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Three score and ten or more

Friday, March 30, 2007

Weird mixed up ideas.

Spent some time going too and fro from the hospital and found a couple of silly things to reflect upon..

  1. At the Medical College of Georgia Ambulatory Care Hospital (one of those which we attend for routine coot upkeep) they have a four story (actually five, counting the roof) parking garage for patients. Up near the front door and the elevators is a Handicapped section. For many years (my first trip here was in 1991) that was my parking place because I had serious walking problems, and when I didn't, Janet did (knee replacements, etc.) Sometime this year, between our appointments, someone decided that the parking places on the ground floor would be limited to "vans". They now have two security men, full time, standing in front of seven parking places chasing "non-vans" away. I drive a van, so logically, the first time I saw this, I parked there only to return at the end of the appointment to find one of the security men having conniptions because my van didn't have a lift. He let me go after my solemn promise not to sin again. This week I had my hair cut. I have known my barber for thirty years, and like all coots he has frequent repairs, but his wife is in serious condition having had back surgery and with metastasized breast cancer. While I was in the chair he was talking about taking his wife to the Oncologist (in the Ambulatory Care section). I discovered that once the security sleuths told him not to park in the van section, he told them to go to hell and give him a ticket on the way. He then parked the car, helped his wife into her wheelchair, and went into the hospital. Now they have a regular routine, he goes in, they give him a ticket which he takes to the Oncologist's office and the three people guarding seven parking places are all happy. Me? I just went up to the third floor where I parked near the elevator, used it and went on to Neurology. (By the way, most of the "van" parking spaces are empty all the time.)
  2. They have also added a security guard at the door whose sole function is to ask the driver entering if he/she is here for an appointment with a Doctor. Of course everyone in Augusta who doesn't have a doctor's appointment is going to park at the Ambulatory Care center. From there they can walk a mile to the Circle K to buy a drink, or they are running up to the hospital cafeteria for lunch. (Of course he takes your word for it so if you are coming without an appointment for a doctor you can just lie about it.)
  3. The hospital has installed new towel holders that expel paper towels after one waves his hand in front of a sensor. The towels expelled are the size of two squares of toilet paper. If you really want to dry your hands you have to get about five towels (which is overkill). It reminds me of the masterstroke by environmentalists that limits the amount of water in a home toilet, thus, instead of just flushing once and going about your business, one now must flush at least three times (using much more water) and occasionally getting out the plunger. The world is funny.

I know I have pledged no politics, but Chuck Hegel strikes me as a politician I'd like to attack if I were to do such things. (I wonder if his head would fit in a new style toilet, and how many flushes he would take- - - - ) I apologize.

A blogger I follow had a tantrum in her blog the other day calling Rush Limbaugh a liar. Now I am not a Limbaugh fan, but on the way to the hospital (or on the way home) I listened to Limbaugh. (I hate it when I have to defend Limbaugh) . His program format is such that he really doesn't have the opportunity to lie. He simple reads, or otherwise quotes the news from a variety of newspapers and TV programs and comments upon or gives his interpretation of what is sent out by, what he calls "the drive by media". You simply can't accuse someone of lying when he is expressing personal opinion. I have given my opinions of Rush in earlier posts, and explained my feelings, but just calling him a liar, without clear evidence of his lies, or what he has lied about (The blogger mentioned him using drugs and denying it, but the law has never proved the case against him, and, by going into rehab --doesn't everybody--- he as admitted the use, so that wasn't his lie.) is as useful as two little kids standing on a playground calling each other names.

I bought a new photo program for my computer the other day, that has all the appropriate bells and whistles. I installed it and it worked so well that I haven't yet figured out half of what it will do. That afternoon, windows sent me an "upgrade" (It turned out to be Explorer 7) which I downloaded. When I did, the new photo program quit. It took me four days and a few calls to the tech folks helping me to uninstall and reinstall over and over to get my photo program past Explorer 7. Somehow, I think Microsoft should do better than that. Coots and Geezers should need regular upkeep, but programs should work, especially when they are new. (I know, "Service Packs 1 and 2)

Jan's primary problem since her surgery and strokes has been the tremors in her hands. The stroke doctor gave her some medicine which "might" help. He mentioned in passing that it was a medicine originally designed for seizures. I wonder what that has to do with tremors? I know that Jan took the medicine, and it put her out so fast that she almost didn't make it to the bed. Hmmmm?

Did you notice that blogger put out Blogger for Word, which allows one to write one's post in word, then post it to blogger. As soon as they got the bugs out of Blogger for Word, they introduced the "New Blogger". If you log into the chat about New Blogger one of the first things you will find is that Blogger for Word doesn't work on the New Blogger. Sometimes I wonder about computer people. I used to criticize auto companies for planned obsolescence, but computer folks overdo it.

Well that takes up enough space that I don't have room again to write about serious things.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On the further ramifications of repair of coots and geezers.

Unrelated to repair, but my loving wife came to me today to ask a question: "How in the world can you have 27 socks in the wash and only two of them have mates?" I referred her to my posts last year on the proliferation of bastard socks, but she just shook her head and tottered away. Oh Well!!

I mentioned last month that my supplementary insurance company came up with sixty six thousand dollars to pay Janet's hospital bill of roughly eighty nine thousand Euros. I sent the check in January, and have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Today I received a bill from the Finnish hospital for thirty eight thousand euros and change including eleven hundred in interest and penalties (and that the interest is 9.5 percent), and that the bill was due yesterday in order to prevent going to a collection agency (total $49653.38 until the exchange rate changes). I am back to meditating whether any of my body parts are still in good enough shape to peddle them for transplants. I am a political conservative, but used to make a semi exception in my mind for socialized medicine. Part of the reason was that when we lived in Finland in the sixties, one of my children was seriously burned and spent a couple of months in a terrific burn unit, and it didn't bankrupt me even though we were Americans. Obviously the Socialized Medicine system in Finland has changed, at least as far as us furriners are concerned.

I may go back to Network Marketing (which I did back in the eighties before my health got crummy) or trying to find a market for bastard socks. I used to use them up pretty well and make a few bucks with puppets, but life has been a little confusing lately. I guess I could set up some kind of spam operation. Everybody else seems to have one. (Well not everybody, , but I get a couple of thousand spam messages per day.) On the other hand I could actually go out and make a couple of one of a kind dolls and sell them for exhorbitant prices (I haven't been out to sculpt since August.) Or maybe I'll get a cheap mystery novel and go to bed and read it.. . . That sounds promising.

******I'd like to add an addendum. On re-reading this, it sounds like I am bitter about the Helsinki hospital. I am convinced that if we hadn't been in Helsinki when all this happened, Janet would not now be alive. Dr. Kaarne was superb and is one of the best of his kind. (He googles very impressively). Although I think Medicine costs too much everywhere, from what I can tell, the price was in line. What bothers me is that I didn't check to see if Medicare expired at the U.S. border (It does) nor did I check with the PPO (administered by Blue Cross) at my University to see what it would do outside the U.S. I was just going for a week vacation, and I didn't think to expect the worst.

I'll have to admit that the way insurance and Medicare handle bills (what they pay has nothing to do with what was charged, and, except for a co-payment, the medical people just accept what they are paid (and, I suspect, write the rest off their taxes) sort of prepared me for the possibility that the hospital would accept the insurance, bill me for a couple of thousand co-pay and forget it. I know now that they don't. I do wish the hospital wouldn't just make everything due yesterday, but I will do my best. Now go back to the first part and, I hope, chuckle a little.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Geezer/Coot Routine Maintenance

I have not quite finished the story of the last couple of weeks in Finland. I apologize. (I am not sure who/what is trying to finish who/what, but it "is writer's blocking" me) I am going back for a while to the regular Three Score and Ten or more commentary on the survival processes of Geezers and Coots.

Go to any hospital and look around you will find geezers and coots in abundance (Remember, from past discussions, every coot begins as a geezer. Attitude defines the difference between the two, or the progression from one to the other. In some cases, one can be both) The hospital, clinic or doctor's office is, to the Coot, what Meineke or Express Tune and Lube is to the driver of an automobile. The difference being that if one takes the car to the Tune and Lube every three thousand miles one has every right to expect reasonable use and activity between lubes. Being a Coot, however, means that one can expect to return to the personal tune and lube shop (hospital or clinic) more frequently and on an erratic schedule. There are still the regularly scheduled items (flu shots, physicals, cardiograms, eye and hearing checks, teeth cleaning, and even the regularly scheduled colonoscopy) but the Coot is to the hospital somewhat like the restored Model A Ford is to the garage. He/she ends up there on an irregular schedule because the valves, radiator, or other parts have reached the end of the period of definite viability and tend to give way by surprise. The scheduled maintenance can help, but every once in awhile one of the working parts just "poops out". This is the kind of thing that happened to Janet with the aortal aneurism.

She had been through routine maintenance (She had a physical, complete with EKG, stress test, blood work, and all the other stuff) just two weeks before departure, but suddenly a hose blew that no one was expecting, and the repair was way beyond routine maintenance.

On the other hand, I have come to the conclusion that, after seventy (and even after sixty), some things that sound pretty radical become routine. Among these are the cardio catherization including scraping out plaque and the applicaton of stents to keep the arteries open. Even arterial bypasses have become so common that you frequently find coots sitting around comparing bypass stories. It is reasonable. You are unlikely to find a thirty four Ford running that has not had, in addition to routine lubes, valve jobs, and tune ups, a head gasket replacement, new piston rings rod bearings (think cardio work) and even wheel bearings (think knee replacement), as well as careful paintjobs and restoration of fenders or body (botox, hair dye, and cosmetic dentistry). The human body wears out just like the automobile. (Well, not JUST like, but you get the idea.)

It is even true that discovery of one problem and lead to repair of a different one. I was in the habit of walk/jogging (walk a block jog a block) a couple of miles every day, when I encountered a thing called epididimitis (I will not explain, but it is painful, and mine resisted to the degree that I took week or two week courses of almost every known antibiotic). This particular disease makes walking painful and the walk/jog routine went by the boards. At the end of six months, with the consultation of several urologists, the disease was conquered and I determined to start walk/jogging again.

I went out the first day, and jogged two blocks before my right arm began to really ache in the tricep area. I decided I had pulled something, walked home, took an aspirin and went about my business. The next day, I put on my sweats in the morning and went off to jog again. At almost the exact place on the track, my right arm began to ache again. (This made me a little nervous just because, a few years ago, a good friend, who was a health nut, was running his usual five to ten miles in the morning and his arm just broke, in the bicep area. It turned out to be the result of bone cancer and his funeral was about two weeks later.) so I decided to go talk to my GP and see if anything might be wrong. Within four days, I had received a quadruple bypass and the orderly was trying to pry me out of my hospital bed to walk to the bathroom. You see what I mean about the failure of one part leading to the repair of another. But that is the kind of thing that happens in the routine maintenance of coots and geezers (and cootesses and geezerettes if you think of these terms in a sexist manner, which, of course, I do not.)

Friday, March 09, 2007


I'm glad that someone in my family is healthy (actually several some ones, but this has not been the ideal year. My granddaughter is twenty, and when she had her baby (almost three years ago) she developed type two diabetes. Since then she has had nothing but health problems (some of them self developed. She was a little plump but after diabetes she slimmed down a lot. Everytime she used her insulin to keep her blood sugar in line she gained weight, so guess what? ) At the current time she has a neuropathy that seems to have reached her intestines, so that eating is painful and not very useful. (Living on Ensure isn't fun) then, last week she became dehydrated and ended up in the ICU. In that process she had an MRI and was told that her first through fourth lumbar vertebrae (May actually be disks) have degenerated. When my daughter asked what that meant, the nurse said that she is a twenty year old girl with an eighty year old back, and that she would probably be on pain medications for the rest of her life. She has medicade but is otherwise uninsured, so that it appears that she is unlikely to have surgery, and they didn't actually tell her what kind of surgery (if any) would be in line. They say that the vertebrae are unrelated to her diabetes, and they didn't give much of a clue as to what might have caused the degeneration. She just lies in ICU connected to tubes at this time, but has almost surrendered her whole life. I would give almost anything to be of real help to her, but I don't have a clue. (I can relate to the neuropathy, I have had a peripheral neuropathy for sixteen years, and after a while you just say to yourself "My feet and hands are numb, the bottoms of my feet burn and hurt, and I am just going to live my life the best way I can". ) The thought of a twenty year old with such a painful future is difficult to comprehend.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sometimes some things Creep You Out

I have been watching the news lately. The day of the tornados was scary. People were killed in the hospital in Americus, Georgia, and it occurred to me that while I was doing high school workshops with some of my students I had passed the hospital. Not strange, because thousands of people have looked at that hospital, but somehow my brief glimpse of it many years ago seems to have made the deaths there more significant to me than they might have been otherwise.

On railroad cars they used to have an occasional problem with wheel bearings, which were called "hot boxes", which sometimes caused derailments and more often caused serious delays in the railroad schedule. Having spent some time as a teenager pouring babbit (a melted lead compound) for, what I was told, were freight car wheel bearings really made any mention in the newspaper of a "hot box" problem made those problems more significant.

What really aroused this post was the bus accident in Atlanta involving the baseball team from Bluffton University in which several people were killed. When they showed the pictures and explained the routes followed, I turned to Janet and said, "I've been there, I almost did the same thing. You turn off on what seems to be part of the HOV lane, and suddenly there are stop signs and the road dead ends into a cross road. I almost had and accident there." Jan looked at me, then looked more closely at the next news picture and said, " I was there with "K" (a friend who doesn't need to see her name in my blog) when we were in Atlanta working with the charter school. That's a terrible intersection." For a moment it was like a cloud passed over both of us. This afternoon, on one of the news channels the reporter stated that there have been eighty--plus (I don't remember the exact number) accidents at the top of that ramp, but, according to the DOT, there are no plans to change it. I can't help wondering how many hundred of people who have driven through Atlanta have sped up that ramp only to stomp on the break pedals when an unexpected stop sign shows up at the top of the ramp, and how many of them thought, as I did, that could have been me. Fortunately passenger cars are easier to stop than busses, but my heart shakes when I think of that poor bus driver seeing those stop signs and knowing that he never could stop in time.