The best healthcare in the world

Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

Back in May, I tried to schedule a mammogram. I had a prescription from my then-primary physician, so I called the hospital that was in my shitty then-insurance network to make an appointment.

The person doing the scheduling told me the prescription didn’t have enough information on it for them to know what to do. I suggested they call the doctor and ask. She told me no, I had to go back to the doctor and get the right prescription.

“Then what is the right information?” I asked. She told me I’d have to ask the doctor.

Now, this doctor doesn’t really believe in being helpful. She charged me a $40 co-pay just to some in and ask a question, so I said, “Fuck that,” and figured I could wait another five years.

Yesterday morning, I got a call from the same hospital, saying they wanted to help me schedule the mammogram.

“You mean the one I tried to schedule five months ago?” I said. “I already have another primary care doctor and an appointment for a mammogram.”

Now, I have a friend who had breast cancer, and she told me she has the exact same problem: If it doesn’t have exactly the right code, they won’t do it. Then my sister told me the same thing. Am I the only person who didn’t know this?

Car update

My mechanic replaced the thermostat. Now I have the nerve-wracking task of driving the car around to see if it overheats again. I’ve had leaky head gaskets for over a year, but it seemed stable. Now I have to wait and see if the thermostat gets stuck again because if it does, that means it’s probably the head gaskets. (Because Subie thermostats are famously reliable.)

He said it’s not worth spending the money on the repair, that I should just replace the engine if it comes to that.

I’m so tired. Once, before I die, I want a reliable car.

How I spent my Sunday night

Photo by Jairu Ollennu on Unsplash

It’s midnight, and I just got home.

Earlier, the power went out in my entire neighborhood. And since it was still in the muggy 90s, I decided to drive across the bridge to an airconditioned Starbucks and wait it out. About 20 minutes after I got there, the electric company website reported that the power was back on, so I headed home.

I drove about a quarter mile when suddenly, the temperature gauge was in the red zone and steam was pouring out under the hood. I pulled over, opened the hood, waited until everything cooled down, and poured in some antifreeze.

I got about an eighth of a mile this time before it happened again. I called my mechanic. He told me to let it cool down again and try putting in more antifreeze while it was still running. Did that, same result.

At this point, I called AAA Roadside to tow me across the bridge to my house. (Dealing with AAA is always an iffy thing.) I wasn’t going to risk getting stuck on the bridge like the trauma I went through 12 years ago.

First they told me 40 minutes. Then they called me back and said I was in the wrong town, I had to get South Jersey AAA! Again, they told me 40 minutes. An hour and a half later, the truck still wasn’t there and I really, really had to pee. I ended up going in the woods at the back of the business where I was parked, and there were security cameras everywhere. (At that point, I didn’t care. Enjoy!)

Now I’m home, but I had to write it all down so I could let go of it and get to sleep.

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

full house cash GIF

Because I had to get the car’s AC compressor replaced (the heat index yesterday was 120 degrees, it’s not a luxury anymore), I’m in the hole this month. Also, my utilities used to be included, the landlord raised my rent, and the electric bill was really high (thanks, global heating!). So I have a bunch of expenses that backed up, and I’m short of enough money to pay my first month’s Medicare premium. Which is kind of a big deal, because it means for the first time in a year, I’ll have insurance that is actually usable.

Can you please help? I’d be grateful. Thanks!

Must. Bang. Head. On. Wall

Photo by Chromatograph on Unsplash

Did I mention it’s almost time for another Mercury retrograde? July 2nd, but I’m already feeling it.

I told you about the road trip where my AC compressor went. My mechanic was supposed to fix it Tuesday, showed up but had the wrong bracket. Said he’d be back Wednesday. Called Wednesday, said another customer broke down, could he come today?

So he showed up today, fixed everything. It was more money than I thought, but I paid him, thanked him, and drove off. Jacked up the air.

It was blowing hot air. (We’re in the middle of a heat wave.)

Got the mechanic on the phone, he came back, checked it again. Something about a bad high pressure valve, yadda yadda yadda. Took the car, will get it back this weekend.

Sigh. It’s so hot.

It’s a long story

Photo by Zach Meaney on Unsplash

It’s always a long story, isn’t it? My BFF invited me to stay at her beach house this weekend, and I took today off. I left my house yesterday after checking to make sure I had 1) Fix-A-Flat 2) insurance and registration and 3) chargers for all my stuff.

Well. There was rain yesterday, literal tons of it. I had to make my way around all the South Jersey roads that were closed due to flooding (thank God for GPS) but finally was well on my way. It was a disgustingly hot day, the kind that wears you down when you have to be outside longer than ten seconds. Thank God for the AC!

I am about 40 miles away when I hear a loud squeal for about twenty seconds and then, boom! The AC stops working. I am in a state of denial, I can’t quite accept it. I pull off at a strip mall and check the coolant levels, which are fine. I get back on Route 33, heading east with the windows open. I am hot and sweaty, and the car is filling with clouds of pollen from all the scenic greenery (I much prefer looking at it from behind a window). I begin to wheeze — I’m having a tiny little asthma attack. By now, I’m wondering why I ever took a shower.

I am about 30 miles away when the GPS starts flashing, “Low on battery power.” I keep jiggling the the adapter, and every time, it works for another two minutes — and then finally, the GPS goes completely dead.

Oh, I forgot to mention I was dealing with this on less than two hours’ sleep — the same storms that brought all the rain were very loud, and I (who can normally sleep through anything) couldn’t sleep. This actually worked out, because I was too tired to panic when my car started to fall apart.

This morning, after reading all the concerned emails from people who saw the Philly refinery fire on the news (I wasn’t home, and if I was, the refinery is miles away), I picked a random garage in the next town and got the fuse replaced for the cigarette lighter. The AC compressor is shot — I’m hoping to get another car at the end of the year, but I don’t see myself getting through another blistering, humid summer without air conditioning. I’ll figure something out.

And so it goes. Thanks, global searing!

Donor drive

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

My hours at the other blog were cut recently and now another part-time deal, one I’ve had for ten years, was just canceled. Whew.

I am working like hell to get my new business up and running, but it’s slower than expected. Making progress, but now I have no room to breathe.

If you can afford to make a one-time or a monthly donation until I hit my stride, it would be a huge help. (Click here.) The minute I start making money, I will cancel your contribution. Thanks!




The lion sleeps tonight

Many years ago, one of my friends got married to a rich girl and the reception was held at an expensive hotel on the Main Line. Since so many of the groom’s friends were poor musicians (and troublemakers, I guess), they sat us all at a long table in a back corner. I got bored sitting around waiting for the food, so I started singing the high notes of the opening bars to myself — quietly at first, but then louder. The table of musicians AND THEN THE ENTIRE PLACE JOINED IN. (Years before “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” so don’t even think I stole this story.)

Photo by Greta Schölderle Møller on Unsplash

Then we did “Chapel of Love” and “Come Go With Me.” After the singing ended, the guy I’d given a ride turned to me and asked me to go out to dinner with him the next weekend. Since he was a heroin addict, I wasn’t interested. But I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I pretended I didn’t hear him.

I was baffled. On the ride there, I’d told him all about the alcoholic lawyer I’d just broken up with, and then the alcoholic journalist who took me on the worst date ever. I complained about how my cheery persona seemed to be a magnet for addicts and substance abusers, despite my clearly-stated preference for sober types.

And yet, he interpreted that as a go-ahead signal.

In a snit, he got up and moved to another table. I found out later he went home with the maid of honor and moved in a few weeks later. The bride told me her friend kicked him out and had to get a protection order against him because he kept trying to strangle her. Some kind of sleep disorder, apparently.

(Sadly, the newlyweds also went downhill from there. They had a kid but got divorced shortly after their S&M proclivities spilled outside the marriage and the heiress bride became a sex slave. It was all so Jerry Springer-ish.)

Anyway, I gave an artist friend and his date a ride home instead (they sat in the back and kept ridiculing my hand-me-down Buick Regal — I wanted to tell them to get out and walk, but I didn’t. Fuck them, though. I can nurse a grudge with the best of them.)

Photo by Sean Hudson on Unsplash

Several of us who were at the wedding met up downtown for drinks, and I had my tarot cards in my purse. I started doing my friends’ readings. A stranger came over and asked if I would do one for him. I said sure, and as I spread out the cards on the table, the hairs on my arm stood up: I realized he intended to leave the bar and go kill a woman who dumped him. I can’t tell you how I knew this, or why, but I was as certain as a person can be.

Nothing like this had ever happened to me before; I was a little freaked and sort of strongly hinted to him it would be a really bad idea. “I mean, if she’s dead and you’re in jail, that means she wins, right? It’s all about the power. Why give her the upper hand like that? She’s not worth it. Let it go.” I’m persuasive when I really want something, and I really wanted him not to do this.

He didn’t respond to anything I said but thanked me, and got up to leave. The next day, I carefully checked the news, but nothing. Whew.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight…