Why we can’t have nice things (aka why Alison can’t get the dental work she needs done)

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Photo via Visual hunt

So, I had a visit to the dentist this morning. I had a tooth that was breaking apart that I needed to get pulled ASAP. I’ve been putting it off while I paid down the balance on my last dental bill, but it was to the point I couldn’t wait any longer.

I went in and my dentist – who is AWESOME – looked over my teeth and said he’d pull the broken one and the one next to it since my ultimate goal is to have all my teeth pulled and dentures fitted. I agreed, as long as we could do it as an emergency extraction which is $99 for cash only patients – aka those of us who don’t have dental insurance.

The dental assistant/hygienist talked to the front desk person and came back to tell me that the $99 emergency extraction was only for new patients, and as an existing patient I’d have to pay the full price of $101 for each tooth. That’s $202 to get two molars pulled.

I couldn’t afford it. I have to keep my balance under $300 to maintain the kind of payment plan I have with them so I told her that they just needed to pull the broken tooth. She said she’d go let the dentist know. I wasn’t happy. I really wanted both molars out simply because it meant one less trip to the dentist, which I don’t like anyway.

The dentist came back and told me they were still pulling both teeth, but he’d only charge me for one. He said it would take him an extra 10 seconds to pull the second tooth and he didn’t see any reason to make me go through another visit just to pull one tooth on the upper left side. He told the dental assistant/hygienist to mark it as the first one as a regular extraction and the second one as a provider write off. He said he didn’t care what corporate said. It was his time he was being paid for, and he wasn’t going to waste it making me suffer.

So I got two teeth pulled for the price of one. My mouth is extremely sore right now, and I’m waiting until the numbness fades a bit more before I try to eat something so I can take some Tylenol. But talking to the hygienist/dental assistant, she showed me my treatment plan. I still have a long way to go, and it’s still going to cost me almost $4000 in the end to do what I need to.

Let me point something out real quick – that’s $4000 AFTER I pay off this current extraction and the rest of my earlier balance. That includes all extractions and the dentures. I also want to point out that I’ve already had four teeth pulled. The first was $99 because I was in pain. The other three were the $101. I’ve also had x-rays twice, which are around $180 each time. So I’ve already paid a little over $400 to my dentist. I still have the rest of the balance from the last visit as well as the new balance from this to pay off. That’s going to bring that total up to a little over $600.

Now, I’m on Medicare with Medicaid paying the deductibles for me. Which means I don’t have dental coverage. I did some checking on dental insurance. For the kind I’d need to get the work done I have to have, it would cost me approximately $100-$180 per month as a premium. I can’t afford that. And that was on the low end that barely covered my needs. The really good plans can run you upwards of $300+, if you’re lucky.

I don’t understand why medical, dental, and vision insurances are so fucking expensive. Well, yes I do. It’s because the US utilizes a for-profit insurance system instead of universal healthcare. With the insurance companies out to make as much money as they can while paying out as little as possible, low income to the middle class have to pay so much that it’s almost impossible to get good, comprehensive coverage.

The US Senate wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act without offering us a replacement. They want to take insurance away from almost 11.4 million people. They want to end the Medicaid expansion, which would mean I’d lose my coverage there because I make too much according to the normal federal guidelines. So that would mean I’d be forced to pay all of my deductibles for Part B and Part D Medicare on my own. That would remove an additional $300 from my already extremely limited funds. I would then have to find a supplemental insurance coverage plan since Medicare really doesn’t cover all that much anymore. Which would cost me even more, cutting even deeper into my fixed income.

This is bullshit. Comprehensive coverage – medical, dental, and vision – should be provided for everyone. These are necessities for a good quality of life, not to mention life saving at times. Yes, I realize my taxes would probably go up a bit if we did implement a universal healthcare system here in the US (once my husband’s business starts generating income we will be paying taxes.)

You know what? I’m okay with that. I’m okay with keeping everyone in this country healthy. I’m okay with spending more to help those who are unable to pay exorbitant medical bills due to financial hardships.

People say that with universal healthcare there will be long waits for providers. Like there isn’t right now? In order to get into see my regular doctor, I have to put in a request at least 2-3 weeks in advance of when I want to see her. If I don’t and call for an appointment out of the blue, it could take a month or more before I can see her. If it’s serious enough, they tell me to go to Urgent Care or the ER. Neither of those are cheap, and can often lead to a lot more problems for me.

And specialists? Ha. I had to wait four months to get my first appointment with a neurologist even though my seizures had kicked back after being controlled by medication for 4 years. The hematologist and vascular surgeon I was told to see? The vascular surgeon took three months and the hematologist took a month. The sleep doctor I’m supposed to be seeing for the fact that there’s a chance I have sleep apnea? Four months. So don’t tell me there’s “no wait” with what we have now. Our whole system is fucked and no one seems to care.

I don’t like doing political rants on my blog very often, but right now, call or email or fax your Senator and tell them to tell Mitch McConnell to go fuck a light socket. We deserve insurance. We deserve healthcare coverage. And those like him who are too wealthy, too pampered, too sheltered to give a fuck about the rest of us? They need to go. ASAP.

Goal Post July 2017

 

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Photo via Visualhunt

Another month has passed. It’s July. Yay! *does a happy dance…and hurts her back*

*coughs* Geez I’m getting old. 😉

So, let’s get down to it. Starting with last month’s goals and a bit of a progress report.

  1. I will be blogging (as much as I can) 5 days a week. That means Monday through Friday, unless something’s going on in my life. Then I’ll make up the day I missed on the weekend.
    Okay, so as you can tell, I didn’t exactly do well with this one. I’m going to try to do better this month.
  2. I’ll still do my little bits of fiction, but expect goal posts at the beginning of the month, updates on my health (both mental and physical), updates on my progress on whatever novel I’m working on, and the occasional post on the farm. I’ve also started streaming video games on Twitch and I’m recording videos for YouTube on the same, so I may post one post a week as well on those. I’ll also be referencing my personal vlog from time to time.
    So this one went a little better. I’ve done a lot of bits of fiction. You’re looking at the goal post for this month. I didn’t do a health update, though I’ve been going through a lot. I don’t have a lot of answers yet, so I’m waiting to discuss those until I have more information. The gaming videos and streams…will pick up eventually. Life has just been very busy lately. Same with the personal vlogs. I’ve only got my phone to work with, so it’s often difficult to manage everything.
  3. As you can see, my blog look has changed. I was getting bored with the old look and I wanted something new. Change is good – even if it can be scary at times – and I wanted to do something new.
    Still playing with some more new ideas for various things. I’ll update you as I go along.

 

So, here are the NEW goals for July:

1. I will blog every weekday, unless there is something going on. If there is, I’ll post a brief explanation of my missed days on the weekend. This way I don’t have to try to get a full post up on the weekends, which oddly enough can be even busier on the farm than the weekdays.

2. I’m going to post a vlog once a week, a gaming video at least once a week, and do a stream at least once a week. I need to get my digital presence back up and moving.

3. I am going to start being more active on Twitter, since I’ve all but vanished off of it lately. It doesn’t do me much good to ignore a good social media platform if I plan on developing relationships with friends and finding fans.

4. I’m going to finish chapter 3 in Into the Flames and at the very least start chapter 4. If I finish it, that’ll be a bonus. But I at least want to get it started.

5. I will do 20 minutes of yoga every day and go for a walk at least three times a week. My goal is to get down to 200 lbs by the end of the year (I’m at 240 lbs right now), so I need to get my ass in gear and get moving.

 

I think that’s enough to keep me busy for this month. Everyone enjoy your day and I’ll be back with another random post tomorrow!

Not “just a toy”

Fidget cube

This is a fidget cube. In fact, this is MY fidget cube. It has multiple sides and multiple ways of engaging my fingers and my mind. To be specific, let’s turn to the description of the cube itself. “It has sensory tools on all sides: an on/off-style switch, gears, a rolling ball, a small joystick, a spinning disc, a “rubbing stone”, and 5 buttons.”

The reason I’ve been wanting one since I first heard of them is because of their intended purpose. As per the description I found: The cube is intended to provide an easy way to occupy one’s hands and other senses, particularly for self-soothing.

I suffer from anxiety and PTSD. They can be pretty bad, especially when I’m out in public around a lot of people and/or loud voices. I have a tendency to start wringing my hands, picking at my skin, or pulling on my hair when I get frazzled and that causes serious damage. I’ve actually made myself bleed several times because of it. The cube, which is compact enough to fit in the pocket of most of my jeans, gives me something to work with my fingers so I don’t start wringing my hands or doing anything else to hurt myself.

A lot of people are turning these into toys, giving them to children (and even some adults) because they’re novelties and causing problems for those of us who need them for the self-soothing properties. It’s the same with fidget spinners. Fidget spinners were first created in the 1990s for a similar purpose – they were designed to help people with ADHD, autism, or anxiety release nervous energy. Yet they too are being seen as toys, as games for everyone to play with instead of being recognized for their original purpose.

When I was in the store where I got my fidget cube, I watched a rather large family getting fidget spinners. I listened as the children talked about how they were going to practice until they were better than their friends so they could win the bets they made and get candy from their friends. Their mother, who was with them, was encouraging this. I was appalled by this flagrant disregard for the fidget spinners’ true purpose, and then I realized that this was perfectly normal anymore.

People turn therapeutic devices into toys for children all the time. Then they get banned because someone does something stupid, and those of us who are helped by those items are left with nothing to use.

I wish people would understand that what you see as a nonsense toy is actually a tool for many of us to keep us sane, to help us not hurt ourselves, to keep us from passing out from panic or to make sure we can focus on what’s going on around us.

So when you see the next biggest “fad,” do some research. She if there is another purpose behind it. I’m not saying don’t buy it. If you want it, and can afford it, by all means go for it. Just keep in mind that there are people who use the device for something other than just amusement. (Because I will admit using my fidget cube is fun, which is part of what helps alleviate the anxiety.)

Goals and other general updates

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Photo via VisualHunt.com

It’s June. The year seems to be flying by. It’s already half over. I decided it was time to change things up on the blog. So, here’s the new order of things on here.

  1. I will be blogging (as much as I can) 5 days a week. That means Monday through Friday, unless something’s going on in my life. Then I’ll make up the day I missed on the weekend.
  2. I’ll still do my little bits of fiction, but expect goal posts at the beginning of the month, updates on my health (both mental and physical), updates on my progress on whatever novel I’m working on, and the occasional post on the farm. I’ve also started streaming video games on Twitch and I’m recording videos for YouTube on the same, so I may post one post a week as well on those. I’ll also be referencing my personal vlog from time to time.
  3. As you can see, my blog look has changed. I was getting bored with the old look and I wanted something new. Change is good – even if it can be scary at times – and I wanted to do something new.
  4. There really isn’t a number 4. I just felt like adding another line to this list. 😀

Basically, there are a lot of changes in the works for the future. I hope you’ll all stick around and enjoy what I’ve got planned.

Avoid Dropbox

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Photo via Visual hunt

This is going to be a quick post. Two days ago, I got an email from Dropbox saying I went over my free 2 GB limit and I had to pay to upgrade to their 1 TB storage system. When I went to check my files, since the last time I checked I hadn’t even hit 1 GB, I found someone had dropped over 6 GB of files on my account.

I did some research on troubleshooting how to resolve the issue. I looked for the files. I found them but couldn’t delete them. So I did more research and was told by Dropbox that only the person who added them to my account could delete them. I told them that someone hacked my account. They told me that I’d have to remove his access. So I looked at how to remove someone’s access to my account since I never gave anyone permission to access my account. I learned how to do it and tried to find where he’d accessed my account. There was no record of his access and I couldn’t remove him.

So I contacted Dropbox again. I told them what was going on and asked them to remove the files and let me redo the security on my account. They refused, stating that since I gave the person the access I had to remove his access and get rid of the files on my own. When I told them again that I’d been hacked they said they’d “review my complaint.”

24 hours later, I got their response. “We can’t find any evidence of your complaint. You will have to upgrade to the 1 TB storage to continue using your account.” That was a real big “fuck you” from Dropbox, who I’ve been using for the past four years. So I told them to go fuck themselves and deleted my account.

I forgot to download everything first because I was so pissed, so I lost years of work. However, I look at that as a chance to start those projects with a fresh eye and a clean slate. But seriously, don’t deal with Dropbox because their customer service sucks.

I am not a pickle jar

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Photo via Visual hunt

“I am bipolar.”

This is how I introduce my mental illness. Not “I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar 1” or “I have a mental illness.” I say “I’m bipolar.” It’s a label I give myself. It’s something I refer to myself as that’s seen as negative by general society.

Some labels can be seen as positive. “I’m a farmer.” “I’m an author.” “I’m a mother.” “I’m a teacher.” “I’m a singer.”

But these limit us. They indicate that’s all we are, that this is all we see ourselves as. We are multi-faceted with many interests, complex personalities, and a life beyond one thing. When we give ourselves labels people identify us with those single things. They don’t go deeper to learn more about us. Those labels also lead to preconceived ideas about us, and people expect us to act a certain way.

When I say “I’m bipolar,” people immediately assume I’m dangerous and unstable. They’re scared I’m going to grab some kind of weapon and kill people. Why? Because that’s what the media and society in general have trained them to think. When I say I’m an author, people expect me – as a woman – to be writing romance. Because that’s what women write. Very few people take me seriously as a science fiction author because “that’s a man’s genre” even though there are some awesome science fiction authors out there that are women.

Labels can also lead to violence. Muslims are all labeled as terrorists because of the actions of a small portion of religious extremists. People see them as dangerous and treat them with suspicion that often leads to attacks and even murders. This is because the label of “Muslim” means “killers.”

We need to stop labeling ourselves and others around us. If we must put a name to someone, then we need to break the chains of preconceived notions. We need to open our minds and learn how to look beyond the surface of those labels, to see what lies beneath.

A celebration of life

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Photo via Visualhunt.com

I’m taking a short break from the stories to bring up an important milestone in my life:

I JUST TURNED 40 YEARS OLD!!!!!

My birthday was actually yesterday, but I can’t believe it. I’ve been on this planet for 40 years. I’m sometimes surprised that I’ve lived this long – especially when I consider my attempt at ending my life four years ago. There was the attempt when I was seventeen as well, though I think I’m the only one in my family who knows that’s what it was. Everyone else swears it was just a bad bout of flu. That’s twice I’ve tried to end my own life, and yet I’m still here.

Then there’s been the few car accidents my family’s been in, the times where I did stupid things like walk into a live fire zone in an archery range (I wasn’t the brightest teenager), the times where I drank so much I blacked out, the one time I mixed alcohol and a narcotic pain killer by accident (I forgot I’d taken the pain killer…DON’T DO THAT…IT’S BAD,) and other things that are too numerous to mention. To be blunt, I’ve done a lot in my life that should have gotten me killed. Yet here I am. I’ve survived, though I’ve lost people I’ve loved along the way.

One of the hallmarks of my life, until recently, is I’ve always run away from my problems. I drank a lot after I lost my kids. I would fall into a deep depression any time something triggers my anxiety. I would beat myself up when something goes wrong to the point where I fell into a deep depression because I didn’t know how to deal with it. I still do those things. I haven’t stopped completely. But I have made great strides in resolving those issues. I’m working towards making myself into a stronger, more positive, more confident, and even more loving and compassionate woman – and that, to me, is the best use of those 40 years of experience.

I would not wish the negative experiences in my life on anyone. I do hope that all of you are able to take those negative things that happen to you and, one day, use them to prove that you’re stronger than you think you are. Even if it’s only to yourself.

*raises glass of Mountain Dew* Here’s to 40+ more years of learning, loving, and life!