Saturday, September 26, 2009

What's wrong with the Healthcare System!

I had an experience at the doctor yesterday that I believe is a microcosm of what is wrong with the healthcare system.

A couple months ago I hurt my finger somehow. I have no idea how I did it, but I did and it still hasn't healed. I wanted my sister-in-law, a chiropractor, to work on it, but she said she wouldn't until I got it x-rayed because it may be fractured. So, I went to the doctor. She looked at it, said she thinks it's arthritis, but gave me a prescription to go next door to the hospital for an x-ray to be sure. Ok, fine. So, I'm sitting there, waiting for the nurse to come in with my flu shot (I decided I might as well get that done while I was there) I started thinking about whether the treatment would be different if it was fractured. So, after my shot I hunted down the doctor and asked her if it would make a difference if my finger was fractured. She kind of chuckled and said, "not really". They wouldn't cast my finger, the most they'd do is tape the injured finger to the one next to it, which I could do at home. She gave me a little finger splint to wear if I felt I needed that. So, I decided not to get the x-ray.

I don't know how much that x-ray would have cost my insurance company - a couple hundred dollars, maybe. It wouldn't have cost me anything out of pocket. My doctor knew I didn't really need the x-ray, but she did tell me a lot of people want an x-ray so they know what's wrong, even if there's nothing to be done about it. But, I'll be betting that if they had to pay for that x-ray themselves, they wouldn't want it so badly. I think she also prescribed the x-ray to cover her own rear end, in case it was something bad then she wouldn't get sued. I think this is why medical costs are so high. People agree to tests they don't need (but cost money, even if it's not their own money) and doctors prescribe them out of fear of being sued. Now, the money issue wasn't the whole reason I didn't get the x-ray. Part of it was I just didn't want to go over to the hospital and sit for an hour. That didn't appeal to me at all. But, I think that if our health care actually cost us something we might be more careful about the tests and procedures we agree to. And if we were a less litigious society, doctors may be more careful about prescribing these procedures.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I found the cat!

Our cat Smokie likes to take walks with us. He's very canine in that respect. Usually, he follows us as we start off, he walks around the block with us and then goes home as we continue on throughout the neighborhood. Well, Sunday night, he didn't go back home. He followed us longer than usual and then we lost track of him. I figured he probably went home after we didn't see him and didn't give it another thought.

Well, we didn't see him Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday, I thought I saw him on the other side of the subdivision as I went on my pre-dawn constitutional, but I wasn't sure. That night after Wednesday Night Church we drove into the cul-de-sac where I thought I saw him and called his name, but to no avail.

So, this morning, I'm out on my walk in that same cul-de-sac, and I'm looking as hard as the 5:45am sky would let me and all the sudden I hear a "miaow" and see my little Smokie running across the street right toward me. He'd been waiting for me. So, I picked him up and he immediately began chewing on my arm (his way of showing affection) and purring. I was so happy to see him (and so glad I'd worn a sweatshirt). So, I headed straight home with him. Hubby was pretty surprised to see him. Smokie was none the worse for wear - just a little hungry. We're all very glad to have him back home!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Learning to Play Soccer

We're doing the soccer thing this fall. It's our first foray into organized sports and it's been very interesting. Practices seem to go very well, but the first game.... oh my word. The boys hadn't the slightest idea what to do. Of course they didn't. They'd never played the game before, but it was pretty funny after the game was over and I was talking about it with Bubba and he didn't know who had won the game, or even how they won they game. He didn't even know what the point of the game was. He thought the point was to get the ball... from whoever had it.... even if it was his own teammate.

Well, we've had many discussions, complete with diagrams, to help them figure out what the game is all about and this last game was better. Bubba just has a great time out there. He's pretty agressive and he's fast and strong and likes to be where the ball is. Fortunately, this time he didn't try to take it away from his own teammate and he only kicked it in the wrong direction once. Duh-duh, on the other hand, plays zone. He stays in his little 1 x 1 sq. ft. zone and doesn't leave it. When the ball comes directly to him and there's no one else around he will kick it. And to his credit, he got several good kicks in on Saturday. So, we're working on him, too!

So, that's the way soccer is going around here this year. I don't coach from the sidelines, I just yell "Go Cougars!" once in a while. It's been fun, though, and I think the boys are enjoying it, and that's the most important thing!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Autumn Bouquet

I love to garden, and having kids has really put a crimp in this passion of mine. But, I do try to get a little in now and then. Usually my gardening is rather haphazard. I see something at the nursery I like, so I buy it and find some place to put it. However, one thing I intentionally do every year at the beginning of the planting season is plant crimson, orange and yellow State Fair Zinnias. I do plant some pink and burgandy ones, too, but it's mostly yellow, crimson and orange. Why, you ask? It's for September. While technically, it's still summer and this year it definitely feels like summer, September says "Autumn" to me and I love an autumn bouquet of crimson, orange and yellow zinnias. So, here it is September and I'm picking my zinnias. They're gorgeous. Well, this year they're looking a little snail-eaten. It's been a big battle between me and the snails and I'm afraid I've not been too successful, but there are still some lovely blooms. I put this bouquet in one of my favorite pitchers. I got it from Monte Siao, a pottery factory in Brazil. I think it shows off the oranges, yellows and crimsons quite well, don't you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Finding joy in Piracy!

Yes, I'm still reading that book on Pirates. I find it to be fascinating. I've really learned a lot! One thing I've learned is that pirating is seasonal. For example, Black Sam Bellamy and his consort Paulsgrave Williams were considering a stop in Nassau to refurbish their ships, but decided against it. "If they stopped now, they would miss the lucrative spring pirating season, when the East Coast teemed with shipping after the long, bitter winter" (Woodard, pg. 172) I also learned that pirates embraced the weapon of terror before they resorted to out and out violence. "For Sam Bellamy, it was a lesson in the value of terror. They had taken a well-armed, but lightly manned frigate, without harming the crew, ship or cargo. They'd gone into battle looking like they were capable of anything and, as a result, they hadn't had to do anything at all. For Bellamy, it was a lesson on how to conduct piracy: that fear can be the most powerful of weapons." (Woodard, pg. 129)

I think, though, the thing I admire most about the pirates (setting aside the fact that they were out and out criminals) was that most of them turned to piracy because the "system of the civilized world" was worse than piracy. I think Sam Bellamy said it best when he was lecturing a certain Captain Beer, who's sloop the pirates captured. Please excuse the language, I'm quoting word for word... " 'Damn ye, you are a sneaking puppy, and so are all those who will submit to being governed by laws which rich men have made for their own security, for the cowardly whelps have not the courage otherwise to defend what they get by their knavery' he resumed, his anger building with every word, ' But Damn ye altogether! Damn them (as) a pack of crafty Rascals. And you (captains and seamen), who serve them, (as) a parcel of hen-hearted numbskulls! They vilify us, the scoundrals do, when there is only this difference (between us): they rob the poor under the cover of law... and we plunder the rich under the cover of our own courage.' " (Woodard, pg. 173-174)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

And you thought it was just a ride at Disneyland...

I'm reading a book right now that's just a bit out of character for me. Well, maybe not too out of character, as I love histories. This book is called, "The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down" by Colin Woodard.

This is an awesome book. Woodard focuses his book on the Golden Age of Piracy, which is basically between 1715 and 1725 in the Caribbean Sea and within that, he focuses on the four most colorful figures of the era - Sam Bellamy, Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch and Charles Vane, who were all pirates and the man who brought them down, was also a pirate by the name of Woodes Rogers. The writing is a fast paced narrative that doesn't slow down for a minute. The author gives enough details to get his point across without getting bogged down in them, which is good because life wasn't pretty back then. He's honest about the nature of piracy and doesn't romaticize the lifestyle in the least, but I am actually quite sympathetic to the plight of these men and can understand why many turned to piracy. The life of a sailor was a nightmare of starvation, danger and brutality at the hands of the ship's captains. Many pirate societies were egalitarian in nature and provided a much better life for these men, albeit was a life of crime. This book is worldwide in its scope, ranging from the politics and intrigue in Europe regarding the Wars of Succession in Spain and its influence on piracy, to Woodes Rogers crew sacking Spanish Ships off the west coast of South America and finding the real Robinson Crusoe, to Henry Avery's sacking of an Indian Moghul's treasure caravan in the Indian Ocean and then beating it to Nassau to dump the ship and take off with the loot. I really think that the author, Woodard, does a good job of taking a complicated subject and fleshing out the important parts and disgarding the rest.

I'm about a third of the way through this read, so I can't tell much more, other than it's a great book, and if you're looking for something a little different - this one is a great pick!