Welcome to my blog, or should I say to the ramblings of an old man. I doubt that my ramblings are of much value, but at least I have an opportunity to share them.  So, please be kind and humor me. If nothing else of value stands out in these thoughts, I hope that you at least sense the value I place on a daily walk with the Lord.  That walk is what has provided me with motivation and a sense of purpose throughout my lifetime.  My prayer is that you, too, are experiencing this direction and joy in daily living which is available to everyone who puts his trust in Christ.  So, thanks again for joining me.  Please don't go without leaving some comments here so I can get to know you better as our paths intersect today in this blog.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

It's Off To Work We Go

        During a lifetime we can spend thousands of hours at work.  For most folks work is a necessity, for some it is just something to do to just keep busy.   Most of our jobs involve working for a boss or a manager and that can be a real struggle, especially if the boss is unreasonable and hard to get along with.
          I have had numerous jobs and bosses over the years.  I have worked on the editorial staffs of the Lititz Record Express, the Sunbury Daily Item, the Lancaster Sunday News, Books In Print and have worked in public relations.  I have delivered medical goods, cut lawns, kept score for numerous athletic events, worked as a salesman in a food stand, set up tents and dug graves.  I have taught school in grades 6 through college as well as GED classes and SAT prep classes.  I have written test questions for a variety of standardized tests and have served as a consultant for a textbook company. I have prepared software packages to train foreign teachers.  I have coached, officiated, and advised. I was also a very unsuccessful World Book salesman.
          With the exception of digging graves and trying to sell World Books, I can say that I actually enjoyed all of my jobs.  I am one of the very few who spent 39 years in the same school district and can say that I really enjoyed almost all of that time.
          Now most workers can't wait for retirement.  Many really don't like their jobs and can't wait until they can do something different.  Some days they may even feel like they are a prisoner. If you are in that situation, you might want to think about the following comparisons ... work vs. prison.

IN PRISON ... you spend the majority of your time in an 8X10 cell. 
AT WORK ... you spend the majority of your time in a 6X8 cubicle.

IN PRISON ... you get three meals a day. 
AT WORK ... you only get a break for one meal and you pay for it.

IN PRISON ... you get time off for good behavior. 
AT WORK ... you get more work for good behavior.

IN PRISON ... the guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you. 
AT WORK ... you must carry around a security card and open all the doors for yourself.

IN PRISON ... you can watch TV and play games. 
AT WORK ... you get fired for watching TV and playing games.

IN PRISON ... they allow your family and friends to visit. 
AT WORK ... you can't even speak to your family.

IN PRISON ... all expenses are paid by the taxpayers with no work required. 
AT WORK ... you get to pay all the expenses to go to work and then they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.

IN PRISON ... you must deal with sadistic wardens. 
AT WORK ... they are called managers.

So which is your choice?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

There Is An Explanation

          One of the things that most of us face as we grow older is the frustration of trying to recall simple things like names, dates and such important items.  Not only is it often inconvenient and at times even embarrassing, but it makes us worry that it is the beginning of something much more serious, such as dementia.
         All of us have seen those who have suffered very serious memory problems and it is so very sad.  None of us ever want to experience a life where we don't recognize our loved ones anymore or remember anything about the lives we have lived.  But it does happen to too many.
          But recently a friend of mine sent me an e-mail with some very encouraging information for those of us who experience these "senior moments".  I thought I should share it with my friends who are joining me with these happenings as well as those who probably soon will.
           Did you know.......
*   Brains of older people are slow because they know so much.  
*   People do not decline mentally with age, it just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information in their brains, scientists believe. 
*   Much like a computer struggles as the hard drive gets full up, so to do humans take longer to access information, it has been suggested.
*   Researchers say this slowing down it is not the same as cognitive decline.  
*   The human brain works slower in old age, said Dr. Michael Ramscar, but only because we have stored more information over time.  The brains of older people do not get weak. On the contrary, they simply know more.
*   Also, older people often go to another room to get something and when they get there, they stand there wondering what they came for.  It is NOT a memory problem, it is nature's way of making older people do more exercise.

SO THERE!     I have more friends that I should send this too, but right now I can't remember their names.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Meet the Nurse

If you are up to it, here is one more blog about my medical experiences.  I guess that is all your life is about when you reach my age.  Hopefully that may change and I'll soon be blogging about something else.
          Anyway, I was scheduled for my regular three month diabetes checkup with my family doctor.  I am very careful about keeping these appointments and I carry a notebook with all my medical information including test results, appointment notes, medicine lists, etc.  And so I was rather surprised when I received a telephone call telling me that I should come in earlier to spend about 30 minutes with the new Medicare Wellness Nurse.
         Now I never knew there was such a person and I had no idea why she needed to see me.  I see my doctor regularly and I check their portal to make sure all of their records are correct.  As it turns out, this is a new position that is now required my Medicare and Obama Care.  I guess there must be a reason this is needed, but I don't know what it is.
          So I kept my appointment.  She was supposed to take my blood pressure and weigh me which was done by my doctor's nurse about 30 minutes later.  Then she wanted to know about which meds I was taking.  Incidentally, all of this was already available on their portal which both my doctor and his nurse checked later.  
          I was asked to name all the specialists that I had seen in the past year.  Now some of that was new because, unfortunately, their portal only includes reports from doctors in their network.  And most of my doctors are not in their network, so I guess at some level that information might have been of valuable.  But since they aren't in the same network, their reports still won't be there unless the specialists sent a written report.  It is interesting that on my wife's portal many of her blood tests and the fact that she has a pacemaker aren't listed because those doctors weren't in the same network.  Now I like the idea of the portals but since there are so many different ones, what good does it do for your family doctor.  You think Medicare and Obama Care might have thought about that problem.  But then who expects them to come up with something that makes sense
The next part of my visit was answering a series of Medicare questions.  Have I fallen?  Do I exercise?  Do I eat a balanced diet?  Do I eat junk food?  Do I have trouble walking?  Can I do steps?  Do we have handicap bars in our house?  Do we have throw rugs?  Is our home safe?  Have I felt depressed in the last month? Do I have trouble hearing?  Do I turn the television louder than normal?  If I had been a woman I would have been asked if I experience any incontinence, but for some reason they don't ask men that question.  Maybe they feel it is too embarrassing for a female nurse to ask a man that question.  I don't know.  While answering the questions I couldn't help but think that it would be easy to give a wrong answer.  Do I ever eat junk food?  Hmm.
But the visit wasn't over.  I had two tests to go.  For the first one I was asked to get out of my chair, walk outside the room to where the nurse had moved, touch her hand, then return to my seat.  I was timed doing this.
          For the final test I was to answer a number of questions.  I was told that this would start by being asked to repeat three words, then answer questions and then repeat three words.  I repeated the three words correctly - my new hearing aids worked!  Then I was asked what year it was, what month it was and what day of the week it was.  Now I new those answers but if I didn't, there was a calendar on the wall right in front of me and  I could have easily gotten the answers from that.  Then I was asked to repeat the three words once again.  That I wasn't expecting since I thought repeating the words was a hearing test and not a memory test.  I was expecting new words to repeat, maybe at different volumes.  But I was in trouble.  I hadn't even thought about memorizing those stupid three words.  I lucked out on remembering two of the three, but I had the third one wrong.  So I am in trouble - Medicare now has me on the way to dementia.  Maybe they are correct.  Actually I'd like to forget about the entire experience.
          So I've met the new Medicare Wellness Nurse and I failed.  I guess there must be a reason for this new position.  Maybe it's to take the pressure off the doctor and his nurse who could and have done most of the same things in the past..  Maybe it is to catch important changes in people.  I don't know, but I do know it cost my family practice another employee and another office.  I hope it is worth the additional expense.  But then what does it matter.  It can just add to the national debt and make Medicare go bankrupt a few years sooner.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Birthday X

        It was just a "few" years, let's say X years ago, that I experienced a very special event.  In the old Sunbury Community Hospital I first saw the light of day and with my parents I celebrated my actual birthday.  I don't know where X years have actually gone, but today I celebrate the Xth anniversary of that event.
And while there is nothing really special about X, it is the product of two prime numbers, even though I am no longer considered to be in my prime.  It also has four factors whose sum is 114.  And while it, as well as me, are not prime, the sum of its digits happens to be prime as does the difference in its digits.  So maybe there is still some hope for this old man.
      Now if you haven't figured it out yet, here is the value of X.  In binary code it is 1,001,010!   So I'm actually over a million, in base two that is.  That is better than base three where I am just 2,202 years old.   And some days I do feel like I am over a thousand - but maybe not a million - years old.
Now if that isn't frightening enough, hurricanes and typhoons need to have winds in excess of X miles per hour to be officially classified as a hurricane or a typhoon.  I've never been able to walk even close to that speed, even with my handy companion cane.  But driving a car is a little different.
Just like me, X is not very significant in this world.  It is the atomic number of tungsten!  It is the number of a freeway from Iowa to Ohio.  In Chicago it is the number of the bus which runs from Lincoln Park to Belmont Crazen, where ever that might be.  It is the number that was worn by Edwar Cabrera with the Colorado Rockies baseball team.  And X is the number worn by Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews when he played football on the Oilers.  And I also read that X is used in the Bible two times, but I haven't had time to try to find where that might be.  Probably Psalm 119 is one of those two.   Now I'm sure all of these facts impress you - not!
But this insignificant birthday is just another day in my life - actually day 27,028.  We never do anything special for our birthdays.  They just come and go, and, Lord willing, today will do the same.
But I do thank the Lord for being with me all of these years.  On June 12 I will celebrate my 70th spiritual birthday and that is special.  At times I am amazed that God has given me all these years to serve Him here on earth.  I think of so many of my friends who weren't given that many years here on earth and I can't help but wonder why.  But God has been so good to me and my response for these years is to continue to serve Him, however I can, in the days that I still have here.  
          So, on to day 27,029 and year X+1!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Medical Fun or April Fool?

          After a stressful winter we were really looking forward to a few days of vacation.  We made arrangements to go to our favorite hotel in Ocean City, Maryland, where we would sit on our balcony for a few days and just watch the waves roll in and out.  That for us is a very relaxing experience.  Our luggage and our car were packed so that as soon as we were done with our weekly Sunday responsibilities at church we could take off and head straight for the shore.
          Then at about 3 am plans suddenly changed.  My wife woke up with terrible chills and shakes.  It took several hours for her to stop shaking.  Her temperature was in the 100 range and she felt cold and miserable.  I canceled our reservations only to find that we would now be charged for a day's fees.  After four calls I finally found a person who was willing to waive these fees because we had stayed there often before.
         My wife did not get any better as the day went on, although her fever did not go higher.  Because she continued to shake so badly, I finally called the doctor from our practice who was on call.   Doctor A did not know my wife and suggested that we either go to the emergency room or wait and come for an office visit on Monday morning.  My wife chose the Monday visit.
         So on Monday morning we saw Doctor B, her regular doctor.  He ran some tests and felt something might be wrong in her abdomen, so he ordered urine tests, blood tests and a catscan.  He was unable to give her anything for her fever and shakes except for more tylenol.  That afternoon the tests results were back and he reported that they were fine except for a few unusual blood tests results.  She did have kidney stones and a gall bladder stone but they weren't causing the problem.
         The shakes, the fever and the night sweats continued ond on Tuesday afternoon she was seen by Doctor C.  He, too, didn't know what the problem was so he ordered a chest x-ray to be sure that she didn't have pneumonia.  As we expected, that too was clear and the shakes and fever went on.
         Then I recontacted Doctor B and asked about the blood test problems.  He reconsidered and said that it could be something involving her gall bladder or something else in her abdomen, so he recommended contacting her gastro specialist, Doctor D.  But since Doctor D is now in administration and only in one day a week, he said that he could see her in a week but thought that she should be seen sooner.  His nurse set up an appointment with Doctor E on Thursday afternoon.  After meeting with him, Doctor E recommended that she go right to LGH and be admitted to have more tests done.  There she met Doctor F who listened and didn't feel that she needed these additional scans but he ordered more blood tests.  And now the night sweats were getting worse.
         We also found out that when there isn't a specific diagnosis, a patient must be entered for observation and not be fully admitted to the hospital for 24-48 hours.  That means that Medicare A won't pay the hospital bills.  Medicare B will pay some of the costs but with numerous co-pays and they won't pay for any meds that are given during that time.  So we have no idea what our final bill will be.
        Anyway, back to the ill patient.  The next morning she met Doctor G who told her that she looked good and might be sent home.  He didn't really even ask how she felt or give her the blood test results. That really upset her. He did order another chest x-ray which was again negative.  So all day on Friday all she did was lay in bed - without even an IV.  Hardly anybody even came in to check on her and nothing was reported about her test results.  It was like they forgot all about her.  Around supper time an infectious disease doctor, Doctor  H, came and asked the same questions once again.  He ordered more tests.  The nurse then came and said she was being kept for a second night.
         On Saturday morning she met another infectious disease doctor, Doctor I, who did tell her about some of her test results and said that they think it might be a viral infection.  A few minutes later Doctor J showed up.  He at least sat down on the bed and talked to both of us.  He admitted that the tests showed that she had a definite infection but they didn't know what it was.  The shakes had now disappeared but the low grade temp and the bad night sweats continued.  However, he felt that she should go home.  And that afternoon she did.
          On Monday morning her test results finally showed up on the LGH portal.  I printed them out and was very concerned about two of them in particular, especially one that was really out of whack and could indicate an infection of her heart valve.  So we went to see my family doctor, Doctor K.  Are you counting?  He went over all the results with us and was also concerned about the one test result.  So he ordered an echocardiogram and, praise the Lord, we were able to get it done within an hour.  That was amazing.  And that afternoon he called us to tell us that the test was also normal.  He thinks the spikes in her test results will soon return to normal and they will do more tests in a few weeks to be sure.  He also now thinks that it might be a wicked viral infection and with her normally weak immune system it has thrown her for a loop.
          As I write this, the fevers have finally moderated, the shakes and chills are gone, but the night sweats continue and now she has a cough. And, as has been the case all week, all she is taking is tylenol. This afternoon she will keep her appointment with her gastro specialist, Doctor D.  And he is her favorite doctor and will certainly evaluate everything carefully.
          So will she be billed by all eleven doctors who have seen her?  Probably. Will we get hit by a large bill for her 48 hours of  "observation" time in the hospital?  Probably, but we still don't really know what might be covered.   Will she be billed excessive costs for meds that were administered, even though she had her own which they wouldn't allow her to use?   Definitely.
         But will she get better?  Hopefully and I believe she is now on her way to that.  And that is really the only thing that is important.  But it has been quite an experience.  And, unfortunately, it is not an April Fool's Day joke.   I wish that it were, because I have just been too busy this year to come up with my annual prank - the end of a fun tradition.