Daily Reads

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thank God other people listened so I didn't have to

I'm finally reading some of the reports by people who listened to the Ø press conference.  I agree with everyone who pointed out that it was interesting, but not in a good way, that the president knows all about the first openly gay pro-basketball player, but still seems to know nothing about the Kermit Gosnell trial, or even what is going on about Bengazi.

Should the media really be happy that the president cares more about American Idol type crap than the country's security?

But even worse is being told that Obamacare has already done marvelous things for my family.


Our primary plan was dropped by my employer, so we're left with Tricare. (As far as I can tell, every single person who works where I do who has Tricare ended up dropping the employer provided Aetna plan this year, since the Cadillac(?) plan isn't financially worthwhile for us when it costs us twice as much, and still doesn't cover a lot of the things Tricare doesn't, and may be taxed at 40% next year anyway.)

I've had to fill out more stupid paperwork so that my doctors could show "meaningful use" of their EHRs.  And somehow meaningful use has my doctor asking all sorts of questions for government databases which I don't think the government has any right or need to know.  My ortho gives me nice printouts of what happened at the appointment, and every single one tells me that I need to look at the Healthy Weight and You guidelines.  I know I'm overweight, and they do, and they never mention it at the appointment, because except for my knees, none of my other health markers show any negatives due to my weight, but the damn form is required to have that on there because my weight and height aren't in preferred parameters.

On a side note, I'd really prefer if my physician could spend the majority of his or her time during my visit paying attention to me rather than a computer.  Supposedly once they get used to the program it will be easier, but I haven't noticed any improvement, even in the practices we use which have had EHRs the longest.

And every doctor asks the same questions, over and over, and over.  I had knee surgery a few weeks back, and had to fill out three different forms in two days, each of which asked me about previous surgeries and what meds I'm taking.  By the time I got to the last one, I just wrote, "see previous forms".  This is *all* in the hospital database by now, since that's where I've had every surgery in the last 13 years except for my cataracts.  Their system knows it, so why in hell do they have to ask me again, every single time?  Am I suddenly going to have had a new surgery five years ago between a surgery four years ago and today?  And the meds.  I've told the doctor, I've told the hospital, I've told the anesthetist, each on a separate form, but aren't they all supposed to be talking to each other so I don't have to do this anymore?

At least, for right now, I don't have to worry about trying to find a plan on the non-existent exchange, for only 9.5% of our family gross income.  I realized today that the feds don't take into account the cost of living differences between locations when they decided how much a family could afford to pay for insurance.  $75K for a family of four doesn't go anywhere near as far in CT as it would in OK, but each family is considered able to afford the same amount for health care.

I think that right now, to do my bit for improving my health, I am going to play some mindless computer games and try to lower my blood pressure without medication.

Children are a full time job, or, don't trust the schools

I had a very interesting and enlightening talk with our local director of pupil services, i.e., the nice woman in charge of getting kids set up for special ed and other services.

When I told her what had been going on with younger child at the magnet school in the next town she nearly blew a gasket, since apparently they should have called her to set up a PPT months ago, as soon as the absences began to get excessive, no matter the reason.  When I told her that the one interaction I had had with the social worker/school psych from the main high school (the magnet is attached to the regular high school and the students do their non-STEM classes there) was a very rude and threatening call where I was essentially told that if my child missed another day they would have to call the truancy officer and get the police involved she showed me the form, and said that since there hadn't been a PPT or any other attempts at the school level to deal with the problem, the truancy officer would just refuse to do anything.

So I've got copies of the form to request a PPT to discuss issues and decide what if any testing, services, and/or accommodations are needed, and I need to tell the school tomorrow that in future, at least for students from our town, they need to contact the Central Office directly, and start things much much earlier, before it begins to look like a child is going to have to repeat a year, never mind being so stressed that she is in a deep depression, as in deep enough that she is seeing a psychiatrist and is being put on meds.

These are the people towns hire to "advocate" for our children, but in so many cases they don't.  I think if they did their jobs, people would have a lot fewer issues with school budgets.

All I can add to this small rant is that if I, an intelligent person who has dealt with the schools and school boards in the past is having this much trouble, how do less savvy parents manage at all?

Adventures with the schools

Today is going to involve going into our Central Office to see about getting them to pay for elder child's neuropsychological testing, as well as getting them to test younger child for dyslexia.

I should point out that they are in 11th and 9th grades respectively.

The psychiatrist is still pissed that it's taken this long for the schools to do anything for elder child.  All we can think is that up until know she hasn't needed to study to do well on tests and she hasn't been disruptive.  I returned some books to her last school today, and told them that she had just been diagnosed as being Asperger's, and was told that it was quite obvious to them from the beginning of the year, but that they aren't allowed to say anything.  I understand the reasons behind the laws about this, but at the same time, if someone, anyone, had said something to us years ago (and I've had her Sunday School teacher from 12 years ago tell me that there were signs then!) we would have known to keep an eye out for issues.  I suppose if the school balks at the costs, I can point out that if they had done what they were supposed to do years ago, the accommodations probably would have cost them far more over the years.

And that gets us to our school budget...  They have been requesting 0% increases for the last three years, and this year are asking for a 1.4% increase, or a little over $1M.  But they've been able to pay two superintendent salaries as well as legal fees with no problems for the last year.  We also have an IB program in the high school which is seriously underutilized, and is costing us about $40K a year per student.  For the $400K a year we are spending we could send 20 kids to school full scholarship up to UConn, and probably twice that to the local community college.  I would argue that the town would get far more bang for it's buck if we did that than the IB program.

So when we get to voting on the school budget in a week or so during the annual RTM budget meeting, I know what I'll be recommending cutting....

Monday, April 29, 2013


Wow, a Tamalanche, over 350 views in just five hours on my little tiny blog!

Feel free to look around, comment, etc.  And come back, y'all!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The stupidity, it burns.

http://dailycaller.com/2013/04/26/colleges-husky-dog-logo-promotes-rape-says-student/ Old Logo  New Logo

I'd say that UConn owed this woman back her tuition, because they obviously haven't taught her any critical thinking skills.

The comments at Ann Althouse's blog are priceless, and pretty much spot on.

I'm definitely not a big college sports booster, I have no idea why Nike demanded the change as part of their sponsorship, and as a former Husky, I much prefer the old logo, but I fail to see how a picture of a nominally fierce animal promotes rape.  If this student thinks the sports culture on campus promotes violence against women, or at the very least doesn't condemn it, that's what she should be speaking out against.  UConn could be the Bunnies instead of the Huskies, and if the college community puts the athletes on pedestals and treats them as campus gods rather than students, they will still have the same feelings of "entitlement", logo notwithstanding.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mangled metaphors....

I just got a robo-call from the town high school principal reminding us about parent teacher conferences on Thursday.  He started out by hoping we had had a restful spring break, and commented that the students and come back "bushy eyed" and ready to work.  I'm assuming he's mangling "bright eyed and bushy tailed", but the image that bushy eyed gives is not quite as reassuring.

Actually, the mental image is pretty odd and disturbing.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Much better

Three days post-op and I can bend my knee almost as well as right before the surgery (which admittedly wasn't that great) and the knee is about the same size as before surgery (which was much larger than the other one, probably something to do with all the fluid build-up and the 2cm cyst behind the knee cap).  I haven't taken any pain meds other than ibuprofen in 24 hours, and I don't need the crutches at all.

This is *so* much better than the last time.  I can even do stairs, though it's not great, and down is still either one step at a time, or backwards.  I don't imagine that steps in the shuttle at work are ever going to be something good, but it does look like I'm going to be back as good as I ever was after the first surgery.  And that's an improvement over the last year.

And now for a shower this afternoon, since even the thought of trying to get into, nevermind out of, a bathtub makes me cringe.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Maybe not?

I had to go to the doctor yesterday to have some fluid drawn off of the knee, and she also injected something, I believe some anesthetic as well as perhaps some antibiotics.  Whatever happened, I can actually almost completely straighten my knee today, and after walking for a few minutes with crutches, I can start to put full weight on that leg.  It's not elegant or pretty, but I am mobile, and for two days post op, that is a huge improvement over last time.  The knee doesn't look that much more swollen than it did before surgery, so here's hoping.

 So I'm going to spend today taking it easy, maybe starting some of the exercises they gave me with the post op packet, and getting caught up on some of the classes I've been following on Coursera.  The ones on Irrational Behaviour (actually an economics class), the ancient greeks, and How Things Work (basic physics without the math) are really entertaining as well as helping get some of the cobwebs swept out of the brain.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spoke too soon?

I'm heading off to the doctor's office in about half an hour.  This morning I had oozed through the pressure bandages and the ace wrap.  When I took it off, I was still oozing.  So they want to see me, given that tomorrow is Saturday.

At least with the ace wrap off, my foot is starting to look normal, and at least the liquid is oozing out rather than collecting inside the joint like last time.  So I guess you can call that an improvement....

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Surgery, oh joy.

I was supposed to call the hospital yesterday between 2 and 5 to find out what time I was supposed to report to Same Day Surgery today.  Instead I got a call from them at about 1:30, telling me that my doctor wanted me there at 5:45.

So I packed a few things for staying at my parents' place afterwards (they have the downstairs bedroom with the bathroom right off of it, a shower big enough to put a chair in if necessary, and fewer steps to get into the house to begin with.  I overslept slightly and didn't have time to take a bath before getting the stuff into the car, and heading out.  The surgery itself seems to have gone pretty well, though afterwards they kept asking me if my throat was sore.  I finally asked why it would be and was told that for some anatomical reason they had had difficulty intubating me.  I had three surgeries under a general less than 4 years ago, and as far as I know that was never a problem before, so I'd kind of like to know what's changed in the meantime.

They called my husband to come get me around 11, and he and my mother got there before 12. We got me out to her car, got my stuff out of my car, and James took it home so that he could get ready to take the girls to their music lessons, and I headed off to the parents where I proceeded to go straight back to sleep, except for getting up around 2 to think about throwing up.  I didn't and instead woke up again at about 4:30 quite hungry.

So far I've been able to walk on the leg, but not really bend the knee, which I'm supposed to start trying to do tomorrow.  I don't know if that will be very successful given the amount of gauze and ace wrap they put on.  I've peered under it and there is a lot more blood on the gauze then I remember from last time, but they may have had to make a bigger incision to get at the cyst.  And it could just be that a little blood can go a long way.

It's nearly midnight, and the local anesthetics they gave me are starting to think about wearing off.  I don't remember being this functional on the day of surgery last time, so I'm hoping this means that tomorrow and the day after will also be much better than the corresponding days last time.  The bit of leg/knee just above the knee cap seems to be about the same size as the other leg, which is an improvement over pre-op so I'm going to use that to help convince myself that things are going better, what with mind over matter and all that. 

If I post whines tomorrow, I will have been wrong.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Still irritated

I'm still not feeling very charitable today.  The joys of living in Connecticut where our legislators have succumbed to the dreaded "we have to do *something*!" disease.  They are planning to effectively criminalize every legal gun owner by doing stuff that won't do a damn to stop another school shooting, but "It's for the children!".  And it makes them feel better.  Heck, most of law enforcement is telling them this is a bad idea.  And even though they are supposed to vote on it today, as of yesterday morning the legislation hadn't even be written for them to read so they'd know what they were voting on.  Though if that's good enough for DC, I suppose it's good enough for Hartford.

I stopped by younger daughter's school this morning.  The guidance counselor *had* got my email, but had been too busy to respond.  In said e-mail I had told her that my schedule was wide open except for the 11th and 12th, since I'm having knee surgery on the 11th.  So today, when she says, OK, let's set a date for this meeeting (the one I was telling her dates for last week), the first one she offers is the 11th.  And then the 8th, when I'm supposed to be taking daughter for her initial therapist visit for the depression.  And after that all that's available is after Spring Break, starting on the 23rd.  So I'm rescheduling the therapist appointment, though at this point I'm going to need some for some anger management. The other counselor has still not got back to me, after THREE messages left over a two week period.

The only way anyone ever does anything is if you camp out on their door step so they have to do something to make you go away.  Have they considered that some of us have jobs we have to go to, and which we would like to keep?


Tuesday, April 02, 2013

State and local politics. Tyranny just looks so friendly....

I just got back onto the town RTM (redundency alert - Representative Town Meeting).  We had two folks from the R side of the aisle resign from District 5, and since the current iteration of the RTM is based on the old district lines, I'm eligible, so proving that I'm still insane, I volunteered.

The RTM's main purpose is to act as the taxpayers' say on the town and BOE budgets, instead of sending them to referendum as most other towns in the area do.

So instead of being able to just look at the bottom line, say "Holy SHIT!!!, You guys want how much more than last year?!?!? No F-ing way!", we have to spend two or three evenings a week starting in late April going over the budget and voting on it line by line by line.

And every single line has at least one person on the RTM who feels that if that line doesn't at least get level funded it's TEOTWAWKI.  I do understand why some members get irritated with the group who've been fighting the increases the hardest because at least one member has a tendency, bless her, to stand up, offer a cut of x%, and the only reason she can give for cutting that line is that taxes are too high.  I can see why some members would like to see it a little better thought out, as in, "Yes, item X#R is a great program.  But, we have to cut something, and I don't feel that it is as high a priority as program TQX."  Personally, I suspect I'm going to piss a lot of people off, because I'm going to go through the budget book over the next week or so, figure out what do I think is most important, which I can tell people right now is public safety and public works, figure out how much we want to cut from the proposed budget, arrange cows in order of priority, and start offering to axe them myself.

But we can't afford the budget the way things are now in town, and Pfizer is about to take about $2M off our tax rolls by tearing down Building 118.  And in all likelihood, they'll be completely gone within the next 5 to 10 years anyway.   Just look what they did to New London.  That $2M is probably around 4%-5% of the town budget which isn't Board of Education.  And since the state thinks we are a distressed community because over 30% of our population is below the poverty line (or something like that), we can't cut a penny from the Ed budget.  It's for the children, don't you know?

And speaking of "for the children" ....

Our state reps are preparing to vote on new gun laws tomorrow, which as of this morning hadn't even been written yet.  And they admit that not a single bit of the proposed legislation, if it had been in effect last year, would have stopped the Sandy Hook shooting from occurring.  But they do want to have every law-abiding gun owner who possesses a magazine which holds 10 or more bullets (or maybe it's over 10) register their magazines with the state by Dec 31st or they will be guilty of a Class D Felony, which carries a minimum 1 year of prison and up to $5K of fine.  Though one talk radio host pointed out that once you're jailed you can get 5 days off per 30 days of sentence for good behaviour - we just don't have the jail space.  That the real felons won't give a damn about this law, and won't be deterred from keeping their high capacity magazines doesn't matter, "It's for the children" and "We have to do something".

Just wait until enough people have 3D printers.  I believe that you can already get files for printing disposable magazines.

Papieren Bitte.


Surprise! Not.

I'm dealing with the public school system.  So frustration is the name of the game.  I suspect it's written someplace in the union contracts that they have to ignore parents for a minimum amount of time.

Younger daughter is currently pulling Fs in almost all her classes, something to do with having missed about 60 days so far this year with illness. (We have doctor's notes for the vast majority of her absences).  And she is now complaining about the letters and numbers on the pages and screens jumping around a lot, especially when she's tired.  This was something back when she was in 1st or 2nd grade, but it never interfered with her ability to read and do well in school, and she hasn't mentioned it in years.  But of course now she's under a lot of stress, so it's coming out.

Almost two weeks ago, on a Friday, I left her most recent note with the office, as well as a copy of the office visit summary where it showed a diagnosis of possible depression (well you'd be depressed too if you'd been sick for months and it looked like you'd have to repeat the year), and also recommended having the school system test her for dyslexia.  The guidance counselor from the magnet high school, who is assuring me that we can set up meetings with the teachers to figure out which classes she has a chance of getting caught up in and passing, and what she will need to do for that to happen, took me over to the main high school to the social worker/school psych's office so we could talk.  The woman was out sick, so I was asked to leave my name and phone number and she would get back to me the following week.

That was last week, and I didn't hear from anybody. I did use the email system on the school website to send both women messages, again asking to be called.

So today, Tuesday, 11 calendar and 6 work days after leaving the first message, I called the school psych about getting the dyslexia testing.  I did call just before 2, when school gets out, so hopefully, she will call me back tomorrow.

Anyone feel like taking bets on it?

I suspect I'm going to have to take more time off work and plop my physical presence on various doorsteps, being the squeaky wheel, or else nothing will happen.  At least the math teacher is being helpful and has changed daughter to "auditing" her Algebra II class, so that next year she can take Geometry on schedule, and then take Algebra II again in 11th.  It also looks like she's doing OK in English somehow, but everything else?  Not so much, and no one is getting back to us about if and if yes, how, we can fix things.

I need to find out how much it will cost out of pocket to get the kid tested for dyslexia, since otherwise they'll probably manage to drag their feet until well into next school year.

If the child wasn't interested in biomed, I'd consider pulling her out and figuring out some sort of homeschooling, but I'm not up for the science and math at the levels she'll need, and with the way our town taxes look to be going up next year (that a rant for another post, if the RTM can't get things down, and agree to slaughter a few sacred cows, because all budget cows are sacred.., 12% increase in TWO years!?!?!), I can't afford several grand for online classes.

And I've been dealing with a migraine or a stomach bug, or both, since Friday.