Tag Archives: health care

Honesty is the best policy.

14 Sep

[NOTE: In my blog post today, I write about losing weight and exercising. I do realize that my personal experience cannot be universally applied to everyone else’s medical situation and physical condition and abilities. I am not being judgmental towards other people who are overweight or can’t exercise due to physical disability. Really, this blog post is all about me–and now that I’ve written and published it, I guess I will have to hold myself accountable to the promise I’ve made myself to lose a few pounds by being more active, as I am able, and eating less. I’m letting you “in” on this pledge I’ve made to myself, hoping that someone “out there” might also be inspired to make a commitment to get healthier, as they are able.]

Today, I am stuck at home. Why? Because I am doing a 24-hour urine collection for my doctor and I don’t want to go anywhere today and take my “hat” and urine collection jug with me in case I need to pee. I know, this is probably too much information for some of my readers. I’ve just recently started on the “standard” treatment for adults with XLH—Calcitriol and Phospha 250 Neutral—and I guess part of that standard course of treatment is doing a 24-hour urine collection to see how my kidneys are affected. We do have a phosphorous wasting disorder, and the kidneys are a big part of making sure most our phosphorous gets wasted as per the instructions on the PHEX gene of the faulty X chromosome. As I have mentioned in a previous post, my body is following those genetic instructions very well; it’s just too bad the instructions are wrong.

So, I’m at home, knitting a baby hat for someone I know who’s going to have a baby in a few weeks, listening to the gentle snores of the dogs and pondering the big things in life like, is it time for lunch yet?

What has led to the pondering of lunch is, ironically, that I started on a diet last week, with the help and wise advice of Professorgrrl, who has a calorie-counting app on her smartphone. (Note to self: ask her how many calories are burned when one blogs?)

Professorgrrl and I had an interesting discussion while on a walk this morning. We were discussing an elderly woman that we know who, though she’s had more than one MRI on her back PLUS back surgery, is determined that her doctor needs to order another MRI for her back, “to see what’s going on.” The woman is 80 years old, doesn’t exercise, sits in her recliner all day and watches TV, but does get up to walk down to the elevator to go to the dining room (she lives in an independent living facility) three times a day to eat. For this woman, there seems to be, in her mind anyway, some therapeutic value to getting an MRI. I don’t dispute that sometimes knowing exactly what your problem is does help you to deal with it better. I asked Professorgrrl if she thought that the doctor would just order the test OR would she say, “Your problem is that you sit in your recliner all day and do nothing but think about yourself. You need to get off your butt and walk around several times a day; you need to socialize with other people; you need to get involved in some activities around there and stop thinking about yourself so much and get a little bit of exercise while you’re at it.” We concluded that there aren’t many doctors who are that brutally honest. Why did we conclude this?

Well, I have the same family doctor as this elderly woman. I just had my yearly physical a couple weeks ago, and my doctor said nothing about my weight gain. In fact, I have seen three different doctors in the last year, plus their nurses, and not one single medical person has said to me, “Banjogrrl, I have noticed that your weight seems to be trending upwards. If you keep gaining, by the time you’re 65, you will be in sorry shape. Have you changed your eating habits? Have you stopped walking every day? Why are you slowly gaining weight? Do you know what this will eventually do to your already arthritic knees and hips? Not to mention your back pain, too?” Nope, not one single comment from a medical professional. In fact, my family doctor looked at my lab work results and said that my cholesterol looked really good and I seemed to be fine, see ya next year.

Now, if you were to look at me, you wouldn’t notice that I’ve gained weight steadily over the years. I have never had a shapely shape that could be lost with weight gain. I’m pretty much shaped like a tree stump—short with no hips, or anything to suggest an “hourglass” shape that American women strive for. I know some of you who know me personally will probably read this and scold me for saying I’m shaped like a tree stump. A stump is NOT a bad thing. Read the children’s book, “The Giving Tree.”

However, the doctors and nurses all have those numbers in front of them and could easily look at the amount I weigh now and say, “You’re gaining weight. Why?”

I am not saying that the responsibility of losing weight is on them, either. I know it’s all my responsibility. I am a bit surprised that the insurance company hasn’t stepped in and said to their customers, “We’re sorry. Because you are over your ideal weight, we are not going to allow you to have knee replacement surgery, blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication, etc. You need to get your act together first, then we’ll review your case.” I hope that day doesn’t come, since the insurance companies control the world enough already.

I do think, though, that some strong encouragement from a medical professional might go a long way. My doctor could have said, “Banjogrrl, have you considered the possible problems in your future if you allow your weight to continue to trend upwards? Can you make a plan to stop that increase?” Maybe she’s being overly compassionate, because she realizes I have the mobility and pain issues that come with XLH. Perhaps she can’t bring herself to use “tough love” on her patients. Maybe she won’t be able to bring herself to say to my elderly friend, “Have you considered the consequences of sitting on your butt all day in your room and doing nothing but watch TV? Change your sedentary, hermit-like lifestyle and after a year of implementing that change, talk to me.”

She probably won’t say something like what my dad’s doctor said to him once, regarding his diabetes. “If you don’t lose weight and change your eating habits, you’re going to die. Are you ready for that?” My dad wasn’t ready, thank goodness. His doctor wasn’t politically correct in his approach, either. But sometimes, do we need a kick in the pants? I think I need one regularly, and if you have XLH, then you know how hard it is to literally or figuratively kick your own self in the pants.

So, I’ve decided to give myself some “tough love” and I plan to try to lose 11.5% of what I weighed last week before I started this adventure. Right now I am being encouraged by Professorgrrl. Oh, and her phone app, too. Here’s a list of fun calorie burning activities, which is important to know, because you can eat those calories in snacks or dessert later:

30 minutes of playing Croquet burns 81 calories.

30 minutes of gardening burns 105 calories.

30 minutes of fishing burns 88 calories. I need to renew my state fishing license.

15 minutes of juggling burns 53 calories. I know how to juggle, but 15 minutes at a time is plenty for me.

30 minutes of Wii bowling burns 60 calories and 30 minutes of REAL bowling burns 70 calories. This, in my opinion, makes the case for staying at home to bowl, because you don’t have to rent smelly ill-fitting shoes and eat high-calorie, over-priced snacks. You should invite someone over, though, because socializing is part of the fun of bowling.

30 minutes of walking with a dog burns 70 calories. I think that 30 minutes of walking a maniacal Jack Russell Terrier burns 100 calories.

30 minutes of playing the guitar while sitting down burns 35 calories.

30 minutes of playing the piano burns 46 calories.

30 minutes of playing a woodwind instrument burns 28 calories. Another good reason to take up the guitar or piano.

Yesterday, I played my hammered dulcimer at a wedding for approximately 1.5 hours. Playing the hammered dulcimer isn’t on the list of instruments in the calorie counting app; however, since it is a percussion instrument, I looked for the amount of calories burned while playing the drums. Thirty minutes of playing the drums burns 98 calories! I practiced many hours this week in preparation for the wedding so I’m pretty sure that earned me some chocolate.

Dulcimer set up for wedding

A pretty location for a wedding and a hammered dulcimer.

Overlooking dulcimer at wedding

We made it through the bride’s processional music, Pachelbel’s Canon in D. At this point in the service, we’re waiting to play the recessional music, “Haste to the Wedding.” The recessional music burns more calories than the processional music, since it’s much faster and in 6/8 time, which is considered “jig” time. Dancing a jig burns many more calories than playing a jig, but hey, you do what you can do.

Copyright 2014, S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries. All rights reserved.


Happy Birthday to Me

7 Jul

Today is my birthday. I have completed 52 years of life. It’s always nice to feel like I’ve completed something.

For my birthday, Professorgrrl gave me Adele’s album “19” which is now playing on my iphone. She said to me, “I thought that since one of Adele’s songs got you through your MRI,” [see my post on June 16, 2012] “then maybe one of her songs from this album will get you through your colonoscopy…”

That statement will certainly influence how I listen to the album, will it not?

Ah, the joys of aging. In addition to receiving regular requests from AARP to join up, my insurance company is sending me reminders that I am due for some test or another, due to being over 50. The latest was a reminder that it’s time for a colonoscopy. They’ve been sending that letter for 2 years now. That’s pretty bad when your insurance company WANTS you to go and spend some of their money!

Sometimes, I feel like this Mama Wren who has taken up residence in the back yard…not quite sure if it’s safe to leave the comforts of home. Especially if there is someone waiting for you out there holding suspicious-looking equipment…



Copyright 2012-2017, S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries

Healthcare, Health Insurance, Etc.

29 Jun

Okay, I am stumped. I want to write about health insurance and health care, but since this is a blog, and not a book, I don’t know what to write. If I leave out all of the problems with the health care system in the U.S., and all the problems with health insurance in the U.S., then I won’t have very much to write about! Plus, I was hoping that my blog could always bring a little bit of humor and positive thinking into the world, and there is simply NO humor in health insurance, even if you have it. Hmm…

Today, (June 28th, 2012) I listened to NPR’s program called “Talk of the Nation.” You can find it online at npr.org. The Supreme Court made a ruling on what folks have nicknamed “Obamacare” and it has generated a lot of discussion and news here in the U.S.A. One controversial aspect of the legislation requires all citizens to purchase health insurance. A fellow named “Joseph” who is a 27 year-old part-time janitor called in to the show and was asked by the host, Neal Conan, if he was going to buy health insurance coverage if he was required by law to do so. His reply was, “Yes, I would. I mean, I feel it’s my duty as a patriotic citizen. I mean, I’m 27 years old, and you guys have been talking about how young people would be forced into paying for the people with preexisting conditions and things like that. But as I get older, those younger people will be helping me. So I just feel it’s my duty to help them. Somebody has got to start the system going.”

Wow. Who is his mama? And how in the world did she raise such an altruistic and selfless son? My eyes literally filled up with tears when I heard him say this. And this is not good, since I was driving.

As I watch my health insurance premium climb ever higher with each passing year (it’s getting close to being the amount of my house payment), I wonder how in the world am I going to pay for the health care that I will need as get older? Yes, I do have a “medical situation” that I was born with, but like most folks, I will develop other health problems with age. And I consider myself a relatively healthy person…I don’t smoke, I eat very healthy foods (no red meat, not much salt, etc.), I take a walk every day, drink lots of water. Yet, my health insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, is hoping to get out of paying for a part of the MRI that I just had. How do I know this? They sent me a form asking me to tell them if my back problems were work related, something that might be eligible for worker’s comp. I am a sole proprietor of my business, and no, there is no worker’s comp insurance for BCBSNC to go after. Yes, my work might aggravate my back pain, but so does breathing, and I don’t intend to stop that any time soon. If I feel pain, it means I am alive! So, give me the pain. And the Tylenol.

We have a broken system here in the U.S.A. Well, it’s broken if you don’t work for some big company that provides you with health insurance. Because I am an individual purchasing coverage, my premium is more than if I were getting it through a job in a corporation, and thus, part of a group. Does that make any sense whatsoever? If I closed my business today, and got a job in a large company that provides health insurance, my health would not change, but my premium would. The premium would be less, because the insurance company would give the employees a break in the price…like a quantity discount, if you will. But, hey, why not give me, the sole proprietor, a lower rate too, for being part of a group called “the human race.” That’s not going to happen…let’s face it…companies are started in the U.S.A. so that someone or a group of people can make money. The way you make money, is to lower your cost of doing business, so that there is more profit to go around. And how do you lower your cost of doing business if you’re an insurance company? You charge the expensive people more or ditch the people who cost too much…people with preexisting conditions (like XLH, and some people with this have been rejected for insurance), people who use their insurance a lot (you know, like sick people), etc. I understand this…I am a business owner. I travel with my job and my profits are more if I have to travel to a customer who only lives 3 miles away, as opposed to 15 miles away. So, if I wanted to increase my profits, I would either charge the person more who lives further away, or choose to only serve the people who live less than 3 miles away from me.

The other difficult part of health insurance and health care is that we cannot legislate what people eat or put into their bodies, as long as it’s legal. So, if a person wants to eat 10 Twinkies and wash those down with a case of beer every day, and increase their health costs as a result, then that person is going to increase the health costs for all of us, even those who don’t eat Twinkies and drink beer. Multiply that snacker by several thousand and you’ve got yourself a higher health insurance premium for everyone, thank you very much. Most likely, though, those Twinkie-eating beer drinkers won’t be around very long to cost us extra for years and years. But, they’ll be fun to invite to parties!

It’s complicated. I don’t know what the answer is and apparently, I am not alone. Congress is full of people who really don’t know how to fix this problem with the system that we currently have. Doctors have it tough too…they do all these extra tests and procedures to cover themselves in case someone decides to sue them for not diagnosing correctly or soon enough. There are good and bad people on both sides of the equation…HMO’s who are just in it for the money, insurance people who are just in it for the money, doctors who want to help people, but have to charge an arm and a leg so that they can pay their malpractice insurance premiums and med school loans. And I know there are insurance agents who are good and honest people as well as doctors who are in it only for the money. My list could go on, especially if I included the pharmaceutical side of health care. It all reminds me of those occasional times when I reach down into my knitting bag and pull out a wad of yarn balls that have inexplicably knotted themselves together into such a mess that I wonder, “How in the world did this happen? I’ll never be able to pull this tangled mess of a knot out!”

All of this, if you think about it too much, can just be too depressing. I certainly don’t want a depressing blog. So, I googled “joke insurance agent” just to see if there IS any humor in the discussion of health insurance and healthcare. Apparently, insurance agents know how to laugh at themselves, because I found a lot of humor at the website of an insurance company. I’ll leave you with this one:

Mr. James Barricks was a rich old man dying from a rare disease. On this deathbed, he called for his insurance agent, doctor and preacher.

“I trusted each of you with my entire life. Now I want to give each of you $30,000 cash in an envelope to put in my grave. I want to take it with me.”

Mr. Barricks died and at the funeral, each one placed the envelope on top of the man, then he was laid to rest.

On the way from the funeral, in the limo, the doctor confessed, “I must tell you gentlemen, I only put $20,000 on top of Mr. Barricks. I wanted to buy this new machine that would enable me to diagnose his rare disease and save others. It’s what he would have wanted.”

Then the preacher said, “I have to confess, I only put $10,000 on top of Mr. Barricks. We needed that money to help more homeless people, and it’s what Mr. Barricks would’ve wanted.”

The insurance agent was angry at both men and said, “I can’t believe both of you, stealing from a dead man. I wrote Mr. Barricks a check for the full $30,000!”


© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017