Veteran’s Choice and other updates . . .

Veteran’s Choice:

I finally found out the precise process for going through Veteran’s Choice to get any health care.  First, you have to qualify (which I do, they even re-issued the card for me).  Then you have to get your VA Health System primary care doctor to authorize use of Veteran’s Choice for every visit.  Then you get to actually go to the local physician to get taken care of.

In the case of my possibly getting a hip/femur replacement, it means that I have to go to my VA PC doc, he’ll order x-rays, and then put a consult request into the VA computer system for me to be seen by the nearest orthopedics clinic – Fayetteville.  Then Fayetteville looks over the x-rays and visits with me about my situation.  IF they agree that I should have the procedure, then AND ONLY THEN will I get to see if there are any local surgeons who work with Veteran’s Choice – and that doesn’t even start dealing with the physical therapy after the surgery.

Double the doctor visits; double the x-rays, potentially double the wait time for treatment – and this is supposed to be BETTER care?  I don’t think so!  I was so upset by this revelation that I called my dad – and asked him to call his neighbor and good friend: US SENATOR JERRY MORAN to voice my complaint.  He (dad) said he could do that today.


We’re in the process of finding a new home for the black leather, overstuffed, love seat we’ve had in our living room for the last 15 years.  We still like it, and it’s not in bad shape (for sharing a home with indoor cats), but we need the space for the weight bench that I got to prepare for if I get the hip/femur surgery.

I’ve been doing some research, and determined that the hip replacement and the femur replacement are almost the same surgery.  The difference would be that to replace the entire femur should actually be less time in the surgery, because they don’t have to cut the femur with a bone saw and screw on the metal replacement.  But it will leave a larger scar.  Oh well, to get full range of motion and weight-bearing capability back, I think I can live with the scar.

The weight bench has a leg curl/leg extension attachment, so that I can start with low weight and insanely high reps to condition the muscles before the surgery.  Then, after the physical therapist gives me the all-clear, I’ll start working up to heavier weight and get these legs back into the condition they were in before the tumor – at least in theory.

The new weight bench was delivered by FEDEX this morning.

Oh, and in the middle of all the other stuff going on this morning – I got a knock on the front door.  When I answered it was one of the city employees who worked on the new sidewalk through our front yard.  He said that the city “came into some money” specifically allocated for shade trees over the new sidewalk, and he wanted to know if we were interested in getting a couple.  I laughed – I was just on the Arbor Day Society’s website yesterday looking at what we might do along that same idea!  Now all I have to do is go out and put some tomato stakes in the yard to mark where the shade trees should be put and the city will do the rest, within the next week!  WIN!


Netflix, weather, other weirdness

Seen on another blog:
GOLD is the money of the KINGS,
SILVER is the money of the GENTLEMEN,
BARTER is the money of the PEASANTS,
but DEBT is the money of the SLAVES!!!

Netflix has, IMHO, decided to shoot it’s feet off.  Both of them.

I can’t be the only person in the US who uses Netflix Streaming service as a total substitute for watching live TV or cable programming – but people like me are exactly the people Netflix has decided they can live without.  In a recent article on the BBC news service, Netflix announced that it is not renewing the contract with a content provider which allows access to the very types of shows my wife and I watch the most. They would rather focus on creating their own original programs – which so far have not included any titles I care to watch.

We’ve talked it over, and for us I think we might be alright if we change to disc-only service, but we’ll have to see what happens when the Epix contract expires.  Read more here:

In other news – this has been one of the weirdest “summer” seasons I’ve ever seen.  Normally in Kansas (and I have spent most of the last 53 years here) the grass is turning brown by early July, and doesn’t start getting green again until mid September.  This year it NEVER turned brown at all in our yard, and I didn’t give any supplemental water.  If the weather had cooperated, the city could have gotten most of the sidewalk done outside in a few days – it took over a month!  In fact – they still aren’t entirely done.  There is still grass seed to put down for the areas they stripped for construction.  They might have done it yesterday – except that it was rain or storms all day long, which also means that the ground is still too wet for them to put it down today.

Weird updates . . .

  1.  The sidewalk is complete – well, except for the fact that they didn’t get the back-fill of dirt along the sides done, nor did they manage to get the new driveway cement to tie-in to the old driveway.  There is about 6″ of crushed rock filling the gap between them.
  2. Our refrigerator has been – misbehaving? – for about a year now.  We tried getting the thermostat replaced, but the freezer compartment just doesn’t want to keep things actually frozen.  So, Friday afternoon we went out to Home Depot and looked around, and bought an upright deep freeze to put beside the refrigerator to handle the freezer duties.  The old freezer compartment will now be used for cold food storage that doesn’t need to be frozen.
  3. Thanks in large part to the new windows – our electricity usage went DOWN by 1,000 kwh last month, as compared to the same month the year before.  Now if we could just get the electric company to quit hiking the usage rates every time we decrease our usage . . .
  4. We recently discovered that, after about 9 years without access to this type of service, there is a new chiropractor in town who specializes in functional medicine.

What a week . . .

I have quite a few updates to share.

First – yesterday I went to see the VA again about my migraines.  I’m now fully convinced that they can’t help me – but they would love to know why I won’t just roll over and do as I’m told.  They don’t like ex-service men who think for themselves.  We’re supposed to be broken of that bad habit in Basic Training.  Too bad I was ready for the mental component of the course.  LOL!

The doctor wanted to put me on a prescription for gabapentin.  He actually wrote it – but I didn’t talk to a pharmacist so I didn’t get the prescription before leaving.  A good thing, as it turns out this is another example of doctors using a drug that was FDA approved for one thing (in this case, it’s an anti-convulsant for epilepsy) to treat something else (migraines).  It should be illegal to use any drug to treat something it wasn’t specifically approved for.  Oh, and check this out from an official medical website:

You may have thoughts about suicide while taking gabapentin. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.”

The good news, though, is that my weight is down to 211 – officially (because they don’t like to take a home scale’s word for it).  Well, actually, it was 217 with my shoes on, but my shoes weigh 6 pounds and I usually weigh without them.

On the sidewalk through our yard – the trench is now dug and the framing has been started.  There were a few hiccups along the way – the backhoe broke the water line & the encasement for the water meter – so we had some repair cycles rushed through.  It’s all good now.  They even managed to save the 2 trees I had started to believe they were going to need to remove.

Since the 17th I’ve had a rib out of place, just a little bit but enough to hurt, in a spot next to my spine.  It’s managed to do a good job of keeping me from sleeping more than a few hours at a time – but I have an appointment today to get an adjustment and it will all be good soon.  I’d have seen the chiropractor for the adjustment sooner – but he has been out of town on vacation.  His first day back was the day I had to go to the VA.  Part of me thinks I should have stayed home and went to the chiropractor.

But – hey!  Major bonus!  When I got dressed to go to the VA yesterday, I put on a pair of jeans I’ve been saving for over 2 years.  I haven’t been able to fit into them for that long – but yesterday I put them on and didn’t even have to fight with them to fasten them shut.  They just fit.  It is really nice to be (well, more than) 35 pounds lighter than I started 2015 at.  And it’s all due to the Paleo Diet.  I’m not dropping the weight fast (and still would like to lose another 35 pounds) – but it is going, and a pound every week or two is a perfect pace to maintain.  My blood sugar levels are fairly stable, I’m not starving myself, and I get to eat real food.  There is no down side.  The real muscle that has been hidden under the fat is starting to show again.  I like it.

New termite feeder…

Yesterday afternoon, during a break in storm activity, the utility company showed up with 2 trucks to plant a new utility pole in our yard.  This is needed in preparation for the new sidewalk, which will be going through where the old pole already was.  The new one is about 5 feet closer to our house.

Of course, that was when I noticed that the FedEx delivery service had left a note telling me that they tried to deliver my new computer.  *groan*  I don’t think he (the delivery man) even bothered to knock.

Anyhow, I am now using the new computer.  For those who care about such things, it’s a Dell desktop:  3.2 GHz cpu, quad core, 8 Gb of RAM, a 1 TB internal HD (along with the 1 TB external drive I already had), and a GeForce GT 720 graphics adapter card.  Oh, and it came bundled with a new keyboard – which proved sort of useful when I realized that my old keyboard wouldn’t work because it didn’t have the right connector!

To get my wife to agree to this, I had to agree to let her use ALL of my VA benefits check for the next 10 months to pay down the credit cards – but that’s alright, since I also got a new copy of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel (an online MMO video game along the lines of Oblivion and Skyrim, complete with the Explorer’s Pack).  I’ll be busy for a while, with the renewal of the friendship with the man who introduced me to modern gaming!

Future sidewalk update…

We got another update last night, about the sidewalk that the city needs to put in going through our front yard.

In the original plans, the sidewalk was supposed to be installed directly adjacent to the curb, but they can’t do that.  It would cover buried utility lines (gas, water) which also run along the street.  So, they are going to have to move it about 5-7 feet farther into our yard.  We also found out why they had to cut the tree in the dead of winter – to avoid disturbing bat habitat – no, really.  This is significant because it may possibly cause the building of the sidewalk to be delayed another year – due to conflict with ANOTHER tree in our yard that didn’t need to come down for the original plans.  Fortunately, the tree they did cut down would have needed to come out either way, so that wasn’t a loss.

Anyhow, progress is happening.  The city worker who will supervise the install is going to look into the new tree issue – and as a bonus will also help me look into the history of our huge south lot and why I can’t get any trees to grow down the middle of it.  We suspect an old house was improperly demolished there.  Oh, and the city is going to plant at least one new tree in our front yard to replace what we’ve lost – no fighting over that.  They’re being very nice about it all.