"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Scream of Pain (FINAL Update - 25 Dec 2013)

FINAL Update - 25 Dec 2013 - I've noticed a few people coming straight to this post, to see where things stand.  I've decided that, since the previous update of 05 Sep 2013 was the point where I was returning to work, that it would be a good place to cease adding to this post, while it was still shorter than "War and Peace".  Today, I posted Merry Christmas ..., where I tell where things stand at the moment, and in which I mention a future post that will deal with the financial situation. I plan no further additions to this post.


25 Jul 2013 - I just sent the following email (edited slightly for this post) to a few of my friends ...

Oh God! I've REALLY done it this time
Last night (Wednesday, 24 Jul 2013), I had a bad fall in my apartment. I couldn't move my right arm at all (though my right hand seemed to work Ok).

I had to crawl to my door and yell for help. Someone called 911 and I was taken to St. Lukes hospital St. Joseph Medical Center, where they determined that I had a fracture in my right humerus (that long bone between your shoulder and your elbow.

They said the fracture was too high for a splint or cast, and just provided a sling to keep it in position. (That sling's got a strap that is adjustable with e velcro strip. The damned thing keeps popping loose. Does that hurt? Yep! You could say that.)

They expect me to follow up with a visit to my primary care physician (completely oblivious to my statement that I have no such thing), to make sure it's healing properly. They said it could take 4 to 6 weeks to heal.

In the meantime, I cannot work or drive. The simplest things are a nightmare to do with left hand. Getting up from a sitting position is screamingly painful, as is reaching down low for anything.

Making it though these next 4 to 6 weeks without that part-time paycheck scares the hell out me.

To which one of those friends replied ...
F’en-A man… that sucks!  What does work have to say about it?

And I answered ...
Not much that work DOES have to say about it.  As a part-timer, there is NO sick time or insurance involved.

The store director said to give them a call if there's anything they can do.  I'm confident that my job still awaits me when I can return.  Making it, until then, is the challenge

The next six weeks promise to be Hell.

If I'm less prolific over the coming weeks, it will be because even typing and using the mouse under these conditions defy my powers of description.

Beavis and Butthead would simply say, "This sucks!!!", and I doubt that Will Shakespeare could improve on that.

Says it all! :(

Update - Sat, 27 Jul 2013 ...
Among the people to whom I sent the email announcing this post was a blogger who responded ...

Sorry to hear it. Do you want that published on my site?

I replied ...

You are quite welcome to publish it, if you wish, but that was not my intention. In truth, the post is a whine that I needed to get out of my system by sharing.

The next six weeks have me VERY worried, indeed.  

BUT, I reached birthday # 71 two months ago, have had my share of ups and downs, and am STILL here.  A lady shrink, dealing with one of my depressive cycles told me that she saw "a survivor.  You've just pulled up stakes and moved halfway across the country to make a new beginning. Wimps don't do that!".

Ok. She was doing her job, but I treasured that.

As bad as this pain is, it's NOT the worst I've experienced.

THAT honor would go to the mid-sixties, when (fresh out of the USAF)  I was living in rural Arkansas and had to have a wisdom tooth removed. That is usually the province of an oral surgeon, but a local regular dentist about twenty miles away was the only option.  He ended up having to break the tooth to get it out.  On a pain scale of 1 to 10, I would have rated it as "20". Thank God my brother came with me as there was no way I could have driven home after THAT.

Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman's experience in "Marathon Man" over a decade later had NOTHING over THAT.

So, while worried as Hell over what's coming (I think I qualify for a PhD in worrying sometimes :-), I expect to survive this, as I already have so much else.

Thanks for writing, and have a good 'un!

HELL is made up of LITTLE things ...
Ok!  That's me trying to be optimistic.

But, if any of you have recently heard screams coming from the general direction of Houston, Texas lately, that was probably me trying to wash myself, change out of a tee-shirt and regular shirt with one hand (the wrong hand) pulling it off and replacing it with a fresh one over a limb that has a broken bone in it.

Working with the wrong hand means deliberation in all things, to avoid being scalded from a simple thing like hot coffee.

Now, I can shoot my pistol pretty damned well with my left hand (from much practice and the belief that it should be usable with whatever hand is available). Give me a problem I can solve by shooting, and I'm good to go.

But, that is the only thing that I'm currently ambidextrous at.  I suspect that is going to change over the coming weeks.

With this fracture, I dare not risk tripping or slipping on a wet surface. Another fall could possibly kill me;  while I don't really know if the pain and shock could stop my heart, it's not  something I want to put to the test.

The friend I mentioned near the top of this post offered to help if he could, but he works for an outfit that sends him all over the place. He'll be out of town for awhile. If he gets back soon, I hope I can get his help on a doctor to see if this is going to heal enough for me to become functional again (I'm damned near an invalid now).

There's a couple of friends that I hope can help with long term loans and, as much as I hate to, I may have to ask them for help.  I'm looking through my junk to see what I can sell to get by.  That last part is long term, after healing enough to be able to drive again.

I've spent a fair chunk of my life being completely alone (preferring it that way), but it does have its disadvantages, sometimes.

Oh, boy!!!

2nd Update - 29 Jul 2013 -- Horror Show 

This picture does look like something out of a zombie movie, but (I hope) this is nothing more than the Mother Of All Bruising ...
I called the rental office and asked if they had a camera and the means to transfer the pictures to a flash drive of mine. They did, and here's where things are at the moment. (Had to wait until today, as that office isn't open on weekends).

And Yes!  I did look up gangrene, but the lack of fever makes me feel that's unlikely.  I will watch it, but am reluctant to totally destroy myself financially (as in "cast out into the streets") by panicking.

Need a bone doctor to go to, to determine just what I'm up against treatment wise and financially (I dread what will probably come from St. Luke's St. Joseph) before I decide what kind of help I need and from whom to ask for it.

Long days ahead. :(

3rd Update - Tue, 30 Jul 2013 - In case I drop off the grid ...
My hopeful optimism over that bruising may have been premature.

This morning (Tue, 30 Jul 2013), it has spread, and new bruising has appeared on other parts of my body.

Some of it may actually not be unusual; new bruising on the bottom of my right wrist (which impacted on the table corner when I fell) may have taken these 5 and a half days to spread from the interior to where it's now visible. Same for other parts of my body that may have been affected by the fall.

What has me scared now is my right hand is becoming swollen (could be an extension of the wrist bruising) and it's one of the things for which they warn, "Seek Help Immediately!".

Well, from WHO?!!! I don't have a family doctor. I am completely alone and have nowhere to go, unless I call 911. There's already a 911 debt on me, which is certain to appear soon. That is not a trivial thing. If I have to cross that line, it might really be all over.

I am truly scared to death of a financial tsunami, that leaves me in a position of, "Well, you'll live. Of course, that living may end up being beneath an overpass, but Hey! Them's the breaks.".

I don't know what I'm going to do yet, but if I cease writing, maybe these people will have some idea of what the Hell happened to me ...

Allen House Apartments 713-524-0514 (residence)

Randalls Food Market - 713-668-4778 (employer)

Of the two, Allen House will more likely know.

There ain't nobody else.

Dear God!  I'm scared.

4th Update - Fri, 02 Aug 2013 - South Martian - I Need Help.
This is the ninth day of my situation and, with my usual impeccable timing. I'm putting up this post (begging for help) at a time when most of the intended audience will be leaving for the weekend and probably wont even see it until Monday.

I keep getting advice from people, telling me that:
 "Paul, you really need to find ..."
 "You need to go to ..."
 "You need to get someone to ..."

When I try to explain that there is nobody; that I am completely alone, and can barely even get around (I can't drive right now, and walking any distance is painful), I might as well indeed be speaking to them in South Martian, as it doesn't appear to be any language that they understand.

I've already mentioned, above, my reluctance to call 911 to make another emergency visit to an ER and my absolute fear of that resulting in a financial collapse that ends everything.

I've downloaded a form that I'm going to fill out and mail to Metro (Houston's bus system) for a card that allows free rides (Because I've passed the 70 mark), and maybe I'll have that in a week if I'm still alive by then.

I phoned St.Joseph Medical Center (above, I had referred to it as St. Luke's, which I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles was what the 911 guy told me as to where I was taken) to find out how long they keep the x-rays that were taken, to see if they would still be available to whatever doctor I eventually get to see. I was told they hold them for five years, so I guess that wont be a problem.

What I need is info on where I can go for treatment (the doctor at St. Joseph said it needed to be an orthopedic surgeon - a bone doctor), preferably somewhere close to my address of
   3433 West Dallas Street, Apt. 1102
   Houston, Texas 77019
   (A block north of the River Oaks Shopping Center)

A place where I can get help in spite of my circumstances, which are ...

 No insurance of any kind.

 On basic Medicare (Part A).

 Almost no assets at all.

 Trying to live on early-retirement social security and the
 meager earnings of a part-time cashier at Randalls Food Center
 (which, of course, have stopped until I'm able to function again).

I hope this is read by someone who knows the Houston area and has some ideas.

Where can I go?

And, BTW, are my fears of financial Armageddon realistic?

In my present condition, I really don't think that I would survive on the streets, if it came to that.

Getting more than a bit desperate here.

On the other hand, I suspect that an eventual autopsy report on me (whenever it is written) will likely note ...
   COD:  He worried himself to death.

5th Update - Tue, 06 Aug 2013 - Rays of Hope
Friday, the 2nd, I set out to walk to Kroger (a bit over 3/4 of a mile away) to get some groceries, planning on taking a taxi back (that would only be about $4.00 over that distance - certainly worth it as I probably couldn't have carried the load that far).

I've mentioned before that walking is a bit painful over much distance, and tense because of having to be extra careful to avoid a mis-step and another fall.  Plus, would you believe that Houston in August can get HOT? :-)

On my way there, a very nice blonde lady pulled over, having seen me stagger a bit, asked where I was going and gave me a ride (as she was already going there herself). She gave me a ride back and helped me get my things up to my apartment (2nd floor - Thank God there's an elevator).

Nope. Things didn't go any further than that; the word "husband" came up in the conversation, but it was a very nice experience. She was even nice enough to laugh when I wondered aloud if I should hang on to this sling when I recovered, having never considered before that I could pick up girls with it.

Saturday, the 3rd, when I took off the sling to try and change out of my tee-shirt, instead of my right arm just hanging limp, I could actually move my right forearm if I held my upper arm. I could also raise that arm. Just a bit in each case. as in a couple of inches. Hurt, and I didn't want to push it. NOW, I'm more desperate than ever for someone to check this out.

Later that day, in response to my plea for advice, I got this email from another blogger ...
Paul - I am very sorry to hear of your injury and resulting disability. I have two suggestions for you.

One, call the local county hospital and ask to speak with the social work coordinator. Explain to him or her your injury and situation. My mother suffered a leg injury about three months ago. The social worker got involved and the amount of support that was made available through medicare and VA was unreal. Further, it is continuing. It is worth your time to make such a call and see what might be available to you.

Two, contact a social security disability lawyer and let him or her evaluate your situation.

I do hope that you find this of some help.


Monday, the 4th, got an email from a former co-worker offering the use of her son to drive me around if necessary. Greatly appreciated, and I might have to take her up on that sometime, but we'll see.

Having heard absolutely nothing from some people I'd really hoped to hear from, here's where things now stand ...

Tomorrow (07 Aug 2013), I have an afternoon appointment with an orthopedic surgeon at Memorial-Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center.

At St. Joseph, the doctor told me that my type of fracture normally heals Ok, without the need for surgery (for implanting pins? Don't know; didn't think to ask.).

I hope to God the surgeon finds no surgery necessary and just has advice on what I should (and should not) do to allow this to heal properly. When the appointment was set up, I was told that the office visit could run from $95.00 to $250.00, plus another $100.00 for x-rays.

My hope is that this visit, and maybe a follow-up visit in a few weeks should suffice. In that case, the cost will hurt, but will not destroy me. The main thing I WILL need help from friends for would long-term loans to make up for lost income.

If surgery is necessary, that's a whole 'nuther story, costing probably an order of magnitude more, and then I'll have to take up that blogger's suggestion with a vengeance.

Tomorrow IS another day.
~Scarlett O'Hara

6th Update - Thu, 08 Aug 2013 - Went to the surgeon yesterday.
Yesterday (Wed, 07 Aug 2013), I kept my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon. I didn't update this post until now because I was just too damned tired.

The really good news is that, though the humerus has a complete angled break near the top, he didn't see anything requiring surgery.

In place of the sling (which I may keep, for picking up girls :-),...

... he's given me a wraparound brace to keep the bones lined up properly...

He wants me to start moving that arm (using common sense, of course) and to come back and see him in four weeks.

My worst fears were not realized. They're going to try and run most of the bills (which wont be all that horrible) through Medicare. Odds are pretty good that Medicare will not cover a lot of it, but it will take time for this to run through the bureaucratic mill, and that time is welcome indeed.

For such a self-centered recluse, I've somehow managed to acquire an amazing number of really good friends, many of whom try their level best (often in vain) to see that my head is screwed on properly, and to help me keep my fears in perspective.

The latest such attempt is from Karen, a wonderful lady in central Michigan who sent to me this email ...
Paul, I told you that the best way I could help you from Michigan was pray, and it must have worked! Sometimes we let our fear get in the way of the facts! I was sent the following message that says it best. In the meantime, listen to the doctor, heal, and work at moving that arm. In a few weeks, you should feel lots better!

Bear Attack in Churchill , Manitoba , Canada

These are pictures of an actual polar bear attacking a man.

The pictures were taken while people watched and could do nothing to stop the attack!

Reports from the local newspaper say that the victim will make a full recovery.

The photos are below.

May your troubles always be smaller
than your imagination!
Hear, Hear!!!  :-)

7th Update - Sat, 10 Aug 2013 - Sometimes, there really ARE monsters.
I ended the previous update with the pictures of the polar bear cub as a way of trying to put my fears in perspective.

Yesterday (Fri, 09 Aug 2013), I got something in the mail that made me feel as if that cub's DADDY  had just joined the party ...

The monster was this ...

... and the relevant (killer) part is ...

Way up near the beginning of the post, I expressed DREAD of what may be coming from St. Joseph Medical Center for that trip to the emergency room.

Well, it's ARRIVED; to the tune of $2,367.90 for the 911 ambulance call and the ER treatment.

Add in for the visits to the surgeon (including one 4 weeks from now), and anticipated loss of six weeks income and I'm looking at a hit in the range of $4200.00 to $4500.00 altogether.

Do I HAVE it?   Not -- even -- close.

I pretty well went through my panic attack last night, and hope I can now take a calmer look at the situation.

I knew SOMETHING would be coming from St. Joseph about that ER visit; I just didn't expect a gut-punch quite that bad.

SO. What ARE my options?

########### (Morbid thought that I'm NOT posting here).

Ignore it.

Try running it through Medicare even though I'm positive THAT wont fly.

But, maybe I'm wrong and they might help a bit. Besides, they insist on an itemized invoice, and I certainly want to see THAT.

Hopefully, I'll think of other possibilities.

I've sent this email to St. Joseph's ...
I've just received your "statement", which amounts to
 "YOU owe US $2367.90 -- SEND IT!"

I need an itemized invoice for this -- Medicare will INSIST on that if I submit it to them.

Paul Gordon

3433 W Dallas St Apt 1102
Houston, TX 77019-3840

Master Number: ******

Invoice Number: ***********
Thank you.

As today is Saturday, it will be Monday before anyone even reads it.

My ER visit involved three men of 911 taking me to St. Joseph's, and hanging around a bit until someone could see me and take me off of their hands. It then involved a couple of ER people asking questions, getting some x-rays taken, giving me two prescriptions (for blood pressure and pain killing), putting a sling on me and then cutting me loose.

I figure between 2 and 2-1/2 hours there.

I will be fascinated to see what cost almost $2400.00 (approximately four times what I figure the combined costs of two visits to that orthopedic surgeon and the x-rays of their own which they took), and will update the post with that info when (and IF) I get it.

If I have any problem getting it, that too will be noted.

To be continued ...

8th Update - Thu, 15 Aug 2013 - Three weeks and a day ...
... since the accident. One week and a day since the visit to the surgeon.
So, where are things now?


Using the brace instead of the sling, I'm very slowly getting more motion with my right arm.

On Monday, I got into my car, to see how far I have to go. Climbing in was no problem. The car is a Honda Civic, with automatic transmission, using a tee-handle shifter on the floor.

I had enough strength to pull and release the emergency brake handle (on the center console, behind the shift lever). Could NOT reach over and grab the shifter unless I used my left hand to move my right hand over to it. Once there, I COULD work the button you use to release the handle when it's in park.

Using the ignition key was fun, I could manage to reach over and put it in, but needed help from my left hand to push it in enough to be able to twist it and start the car.

Not much strength in my left arm yet; if I lie down and hold my upper right arm down with my left hand, I can manage to raise my right forearm, but it wants to just flop to one side or the other. Very sore when that happens; I'm guessing there are some lateral muscles involved here that aren't really ready for anything just yet.

Obviously driving falls into the category of "not really ready" at this time. Right now, my right arm is useless for helping with steering. While I could probably manage somewhat with my left arm, attempting to drive anywhere at this time would be dangerous and stupid.

Way up near the top of this post, I mentioned sending in an application for a Metro card that would allow me to ride buses free (because I'm over 70). The card arrived Saturday, but I'm not ready to try it yet.

I'm not steady when walking right now; when I go very far, my right leg really hurts near the hip area and I have to be careful how I step to avoid another fall. The bus stops are a pretty good distance from my apartment.  If I get on a bus right now, it's jerking starts and stops (traffic and road conditions) risk another fall that I really don't need.

I hope my arm strength and stability improve enough in the next three weeks enough that I can take advantage of the bus to get to my Sep 4th appointment with the surgeon (and not have to pay about $30.00 round trip cab fare).

Speaking of money, I mentioned in my last update about emailing St. Joseph to request an itemized invoice of their charges. On Monday, I called them, and made that request again. I was told that it will take several business days for it to arrive, so I may have it by tomorrow.

We'll see where things go from there.

9th Update - Fri, 16 Aug 2013 - Some damned good people out there.
Well, it's Friday, and I'm still awaiting that itemized invoice that was promised me. Got a message on my answering machine, from St. Joseph's business office, wanting me to call them. But, without that invoice, I've really nothing to discuss with them. I'm not quite ready to use the term "run around" just yet, but for people wanting their money, they seem to be taking their own sweet time about it.

Got the following letter today, from the Mulholland family in Illinois ...
Dear Paul,

I've been reading your blog a year or so now.  Don't always agree with you, but I always enjoy it.

I was sorry to read about the super hard patch you've hit.  I hope this little check helps a bit.

I'll continue to watch your blog -- learning to be a "lefty" is tough.


They enclosed a check for $50.00, referring to it as "little".  Well, it may be "little", in comparison to what I am facing financially, but I suspect that (in this economy) it is far from "little" to them. These people, who only know me through my blog, reached out to help and I am grateful, beyond my powers of description.

The help may be "little", but you are familiar with the phrase "being nickeled and dimed to death" to death where expenses are concerned.  Well, that works the other way as well. Every "little" bit helps.

To the Mulholland family: Bless you, and Thank you.

Addendum - 0910, Sat, 17 Aug 2013 - NOT asking for donations (yet).
I wanted to express my thanks to the Mulhollands for reaching out that way and for making me feel that I was not in this all by myself.

Before seeking financial help in earnest, I want the whole picture first.

I need to see (from my next visit to the surgeon on September 4) if things are healing properly and I will be able to work again.

Are my walking problems related to the fall?  Does something need to be done there?  Or, does the magic number "71" (my age) have more than a bit to do with it?

And, to find out (by submittal) what (if any) help will Medicare provide?  I'll keep in mind one blogger's suggestion about the VA.

Once I've got a solid picture of just how bad things really are, I may very well ask for help from some of you, maybe even putting in a link to PayPal (I've had an account with them for ages), allowing donations to be sent to them for my email address.

But, we're not there yet.

10th Update - Thu, 22 Aug 2013 - News:  Good, bad, and hopeful.

Monday, the 19th: Getting more mobility in right arm, although still very weak.

Actually got out a bit, walking to nearest bus stop and using my new free pass to take the bus to my bank where I cashed the check I mentioned above. Then, two more buses (because of the routes) to get to a Randalls that had some items not carried by the Kroger that is much closer to my apartment. Finally, a short taxi ride from there to my apartment. (Still have difficulty carrying much for any distance. Plus, there were frozen items; the bus might be free, but the wait times can run up to 40 minutes on some routes).

The walking problems I mentioned above don't seem related to the fall. More likely due to a lack of walking recently. The tension over having to be extra careful where and how I step probably has a bit to do with that. Seems to be getting better.

Wednesday, the 21st: Still awaiting that itemized invoice from St. Joseph's. I've been assured that it actually is on its way. In the meantime, I've finally responded to a couple of letters that I received from an outfit called Chamberlin Edmonds, that notes ...
Chamberlin Edmonds works with Iasis Healthcare-Texas to help patients that have little or no medical insurance. We can help you find government benefits, such as Medicaid or Medicare, which could pay the hospital bill. Iasis Healthcare-Texas is providing this service to all patients at NO CHARGE.

I phoned them and talked to a representative, who felt that there really was help they could provide. He asked me to come to his office in the St. Joseph Medical Center to get started on the paperwork.

I told him I could probably do that, in a day or two (after I determined the bus routes so I could manage it without a $40.00 round trip cab fare).

I'd already planned on taking the bus downtown to Metro's main transit center to get a map of their routes and a bunch of schedules. (Yes! I could have gone online, or phoned them and asked to mail them to me, but that would have taken a solid week. I could also have downloaded them and printed them out, but they are huge files, and with my equipment; well, life's just too damned short. Besides, I desperately needed to get out. :-)

A google search of that transit center brought up a map that also showed St. Joseph's at only five blocks away. So, I went there as well and got the paperwork done.

The Chamberlin Edmonds rep felt that, because I was over 70, I may be entitled to more benefits than I thought. So, he's gonna go for it, and any reckoning with St. Joseph's is put off while that goes through the mill. That's the "hopeful" part.

The "bad" part is that it may take a month before I know anything, and the finances will get pretty damned desperate during that time.  A few of you have offered to help there. I sure hope you still feel that way, as I just may have to take you up on that.

Thirteen more days until my second visit to the surgeon. Although my arm is becoming more mobile, I sure want assurances (from x-rays) that the bone is knitting properly and that I can exercise that arm without being afraid of pulling apart something that is still healing.

And, that's the way it is, on Thursday, 22 Aug 2013 (and I have NEVER been that much of a Walter Cronkite fan. :-)

11th Update - Sun, 25 Aug 2013 - Breakdown
Breakdown: noun
(1) What I often have when things go awry.
(2) The St. Joseph's Itemized Invoice I finally received yesterday.

Almost had the first version yesterday, when I could not turn the ignition key in my car. Horrific visions of having to have the car taken to the mechanic on a wrecker truck ($60.00 estimated) and having to have that switch removed and replaced ($300.00 based on past experience with the most "snake bit" car I have ever owned -- a 1994 Dodge Intrepid that was up to ignition switch number THREE by the time I lost it to repossession at a bit over 91,000 miles).

The last time (a week ago) I had started up the car, I had cranked the front wheels over to one side to make it more difficult for anyone to move the car without the key. The odds are pretty good that by doing so I made it necessary to put pressure on the steering wheel to free up the locking mechanism so I could turn that key.

In my present condition where I have to use my left hand to force my right hand to push the key in hard enough to turn it, I can't use that left hand on the steering wheel to free it up. Tomorrow, when more people are around, I'll ask one of them to give it a try. With any luck (and Lord knows, I could sure use some), it should turn out that there is nothing at all wrong with that ignition lock and I'm simply not strong enough to work it yet.

We'll see.

As for the second definition, I can now tell what 911 costs in my instance, although much of the bill is about as specific as a fortune cookie. Here it is ...

GORDON, PAUL        1320500460    07/24/13    07/24/13   001
   3433 W DALLAS ST APT 1102
   APT 1102                                   07/27/13   RDJ
   HOUSTON TX 77019-3840

07/24/13 1 78 XR SHOULDER 2+V, COMPLETE  1  608.00    608.00
07/24/13 3 80 XR HUMERUS 2+V             1  551.00    551.00
              TOTAL, Diagnostic, Radiology          1,159.00

07/24/13 4 40013 ED LEVEL 4             1 1,516.00  1,516.00
07/24/13 5 40021 ED PROCEDURE LEVEL 1   1   475.00    475.00
              TOTAL Emergency Room                  1,991.00

07/24/13 2 23419 HYDROCODONE-ACETAMINOPHEN 5- 1 7.20    7.20
              TOTAL Drugs/Self ADMIN                    7.20

              TOTAL CHARGES                         3,157.20  

07/28/13 152 A6400 Uninsured Discount  275001         789.30CR

              TOTAL PAYMENTS/ADJUSTMENTS              789.30CR
              ESTIMATED PATIENT BALANCE DUE         2,367.90


And, there you have it. I seem to recall about three hours from the time that the 911 guys showed up until I was released from St. Joseph's. Note that $789.30 discount. Could have been a lot worse.

But, that's only half the hit.  There's still the bills from the orthopedic surgeon, and the loss of six to eight weeks income until I can go back to work.


Addendum - Mon, 26 Aug 2013 - Thank God!
The ignition switch I was concerned about turned out to be Ok.  As I had hoped, the turning of the front wheels I mentioned above had kinda locked things up. Today, I got a better angle on it when trying to push and twist the key while moving the steering wheel and, with a scream that was probably not heard outside the city limits, managed to free it up.

Arm still weak, and that really hurt.  But, am so thankful that I'm not looking at having to replace that switch. Things are already desperate enough without that on top of it.

To be continued ...

12th Update - Tue, 27 Aug 2013 - Desperation.
It has come to this: things are now desperate enough that I have added a PayPal button in the left column, and will greatly appreciate any donations that may result.

In the near future, I need to somehow get a long term loan (or loans) when I learn just what the total impact is. That impact could be a minimum of $1500.00 if the medical costs are somehow covered and the loss of six to eight weeks income is all I have to worry about. The other extreme would be no help available there (not at all impossible) and the grand reckoning could be somewhere in the $4500.00 to $5000.00 range.  Now, do you understand why I keep freaking out?

I've had a couple of you offer to help financially, but you need to be aware of what that could entail. I do NOT want handouts;  I'd much rather have loans long term enough that I could actually manage to pay them off, eventually.

But for now, I simply need to survive to get to that "near future". Hence, the addition of the Donation button.  I truly hate having to do that, but the alternatives are getting kinda scary.

13th Update - Thu, 29 Aug 2013
- Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Two days ago, I added the PayPal Donation button. I didn't really have a lot of hope in it (Let's face it;  I don't have millions of readers;  dozens would probably be more accurate.), but I thought it might be worth a shot.

So far, precisely TWO wonderful people have responded, and Thank God (and them) for their help. Between them, they may have delayed the inevitable by a week and a half.

I'm going to leave the button up there for awhile (it may still help a bit, over time), but it sure looks like I'm gonna have to figure out something else.

To those of you who tried, I wont forget you. Thank you, so much. :-)

14th Update - Sat, 31 Aug 2013 - "Earn this!"
An amazing last few days. Got a money order from an Air Force buddy, who I know is not rolling in wealth, but he extended this help anyway, and I am grateful beyond words.

Drove my car around the apartment complex Wednesday, to see if I could. Right arm did protest, but managed to pull it off. Will get easier as that arm strengthens. Drove it again last night (Friday), winding along back streets to Kroger on a grocery run. The reason for waiting until night is that both the State Inspection Sticker and the License tag expired at the end of July. I meant to take care of those in time, but the accident (July 24) intervened.

Now that the License tag as expired, I cannot just renew it at the local grocery store, but will have to go to a DMV office, taking along the certificates of passing the State Inspection and Emissions Test (along with title and insurance forms).

With any luck, I should be up to driving in morning traffic late next week, so my grand plan is to schedule an early morning appointment at Pep Boys for that inspection, so it will be finished early enough that I can take the forms, grab a bus to the downtown DMV office and get back with the renewed tags before Pep Boys closes. Then, I'll be back in business. (Jayne to Mal, in "Serenity": "What you plan, and what happens, ain't usually the same. :-)

This same week coming up is when I should learn (from my final visit to the surgeon) if my arm has healed enough that I can start exercising it (without tearing something up) to get my strength back. For the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to use that arm normally (but without straining it), and have gotten quite a bit of mobility in it.

I hope that, by the end of next week, I should be able to tell Randalls to start scheduling me again. After all, I'm gonna need all the hours I can handle (and get).  At least, they've called occasionally to see how I'm doing, so when I finally show up, they probably wont react with "Who?" .

If you've noticed the removal of the PayPal Donation button, it's because in addition to that money order mentioned above, I received a very generous donation Wednesday from another who'd rather remain anonymous and instructed ...
Don't post my name for the donation on your blogs or email. I am a firm believer in paying it forward, so rather than pay me back, put the amount towards someone else that needs it some day in the future.
It will probably take awhile before I am ready, but I'm going to do my level best to honor that request and to not disappoint.

Now, I'm not out of the woods yet, by a long shot. There is still a reckoning coming with St. Joseph Medical Center, and with Memorial Hermann Hospital. So, it's possible that the Donation button may have to be restored, but it's my understanding that they will probably work with me on this. We'll see.

This gift covers the anticipated loss of income that this accident has caused, with a bit to spare. But, that was the most immediate and lethal threat that I was facing.

With this gift, the donor has done nothing less than to give me back my life, and with it (probably with full awareness) one hell of a responsibility: literally the challenge of a lifetime; best summed up by the last request that Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) made of Private Ryan (Matt Damon) in "Saving Private Ryan" ...

   "Earn this!"

15th Update - Thu, 05 Sep 2013 - "Doctor's Note"

Past few days a bit weird.

Another wonderful letter and check from an Air Force buddy.  My friends have literally been lifesavers.

Above, I mentioned visiting Chamberlin Edmonds a couple of weeks ago, to see what aid might be available to help with the bill of $2367.90 that I received from St. Joseph Medical Center. I was warned it could be a month before I heard anything.

I thought perhaps maybe they had accomplished something already when I got another bill from St. Joseph's on Tuesday, the 3rd, for $758.00. If that's what the bill had been negotiated down to, cool!  That I would be able to handle.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. The bill was for something entirely separate: The emergency room physician's fees. Although the first bill was probably being generated before I even left the emergency room and was received a couple of days later, St. Joseph's waited SIX WEEKS after the visit to spring this little surprise. Perhaps this is simply the way they do things. Yet another thing that I hope Chamberlin Edmonds will be able to help with. I alerted them. We'll see. (And, I'll report.)

Wed, Sep 4th, I went to see the surgeon for what should be my final visit. Freaked out a bit on seeing the new x-rays showing what appeared to be a humeris bone broken in two pieces with a large gap between them.  Wondered if I had managed to horribly screw this up.  But, that wouldn't jibe with the greatly increased mobility of my right arm, along with the slowly recovering strength in it.

The surgeon brought up the x-ray on a monitor that showed it much more clearly; showing what appeared to be gossamer traces of a cloud surrounding that break, and confirming that it looked that way because new bone growth wasn't as dense as the original bone. The bone is actually healing just fine, and he told me that I don't need that wraparound brace any longer. And also that I can begin to exercise that arm, as long as I use a bit of common sense.

When I told him that I was going to ask Randalls to plug me back into their  schedule, he saw nothing wrong with that and asked me if I needed a "Doctor's Note" to go back to work.  I told him that I didn't think so, and actually didn't take that question seriously. I had worked two generations in engineering and IT, and never had to consider anything like that.

But, when I stopped by Randalls on the way home and told the Store Director that I was ready to go back on the schedule, the first thing he asked was if I had that note.  So, I went back and got this ...

You can right click on this to bring up a larger image in another tab if you're curious about what a company wants before they'll let you return to the fold.

I spent much of today (Thu, 05 Sep 2013) getting the car inspected and taking the bus downtown to renew the license tags and then come home and put them on the car. That's now done, and I can drive again (Thank God!). Still some soreness in right arm when steering, but rapidly getting better. Drove to Randalls and dropped off the Doctor's Note. When I go in Saturday to look at the schedule, I should find my name on it.

Getting back to work is the main step in my resurrection. There are still bills from two hospitals to deal with, and all I can do there is await what will come.

Almost there ...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gary Farmer - Contrary Warrior

Saw Farmer Monday night (01 Jul 2013) on one of my favorite TV shows; A&E TV's Longmire (based on Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire mysteries and about Sheriff Walt Longmire of the fictional Absaroka County, in Wyomng).

In episode 6 of season 2, "Tell It Slant" (I'll get to that title in a moment),  Walt looks out his cabin window one morning, to see an Indian riding by, seated backwards on his pony and wearing a ceremonial  mask. The Indian greets the sheriff with “Sweet dreams, sheriff!  It’s a beautiful night to be born!” 

Walt's reaction is to radio in to the station.
 Walt: "Ruby, it's me. I think we may have a dead body.”
 Ruby: "Where?"
 Walt: "I have no idea."

So, who is that guy?  And why does Walt react that way?

On arrival at the station, being told of no reports (yet) of a body, and being asked, "Why?  Do you want there to be one?" ...
 Walt: "Think I got a tip -- sort of."
 Deputy: "You think?  From who?"
 Walt: "A heyoka."
 Deputy (snorting):
   "You mean the drunk guy who walks backwards around the square?
   "That one?"
 Other deputy: "Excuse me?'
 Walt: "Cheyenne man who lives in the area.  He's something of a"
 Deputy: "head case"
 Walt: " a Sacred ClownCheyenne call him 'Contrary Warrior'
   "he does the opposite of what you expect."
 Deputy: "Why?"
 Walt: "You see, the whole idea is to force people out of their comfort 
    zones;  make them examine their beliefs."
 Deputy: "That's annoying."
 Walt: "If I just heard him right, then we have a dead body somewhere."

Well, Walt did hear him right and a body is soon discovered. It turns out to be that of a local psychic who called herself Cassandra, and when they learn that her real name is Cynthia Two Rivers, Walt goes calling on her brother Aaron Two Rivers (Gary Farmer) who is in fact our Contrary Warrior.

Walt brings along a Cheyenne named Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phiilips) who is proprietor of The Red Pony tavern and cafe, an expert tracker, and is Walt's best friend.

Henry is somewhat less than impressed with Aaron's claim as Contrary Warrior, believing Aaron's visions to come from the bottom of a bottle rather than from any spirits on high.
 Henry: "The last real Contrary Warrior died in 1974."
 Walt: "And this would make Aaron?"
 Henry: "A pest -- with pretensions."

After an interview with Aaron that was inconclusive ...
 Henry: "You can never tell when he is telling the truth."
 Walt: "Well, he's just like everybody else, then. 
    "At least, he's up front about it."
 Henry: "Before I banned him from The Red Pony, Aaron Two Rivers
     used to drink his fill, and walk out the door backwards -- without 
     paying. His 'contrary' act is less charming than you think."

About that title ...

It's actually from an Emily Dickinson poem:

Tell All The Truth
  Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
  Success in circuit lies,
  Too bright for our infirm delight
  The truth's superb surprise;

  As lightning to the children eased
  With explanation kind,
  The truth must dazzle gradually
  Or every man be blind.

So, basically, tell the truth, but tell it gently. If you come right out with it, it could be too surprising. Better to break things to people in a roundabout way rather than just drop a truthbomb.   (~From episode guide on aetv.com)

A truthbomb is at the heart of the murder here.

"Longmire" has become one of the few television shows I make an effort not to miss. But, be warned;  if you're looking for slam-bang action from the "blow em up real good" school of movie making, this ain't it. It's more laid back and character driven. If you're patient and just let it sort of wash over you, I think you'll find it absorbing (as I have).

There's a a bit of coincidence in my seeing this episode when I did.

When I posted "Toughest Pawnee" ... (about actor Wes Studi) I may have accidentally started a series of these things about American Indian actors. The post resulted in an email from an Air Force buddy recommending the movie Smoke Signals (1998), about life on the reservation.

I got the DVD of "Smoke Signals", absolutely loved it, and posted "Big truck just went by. ...", about it and the actors in it (including Gary Farmer). A comment to that post recommended yet another movie, Powwow Highway (1989), which I ordered and got a little while ago, and finally watched just before seeing the "Longmire" episode above.

Gary Farmer strikes again ...
In "Powwow Highway", Indian activist Buddy Red Bow (played by A Martinez (Adolph Larrue Martinez) who has a recurring role on "Longmire" as lawyer Jacob Nighthorse) has to make an emergency trip from the reservation in Montana to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to bail out his sister who has been busted on drug charges...
A Martinez as Buddy Red Bow - from veevr.com

His best friend, Philbert Bono (Gary Farmer), has visions (like Aaron, but probably from another source) and feels the need to get ready for an important journey of his own, for which he needs a "war pony".
Gary Farmer  as  Philbert Bono
(from nativeamericanactors.tumblr.com)

Seeing an ad on TV from a local used-car hustler, his idea of a "war pony" is one of the rusting hulks on that dealer's lot.  He makes an offer to trade what's in his pocket (including what appears to be a large plastic-wrapped bundle of weed (most likely the source of his visions).
Philbert finds his "war pony" 
(from randallhassen.wordpress.com)

Learning of Philbert's "war pony", Buddy decides a meeting is in order ...
From amazon.com

Gary Farmer as Philbert, A Martinez as Buddy, and YES, that is Wes Studi in the black hat. Graham Greene is also in this movie. But, this is a year before "Dances With Wolves" and neither of them appear for more than a couple of minutes.

Buddy needs a ride to Santa Fe, and offers to pay Philbert for the gas.  So, off they go ...
On the road - from imcdb.org

Buddy is anxious to get to Santa Fe, suspecting that his sister's drug bust was an entrapment to get Buddy away from a Council meeting on the reservation where an important vote was coming up.

But, there are a lot of detours along the way as Buddy discovers (after being committed to this trip) that Philbert is on a spiritual quest of his own.

It doesn't help things much that Buddy is a hard-nosed rationalist, who is not put at ease by Philbert's absolute faith that things "are going to work out just fine. You'll see!".

This is kind of a journey of discovery for Buddy (and for the viewer), with Philbert as spiritual guide. 

As this movie was released 24 years before the "Longmire" episode above, Gary Farmer has proven to have been mostly a Contrary Warrior for over a generation now.

Find it and give it a look. Well worth the trip.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

In the works ...

It's been over a month since my last post.

I'm not dead; it's just been that kind of a month.

I'm trying to put together "Gary Farmer - Contrary Warrior", about American Indian actor Gary Farmer, having recently seen him on "Longmire" the very same day I watched a copy of "Powwow Highway" in which he co-starred 24 years ago.  It seems that Gary Farmer has been sort of a Contrary Warrior for more that a generation. That post is about two-thirds done; I just have to get past a roadblock (called writer's block) to put it up.

Another post, "I got a .45 -- and a shovel.  I doubt that anyone would miss you.", would be about actor Dan Hedaya, who usually plays parts that redefine sleaze (and for "Cheers" fans, played Karla's ex-husband on that show). The title comes from one of his more conventional roles, as Alicia Silverstone's father in "Clueless" in which he warn's a teenage suitor about the consequences of anything happening to his daughter.

Another possibility is "There can only be one!", about actor Clancy Brown whom I first saw as the Kurgen in "Highlander" (whence came the title) and whom most people might remember as Guard Captain Hadley in "The Shawshank Redemption".

I have other ideas in mind, so I will be back. Just might take a few more days or so. :-)


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