Showing 1 - 10 of 41 posts found matching keyword: illness

I'm sick.

That doesn't happen often. I think the last time I was sick was last spring. Once a year seems about right.

The only good thing about being sick is it give me an excuse to post this picture of an awesome wreath that friend Cam made last year out of Coca-Cola bottle caps.

Merry Cokemas

When I do die (which won't happen from this illness, but is, sooner or later, inevitable), I don't want flowers. I want wreathes of Coke caps.

I'm super jealous that Cam finds time to make such cool art, while all I'm doing with my free time between coding video games is writing novels and getting sick. Obviously, I need to do something about my priorities.

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My doctor says my cholesterol is too high. He wants me to exercise for more than an hour a day and consider a Mediterranean Diet, with high concentrations of fruits. He also wants me to avoid processed food entirely, especially things like french fries.

I'm not sure I can do that.

Exercise is the least of the problem. I'm already walking July for 30 minutes and then spending another 30 on the elliptical. In addition, I'd been contemplating how I can add some strength training to that regimen. I'm actually starting to like exercising.

On the other hand, I do eat too much processed snack food. I admit it. It's a bad habit that I'm always aware of, even when I'm eating it. I can make a sincere effort to cut back (he says as he stuffs another handful of potato chips in his face).

What I cannot do is eat more fruits. I hate fruit. I hate its texture and flavor. Berries are gross. Bananas trigger my gag reflex. I saw what apples did to Snow White. And don't even get me started on oranges. If I thought global warming would wipe all fruit off the face of the planet, I'd leave my car running 24 hours a day.

I understand that a Mediterranean Diet might prolong my life, but quality of life has to count for something, too. How am I supposed to enjoy a life of only eating foods I hate? Frankly, I'd rather have a heart attack.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia is raising the monthly health insurance premium on my current health insurance plan to $338 for 2017. That's a 27% increase from monthly 2016 payments. I should probably be thankful it's that low. My 2016 premiums represented a 100% increase over 2015.

Perhaps you're thinking that $338 isn't a lot of money each month. If you can afford better, good for you. However, the Affordable Healthcare Act has destroyed insurance for self-employed professionals like me. The insurers are complaining that they're loosing money on individual plans, and I can understand why. No independent can afford their rates.

I don't think I'm being unreasonable. I don't mind paying for health insurance coverage; I've done it for years. But I don't see why the monthly amounts have grown so out of line with what I can afford. (Especially when it still won't pay for hospital visits!) We're not experiencing rampant inflation, and there doesn't seem to be any shortage of services. So what's driving these impossible costs? Perhaps its a liquidity crisis. We can't save anything for the future if we have to spend every penny paying for right now.

In the past year, my insurance has been billed for $479 worth of doctors fees. Comparing that number against the $4,056 or more I'll have to pay in premiums in 2017, it's clear to me that my best economic option is to cancel my insurance and pay the "individual shared responsibility payment" — the government's name for the ObamaCare penalty tax. At my income bracket, the government will penalize me $695 for the whole year. That leaves enough leeway for eight doctor's visits next year, and I'll still come out ahead!

So if you see me grab my chest and collapse, don't call an ambulance. There's no way I can afford that.

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My mother has had Chewie put down.

This is actually only the second time I've ever mentioned Chewie on this blog. I never really liked the little jerk. Yes, he had a rough early few years. His life was much improved when my Mom rescued him. However, he never became what I would call an affectionate or an obedient dog. But Mom still liked him. She's put up with me for all these years, so I guess she must have developed some fondness for stubborn assholes. Go figure.

In recent months, Chewie developed Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, the dog equivalent of Alzheimer's. He walked in circles, got stuck under furniture, and stood by his full dog dish barking for food. Even for Chewie, he was becoming higher maintenance than usual, to the point that Mom could no longer meet his needs.

So that's the second dog we've lost in 2016. (The third if we count Dad's puppy, Tyr, who died in March.) We're running out.

Three little puppies living in a zoo

Cancer found one and then there were two

Two little puppies sitting in the sun

One lost his marbles and then there was one

One little puppy left all alone

Watch yourself, July. It's dangerous out there.

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Life sucks.

My health care situation has me depressed. The day after I got the news that my health insurance was useless, I got my premium bill in the mail. Thanks for literally nothing, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia.

Vince Dooley came out in support of Donald Trump yesterday. Maybe it's time for a coaching change. (Of course, I'd probably be just as irritated if Dooley came out to support Hillary. What a shitty election season.)

Mom and I drove past the site for the new Culver's in Newnan. I postulated that I was probably over-excited for their burgers, which probably weren't as good as I remembered. Mom said that if I was badmouthing Culver's I really must be depressed.

Have I mentioned that life sucks?

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If you've been following along at home, you know that after my formal complaint to the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, my health insurance provider (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia) agreed to allow me to initiate a exemption request to change from my current health insurance plan to something that I could use in a local hospital. Turns out there was a catch: none of my local hospitals accept BCBSGa insurance plans.

As I said last time, Coweta County's Piedmont Newnan Hospital says publicly they take BCBSGa plans, but none that anyone has access to. Piedmont also owns the next closest hospital, Fayette County's Piedmont Fayette Hospital, so that's not an option, either. Neither is Fulton County's Grady Hospital, where all out-of-county residents are required to pay out-of-pocket for all services to be rendered up front. I called Tanner Medical Center in Carroll County and was told that they didn't not accept my current BCBSGa Pathways plan, but they do take OpenAccess plans.

That should be that, I thought. I just need to change to an OpenAccess plan. The BCBSGa representative who had been trying to help me set me straight. She explained that Tanner Medical Center, like Piedmont, didn't actually take any modern OpenAccess plans. She cushioned that blow with the statement, "Our records indicate that Tanner Medical Center does have an open contract with us for the Pathways plan, but" — wait for it — "if they are telling you that they won't process claims against that plan, we can't make them." Sigh.

Before I could even ask if I could be placed on a grandfathered OpenAccess plan that might be useful to me, she volunteered, "If we offered it to you, we'd have to offer it to everyone." She has a point. It would defeat the whole purpose of health insurance to offer anyone a plan they could actually use.

So in the end, I decided to keep my current plan, at least for the time being. Theoretically, it will help me if I end up in an auto accident on my way to a football game in Athens, GA. Maybe by the time open enrollment rolls around in November, my local hospitals will have figured out what health insurance plans they will actually accept. I won't hold my breath. I can't afford to risk passing out and being sent to a hospital.

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Earlier this month, I complained that despite my research, I was trapped in a health insurance plan that I cannot use in my local hospital. To Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia's credit, they have responded to my complaint and offered to help me request an exemption to switch to a plan that my local hospital will accept. Lucky day!

Shame on me for thinking it was going to be that easy. I called my local hospital, Piedmont Newnan Hospital, to find out what BCBSGa plans they would take. Their website says they take BCBSGa plans, and when I got someone on the phone, they admitted that's true . . . unless it's a plan I can have.

Quote: "We do take Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia HMO/PPO/POS plans except for the 'Pathways' [Affordable Care Act] Marketplace plans or any plans with colors in their names." That means no "blue," "bronze," "silver," or "gold" plans. Guess what? Those disqualifications cover every individual plan that BCBSGa offers. (I've double verified that information.)

So what Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia plans does Piedmont accept? Plans that don't exist anymore? Plans that no one can have? If that's the case, why advertise that you take them? What the fuck, Piedmont?

The takeaway is that so long as I stick with BCBSGa, I'm stuck going to a hospital in another county. Or I could change to a different, Piedmont-approved provider and cross my fingers that Piedmont isn't lying about those, too. It sounds like my best course of action is to never to get sick. I'll let you know how that works out.

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When I went to fill my cavity-prevention prescription medicine last month, I was told that my current Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGa) insurance plan wouldn't cover any of the cost, so I was forced to pay $21 for a tube of toothpaste. Irritated that my health insurance was providing me no benefit on the one prescription I have, I decided to get some value out of the plan and called my doctor for a physical. "Sorry," the receptionist said, "but we don't take accept your plan." That was news to me.

See, back in October, I was told by BCBSGa that my previous coverage was no longer "ObamaCare" compatible. My old plan was being killed off, and if I took no action, I would automatically be enrolled in a new plan that offered less coverage at a cost increase of 105% of my current premium. Nuts to that, I said.

Like a good little worker bee, I did some research. I looked at alternative plans on the federal healthcare exchange,, and a few other websites but not on the federally recommended Georgia Healthcare Exchange because there is no such thing — fuck helping the public, says the current state government, this is about ideals! In the end, I ultimately selected a "Pathway HMO" plan on that was nearly identical to the plan that BCBSGa wanted me to take, but without a $30/month out-of-network card. (Why would I need that? I'm a homebody. How often would I be outside of my network?) I ended up paying only an 80% increase in my previous premium. What a deal!

Which brings us back to my former doctor. When I checked in October (and again last week), he is listed as accepting my coverage on the "Find a Doctor" website. If you call BCBSGa and ask for a list of doctors who actually take my current plan, as I did on April 29, he's on that list too. However, I have since learned that he was not accepting this plan in October, and he still doesn't. In fact, no doctor working for Piedmont Healthcare does or ever has. That includes the local hospital, Piedmont Newnan Hospital, which despite indicating on its website that it takes Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO insurance, doesn't actually accept my plan. (I confirmed this information only after a telephone call to the hospital in which I was transferred 5 times by people who kept insisting I should ask my lying insurance company instead of Piedmont Healthcare.)

Why am I paying a monthly premium for health insurance for a doctor I can't see and a hospital I can't use and a prescription I have to pay full price for? Why is the information that both the insurance companies and the healthcare providers refer me to inaccurate or misleading? I'm beginning to understand why so many people seem to be willing to vote for Bernie Sanders.

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The people who work at the veterinarian's office now recognize me on sight. Sometimes you don't want to go where everybody knows your name.

Earlier this week during our daily walk, Victoria got weak and collapsed. I took her to the vet. Her blood work came back indicating that her thyroid had stopped functioning. The vet considered that good news. He was worried that it was her heart. Whew!

The last vet visit was for July's meibomian adenoma (er, a benign cyst on her eyelid), so I guess it was Victoria's turn. I would prefer it if they could go a month without needing medical care. I want them to be happy and healthy, but I didn't really think the day would come where I was spending more each day on my pet's health than my own, especially considering that Obamacare means I'm now paying $300/month for the peace of mind knowing that if I have to go to the emergency room, it will only cost me only thousands instead of ten thousands.

(I'm this close to voting for the next asshole who promises me that he'll cancel Obamacare because he wants to give bigger tax breaks to Wall Street banks. Stones and Walters only have so much blood.)

Anyway. Victoria is now on a course of antibiotics and thyroid medication, which, while expensive, are cheaper than heart surgery. We'll check back with the vet next month to see how things are going. So long as the vet will still take my credit card, Victoria doesn't have anything to worry about.

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July isn't a poodle; she's a three-toed sloth

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To be continued...