Saturday, March 3, 2012


(by Jacquelin de Leon)

As of March 1, I still had not heard back from the State of Texas regarding their Medicare Savings Program which helps poor people on Medicare pay their monthly premiums (around $125) plus copays. I sent in the application a month ago, when Medicare recommended I do so, with Bart at Meals On Wheels helping me fill it out -- it's a long and tedious form. Bart had recommended if I didn't hear a response by March 15, to start making calls, but I started this week because, well, I've learned the hard way about how poorly our so-called safety net works.

After many calls yesterday, I finally talked with someone at DHSS who pulled up my file and announced they have never received my application. I can (must) reapply, on paper only (they don't have an online option) but the waiting period before they approve assistance is 45 days after they receive the application. Which means as of April 1, Social Security will begin deducting the Medicare premiums from my monthly disability checks. Furthermore, it takes Social Security 120 days after Texas approves me for assistance (if they do) before they will stop these deductions, and they will not reimburse what they have already taken out.

Further, if I require any medical care before this five month period plays out, I'll have to also pay a significant copay for such treatment, lab work, equipment, etc, averaging around 20%. All of that would have been covered by the Medicare Savings Program, which I did apply for as soon as I learned about it.

I am depressed and angry about another five month delay in getting a scooter or serious rehab. I cannot possibly afford the copay without assistance. MAP will end April 1st, and so will my care from Total Health Partners, meaning I will have to have home physician and nursing care through agencies that accept Medicare by then. I will have to keep my expenses to an absolute minimum from April 1 until September 1. I have to stay out of the hospital, healthy and do exercises on my own, without progressing to transfers most likely for another half year.

The only good news is that the Medicare prescription drug plan was a separate form which did go through (online), and I have already been approved for total assistance there. My estimated $1500 per month prescription costs will therefore run around $50, what I am paying now. This is in fact a very bright exception.

Margot looked hopeless when I told her. She isn't, of course, nor am I, but I hate how it takes a toll on her as it does me. We are emotionally involved beyond all limits, which is a second-by-second source of joy, and the downside is that fear is also shared. The evils of our health care system are keeping Americans imprisoned and unable to even consider social justice most of the time. And yes, Obama sold us out on this before the election ever happened -- he made a deal with the insurance industry to gain their support well in advance of November. I do take that personally. He is not a progressive. And saying he's better than the frothing fascists running against him is no praise at all -- do you hear the insanity in that kind of defense?

In other news, Dinah is ecstatic over a new fish toy, plays fetch with me and it often, brings it to where she sleeps or lays it by my pillow at night, a beloved binky in her life. The quinoa and red lentil stew sent my glucose through the roof, so I will give the rest to Tammi and try other recipes. I am proud of my sugar control and intend to keep it as a bedrock of my health. My recent blood work was all good. I am on a steep learning curve about Midlands geography and history, and Margot is gleefully feeding my map addiction. And it's full moon in Leo, our annual Crow Moon. Onward as the way opens.


Friday, March 2, 2012


And now the Friday blast from Just Capshunz. Because starting the weekend snarky is a good idea. (Smooch.)


Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Here's the weekly best of what I've gleaned from I Can Has Cheezburger efforts.
There are some really creative folks out there.


Monday, February 27, 2012


(Birmingham, England silverware factory from Victorian era, photo by David Sillitoe)

Yesterday I had what felt like a real "day off", no extra appointments or obligations, just the usual. Rosemary made me refried beans (MY beans!) with cornbread, then dashed out to a nearby barbecue joint for a pound of hot juicy brisket as well as a slice of "diabetic" lemon meringue pie, the latter her idea. The pie was sugar-free and not especially flavourful; I am demanding about lemon, my favourite dessert option, so though there was no immediate spike in my glucose, I won't repeat the experiment.

But the brisket turned Sunday into MEEEET day for me and Dinah both.

Feeling some slack, and having temporary access to UK census/vital records. I started researching Margot's lineage. All I had was the names of her four grandparents -- one of those wrong, as it turns out -- and her insistence that everybody for generations was from the Midlands and/or Black Country. It was my first serious venture into seeing how England has organized its records, a steep learning curve. At least it was in English, but the cultural priorities were noticeably different from even early American values. For instance, no attempt to gather property values on the English censuses, or suss out what is being farmed.

(Tools used in silverware factory, Birmingham, England; photo by David Sillitoe)

Margot's lineage, as of this morning, now has 185 individuals in it extending back into the 1600s on a couple of branches. She is right that she is from overwhelmingly Midlands stock, though a few Welsh and Yorkshire origins have crept in. Her people are working class, in fact poor, and it seems like everyone is named either William, Rose, Joseph or Emma, a bewildering repetition of nondescript names. Children are at work definitely by 14, often by 10 or 11; families are enormous; and women die early. Education is truncated severely.

This is what birth control changed, plain and simple, this handing on of generational despair and poverty. Right there on the page.

The occupations were industrial and sounded stultifying. When there was an identifiable trade, it was zealously handed on to the sons (and sometimes daughters), a way out of the monotony of factory work. Discovering a publican was a relief; he and his former servant wife owned the Bridge Inn, a beerhouse likely near a canal in Ladywood, Birmingham.

My own ancestors were equally poor and limited, but I kept thinking at least they were on farms, had access to clean air and sunlight and fresh food. I know such comparisons cannot be made using modern values, and I had to stop such projections as they arose in me. Follow the record and get it down without interpretation, not until the history comes naturally to me as it does here.

But already I can see what a change the first World War wrought on this world.

Margot had warned me she was not especially interested in the details of her ancestry, it's not "her thing" nor it is important to her mother. However, as I unroofed generations, they both got a little sucked in. How can you not?

The most significant part of the day came when M and I discussed whether she wanted me listed as her partner, thus linking my massively researched pedigree to hers out there in cyberworld, permanently. Ancestry, despite being a Mormon-owned company, sidely includes the possibility for same-sex alliances in the software, and in fact there is an option to link friends or partners into a family unit. M said to go for it, even though at some point Mother may want to see the online chart. So I linked us as partners, a first for me in all my decades of genealogy.

I am still near tears about it. Major symbolic step, my friends.

My dreams last night were too confusing to sort out, full of her kin and my cousins. She has one great-something-grandfather who lived in Wales and gave his occupation as "naturalist", Thomas Crosse; now there's a man I want to know more about, and he was in my dreams, with a long beard and a ratty hat, roaming about cliffs over the sea. Along with my cousin Barney, a huckster and womanizer whose grin still keeps getting him off the hook out there.

Thank g*d I had all that meat, this kind of digging and synthesizing chews through B vitamins. Ahh, Tammi just announced a fresh batch of cornbread is done, do I want a slice? Must go, my people's grain awaits.