Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Lump and Thoughts Of Mortality

The lump in the leg seems to be softening. Or maybe that's my imagination and/or the medication.

This Sunday morning I'm sitting in front of the TV, the best friend of the sick, watching Auction Kings. But I'm not concentrating on the show - except at this moment when they're auctioning a Faberge pencil for way over the value of the piece. That's pretty exciting. The guy who bought it better have some money.

But other than those moments when the excitement of the auction pulls my attention, I'm spending a lot of time thinking.

I'm thinking about the lump, how can I avoid it.

What I'm thinking is that there are two possibilities for this lump. Either it's a sarcoma or it isn't.

If it's a sarcoma, either it's treatable or it isn't. If it is, it's going to play havoc with this year, but I'll come out of it at the end of the year ready to go on to the next year a stronger, wiser person (I hope).

If it's not treatable, I'll die.

I am not afraid of dying. I'm just full of sadness at the idea because there is so much I haven't done.

I haven't written that book on Swedish Americans in Hollywood. I haven't written much of anything. I haven't even tried to find a publisher for the article I have completed on Hildy Johnson. I haven't finished the research on Greta Granstedt. I haven't written the piece on an alternative view of Mass Media - looking at it in light of the Christian faith, but not looking at it as judge and pious piss-ant.

I haven't learned everything I want to learn yet.

How to use Final Cut. How to work After Effects.

How to edit with rhythm and grace. How to pull an audience to a webcast.

And I haven't taught all the kids I can teach. I love my job. It is what I have built my whole life toward. Since I left Dear Old Augie I've always wanted to return to a college campus, to work for the good of the church in Higher Education: to give to others what had been given to me. That I will miss most of all.

That and family. I have not been the father I would have been to my children. Not been the kind of lover I wanted to be to my wife.

If this turns out to be a sarcoma and either un-treatable or very difficult to treat, I will be very sad to not have time to do what I have not done. Maybe, instead of regretting I should get to work and do. Because whether it is now or thirty years from now, I'll still have a ton of things on my to-do list.

Perhaps I'll start with sanding the porch rail.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Family in Irene

Daughter Emily and her husband are in harms way in North Carolina.

Last Tweet, late morning, indicated that the lights were flickering and she expected to lose power soon. I expect that they have lost power and we won't hear from her for several days.

Thinking about her. Praying for her. It helps me keep my worries and thoughts off me.

Go for it kid! Beat that Hurricane silly!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More Thoughts on How I'm doing

Went to Salina Ortho. That was a waste.

They were not prepared to do anything for me. They read the MRI (I wonder if Dr. Nickel got to see it. I have it now). They told me that they could do nothing for me. I spent more time giving my medical history than they spent with me. They took my $30 and referred me down the line. Of course if there was anything else they could do for me. . .


When I go see the sub-specialist on Monday, 1:30 pm, I will have driven 200 miles. (That's 7 gallons of gas one way - tank full round trip - $50). I will pay $30 copay. This doctor will look at the MRIs, the X-rays and send me home - that's what Salina Ortho told me. That means we'll drive spend and still not know any more than we know today. So, I'll have to go back for another visit (that's another $80 trip - at least) to get an unknown procedure.

Just as obnoxious, the Ortho doctor refused to even give me an idea of what could be done, what it would be like if its a sarcoma (I don't want to comment on that because I don't know). And if it's a fatty tissue tumor - nothing can be done except maybe some radiation to shrink it some. Will it grow back? Will the pain lessen? Will there be side effects. Don't know. Can't say, don't care.

Have these specialist ever been human beings who have to live with anxiety, who have to live within a budget, who can't commute to Kansas City?

I'm going to call the Lindsborg Clinic and ask that they refer me to KU Medicine. Linda Branch recommended them. I think I've got a better chance for a better outcome there.

I've heard from many of my friends on facebook and elsewhere that my experience is just beginning and highly likely to get worse.

So let me be clear about my objections: I live 200 miles from Kansas City. Gas is $4.00 a gallon. I need to have some reassurance that what's happening to my leg can be at least significantly mitigated, even if not cured. I'd like to know what is likely to happen to me - and I can't drive to KC for chemo twice a week. I can't afford to be paying copays that add up to $200 per week.

I am both angry and more than a bit scared about the outcomes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why Didn't I Act Earlier

One of my longtime friends I haven't seen in almost thirty years asked one of the best questions about my "mass" on the thigh.

"How could you let it go that long?"

My answer on Facebook was partly true. I let it go, in part, because I'm a guy - one of those people (usually male) who believes that if you ignore it it will go away and anything other than that is just weak. I know that's not rational, but illness isn't rational. I'm not even willing to call this an illness. I chide myself - as have others - on taking time away from work for this. As one of my colleagues said (in jest) when I couldn't stay for church on Sunday "I've got a pain in the butt, but I don't let that keep me away."

There's all that irrational guy stuff in my makeup.

But there's also an economic reason for the situation becoming so serious.

I just paid the first installment on treatment. Our first step was an x-ray a month and a half ago. The insurance company left me $220 and change as my part of the bill. My total out of pocket expenses could be as high as $3000. Plus co-pays on medications and co-pays for every MD visit. What will my total cost for this illness be?

Given the kind of health insurance climate in which we in America live, I'm hesitant to get medical treatment. Like most Americans we're paycheck to paycheck. Kris has gotten a new job, but it is definitely under-employment. She had an interview for a full time job yesterday - and if she gets that job it will make our lives comfortable. If not, we're pretty much sunk.

I don't want to become a medical bankruptcy, but . . .

So I haven't kept at my medical treatment - ignored the symptoms when they first appeared in March - because I'm a guy. That's my fault.

I haven't kept at my medical treatment because I'm afraid of what it will cost me. That's not my fault. It is the climate of this country that makes people like me, people who are responsible citizens scrapping by, fearful of becoming sick and even more fearful of seeking treatment.

I have very personal reasons to want that to change! I'm working against me. I don't need a social more that piles on!

Friday, August 19, 2011

O'Donnell's Talking: Why I'm Not Listening

Christine O'Donnell is attempting to repair her reputation - yet again.

She continues to blunder her way through victimhood, lately being the victim of Piers Morgan. What did Morgan do that was so wrong? He asked her questions about her views and required that she do more that simply repeat them. He did nothing creepy. He did not ask her about her private sex life - at least no more than is appropriate to ask of someone who's written anti-masturbatory literature and made false claims about "dabbling in witchcraft."

Piers Morgan made trouble for "the Troublemaker." She walked off the set. She hung up on an interviewer who asked some question she thought was too private.

And I'm not going to listen to such a self serving little witch. She's a failure at everything except self-promotion - and not terribly good at that.

Here's what she should do, in my humble opinion - STFU! Go get an actual job. Work for someone else. Do some work. Study at an actual academic institution and earn an actual academic degree. Become a professional something.

Then you might have experience and something to say - though I'm dubious about that.

Poor Republican leadership. They can neither govern nor stand up to scrutiny, nor hold one of those "real jobs" they keep talking about someone else doing something to create. O'Donnell is the poster child for the new Republicans - a complete fake.

And that's why I'm not listening.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dear Senator Coburn

I've been listening to reports on your approach to healthcare without Medicare - or any other form of health insurance reform.

So let me ask you this:

How many chickens would I have to bring to the hospital for an MRI?

Could I pay my co-pay in brownies?

What about prostate exams? What's the appropriate payment for that: chicken parts? eggs? or some long brown loggy sort of cake?

How much of it?

Since I don't have my own chickens, can I bring you other people's chickens? And do the chickens have to be plucked and ready for boiling, or will your office take live livestock?

Thanks. Looking forward to good old country care so that I can croak when I hit sixty five.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wisconsin Results

Like many Progressives I'm disappointed in the Wisconsin results. I doubt that either of the Democrats will be recalled, but I'm watching with some trepidation. The Thugs have proven the power of money.

But I'm also a little confused by the interpretation of the results.

If three wins gives the Democrats a one seat MAJORITY - then doesn't two seats make the senate evenly divided? Yes, that means that the Republican Senate president can break a tie and push the Republican agenda - but at the very least the divided Senate will slow things down.

Democrats should slow things down, but not be the obstructionists that Republicans are when they are in the minority.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lindsborg Electric Rates

Reading the July 2011 Memo from the City of Lindsborg fills me with all kinds of mixed emotions.

First, it announces that my electric bill is going to rise by at least $10 per month. That's sad news I can't afford - but it could be worse.

Second, it describes the extremely responsible behavior of our city officials as they sought to prevent a much larger increase on the part of Westar Energy. I'm proud of our city officials for seeking appropriate redress of grievances - as the constitution guarantees and the Declaration implies is an inalienable right.

Third, the memo demonstrates the problem with the ideology driving our current representation in Congress - both the house and the senate. All three of our representatives are ideological free marketers, believing in the force of the "invisible hand" and complaining about the over regulation of American business.

As the memo tells the story, during the Bush administration, the free market was supposed to be set free in the electric power generation and distribution industry. That would result in more competition and lower prices for everybody. No need for government intervention!

Except it didn't work that way for us. The actions taken by the Bush government resulted in "upward pressure on the total cost of wholesale energy."

In other words, we were destined to pay more due to Bush administration actions. No matter what the City council wanted, no matter that residents couldn't search, individually for the Walmart of power distribution, we were destined to pay more due to the unbundling of power generation rates from power distribution rates.

Had we not had government regulation we would be paying much higher electric bills this fall. Westar, according to the memo, (and it's a little unclear on this point) would have increased the rate charged for power generation (not distribution) by 325% over the next twenty years. How much of that increase would we have felt in the first year is unclear. What is clear is that Westar was prepared to gouge small communities that purchased and resold energy to their cities. Perhaps to drive those municipalities out of the market altogether, thus leaving the way clear for Westar's take over of the whole of the business, leaving the consumer without an advocate. (The shut up and pay program.)

Fortunately, the City appealed and the FERC (FEDERAL Energy Regulatory Commission) ruled in our favor and we will face increases, not gouging.

This, my friends, is government at work protecting its citizens from predatory business practices. This is what government is supposed to do. This is what Huelskamp, Moran and Roberts don't want government to be able to do.