Thursday, January 31, 2008

$30,373 medical bill $0 paid

We get bills like this all the time. This one was a relatively small one. Little T pulled his g-tube out and we weren't able to put it back in time. We had to go the Emergency Room and then Little T had an minor operation to widen the hole to put another g-tube back in.

The total billed costs which is what an uninsured person would pay are $30,773.50

Medical Inpatient $ 21,921.00
Outpatient charge $ 91.50
Diagnostic Testing$ 8,361.00

Our insurance actually paid $3,900 of the inpatient rate which is their contracted rate. They paid nothing for the other two charges "payment for this service is included in the per diem rate or per case rate fee paid to your provider."

We paid nothing as our insurance pays for all hospitalizations and ER visits that result in admittance to the hospital.

Moral of the story:
1. Uninsured folks get really soaked.
2. Get the best health care insurance you can afford
3. We really need health care reform in this country, because it's a crappy system where folks who are either too poor or too unable to plan to get health insurance pay the most.
4. I bet Medical/Mediaid also gets soaked as they probably have a higher negotiated rate than insurance.

Laptop cured, but I'm sick and nervous about leaving the kids

I have a cold virus.

I am putting together my packing list for Team Training for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) which is just 10 days away.

Yesterday I photocopied the schedule for the entire 2 weeks, my dorm assignments and all the directions to various places around the CCI campus.

Don't get me wrong. C's a wonderful father, but he's a WAW (Work at Work) dad. But WOW is how folks often view dads that do anything with their kids. I'm nervous, because I'm basically leaving the kids under his care for 13 days and I feel he has NO idea about what it's like to look after the kids full-time. He's gone camping with them and several other families for a couple weekends, but the village helps out.

Ironically I would feel better if he was a bit more nervous. Instead he says things "I think we'll be fine." I hope he is nervous, but just doesn't want me to worry.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I have never been so thrilled to receive diapers

Little T's preschool just sent home his diapers and wipes today. I've never been so thrilled to receive diapers in my entire life. It means he's now totally potty trained at preschool.

Potty training at home remains literally a balancing act. Unfortunately my dystonia and his one-handedness clash. He needs support to stand up and lean forward which is extremely hard on my hands and arms, so at the moment he can only go with my husband. Plus my jerking unsettles him. So right now he just goes when my husband is here.

HP Hero

My husband's HP recovery disks just arrived via Fedex priority overnight for FREE.

Maybe they can help save my laptop. But I'll need to wait to find out. Little T just got home and I have even bigger news.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shame on you, Sony!

Dear Sony,
Yes it's true I broke my hard disk. Yes, it's true I didn't make recovery disks as you instructed me to do.

However I broke my hard disk because I thwacked it due to my disability. I don't expect you to pay for that. However I don't understand why you place your hard disk right on the top right edge. You could have placed your tiny hard disk in a location a lot less likely to be damaged. I've had 4 laptops in my time and hit each one of them and never broke a hard disk before including the first one ever invented.

But your worst sin is charging me almost $50 for recovery disks that cost you less than $5 to make and ship to me. It is usurious. If you charged me a reasonable price, I would not complain. And you have me up a creek. It's either cough up $50 or buy another laptop.

Shame on you Sony for taking advantage of me in my time of need.

Shame, shame Sony!

Your rival HP sent my husband recovery DVDs for free. It's true that the recovery program didn't work and HP only allows you to make one copy. Even so, it illustrates how little recovery disks cost.

I was a big fan of your VAIO laptops, but after this experience I will probably NEVER buy another Sony laptop.

Sony, you have gained $50, and lost thousands and thousands of dollars from me. I purchase laptops every few years for the rest of my life, which I hope will last for several more decades.

Your practice of charging insane amounts for recovery disks is not only shameful, but also bad business.

Stupid and shameful Sony!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Stay-at-home server not appropriate for kids

Microsoft has hit back at the funny Mac/PC ads with its own web site

The ads are funny, but also touch on a few more important Mom issues like the decision to stay at home being wimpy.  I am a stay-at-home mother. Ironically we have a Microsoft work server at home.  My husband works one day a week at home.

However the ads and the website mention little about security, my chief concern.  Due to my concerns about my children's safety, the Microsoft Media Server sits in our bedroom.  This is not my place of choice.  It's rather noisy.  It turns on at random times in the night.  My husband talks about tuffing it out to the study where our other servers live, but I refuse.  Microsoft has always had a poor record of security and in its line of media it's awful. 

I have no idea about the server's "parental controls" which I don't believe in anyway since that depends on others to tag videos. Worse, there's little control over what appears on the screen. Take the video section. It displays random videos from the Internet. That's fine except for this "feature" C and I will watch a funny video of a baby or a kitten. Okay the humor comes from bad behavior, but it's a baby or kitten. Unless we're very quick to stop it, the Media Center then randomly shows us another humor video. As you can imagine humor on the Internet varies a great deal in taste and appropriateness for children. The next video may be an adult farting, because the previous video was about a baby making silly noises. Sorry Microsoft, NOT the same thing. My daughter just turns away and says "Ewww gross!!!" No harm done. But we have not ventured forth into more potentially more dangerous areas.

My daughter loves to watch YouTube Videos. But I can preview the video ahead of time and it never plays a video unless I specifically tell it to. Yes the world of YouTube is filled with videos not appropriate for a 5 year old, but it's also filled with touching videos of puppies and kittens and assistance dogs. As I prepare to bring an assistance dog into my own life, I want to show her what these amazing animals do. I recently and wrongly used the word "comfort dog" to describe dogs that bring comfort to those who are ill or suffering. My friend snickered loudly. I can only imagine what would happen if my daughter unsuspectingly typed in those words into Microsoft's server. So the server is staying in our bedroom. A work server at home and unfortunately not appropriate for kids.

Crossposted to Silicon Valley Moms Blog

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Experiments with an automatic soap dispenser

One of my learnings for the past year has been that what might seem frippery or luxury to some may actually help my hands.

So it was that yesterday I found myself in Brookstone, a store for those in general who have more money than they know what to do with. Example: digital weather display and clock: $60

I bought a stainless steel soap automatic dispenser. As with all things Brookstone, it was well made, but far more expensive than it ought to be. $40

So far I'm still learning the process of using it. Too far under the sensor and I jerk and the soap plops on the counter instead of my hand. Or I manage not to jerk and receive a large dollop of soap. Today I discovered you have to lightly brush the sensor and then it dispenses slightly more than I'd like, but not the huge splat of yesterday. I *think* once I learn it will save me points, but I need a few more days to be sure.

Pushing down on the soap dispenser is a small amount of points, but one I do all day long as the mom of two small children, one of whom has fragile health. For me, bar soap has been an adventure, a little fun in my salad days when I had more time to jerk around. Picture me jerking a slippery object and watching it slide around the sink and on bad days across the room.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dystonia on a treadmill

Treadmills have always scared me. I'm afraid I'll fall or stumble and hurt myself. Yesterday I learned that my fear was rational.

I wanted to try the treadmill, because I thought I'd be walking my service dog, so I need to practice running and walking. It turned out to be a BAD IDEA. The treadmill has a lot of free space, so you have to think about where your body is in relation to space and time. Whoever said that my dystonia only affects my upper body should be forced to endure what I did. The effects on my lower body are subtle and very stressed induced.

I tried to get the treadmill up to what I though was a usual pace and I started running flat footed. I tried to stop running that way and ran normally for a few paces and then my right knee locked up. It wouldn't unlock until I went back to a walk. I've noticed that my right knee very occasionally locks up at night since I was little. My parents used to call it a charlie horse. Now that I think about it, it would lock up after experiencing a particular type of emotional stress - hard to put into words, but unresolved arguing. In this case I was arguing with my body and losing.

So I walked. Then I started to get a bit tired and I swayed to the left as I sometimes do when tired. It used to result in me falling, but now I have better one-legged balance thanks to my son's PT, so I recovered.

I did 15 minutes as I promised myself I'd do. But I'm done with treadmills. I can walk or run with my dog, but no treadmill will be involved. My right knee still hurts slightly.

I do much better on the elliptical. There is no unmapped space on the Precor. Your feet go into these foot wells. Your hands go onto the handlebars. My body knows what it should be doing. I get a much better workout on the elliptical, because my body is not fighting against its dystonia.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Things I never thought I'd say or do as a parent

"Stop reading and put on your shoes."
"Don't use the dark force on your brother." (while playing Lego Star Wars)
"Stop drinking vinegar."
"No thanks, I don't like strawberries, lettuce and vinaigrette dressing."
Check labels for the highest fat content. (My son's is being weaned off a feeding tube.)

What's your list?

Crossposted to Silicon Valley Moms Blog

Sunday, January 06, 2008

1234567890 seconds old

Yesterday my husband threw me a surprise birthday party to celebrate my being 1234567890 seconds old.

I loved the idea as a total nerd and because my regular birthday always falls right around Thanksgiving.

All my life I've wanted a surprise party. My husband finally pulled one off.

So far this seems to be a year of my dreams coming true, but all was not sunshine quite literally.

We drove through a terrible storm to get the kind friends who hosted my party.
And my parents' power had been out for the last 48 hours and so had all her friends, so my sister-in-law and sister baked my cake at the last minute.

My dad said that they got home to a cold dark house, and then a minute later the house lit up again like magic.

The whole thing was a great symbol of my life so far.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Memories from 2007 I want to keep

Memories in the corner of my mind..what's too painful to remember I simply choose to forget, so it's the laughter I will remember whenever I remember the way we were.

Learning better balance and better ways to prevent falling thanks to Little T's PT

Return of Cheery Nanny

Special K loses a tooth then two more

My bright curious healthy niece and the way LT and she adore each other. Watching my brother be a daddy.

Our first plane trip as a family and our enjoyable time with Isabella and Radu and visiting Seattle

Little T's sudden plunge into talking and climbing stairs and now toilet training and suddenly he's 3.

Little T waiting eagerly for his bus ride so excited to get on. Me nervous. And my first meeting with his marvelous preschool teacher.

A postcard from Oxaca welcoming Special K to her class. My mum, C, SK, LT and all went that first day and C read to LT, because SK could already read.

Our WII - truly a family game

Waiting for and finally getting my doggy date

Suddenly LT is eating and eating and eating.

And I did so much this year, but so much of it involves pain, but I did get LT into preschool and he's growing and growing. And SK's in Kindergarten and reading and reading.

At once I can't believe 2007 is over. It went by in what seems like a blur. But I'm glad to see the back of it. In Burma they sing
2007 gone away
2007 gone away
2008 welcome
2008 welcome
Welcome 2008! I hope you bring many good things!