 pm or earlier, and take a lunch break from 12-2 pm. Wish I could get such great hours.

The first place I call the medical records person is out or on the line and I leave a detailed message—no problem. Second place I call, the medical records person has no idea what I’m asking for (???) and transfers me to my doctor’s secretary. I explain that I need a letter or brief history explaining my medical condition while she’s been my doctor (for 12 years, btw). The woman tells me that my doctor is out of the offices until August 15. I say, “So?” She says, “Well, I can’t request it until then.” I repeat, “So?” She asks, “So you still want it?” I answer with, “Well, I need it from my doctor, I need it to be official, and I need her signature—if that means I wait until August 15, I guess that means I wait until August 15.” I didn’t put any sort of time frame on my need for this document—I just told her I needed it from my doctor. If she’s not in, she’s not in!

Anyway, I’m still not sure exactly why the records department cannot help me with a request for medical records—that seems strange to me. However, they are the second worst office staff I’ve ever dealt with, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.

I then call my other doctor. The person I spoke with asked what I needed, I told her, and she said, “Sure, I just need a medical release from you.” She’s faxing one over to me now and I can get that done as soon as I turn it around to them. Why wasn’t the last phone call this simple?

Issue 2

I called on my medication that I was unable to get due to some other bureaucracy prior to my last trip to SJ. While gone, I received a letter approving the continued use of that medication. The girl does her best to figure out what was going on with my prescription, determines that it is still valid, and then follows it up with “and you owe $145 copay on this.”

Er, what? $145 copay??

Apparently something changed in my PPO health insurance that now requires a $100 deductible to be paid. I called my health insurance company and the pharmacy end of things had no clue why it didn’t kick in the first of this year, as it apparently did for everyone else. She showed a change to my policy the day after I made the request for the medication. As far back as she could see, that deductible had never been applied to my account before. So, now, on top of around $80 a month for medications, I can add a $100 deductible each year. Great. And the change was not announced well, as I read most everything the health insurance company sends me (for obvious reasons).

However, she did tell me a way I can save $15 a month on that same medication, which I need to follow up with my doctor on when I next see him (can’t be done until I get a renewal on the prescription).

Issue 3

I am double-checking online with the Canadian Immigration web site to verify what is needed for the above mentioned medical histories. I find a line that very distinctly contradicts the information M and I have on these exams. It says that you turn in your paperwork and then they tell you where to go for the medical exam. All our paperwork says you have to get the medical exam and turn in the paperwork from that with your application. So M calls the Canadian Immigration hotline and asks, while I send an email to Immigration so we can get a confirmation on which is right. Turns out that the paperwork we have is correct.

Seems like something they should fix on the web site, doesn’t it?

Issue 4

Minor issue, but it appears that my new online only bank does not accept deposits from appropriately-linked ATMs. I have to mail them to the company and they will make the deposit. They assume you will have a local bank into which you can deposit the check and then transfer the money to them—which I cancelled. Now, I don’t get many checks, so my need to do this is not high, but it is annoying. If I had realized that, I would not have simply closed my previous account. I would have kept it with the absolute minimum balance required and used it as a place to deposit checks and get money (after transferring from my online account).

All of these issues have cropped up today, on top of my loneliness at leaving M and SJ and my tiredness after the trip back and all those issues. It hasn’t been what I would call a “good day.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

Another Trip... Another Story

This trip I went with a different strategy. Normally, I fly Thursday night on the red-eye, arriving mid-Friday and exhausted. Then I fly out on the 6am flight and get back to Irvine around noon to two in the afternoon. This time I flew all day on Friday, taking an early morning flight from LAX and then I chose a 4 pm flight for my trip back.

I already posted the brief story of the delay I encountered on the trip up to Canada.

After our usual tearful goodbyes, I boarded the plane from SJ and was seated next to a young boy, Travis, who was taking his first ever flight. He had the plastic necklace with the paperwork and information he needed to get where he was going (he is 12 and going to Toronto to catch a bus to St. George for a camp. Apparently did it through Tim Horton's, Canada's equivalent of Starbuck's Coffee). It was odd answering all of his question, watching his delight at takeoff and landing, and his amazement of flying over the Great Lakes and other parts of the trip as seen from 35,000 feet up.

This flight was smooth and easy, with a great pilot who took off smoothly and landed gently.

My flight from Toronto to LAX was not quite as smooth. First, those of us who waited the longest for the flight to arrive at our gate had to suffer through 20 minutes of the most piercing beeping noise because some idiot had opened a door without having properly turned off the alarm. Next, our own Air Canada employees set off the alarm on our gate door for quite a few minutes repeatedly while they figured out how to turn it off.

The plane was packed, with no extra seats available. We had to wait for over 30 minutes while Air Canada tried to allow some people from a Tel Aviv flight to make the connection. I think it is admirable that Air Canada does such a good job of tracking its passengers and doing their best to get them on their flights and on their way-- but they forgot that the other 160 of us were starting this leg of our journey 30 minutes behind... I have a "needs of the many" argument brewing.

Once up in the air, things went smoothly at first. I was on an Airbus 319 again, which has a power plug, USB ports, and a screen in the back of every seat that allows you to watch upwards of 10 different movies, a number of TV shows, and listen to music. It is a great invention and I don't know why they don't put this in every plane.

A few hours into the flight, we suddenly had an announcement asking for anyone with medical experience to please identify themselves. The last time I heard that, on the same flight as a matter of fact, a man had a heart attack. This time, it was a woman who was only 20 weeks pregnant whose water broke and she appeared to be going into labor. The emergency was dire enough that we made an emergency landing in Denver. Then, of course, they had to refuel, there were Customs issues that Air Canada had to resolve, timing issues (flight crews have a limit on how long they are allowed to be on a plane/in the air and we were reaching this crew's limits), and we needed a new flight plan. These all got resolved and our flight was out for taxi within about an hour of landing. And, yes, in case you are wondering, they did not offer us any food or water during this time and we were not allowed to get up or stretch our legs.

We then started our taxi out to the runaway when we came to a halt. The announcement this time was that we were waiting on weight to thrust data to be received before we could take off. We sat for another 30 minutes about halfway to the runway-- again with no water or food offered. We finally got the data needed and flew the rest of the way to LAX.

Now, my trip which was scheduled to go from 4:10 pm (AST) until 10:30 pm (PST) went from 4:10 AST until about 1:30 am PST. Next, I walked out of terminal two, turned left, and walked down to the close-by Super Shuttle stop. However, there was no one there and no Super Shuttle employee to check in with and have call the vans to come get me. I hung out a few minutes, then walked down to the stop in front of terminal 3. Here, about 15 people had collected and, since there also wasn't a Super Shuttle employee working the stop, we just started waving down vans as we saw them coming and asked the driver if he/she would take us.

Four vans and about 20-30 minutes later, I convinced the Disneyland shuttle to take me and he quickly became the "Orange County" shuttle as we picked up others for the trip. I was the first one on and the last one off, getting home after 3 am PST instead of the 11:30ish I was expecting. I called Melissa before being dropped off, as she wakes up for work around 7 am and she was expecting an email from me that I had arrived safely. Wanted to let her know that not only hadn't I arrived yet, I was still on the journey.

Getting home, I had to spend some time cleaning up after the cat. Caly came out immediately, meowing significantly and without surcease until I went to bed and spent a long time scratching her. My current person who watches her only feeds and waters her, so her litter box was a mess and there were wet towels in her usual "bad spot" in the front room that needed serious cleaning. The floor in the bathroom needed sweeping to clean up all the litter and waste she had scratched out of it when she was done doing her business.

I then had to reset the AC to a lower temperature, as I move it up to 80 degrees when I leave to somewhat limit how long it is on (plus, Edison tells us, that setting it to 78 or higher can save us money yearly on our electricity bill).

Lastly, I called into work and told Renee that I was just getting home, how late/early it was, and that I would likely only work a half day or may take the full day off depending on how long I slept in that morning. Only then, nearing 4 am, was I able to finally crawl into bed, spend time with Caly, and drift off to sleep.

Not a very good sample of this new flight pattern, so I don't really know if it is good or bad. I am already scheduled for my next trip to SJ, which involves our Church Wedding, It uses the same flight scheme as this time, so maybe I'll get a better opinion then.

Anyway, I'm home, finally, safe and sound. Going to eat something, see how I'm doing after, and then possibly log on to work for a couple of hours.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Photos

M made an appointment for me to get my immigration photos done today at a local travel agency. While there, the man mentioned that his son is living in Irvine, CA! His wife had just returned from visiting their son about a week ago-- shortly after I arrived in SJ from there! Isn't that a strange coincidence that two people would find a common thread from all the way across the continent?

Anyway, one more thing to check off the list for Immigration. I still need to get my medical appointment (which is the doozy) and a letter back from the FBI and we can finish up the paperwork and file.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Odds and Ends

  • Loving my time here, as I always do. We have dinner tonight with her father's side of the family and I'm going out with two friends to see Transformers finally afterward.
  • I bet that it would be 45 days before Lindsay Lohan was caught doing anything. I was off by about 40 days.
  • Volver is an odd movie. Not bad, but I guess I don't like how the Spanish tell their stories. I felt it could have been made clearer and more involving.
  • Started reading Harry Potter. Good, so far.
  • Why can't we get Holmes on Homes on the West Coast? Great show!
  • Speaking of HP, the fifth movie is quite good. I enjoyed it nearly as much as Azkaban, my other favorite in the series so far. Still don't understand why they released it in the summer, where it won't do nearly the business it could (history has proven this already with Azkaban).
  • We got the tuxes fitted and ordered. Some paperwork filled out with Father John and sent off. And some purchases and ideas done for the wedding.
  • Hunters level fast in WoW. I really recommend a Boar as their pet-- eats nearly anything, tough as nails, and the Charge ability is nice.
  • Brothers Grimm was a decent story that got lost in the CGI. Directors need to learn that just because you can do something onscreen with CGI doesn't mean you should do it with CGI. If that movie had a much smaller budget and they had to tell the same story smaller and more intimately, it would have worked much better.
  • Sure is wet here. I realize that is a "no duh" type of statement, but it is hard to understand when you are from SoCal until it is overcast and raining every day. Still will take a while before I dislike it. Sump pump is going off pretty often though.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ripped

I suddenly felt a quick, sharp pain in my pinky finger yesterday and I looked down and the fingernail was hanging by a thread and was torn straight across from one side to the other well into the pink section. The tiny little bit of the nail that is still attached has blood welling under it from where the nail is no longer attached to the skin.


A little hard to take a clear picture of one's own finger. Hopefully this gives an idea of the damage done, when viewed in comparison to the nail next to it.

Since I type daily, hourly as both my job and as part of my entertainment, having this nail come off in such a dramatic way is a bit disconcerting. The now tender area where the nail used to be hits on everything and even air blowing across it is a new, interesting sensation.

This makes the second time in a few months where something like this has occurred. A few weeks ago I looked down and noticed that half of one of my toenails was broken and that, too, went well into the pink area and caused bleeding.

While it is true that I need to trim my nails more often than I usually do, I am also curious what is causing this suddenly breakage syndrome. A few of my other nails, while not breaking in quite as dramatic a fashion, have broken or torn more easily than usual. I know that I get plenty of calcium in my diet, so I am sure that is not it. My nails don't show any of the signs of fungus or other nail-specific ailments that also cause breaking. None of my medications or my illnesses have poor nail strength as a listed symptom.

So I'm left wondering why my nails lately seem so brittle and with a strong desire to more proactive about trimming them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Good Step

M's dad called and asked if I was on a vacation-vacation or a working-vacation. If I was on a real vacation, he wanted me to come with him up to the cottage and see it as well as help him with some minor chores up there.

Unfortunately, I had to beg off because I'm here on a working vacation and had to do my job during the time he was going to be gone. It is nice that her dad likes me enough to ask this. I guess I made an impression when I "helped" him on the sump pump project.

M's mother asked after me when M picked her up at the airport earlier. Maybe the ice is melting a little there, too?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Die Hard

M and I went to see Live Free or Die Hard on Sunday. A decent film with a lot of exactly what you are looking for in a Die Hard film. However, there were a few things that were annoying or a bit over the top.

First, the intro was too long. The entire scene with his daughter could have been summed up with one or two lines of dialogue; i.e., "Yeah, my daughter is in New York. She hates my guts these days, but I still look after her." Boom-- no six minutes of a stupid scene where he pulls a boyfriend of his car during a make-out session with the daughter and then an argument with the daughter.

Next, while I appreciated that a majority of the stunts were done "live" (i.e., without CGI or using minimal CGI), those that did use CGI were fairly obvious. M and I both felt pulled out of the movie seeing such obviously CGId scenes. As she put it, if you are going to spend money on the CGI, you should spend enough to make it look believable.

Further, M had a problem with the plot line (cyber-terrorist plots the overthrow of the entire country just to make a point that our computer policies need rethinking). I didn't have as much issue with it, but it took them forever to get to the point. I think we could have reached the conclusion much faster and moved the plot along better in this regard. Much of what they showed us happening and explained to the audience could have been summed up in a few lines of dialogue (as actually happens later in the film... maybe about halfway through it... when the hacker tells McClane what a "fire sale" is and how he would do it).

Also, the continuity was poor. I know this is a small thing, but the shear number of continuity errors was stunning and made it seemed like no one was working on that aspect of the film at all. I mean, in the big battle with the attractive Asian computer hacker/martial arts expert (a cliche that we're getting tired of, btw), she starts wearing an FBI vest and totally covered. Then, suddenly, she is without the vest and the first two buttons of her shirt are undone, exposing her ample breasts. Now, I'm in favor of that aspect, but it did seem strange that they weren't there, then suddenly were there, without any transition between. Also, during the same fight, her hair style and kempt/unkempt state changes a few times without any rhyme or reason. I guess she took a few seconds while the camera was on McClane to brush her hair?

Lastly, the "big" action shot involving a semi truck, a collapsing aerial roadway, a fighter get, and some missiles-- this scene could have been totally cut out. It was so over the top to reach the ridiculous and took both M and I out of the film yet again. It was too much, even knowing the genre of movie we were watching and expecting some pretty extreme stunts. They could have accomplished the same result with more believable means; i.e., have McClane drive the semi up to the facility to which the other vehicle is heading and have the guards the bad guys placed at that facility use their machine guns and a rocket launcher or SAM or similar to blow up the truck, with McClane narrowly escaping the explosion unseen and having to sneak in-- still a fun action shot, accomplishes the same thing, but more in keeping with the theme and rest of the film.

We were both expecting to dislike Justin Long as the "sidekick." However, we both enjoyed him. We felt his role was not overpowering or overshadowing, and that the character had decent and believable growth throughout the movie. Also, most of the stunts are live rather than CGI, which is nice.

My one comment after we left the theater was this: in the original, he saves a building. In number two, he saves an airport. In three, he saves New York City. In four, he saves all of America (on July 4th no less). All he has left is saving the entire planet... oh wait, he did that already-- it's called Armageddon, now known as Die Hard 5.

Overall, I was entertained, M less so. Not a great movie, but one that gives you nothing more or less than you have come to expect from the Die Hard franchise. It was nice seeing Willis as McClane again.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Travel Story

Flying on Friday the 13th, I wondered if I would have any jinxes show up. And, of course, frequent visitors to the blog will recollect my many other travel stories without it being a cursed day.

Canada is considered an international flight and, therefore, services like Super Shuttle try to get you there the mandatory 3 hours early-- even when you are already checked in, have printed out your tickets, and have no baggage to check. The gentleman driving the Super Shuttle got to my place right at 5:40 am, the very beginning of my 15 minute window. He then proceeded to go to the next stop by what can only be described as a "roundabout" method. After a couple of u-turns, we reached the next person's home, picked her up, and continued. Luckily, the next home, an elderly couple, was close by. However, he banged two more u-turns getting there, as well.

He finally got us to LAX and, just like last time, even though I told him I could be dropped off at the security check area instead of the Air Canada door, he took me to the Air Canada door. Luckily that is very close to security, so it is not a far walk.

A multi-tool (that does not have a blade on it) I have attached to my key chain, which hasn't been a problem any other time I've flown out of LAX, caused a baggage search this time-- but I was soon cleared. I had a solid 2 hour and 45 minute wait until boarding commenced on my flight, so I settled in at my gate, grabbed my book, and did just that.

About 15 minutes before we were supposed to commence boarding one of the AC reps came over the loudspeaker and announced that our flight was delaying "indeterminately" due to a mechanical problem with the flight. They were calling United mechanics to come over and try to repair it.

My plane was supposed to take off at 10 am and we actually started boarding at 11 am. Quite a few people were squeezed into other planes so they could make connections, so our flight wound up being not as crowded as it otherwise could have been. In my seats, the gentleman and I had the middle seat free and could stretch out a bit.

Luckily I had a slightly over 3 hour layover in Toronto. With the first flight actually taking off 1:30 late, it turned out okay. Ironically, the fight from LAX was so smooth and uneventful that we made up time in the air and came in about 20 minutes earlier than our newly established arrival time. So I still wound up with a nearly 2 hour wait after customs. The second flight from Toronto to Saint John was similarly smooth and uneventful, with no seat mate and plenty of room.

This was my first try flying only during the day and arriving in SJ late at night (after the four hour time change). I think I prefer it for a couple of reasons:
  1. With the red eye flights, I am generally up from 6:30 am the day of the flight until noon or later on the following day (since I haven't yet been able to get more than an hour or two sleep on the plane-- and that poor sleep). So, even taking into account the time difference, I am usually up fairly well over 24 hours even if I go to sleep after getting home.
  2. With this method, I just wake up early, get on Super Shuttle, and head out. It feels a bit like 8pm my time at midnight, so I stayed up fairly well after midnight before I fell asleep, but it was still better and I was much more alert and functional today.
  3. You can see where you're going. Some of the land over which these flights fly is quite stunning. And it is fun to watch yourself go from desert/arid to lightly forested to farms and then to the dark green/forested Canada. You can see just how big those so-called Great Lakes are (and they are freaking huge). It is stunning.
  4. While the red eye from LAX makes you one of the first flights to get into Toronto (it is an airport that shuts down from 10 pm to 6 am), now that they have totally revamped Terminal 1 that doesn't seem to be a problem. Everything is much more wide open and there are plenty of concierges everywhere to help you get where you are going.
My one complaint continues to be the elevator you have to take in Toronto to get back up to the concourse for a connecting flight. The signage pointing you to the elevator could be clearer and they could make it more obvious that you want to press for floor 2. Instead, the floor 2 button on the elevator has a large "Parking" sign under it as it is also the level on which you can reach the parking lot. There is a smaller sign away from the buttons that also says "Connections" in small type. That could and should be much clearer, in my opinion.

All in all, after the huge delay to start, a good trip. Now I'm settling in and enjoying my time here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dangerous Driving Habits

I have a lunch buddy at work, Dorothy. She's a really nice woman with whom I get along fairly well and who has a wicked sense of humor. She also likes fast cars and is overly opinionated. Makes for interesting conversations.

Yesterday, while driving to IHOP for lunch (one of our favorite destinations), we spotted a fast car on the road. She got so excited that she actually pressed down on my right knee to force me to speed up! I was, as you can imagine, a little surprised by this. She didn't recognize what it was and wanted to get closer so she could see it and figure it out.

Well, we did catch up to it at a stop light and saw it was a Diablo (Lamborghini model). She oohed and aahed over it until the lights turned green and away we went.

I then teased her the rest of the lunch about her pressing my leg down to speed me up. "The audacity!" I said. "How reckless!" I extolled. We had a good laugh about it.

Today, while leaving Gina's, there was a Lotus parked two spots down from my truck. I muttered, loud enough for her to hear and get a laugh from it, "Good thing we're not driving, or you might hurt me." We both laughed and headed back to work.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia

When I sat down to watch Bridge to Terabithia, I thought I was watching a Narnia-esque style story about two children who create an imaginary world that somehow comes to life. A movie about what happens to them there and how they become the heroes of the world.

What I found was a story about dysfunctional families, loss, growth, and rebirth.

Jesse is the only son in a family with four girls. The dad (Robert Patrick, in a surprisingly deep and moderated performance) is a bit of a hard ass because his family is living right on the edge; his job and the meager farming they do is barely keeping the family fed. He wants a manly son, but Jesse is interested in art and things creative. The father-son bond is strained and neither can understand the other's perspective.

Next door in moves free-spirited Leslie, who is a cute girl who is also creative, from a functional family of other creative people (both her parents are writers).

Jesse and Leslie's first meeting doesn't go very well, as he wants to beat everyone in a race and would have except he is beaten by Leslie. But they quickly makes friends and together create the world of Terabithia-- a make-believe place that she "writes" and he "draws." It is the place where they are released from the various bullies in their lives and the dysfunctions they both feel in their private lives. Their world, and their friendship, quickly become the most important thing to both of them.

Leslie's free spirit unlocks Jesse and opens him up to possibilities. His family notices the positive changes in him and is happy. He does better at school and becomes more outgoing.

And then tragedy strikes. Jesse withdraws, and doesn't know what to do with himself. He hurts his younger sister inadvertently. However, his reaction to the tragedy causes a schism between he and his dad, and he runs away. His dad finds him and comforts him-- the first bonding they have.

Jesse has to rebuild his relationships, put the tragedy in perspective to his life, pull out the positives, and move on with his life. He does so by helping and becoming a good friend to the younger sister he hurt earlier.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. The children did a good job being "real" and all of the character struck chords with me and took me back to similar situations in my youth. Robert Patrick was a big surprise, as he so rarely plays things low-key. AnnaSophia Robb was a huge surprise as Leslie-- she was very natural and made the movie for me. All of the child actors do a good job just being real and not caricatures of children.

My only complaint is the tragedy itself. While the event itself is handled well, the foreshadowing of it is a little heavy-handed.

I can sort of understand why this film didn't do so well in the theaters-- I'm sure that word of mouth got around (and from what I understand the book is required reading for many grade schools, so a lot of children/parents likely already knew) that this film was something other than what it was advertised as being. If they had been more honest about it, though, they may have received more adult filmgoers.

I really enjoyed this movie. I recommend it if you want to watch a sad, but ultimately hopeful, film about friendship and creativity.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Little Disconcerting

I got my Live Scan fingerprints done today, and the form sent off to the California DOJ. While doing so, the fingerprint specialist needed to type my address into the system. When I reviewed what he typed, he asked, "Heard some trouble in your area the other day?"

"Yes, there were a lot of sirens a couple of days ago. I never did find out why."

"Murder," he responded.

"Man," I said.

What do you say to that? It is a little startling to find out that your normally very well protected and safe neighborhood has had a heinous crime within blocks of where you live. Now, granted, we still rank as one of the top 2 safest cities in the country in heinous crimes (last stat I can find says we are the #1 safest, but a news report on channel 5 said that another city was, so I don't know), but it shakes your confidence to know one happened so close by.

The question I have to ask is this-- did it happen on the other side of Jamboree? Because everyone knows that you are 94% more likely to be killed in Tustin than you are in Irvine. ;-)

Friday, July 06, 2007

One Week to Go

I desperately need another stint with my lady. One week from today I will be on my way there (leaving my apartment at quarter to 6 am (PST) with a planned arrival time in SJ at 11:30 pm (AST)).

I'm taking my suit with me, as there are two weddings I'm supposed to attend with her while I'm there; her friends Chris and Suzy the following Saturday and then her friend Regan the Saturday after that (M is the MOH for that wedding). And, as always, I have to work while I'm there, so the work laptop has to go.

Super Shuttle is prepped, the cat is looked after, work is ready for my physical absence. I still need to pack and prep for the actual trip, but otherwise I'm ready to go!

Time spent with your loved one is always time well-spent and I could use some of that about now.

The System Worked... This Time

A few posts ago I talked about the issue that cropped up where I couldn't get my medication delivered due to a problem with my doctor's office. Now that everything is resolved, I waited to hear back from PrecisionRX to schedule the new delivery. When I didn't hear back yesterday (I ignored Wednesday, being a national holiday) I was determined to call today and get that scheduled. I was hopeful that I could get it delivered tomorrow, as tomorrow will mark the second week since the last time I took my arthritis medications.

This became especially important as today I woke up with some swelling in my left foot, my knees and wrists sore, and my back stiff. I'm happy that it took this long before the problems cropped up, as it tells me I do have a generous leeway if I have to go without my meds again. But I also want to get the next injection so I can clear up the soreness now and get back to being mostly pain free.

It took about 20 minutes before I got an agent. I explained the situation to her and she checked my records. Surprisingly, she noted that my shipment was already out for delivery to my office and should be here today! Apparently they received the phone call from the doctor's office approving and renewing my prescription and they acted on it yesterday, shipping it out for delivery today.

I am very impressed with PrecisionRX for actually living up to its promise to take care of this as soon as they got the approval from my doctor. It is the first time a system like this has worked for me in a long time.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Updates

1. Had doctor's appointment today. Was calm as I brought up the issues. Doctor claimed he was unaware of it, but apologized for it and had his staff call the RX company to get things going again. Now I have to call them back and schedule the delivery.

A. Addendum note: my last visit to my other doctor brought up extremely low lymphocytes (primarily used in immune system) and high glucose. Lymphocytes were about 150 below the minimum range and glucuse was about 25 points above maximum range number. Neither doctor is immediately concerned at this moment about the glucose, although it could lead to diabetes so will be monitored. Lymphocytes is more of a concern, as it means my immune system sucks worse than usual right now (my scores are generally low, but within range, for this test due to my various medications). If it stays low or if one of my other related test results suddenly spike, immediate action will be taken. This doctor did a quick blood analysis in the office and my results, while still low, were deemed okay (and improved over the test from exactly one month ago today).

2. Finally just got my new video card. What really should have arrived on Friday finally arrived today, late in the day. But at least tomorrow is a holiday so I can spend some time checking out my system with the great new video card. I expect to spend many a happy hour tonight installing, updating, and testing it out. CoH and WoW should look spectacular and run very smoothly now. ;-)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Blackmail

So I scheduled my next month's worth of Enbrel to arrive on Friday, June 29, as I am taking the medication every Saturday. I get a call on Friday from PrecisionRX that they cannot send it to me as my doctor has denied the prescription "... until you see him for a follow up."

This is, plain and simple, blackmail. My doctor, contrary to the Hippocratic Oath, is saying, "If you want to continue to feel good, you must come see me." Since I am gearing up for another trip to Canada, this comes at a horrible time and has thrown a monkey wrench into the works.

If the doctor needed me to be seen, I can think of a bunch of different ways he could have made that a lot more clear to me prior to it coming down to this Mexican standoff. For example:
  • He could have made it much, much clearer at the time of my last appointment that this would be the result.
  • He could have provided me with a simple document that stated this would be the result.
  • He could have allowed the prescription and then immediately told his office staff to call me and schedule a follow up appointment. He has my home, work, and cell phone numbers in his records.
Those are just off the top of my head.

I actually had a follow up appointment scheduled when I left his office last time. However, I got sick and had to cancel. And then his office called me and canceled the rescheduled appointment. They wanted to reschedule right then, but I was going to Canada and told them I would do it when I got back. And then I forgot. I mean, I knew in the back of my mind that it needed to be done, but it was a very low priority compared to the issues at work, with immigration, with the wedding that I have been dealing with, so I just haven't gotten around to it. It never occurred to me that my doctor would withhold medication from me in order to force me to go in.

This morning I called and explained the situation and scheduled an appointment. I asked the young woman if I just had to schedule the appointment or if I had to actually go in and be seen before he would allow my prescription. She told me I had to actually be seen. I told them it had to be this week as I was leaving for Canada next week and had to get my prescription before then. They are shoe-horning me into the schedule tomorrow at 10 am. And I am going to have a few things to say to the doctor when I see him. I may even need to find a new doctor as I find this totally unacceptable.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Parenting Principles

Disclaimer: I'm not a parent and I don't babysit. So my understanding of how to rear a child is entirely from how I was reared, what I see, and what my common sense tells me.

I went to the nearby Albertsons today. While in the checkout line, the little boy in front of me was playing with the cord they use to block off the closed aisles. I don't know his age, but he barely came up to my waist, so I'm guessing around 4-5. The cord is long, black, and stretches pretty far. His dad told him, "You be careful with that. Don't let go or you'll hit that man there."

The child continued to play with it and, inevitably, let it go and it snaked back and hit me in the groin. Luckily, the snap on it wasn't strong and it didn't hurt.

The man went ape. First he yelled at his child, "What did I tell you? You apologize to that man right now!" He kept yelling that until a crying child walked up to me and just sort of looked at me. Something came out, not sure if it was 'sorry' or just guttural sounds that could sneak out between sobs. At a loss for words, I said, "It's okay" and smiled at the poor child.

Now, I sort of assumed it was over. But the man kept going. The child was scared and didn't understand why he was being yelled at. The man said, "Are you crying now? Crying? No more crying! Do you want a spanking? Is that it? I'll leave you here if you keep crying! Do you want to live the rest of your life at Albertsons? Do ya?"

This child has already been yelled at, had to go up to a complete stranger and apologize, and now he's being threatened with abandonment? I sincerely considered stepping in and trying to diffuse the situation but a) the man didn't look anywhere near going to do anything truly physical to the child and b) he was so unhinged by his son crying that I don't think he could be diffused. So I continued to load my groceries on the conveyor belt.

When I got done checking out and walked my purchased groceries out to my car, the same man was still lecturing his child at the car a few spots down from me. The child had stopped crying and was actually listening at this point and the man had calmed down.

I am not so sure what I saw today was the best parenting strategy available. You can see that your child is scared, crying, and confused. You've made him apologize for the relatively minor bad behavior he had enacted. Why not let it go? I'm not sure threatening to spank the child and abandon him at the grocery store, and then furthering the conversation outside at the car, is the best way to get the point across to a child young enough not to understand what you are saying. Maybe if the kid were 7 or 8 years old with better reasoning skills, I could see it. But as young as this child was, he was just uncomprehending and confused.