Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Quiz About Me: New Year's Eve Edition

Acting Balancedeat
1. What New Years resolution could you make that you know would break in less than a week.

Not eating carbs.  It would probably be good for me, but there is no way I would make it through a day, let alone a week!

2. How many of the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne do you actually know?

Those three, wait "Should Auld Lang Syne be forgot?"  That's it...well, I think "and" is after that.  :)

3. How much should a babysitter be paid for working New Years Eve?

I guess I would assume that if they agree to work on New Year's Eve I don't need to pay them more than I usually would (which is already quite a bit at $10/hour).  Do people usually pay more on New Year's Eve?  I think I will spend most of my New Year's Eves at home or at a party that includes children, so I won't have to worry about it.  I spent all of my younger years at home with a couple of girl friends for a sleepover on New Year's and I hope to continue that with my daughter!

4. What are you most looking forward to in 2013?

A new year.  This last one has kind of sucked for me.  So, it is nice to think of it ending and another one (hopefully better) beginning.  I am looking forward to instituting some changes in my life, but we'll see how that goes...follow through is what its all about.

5.  What do you do to make you more like to stick to your new year's resolutions/goals?

I am horrible at this, which is why I'm asking the question!  Please share your ideas in the comments section!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Good Riddance 2012...Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out!

I don't think I've ever been so happy to see a year go away!  And that is saying quite a bit considering 2009 brought me a 2 month premature baby in February who was rehospitalized in April and got a heart transplant in July of that year.  But, still, getting the heart was good news and although the year sucked in many ways, it was a year that made me recognize how many great friends and family members I had.

This past year was full of bad news and crappy experiences dotted with good things that were few and far between.  We found out in March or so that a "bump" during a biopsy had damaged a valve in my daughter's heart that would require a second open heart surgery.  Prior to figuring out that surgery would be needed, her chest filled up with fluid and we were in the hospital for a week with a chest tube to get it drained so she could stop struggling to breathe.  In addition, she had to go on another medicine, to add to the five she was already on regularly.  About the same time, we found out that my mom's cancer was back and she was going to have to have surgery and do yet another round of chemo.  She has since done a round of chemo, started another, had a reaction about 2/3 of the way through the second one and is convinced she is terminal.  My dad's dementia got much, much worse as well during the first half of the year.  After the open heart surgery in May, we spend almost two weeks in the hospital and then a good three or four weeks at home pretty miserable dealing with the healing.  No swimming was allowed during the first two months of the summer due to the surgery.  We ended the summer with a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy for my daughter that was horribly needed, but required another week in the hospital and another period of recovery at home.  Finally, my finances have not really improved at all despite my husband taking a higher paying job that requires him to be away from home for three to four nights a week.  This on top of the seven weeks he spends away from home during the summer at camps.  The last part of the year has been better than the first, but it still hasn't brought rose petals and champagne.

So, I'm hoping for 2013 to be better.  I'm not going to say it can't get worse, because I realize it could get worse...much worse.  But, I am going to enter the new year with some optimism that things will continue to improve.  That we will be able to go a few months without anyone in my immediate family being in the hospital for more than a few hours.  I am also hoping that I can finally find me in this crazy world that I have somehow created, but yet still do not really feel a part of in any meaningful way.  I have a job that I enjoy, but I don't have any sort of a community there.  I love the city I live in, but I don't have any real circle of friends in that community either.  I have a great family, but I often feel disconnected and rushed through the experiences I share with them.  So, I am going to do my best to change some of those things and to embrace the reality of my life while still maintaining some sort of normalcy.

I am also looking forward to all of the cliche new year resolutional goals:  getting in better shape/healthier, getting more organized, getting out of debt and on the way to financial independence/success, being more kind, etc., etc.  I probably won't be able to achieve any of those things, but I will always aim high and maybe I will get off the ground a little.

Anyways, I may post again before 2013, but thought I would get a post in here and now while I was thinking about how much 2012 has given me gray hair and tired me out.  Here's to 2013 being better.  Much, much better.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Monday Quiz - Christmas Eve Edition

Acting Balanced
I am participating in the Monday Quiz About Me today.  I haven't posted in a while and thought this would be an easy way to ease back in to it.  I have been visiting family, dealing with end of the semester grading (still ongoing), and trying to catch my breath.  So, without further ado, here is the quiz:

1. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
I have lots of favorites.  I love decorating the tree (even though we don't do anything too fancy) and pulling out all the decorations for the house and deciding where to put them.  I also love driving around looking at Christmas lights.  And, we have now started the Elf on the Shelf tradition with my daughter (3yo) and that has been a lot of fun!  

2. How does Santa manage to circle the world in one night?
Really fast reindeers.  And perhaps a bit of help from some Dr. Who kind of technology!  :) 

3. How does Santa deliver into your home?
He comes on Christmas Eve.  If we are at our house, we don't have a fireplace, so he has to come in a backdoor. :)  When at our in-laws, they have a fireplace, so he can come down through the fireplace.  Right now there is a pile of stuff there, so I already told my daughter that she has to clean out in front of it, or Santa will trip and fall on his way in with the presents!  :) 

4. How do reindeer fly?
In the same way that Santa has some Dr. Who type of technology, I think the reindeer have some My Little Pony magic happening! 

And now for my additional fifth question (feel free to respond in comments, especially with Pinterest links!)

5. What is your favorite Christmas food or recipe?
I love appetizers!  My favorite is probably meat and cheese trays with olives and such.  I really would like for Christmas to have no dinner - just brunch (I love breakfast food) and appetizers the rest of the days.  Meat and cheese trays, veggie trays, cheese and crackers, chips and dip, meatballs or Little Smokies in the crockpot (or both), etc.  Yum, yum...this year we are going to try to make this Crescent Roll Breakfast Casserole tomorrow for brunch!  I'll let you know how it turns out!  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Positive Health Care Story

KevinMD (Kevin Pho, M.D., featured blogger at MedPage Today, says the following on December 3:
Read any news story about our health system, and it will likely be negative.

Too expensive, too many errors, dissatisfied patients, doctors complaining.

We need more positive stories, says family physician Stewart Segal.

"When our medical system works right, it is truly a beautiful thing and it works right on a daily basis across the U.S.," he writes. "You just don’t hear about it.  The beauty of modern medicine is not noteworthy and will never be highlighted by the news media.  The art of medicine is lost to most, hidden in a closet by the press and powers that be.  It’s about time that it is removed from that closet placed in the daylight for others to enjoy.  It’s about time that patients who have been well served by the medical complex let their voices be heard."

There are plenty of successes that happen every day.  It can range from medical miracles, to a simple smile of thanks that patients give their providers in the exam room.  But in many cases, you'd never know from reading the news, or watching the television.
So, I would like to contribute my own positive health care story.  Some of you may know that my daughter was diagnosed with a relatively rare heart problem at seven weeks old (and she was born seven and a half weeks early, so before her original due date).  We were immediately swept into the unknown-to-us world of pediatric medicine and I must say that our experience has been pretty positive with only a few exceptions over the course of the last four years.  We were lucky enough to get referred to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford early on in her diagnosis and we have worked with some of the most wonderful doctors and nurses in the nation because of that.

I don't have a lot to which to compare my experience, since we were have not spent time at any other children's hospitals.  But, I will say that being at a teaching hospital has truly spoiled me.  When I go to medical appointments with my mom at her hospital (a non-teaching hospital), I feel the lack of diversity of opinion (at LPCH, there is always a team working with your child - the team is mostly made up of medical residents or fellows and sometimes even medical students, but knowing that there are multiple opinions and multiple checks really makes me feel better) and the lack of patient engagement (one of the overarching foundations of care at LPCH is family-centered care - since my daughter is young, that meant them asking me questions about her and getting my opinions on what was going on - I always feel included in my daughter's diagnosis and care - sometimes to the point of exhaustion when I have repeated the same information five or six times to different medical personnel).  I know that it is impossible to foster this type of care at all medical facilities, but I can say that having access to a medical teaching facility is truly something that can change your perspective on the health care system.

The other thing I would say about my experience with the health care system has been an incredibly positive experience with our health insurance provider,  Blue Shield of CA.  I have heard horror stories from other families about fighting with their insurers, getting huge bills that have to be negotiated, having huge debts from transplant experiences.  We have had none of that.  We were refused an RSV shot at one point, but appealed and got it reinstated.  I had one bill that was mislabeled for my daughter's original ambulance transport that took a few phone calls back and forth to get handled.  I was sent one bill in the mail while it was being negotiated (and almost passed out when I saw how much it was for), but was never contacted beyond that.  Other than that, I have never had anyone question coverage for any item - and she has had more than her share of medical procedures, therapy, etc. over the last four years.  I don't know if this is typical for Blue Shield of CA or a reflection of our hospital billers being good at their jobs, but either way, it has been an incredibly positive experience.  The only bad thing is it makes me very, very scared to change or lose my job because I don't ever want to lose this health insurance!

My daughter is doing well.  We have had some bumps along the road to be sure.  But, over all, I always feel secure in the fact that she is getting the absolute best care at LPCH.  I also feel that I have been treated with respect and compassion throughout the experience, something that means a ton in a situation like this.  I wish that everyone could have such positive health care experiences and I guess that is one reason why I am so interested in health communication and patient advocacy.  There are places and people out there who are doing amazing things and I want individuals to be able to find those places and people and have successful health care and successful relationships with their health care providers.

So, there it is - my positive health care story!  I encourage others who have had positive stories to share theirs as well.  I think KevinMD is correct - the medical system is taking a bashing in the mainstream media, but we can rally online media and show that there are a lot of very positive stories out there and hopefully through that, figure out a way to turn around the negatives that do exist and are often highlighted.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

I do not consider myself to be a lucky person.  In fact, I am usually more inclined to think that losing makes me stronger and to take my lot in life and move on.  But, lately, I have been entering online blog contests as I see them.  Nothing substantial - just when I come across something that I think would be a good thing to have, I take a few minutes to enter the contest.  Usually via Rafflecopter, so it isn't difficult.  And often, it will introduce me to new blogs and/or new Pinterest pages and/or new Facebook pages that I soon fall in love with.  So, why not?

Well, this week has been my lucky week!  So far, I have been notified that I won a Ubooly from Mom in Management (one of my favorite blogs), which is going to become a Christmas gift for Bean (she will love it - although, we may not be able to get our phone/iPad back from her) and today I found out I won the Winter Kids Craft prize from a new blog I discovered recently: Projects for Preschoolers.  The prize is a combination of things for me (a planner, journal and notepads) and things for Bean (crafts supplies, etc.).  I love, love, love the Laura Kelly designs stuff and I have not got a new wall calendar for 2013 yet, so it will be perfect!  I am super excited about both things and can't wait to get them and try it all out.  Thanks to Jen at Projects for Preschoolers and Daria at Mom in Management!

So, for this week, I will consider myself lucky!  What about you?  Have you won anything lately?

Comment on: Hospitals Offer Wide Array Of Services To Keep Patients From Needing To Return - Kaiser Health News

As a follow up to my November 15 Comment on readmission rates, I thought I would also comment on this:  Hospitals Offer Wide Array Of Services To Keep Patients From Needing To Return - Kaiser Health News.

This article offered a few more specific instances of successful follow-up care offered to patients that seem successful in avoiding readmission.  Some of the things I talked about in the November 15 post were identified in this article:
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., has nurses visit high-risk patients at their home within two days of leaving the hospital. 
This is such an important thing to have available, especially for elderly or less-mobile patients.  My mom is going through a really rough time right now and while I was at her chemo appointment with her last week the nurse advised her to talk to the nutritionist as a way of getting some ideas for keeping weight on during the chemo treatments and keeping her energy up.  My mom was extremely resistant solely because she HATES going to the hospital and has to go out there practically every week (and often two times during a week) just to get the necessities for her chemo treatments taken care of.  The last thing she wants to do is go again to see a nutritionist.  So, in the nurse's defense, she said, "how about a phone appointment?"  But, my mom also doesn't hear very well, so she hates doing things over the phone.  So, a follow up in her home or better yet, during her hour long chemo appointment when she is stuck just sitting there anyways seems like a reasonable accommodation.  But, it probably is not going to happen and she will miss out on that information.

I have also noticed the confusion with generic medication names being used versus the licensed medication names.  The docs and nurses often refer to the meds by the names the licensed names, while the names on the bottles are the generic names.  There usually is a reference, albeit often small, to the licensed name, but it often goes unnoticed.  For example, when my mom had her chemo appointment, the nurse told her that for nausea she could take not only her usual dose of her Zofran, but could take an additional dose of Compazine in between the Zofran dose times.  When we got back to my mom's I went through her myriad of medicine bottles to pull out the Zofran and Compazine and it took me a really long time because they were both generics and I didn't realize the names would be different.  I think a lot of times, my mom doesn't take the Compazine because she can't locate it easily and it isn't something she takes all the time.  With my daughter (heart transplant recipient), we always have to answer questions about what she is taking when we go into the clinic or get admitted to the hospital and I often have to ask them for dosages of drugs instead of the names because I don't recognize the names. Our labels are a bit better than my mom's as they will typically say "generic for ______" in the same size type as the generic name, but they are often so long and complicated that I would never recognize them.  This, I'm sure, can lead to some confusion in both administering drugs as well as reordering them.

I am not sure what the answer to all of the problems in our health system are, but I do think that the expense of individuals NOT doing their follow up appropriately will be worse than whatever the expense is of figuring out and implementing solutions to some of these problems.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Debating with the Danielle's: Hunting: Yay or Nay?

Today I am participating in a new meme from over at "We Have It All".  I love the idea of friendly debates via many different blogs, so I thought I would get involved.  And this topic happens to be one that I have an opinion about, so it worked out well.

I grew up in a pretty anti-gun family.  I was never really sure why, but my parents and older siblings really seemed to dislike guns a lot.  I started dating my current husband while in college and his family was the complete opposite.  They were a gun family.  They belonged to a shooting range.  They had multiple guns and did reloading at their house.  They hunted and spent most weekends at the range.  Truthfully, I was fascinated by the whole thing.  It was like some kind of taboo being broken when I visited there.  But, I was also uncomfortable with the guns.  I tried going shooting with them a few times, but I just didn't enjoy it at all.  But, I was impressed with the technical knowhow that shooting required and the bonding that happened over the barrel of a gun.

Personally, I don't have anything against hunting.  I am a meat eater and I know that hunting is a much less abusive way of eating meat than the mass production that takes place at corporate farms.  And, I obviously eat that meat at times.  So, hunting that results in meat that can be eaten is totally fine with me.  I don't like dead things - so, I don't want to be involved in the process or know what the animal looked like before being processed, but I don't have a problem with people who can do that.  In fact, I appreciate them for allowing me to eat meat without having to deal with that part of the process.

There is a type of hunting that I don't totally understand or respect - that of "big game hunting".  I guess it's just a way of proving one's supremacy, but shooting some beautiful animal (or even not so beautiful, but incredibly impressive, like a rhinoceros) to put its head or skin on one's wall seems ridiculous to me.  I am saddened when I see an animal like a zebra or lion or rhino lying dead next to some guy and his gun.

So, I guess my "yay" or "nay" depends on the type of hunting that is being done.  Going out and shooting some ducks or dove or a deer in order to process the meat for meals seems okay to me (although shooting the bird of peace always seemed a bit too ironic), but doing the same with a rare and beautiful animal like a zebra does not.

I think we would all be better off if we knew exactly where our meat had come from (for those of us who still eat meat) and how it was processed, etc.  And hunting allows an opportunity for that to happen for some.