Category Archives: doctors and dentists

We Interrupt Your Regular Broadcast…

About the Dot Blouse: It’s still in progress. I write posts “live” as it were, and I don’t have a week’s worth lined up and ready to go. In true sew-along style, we would be sewing the blouse together. That is, until I got the flu and then started working 7 days a week. It will still happen, but there’s a delay while I try to fit in cooking, cleaning, and breathing.

On to more banal, personal stuff. I haven’t gone there in a while.

Selfie with a brand-new (and stinky) perm.

Selfie with a brand-new (and stinky) perm.

I got a perm. It’s not the pin-curl-set look I was secretly hoping the stylist could whip up, but at least my wash-and-wear hair doesn’t pouf and frizz as much now. This photo was taken the day of, so it’s not actually as curly as shown here. And while we may have come a long way, Baby, the process still stinks. Literally. It took 4 or 5 shampoos to finally clear the chemical stench from my hair. Yech.

Working. Ya. I’m still officially unofficial over at Prestige Estate Services, although I’ve been “freelancing” for them regularly since October. I should technically be an actual employee by now, but I like the freedom of scheduling days off to focus on design clients. It’s just that I haven’t been scheduling days off, so I wind up spending every “off” day working on design. While I love design and estate sales, I’m running myself ragged. I know this and whine about it, but I still do nothing to alleviate the stress, such as taking an extra day off from Prestige or saying “no” to a client. I have as of this moment very conveniently had 4 days off in a row from both jobs (a client is late getting me her files), and while my time has been filled with much-needed housecleaning, grocery shopping, dental work, and Tiddleywink Vintage administration, it still feels quite relaxing.

My office is set up in a corner of the basement tiki bar/lounge/shop photo studio/storage area, and the office percentage has become smaller and smaller until it’s gotten flat-out claustrophobic. The Boyfriend and I didn’t whip it fully back into shape this weekend, but we made a very good dent in the chaos. Having unearthed the backstock that has never made it into the shop, I am simultaneously overwhelmed and inspired. However, I’m trying to move some of this inventory into a booth at a local “antiques” mall. Space isn’t cheap, but it may be worth it if people can personally inspect the items before committing to a purchase!

The newest addition to my vintage handbag collection: a Lucite purse by Rialto. SCORE!

The newest addition to my vintage handbag collection: a Lucite purse by Rialto. SCORE!

On a separate-but-related subject, I’ve been buying my dentist a boat. While the work I need is deeply discounted through Direct Dental Plans of America, it’s still a lot of work. After today’s session in the dentist’s chair, I decided to stop in at the thrift store next door to look around. I didn’t even bother to take a shopping cart or basket in with me. Any interesting cookbooks? No. How about lamps? No. Sewing patterns? Nothing. Bathroom department, which I usually skip entirely but it’s right next to Sewing: that’s a nice vintage tissue box cover, but let me think about HOLY CRAP IS THAT A—YES IT IS—IT’S A LUCITE PURSE. IN THE BATHROOM DEPARTMENT. I glance furtively around. Does anyone else see this? Was someone trying to hide it over here? I look at the price tag. Nope, this wasn’t hidden. Whoever priced and shelved this must think it’s a cotton ball container or something. Quick check for cracks or chips (none) and to see if the latch works (yes) and I’m off like a shot to the cashier. The hinge is so shiny I think it may be a repro and then under the light at home I see “Original Rialto NY” and I can’t tell you how much I got it for because it was such a steal that I’m a bit embarrassed. And feel not entirely unlike I’d actually stolen it. Now that Viva is fewer than 8 weeks away, I really need to get cracking with the packing. And this purse, of course, will be a part of that.

Since this purse goes into my Pry It From My Cold, Dead Hands collection, it frees up a couple of other vintage white purses for me to relinquish to the shop. So there’s that. Maybe I’ll get some fresh product photography done after tomorrow’s dentist appointment (yes, another one) and meeting with the antiques mall manager! Woo!

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Filed under day job, design, doctors and dentists, life-threatening clutter, shoes, shopping, vintage, Viva Las Vegas

Un. Buh. Lievable.

Perhaps you read my post a few weeks back wherein my health insurance provider intended to DOUBLE my monthly premium because of a serious and chronic condition…which I don’t have. And the only way that I could get my premium adjusted back down was to have my medical records, and a letter from my doctor, sent to the underwriters for their review. No promises, of course. But they’d review it. Again. Of course, it was their initial review that had determined that I have a serious and chronic condition in the first place.

Because they are, apparently, morons.

Hopefully, you’ve never had to get a copy of your medical records. They’re yours, and yours for the asking, but in this day and age of HMOs and PPOs and feedlot-style health care providers, you have to find just the right department and pay a small processing fee in order to get them. To obtain a letter written by your doctor should be easier, if he or she has the time, but in my case the doctor in question is a colleague of my usual GP, who was on vacation the day of my visit, and so I was bounced around from office to office until someone figured out who needed to write exactly what on my behalf and then where to send it.

By the time I made all of the phone calls and got all of the paperwork, I’d also applied and been approved for health insurance from a different company. Yay!

Today, I called my “old” provider and requested that my insurance be cancelled, effective immediately. When asked why, I explained that I didn’t like having to jump through all of these hoops to prove that I didn’t have the chronic condition they were accusing me of. The rep apologized, and then informed me that I can’t cancel over the phone. I have to fill out a form. A-ha! More hoops! To speed things up, he can email me the form. Well, that’s a relief! Also, I confirmed that I can return the form via email as well, although the rep seemed astonished that not only do I not personally have a fax machine, but I also haven’t worked in any office with a fax machine in a number of years. Because this isn’t 2001.

A couple of hours later, I received the email. It contained not the form in question, but an attached HTML document which I was instructed to download and open. I did, and was directed to a secure Web page that required me to create a password- and secret-phrase-protected account which I then had to sign in to in order to get to the page where I could finally download the Disenrollment Form. The Disenrollment (is that even a word?) Form which contains precisely zero personal information. Not an address, not a member number. Not even my name. And therefore, requires precisely zero security.

It’s as though they’re BEGGING me to leave.

 

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Venting: Fun with Health Insurance

Illustration from iStockPhoto

I’m self-employed. Therefore, I’m self-insured.

I’m pretty healthy, thankfully. I visit a GP once a year for a “wellness” exam, and while I should see a dermatologist every 6 months, I go less frequently than that. I’m pretty adept at avoiding colds, but landed a nasty bronchial bug last winter that included a trip to the doctor’s office for some super-strength cough medicine. My blood pressure is fine, as are my cholesterol levels and whatnot. I carry insurance as, well, insurance. Against the possibility of an Unusual and Drastic Scenario.*

When I started buying my own insurance, back in 2008, my monthly premium was $144, with a rather ridiculous $2000 deductible. Each year, the premium and deductible crept higher. The price of doing business. I wasn’t happy about it, but it was understandable. In November of this year, I noticed that my premium had skyrocketed to $246, so I called to find out what was going on. Surely, I thought, this was some clerical error.

“Ah yes, I see here that we sent you the paperwork regarding new plans, but it was returned. We must have an incorrect address for you.” Well that’s funny, seeing as how my address hasn’t changed the entire time I’ve been doing business with you. I find out that the plan I’m on is no longer “current” and my high premium is a result of being “grandfathered” in to an outdated plan. The rep will transfer me to a Plan Expert who can help me choose a new plan. The helpful Expert and I discuss a few plans, a few prices quotes, and I decide on the $157/month plan for a $4000 deductible. He emails the appropriate Plan Change Request Form, with the instruction to check one particular box, sign, date, and return. And I do, that very afternoon.

A few days later, I receive a voicemail that some information is missing from the Plan Change Request Form. I am to refer to the mailed paperwork (that I never received, if you recall) and call back with the information. I call back, only to get their own voicemail system, telling me that all Experts are in a staff meeting. I leave a message with two phone numbers at which I can be reached, and wait for a return call.

More days go by, and now I receive a letter in the mail (oh look! my address is correct!) that they “have been unable to” reach me, and the missing information is still missing. I call again, speaking this time with a very nice woman who, it turns out, is in a different department. She attempts to connect me through but…all Experts are in a staff meeting. She promises to make a personal plea on my behalf, and I leave another voicemail.

In the meantime, another billing cycle has gone by, and another $246 premium is billed.

Woo, I get a call back! Actually, three in one day. Apparently, their log system doesn’t indicate that anyone has already spoken to me. Or the helpful woman I last spoke with left personal notes on a few desks. Anyway, I explain my story to a new Expert, she explains the missing information, quotes me a slightly higher premium than the previous Expert, and sends me to a web page for more information. The web page spits back at me the same $157 quote as the first Expert, so I fill out the confounded missing information, and return the form. Again. All is well, right?

Today, I received an email with the official “offer” for my new plan. This time, for an outrageous $315.50 per month. There’s something on the documentation about a claim processed for cervicalgia, which seems to be the culprit behind the price hike. Once again, I call.

I explain that I’ve been trying to change my plan since late November. I have lost all patience. I explain that I don’t have cervicalgia, I don’t know what cervicalgia is, and will they please re-review the documents and get. this. straightened. out. Well, they tell me, cervicalgia is quite serious, and it’s right there on my medical records that I was seen for it back in July. July? Why yes, I did see a doctor in July. I pulled a muscle and Advil wasn’t doing the trick. The folks in the office where I was working were very concerned, and had me in a panic with their horror stories of spinal injuries. I saw a doctor, who told me it was nothing serious; to apply heat, rest, and to take a prescribed muscle relaxer for a few days. I don’t think I took it for more than a night or two. “It sounds like it’s probably a coding error,” the insurance people say. I’ll need to request a copy of my medical records from my doctor, and send them in along with my own statement of what took place, and wait for re-evaluation.

Jiminy Christmas!

I call the Records department at my doctor’s office. I get a recording. It suggests I try another phone number, which I do. I get a recording. I look up “cervicalgia” and find out it’s medicalese for “neck pain.” Nothing drastic or serious about it. WebMD doesn’t even bother with a listing for it, and Wikipedia says that 2/3 of adults have it. My insurance company, however, is deeming it serious enough to warrant doubling my insurance premium, so I know that I’m going to need to speak with my doctor one-on-one.

I call the main desk at the doctor’s office, and get a recording. This time, I eventually am transferred to a human being. She tells me that the staff is at lunch, and doesn’t accept messages. I have to call back after 2pm.

::head desk:: ::head desk:: ::head desk::

_____________________________

*Back  in 2003, I was on the receiving end of a nasty car accident. My medical bills were in the thousands, and while the other person’s insurance eventually covered it, they legally have three years to pay out. If my own employer-subsidized health insurance hadn’t covered me in the interim, I’d have been financially destroyed in no time at all.

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Take A Look-See: Can you guess the product?

Model Mother, Good Housekeeping magazine, March 1948

What could this 1948 photo be advertising? The beautiful dress? Perfume? Hair color? Here’s the headline (and subhead) of the ad.

What does it take to be a “Model” Mother? What Betty Brookfield has—two adorable youngsters, a lovely figure—and look at that smile!

Hmm, is the ad for a modeling school? Diet pills? Nope. Here’s the caption for the photo itself:

New note in Fashion Filmy, feathery lace cascades from head to hem in this dramatic gown Betty models for Harzfeld’s…

So, the ad is for Harzfeld’s department store! No, wrong again. Okay, okay, I’m teasing you. Below is the ad in its entirety. It’s for Ipana Tooth Paste!

Ipana Tooth Paste, Good Housekeeping magazine, March 1948

Ipana: Not a fan of the less-is-more school of advertising.

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Filed under advertising, doctors and dentists, fashion, vintage

A 5-hour Ride in the Wanhmublance

Today has been a long day.

Technically this all started last Sunday. I was fine all day, but at around 8pm, POW. My lungs suddenly feel as though they’ve been filled with Crisco. By Monday morning, the coughing has started. A constant, dry cough. And my Crisco-filled lungs have the weight of an anvil on them.

A hot (whoops, too hot?) pad on my chest helps with the Crisco/anvil feeling, but the coughing persists.

And there is the coughing. Oh man, the coughing. My abs hurt from the coughing. Hey, involuntary workout! Neat! My throat is getting ripped up from the coughing. I haven’t slept in three nights from the coughing.

By Saturday morning, I’d been beaten. Knowing that my regular doc’s office closes at 12:30 on Saturdays, and there was little-to-no chance of me getting an appointment on such short notice anyway, I set my sights on urgent care.

11:15 am – Check into [Name Withheld] Urgent Care. Fill out 3-1/2 pages of paperwork, realize that my expensive-but-crappy insurance will not cover this, decide that I am not so sick as to pay $327 (actual fee) for a doctor to prescribe cough syrup, leave.

11:35 am – Call regular doctor from urgent care parking lot and beg, plead, cajole for appointment. Receptionist directs me to their own urgent care office, which, while located in Boulder (a not-convenient drive), charges as a regular doctor visit instead of an urgent care visit.

11:40 am – Call the Boulder urgent care office and verify this. Thank them profusely.

12:15 pm – Check in to Boulder Medical Center urgent care desk. Fill out half a sheet of paperwork. Wait.

1:00 pm – Check back with receptionist. Another 45 minutes, she thinks. The urgent care waiting room is packed. Three of us have the same hacking cough.

2:35 pm – I’m finally brought into an exam room. Friendly, efficient, thorough nurse. Friendly, efficient, thorough doctor. I really do love the staff at Boulder Medical Center, and everyone I  interact with there today, at both the Louisville and Boulder offices, are examples of why I’ve been going there for years (and why I made sure even my crappy insurance was accepted by their offices when I was choosing a carrier).

3:05 pm – Diagnosis of acute bronchitis complete, prescriptions for two meds (one for daytime, one for nighttime) faxed to my pharmacy. Instructions to call them if my meds aren’t ready for me when I get there.

3:30 pm – Pharmacy fax machine is down, they don’t have my meds yet. Come back in 15 minutes.

3:50 pm – Pharmacy fax is still down, but they’re working on it. Come back in 10 minutes.

4:05 pm – Oh thank goodness, my meds are finally ready. My feeble lungs can’t take all of this “pacing aimlessly” activity, and I’m actually getting ready to crawl up under the pharmacy counter just to have a place to sit.

All in all, it took nearly five hours to go from Urgent Care A to having meds in hand. Parents, who probably need to deal with this kind of thing multiple times a year, you have my sympathies. And should get a special ribbon or something. I’d make you one, but I only have enough breath to sit here and type. I’m saving my energy so I can get to the couch and lift the remote.

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Lightning

Lightning wasn’t my cat, he was Nick’s. Well, Nick’s and Linda’s and Athena’s, but Athena is in Spain, and Linda moved to San Francisco, so Lightning became Nick’s to feed and house, although he was still everybody’s to care for.

I first heard Lightning called by name last year (in March, as a matter of fact), when Nick wrote to me about how he wound up with Lightning in the first place:

My cat Lightning… he always smells like dirt. Not in a bad way, I guess he smells more like a dusty barn, which reminds me of home. I always pick him up, hold him in my arms like a baby and put my nose into his chest and sniff him. He’s a big old cat… about 18 pounds and all muscle. I was working in a steel mill in Stockton, Ca. His mom was a shop cat and she caught pregnant. Me and Larry (another guy I worked with) built her a house out of a cardboard box and lined it with rags. We also covered the outside with plastic so the rain wouldn’t get it wet. Anyway, she really liked us and she slept there while she was pregnant. We would feed her and watch out for her. She had her babies and they hung around for a while but all of them left. One night I was on the pay phone outside of the shop talking to my little brother and I kept hearing this really loud “meow!!!” Sure enough there was one of her kittens sitting under a car in the parking lot just meowing his head off. I spent about an hour trying to coax him out, and when I finally did I bought him some milk out of the vending machine and fed him, he fell asleep in my lap. I left him on my desk until the end of shift, put him in the car, and drove him home.

Originally we thought he was grey, but once Linda washed him up we realized he was white. Me and that cat… boy we sure are close.

Nick told me that when he would “boom out” on a job for weeks at a time, Lightning would disappear too, only to come home an hour or so after Nick did. Frankly, can you blame him? Nick gave him milk, and Linda scrubbed him clean in a sink full of water. Both are gestures of love, but to a cat, one is tasty and the other is… a sink full of water.

Lightning was an outdoor cat, obviously. A white outdoor cat. With pink ears and a pink nose, exposed to the sun all day. Now you and I, we know about UV rays and SPF and all that. But I dare you to explain it to a cat. Over time, Lightning developed skin cancer. The vet was able to surgically trim Lightning’s ears a little shorter to eliminate some of it, but not all. Ointments were prescribed, but anyone who’s had a cat knows how futile that endeavor is. And, after being able to roam around his whole life, keeping him indoors would kill his spirit, if not his body. So the cancer spread. By January, he was pretty sick. His nose was always running, and his ears had become a mass of scabs, which itched, so Lightning would scratch at them, thus continuing the cycle. Every day was a fresh wound. But those were “cosmetic” problems. Nick wrote,

Lightning even looked a little more bright eyed than he has in the past few days… I don’t get him. He’s definitely sick, sicker than I’ve ever seen him, but he likes to be petted and his purr-box is running strong! […] Yesterday, it was just me, Lightning, and Thumpkin in the house. We all split a can of tuna fish… It was purr-box and drool city, yo!

He didn’t go outside anymore, by his own choice, but preferred to spend his days on the back of the sofa or easy chair, or, if the dog was in the house, safely behind the television. His nights were spent curled up on Nick’s bed.

Nick warned me, before I was to meet Lightning in person, that he looked “gross.” In my head, I was picturing a white cat whose ears were covered in scabs. And that’s exactly what I got, although the reality of it was nonetheless startling. He was white, except for where blood had recently dripped or spattered. His nose looked as though it had melted somewhat. His ears… his ears. Wow. They were black with layer upon layer of dried blood. They looked sort of like marshmallows that have caught fire during toasting. And left to burn. I’m a cat person, but Lightning was difficult to look at, let alone think about developing a relationship with. And yet, within a very short time, he captured my heart. He was clearly nervous about this New Tall Animal in his house, but he slowly approached me and let me pet him (although nowhere near his tender ears, which was, frankly, fine by me). Wow, was he ever soft. Like rabbit fur. In a minute, he was quietly purring. I spent the weekend skritching him and avoiding his head bonks, in part because I didn’t want to accidentally reopen a wound, and in part because, well, euw. Nick tried to clean up Lightning with a warm washcloth. Lightning, of course, would have none of it.

Like Nick said, Lightning’s purr-box was strong, and his eyes were bright. It was easy to forget that this was merely the surface effect of a cancer that was ravaging him from the inside. I pleaded for Nick to take him to the vet for more ear trimming, but Nick, living with this day in and day out, knew the reality of the situation. I was convinced that an Elizabethan collar would protect Lightning’s ears long enough for the wounds to heal properly, and stop the constant bleeding. When the steady blood loss started to physically take its toll on Lightning, Nick went out on a fruitless search for a collar in the hopes that my crazy idea might have some merit. Hearing that he couldn’t find one, I went on my own search, but was sorely disappointed in the available options. Plastic cones that would cause an echo and hinder Lightning’s ability to duck behind the TV weren’t what I had in mind. Soft collars that were, in my opinion, too thick and padded, like wearing a life jacket around your head. Perhaps appropriate for a large dog, but not scaled well for cats. So I decided to make my own. I must have been in JoAnn Fabrics for an hour, selecting and reselecting my materials and plotting a pattern in my head. I spoke with the gal at the cutting counter, and together, we revised my idea once more. Finally, armed with ripstop nylon, Peltex, fleece binding tape, and Velcro, I set off to make The Perfect Collar.

I did the best I could, but I still haven’t figured out how to cleanly machine-stitch along a bias. And two layers of fleece, two of nylon, and a heavy-duty layer of Peltex make for some wonky seams. Still, when all was said and done, I thought Lightning would approve. Okay, I thought he’d hate it, but if he only knew the options, he’d have to change his mind. Maybe Nick could add some patches or studs to “coolify” the collar to better match Lightning’s tough-guy stature. I popped it in the mail on Friday, for Monday delivery

On Saturday, Lightning stopped eating. He took up residence in a cardboard box left in the living room. He was having trouble breathing. He soiled his box. Nick found him a new, clean box, and said Lightning was just skin and bones when he transferred him. By Sunday night, Nick had to make a very difficult decision. At first, he wasn’t going to tell me, but he knew I’d be upset, and I’m sure it helped him to share the burden. Together, we wept.

The appointment was at noon on Monday. Late enough for Nick and I to talk, and grieve a little, and secretly harbor just a small flicker of hope that the vet would offer a viable alternate plan. Late enough for Nick to do the same with Linda. Late enough for Nick and Lightning to spend some time together. Late enough for the mail to arrive. For which I’m thankful, I suppose. I think it would hurt that much more to come home from the vet’s office and see that last-ditch effort to stall the inevitable.

The vet agreed that it was time. The staff treated both Nick and Lightning with care and compassion. Lightning went out snoring and, finally, without pain.

If only they could take away the pain left behind.

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It Ain’t Over Until The Jaw Bone Melts

(This will, hopefully, be the last installment in what has been for many of you WAY too much information about my mouth)

So, I had my progress meeting with the oral surgeon on Tuesday. It’s healing well, my sinus cavity isn’t leaking into anywhere it shouldn’t, and the lingering pain is to be expected as my tendons move around and regrip. (Pokes around in my mouth with mirror, hits spot that makes me flinch, says “Oh.”)

Oh? (And by the way, ow.)

Well, you have a bit of sharp bone there. (Bone? There is bone POKING OUT FROM MY GUMS?) It should melt away on its own…

I’m sorry, melt? When did bone start to melt?

Your bones are constantly moving, shifting, changing. Right now, you have some bone in your jaw that is looking for something to grip. Some will be absorbed and will help hold that back tooth in. The rest will… sort of flake off. Or I could file it. It’s simple.

It’s simple for YOU. It’s not YOUR mouth! (I don’t like the words “file” and “gums” to have any relation to each other.)

If you prefer, you can wait and see how it goes. It should be fine. Come in and see me if it’s bothering you.

And so, I’m to give it 6-ishy weeks. The irritation should gradually decrease as that pokey bit OF MY JAW apparently “melts” away and the gums continue to heal up. For now: Ow. Owwww. (Poke poke poke, bother bother bother.) I have graduated to food that requires chewing, but I’m still favoring the other side and staying away from anything crunchy.

So of course, I really want Doritos. :)

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