Thursday, November 13, 2014


We used to kill honeybees here. There'd be dozens every day. It's not like we'd do it on purpose. Our favorite rec center has an open air pool and they would come in to land on the water or crawl down the walls from the floor to the water. Many of them would never make it back out. By the time we were swimming after I was done with work, there would be maybe a dozen dead ones floating on the water. Very rarely one would still be alive and I could scoop it up in a handful of water and set it on the side of the pool to dry up and leave, if it still could. Perhaps the night cleaning staff would just step on it or sweep it into the trash instead if it was too dark to fly, but I tried.

There haven't been bees this fall. Tiny flies or gnats show up, floating on the surface. So it's still a trap. But there haven't been honeybees.

There might be innocent explanations. It was a wet summer, and there have been an abundance of flowers everywhere. It is possible they haven't needed a water source with all the nectar in the flowers. Then again, I haven't seen bees near our back yard's assortment of flowers. There have been flies and mosquitoes, butterflies  both familiar and alien, the latter being represented by a huge yellow and black one which flutters its fore wings while holding the back ones folded over its back as it drinks from each flower on the Mexican Bird of Paradise. One could almost think it a tiger swallowtail but for the lack of tails and the weird fluttering, and from a distance it seems larger than a swallowtail. No bees.

It might be that colony collapse disorder has hit here. We haven't caught any local news on the topic, not being here for months, to hear if it's been an issue in this area. I have been hearing about it in Minnesota. I do know that our two mature apple trees produced a total of two apples from the loads of blossoms  they flaunted last spring, though the cold wet spring was at least partly responsible for keeping existing bees hivebound. It wasn't, however, cold or wet in The Valley last spring: quite the opposite.

What I do know for sure is that we used to kill honeybees in the pool. But not this fall.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Better Day

The wait for a driver's license today was less than half as long as yesterday's for vehicle plates. Of course, I didn't leave until after Steve got up and put the AZ plates on for me. I could have done it in the daylight, but then so could he. And I understand much better how important it is to feel useful and capable.

The AZ services website cooperated much better this morning, so my proof of insurance is registered with the state and acknowledged. The insurance site is working as well. It turns out it was their problem last night, not mine. The right page refused to load, then, but no issues this morning.

As far as my identity documentation, this info desk tender sent me straight to a supervisor, who in turn approved my documents after seeing only what I had brought yesterday. She did look at the rest very briefly, but approval had been given by then. Debra, where were you yesterday? Better yet, where was the clerk who knew to send me to you? The new license will be arriving in the mail in 15 days. That's the official story. I note the temporary card is valid for two months.

Just in case.

I found an alarm clock at the store. Not just any alarm clock, but one where I can set the time myself. To some of you, that will not sound like anything new and different. That's the whole point. I got talked into new and different last time I needed a clock and got one that was supposed to set itself, even changing for daylight savings time and back again. It was the only kind on the shelves at the time. Apparently it was the thing.

When I plugged it in, it set the time. Three minutes early. Several months later it gained another minute, then another. Last week it dropped off daylight savings time even though Arizona doesn't even go on daylight savings. Well, unless you're on the Navajo reservation. At any rate, for the last week my can't-change-it-yourself clock has been running 15 minutes fast and an hour slow. Or 45 minutes behind, if you combine both issues. I don't need a clock that requires two mental adjustments to know what the time really is. It's in the trash. I won't even recycle it or donate it. I'm feeling too kindly disposed to the rest of the world at the moment.

I planted 4 new aloes when I got back from the store. That's after buying two on eBay. We've been chatting, the seller and I, as this is my second purchase from her, and I had to draw her attention on the original order to the shipping expectations as placed on the order by the delivery company were unrealistically fast, making me think they shipment was delayed. The plants arrived when they were actually supposed to and in great shape, and being a very rare aloe, I decided to order another one. Plus a different kind that looked like a nice addition to my garden. Then there was combined shipping to discuss with her. The upshot is that the order arrived with two babies (thus 4 total plants) of a completely different kind for me to try. Free! I guess we bonded over aloes.

They were unrooted cuttings, so they got my immediate attention. I needed not just any pot, but something to keep the cuttings down in the soil, rather than popping out during, say, watering. Something that let me see when they were actually rooted enough to plant successfully, without destroying those tender roots in the process. Plus, I was hungry.

Those of you who follow this blog will find that both a non-sequitur and a bit of deja vu. Didn't we hear about me skipping eating yesterday too? This time, though, the seeming non sequitur turns out to be relevant. Late lunch was going to be Greek yogurt with blueberries and walnuts. The blueberries came in a little clear plastic lidded container. Once the berries were out and washed, I lined the bottom half with plastic wrap to hold some water in, adding an inch of yard dirt and said water. The lid when closed was perfect to hold the cuttings down in the soil and let light through, and the slots let air circulate or water in as needed. It also incidentally protects from rabbits, as it now sits out in the garden which will be its new home while the baby aloes root.

Let me put in a good word here for an eBay seller: her business handle is "idreamofsucculents". When it's time to put more in the garden, I will be looking through her items first. If you want aloes, in particular, I recommend ordering from her, keeping in mind seasonal temperatures affecting the order. She's in California, so I can shop for Phoenix area just about any time. Lucky me. All I really need is a budget. And, soon, more yard space. And chicken wire until they establish well. And...

So Where Are The Parents?

That has become a punch line between myself and Steve. It started with insomnia.

Which started with a day full of frustrations. Well, and the first cup of caffeine in about a week. After my last fibrillation episode, I pinpointed excess caffeine as the proximal cause, and have been laying off. This leads to excess inactivity, leading to a stretching didn't-do-it list, leading to feeling useless, and on and on. Yesterday was to be the get-'er-done day.

It was to start with an early shower and breakfast, but while we were still catching the morning news and feeling depressed at the hoards of "citizens" who don't bother to vote, we had a visitor. He's a nice young guy who cycles past each morning with his young son on the back of his bike, then cycles back with an empty seat. When we're out in front, working on the garden or watching our little Lucifer hummer, we wave and say, "Hi. He wondered if he could rake the pine straw off the front yard, quoting a price less than half that of the guy who's been doing it and whom we haven't quite called yet. Moreover, he wanted to earn the money so that he and his fiancee could move out of her parent's house.

So we hired him, after negotiating adding in the back yard. The combined price was now under a third of what we've been paying. He left, we found out later, to go buy garbage bags and look at a house they were considering. Not knowing how long he would take, and feeling constrained by his presence to delay showering and leaving, I let my departure be delayed. By over two hours, and then finally three, since I had a meeting I wanted to attend about supplemental Medicare, and the original delay prevented my running the other errands in the remaining time until the meeting started. I did, however, squeeze in breakfast. At noon.

Yeah, I know.

By then the raking was done, bags strewn around the garbage can for pickup, and the guy offered to dig out and rake up the remaining spurge I hadn't gotten to yet, which was getting ready to go to seed while I continued to not do it. He only wanted another $10. I offered him $20, and counted the job cheap at that. I'd already spent two large chunks of time on it, and the worst was ahead.

The meeting went well, and I signed up for a plan that only will cost me the small penalty for not getting Part D yet, not even the Part D regular premium, and offers some great savings on what has become a rather onerous monthly sum for Rx refills. Yes, I know what my medications really cost. Do you? I also picked out a primary provider, and will get her recommendations on a cardiologist, etc. The guy I'm using for lab work now and am not impressed with? He's not in their system. That all starts Jan. 1.

By now it was 3:00, and time to head to the DMV. We'd tried stopping by the one in Surprise on Tuesday, and the line was SRO and half a block down out the front door. No way were my knees up to that. So I'd spent some of the morning time "wasted" looking up the Glendale location. We'd gone there for Steve's drivers license the previous year, but I forgot just where it was. After five websites that dead-ended around downtown Phoenix locations, I finally located one which gave me the information I needed. They may have long lines, but even more seating, so the waits are not intolerable. Even for my knees.

By 3:30 I was at the info desk. I had two goals, new car plates and new drivers license, making the residency change official. I thought I had all the documentation needed as well.

Yeah, well, not so much. The first issue was the drivers license. Arizona is pretty paranoid about non-citizens getting documentation. I had the birth certificate, but there's this little thing about having done a name change back in '68. How were they to know that I was the person my birth certificate said? Note that it was never an issue in Minnesota, where I got the drivers license after being married - and a mom as well - or in Georgia, or back in Minnesota again. Just Arizona. And hey, I look like I hail from Mexico or something, right? The birth certificate was just fine with the feds for applying both for Medicare and Social Security, even though my social security card still has the old name on it. But... this is Arizona. I need a certified copy of my divorce decree to show how my name got changed from Maxson to Rosa.

33  years later, you think I can put my hands on that? Well, as it turns out, almost. I have a copy. It shows the seal, but only as it comes across on a very old Xerox copy of the divorce decree. However, in the hunt, I came across the original wedding licenses, yes, two copies, original signatures of best man, matron of honor, and  minister, and imprinted seals. They aren't divorce papers, but perhaps if I take the whole kaboodle down with me today, they will suffice. Otherwise, I have to search out Fayette County, Georgia and find out what it takes to officially copy an ancient divorce decree.

If that doesn't work, I'll know before waiting two hours like I did yesterday to get a little piece of metal for the rear bumper.

She told me it'd be one hour. She lied. But hey, I was sitting down. And people watching. I didn't bring in the Kindle so as not to miss my number being called from being too engrossed in some book.

I also hadn't bothered to eat anything since leaving the house, hurrying to the DMV. It got to be a very long two hours.

Things went wrong. She quoted me a price for the license plate, but reading it upside down, she got the cents wrong. Luckily, I had a purse full of change, and just added in the right amount, another $.42. I didn't have, or couldn't find, the insurance information. It's always in the glove box, you understand. Just not where I could put my hands on it after official closing time, trying to get everything taken care of before they locked me out. There was an alternative. She gave me a website I could go to and add the information, said website and I getting along about as well as we had early in the morning when all I wanted was an address. But that's later, after supper. (Yes, I finally ate!)

One thing that went right was her observing me walking back in after hunting for the insurance papers, and asking if I wanted my Minnesota handicap placard replaced by an Arizona one, no cost, no paperwork, and good for 5 years. I just had to walk back out to the car again and bring in the old one. It took all of about three seconds for me to decide the walk was worth it. After all, I had just been resting my knees for two hours, right?

On the way home, Steve asked me to pick him up some tacos. He'd been thawing hamburgers on the counter, but was hungry now instead. The burgers could go in the fridge for later.  Of course, "now" turned out to be a more relative term than expected. Thunderbird had some kind of incident near the hospital, and two squad cars were diverting traffic. After driving in a twisty loop for a slow residential mile, we all ended up a block east of where we were diverted from, and needed to head back east to the 101 and down to the next exit instead. All of us. So it was extra slow. For all of us.

Even after eating supper, my blood sugar level wasn't immediately high enough to make sense online of either the DMV's or my insurance company's websites. That's assuming it's me and not the site that's the issue. I decided to do something useful and go out and replace the license plates. That needed a screwdriver, and the workroom holding all the tools has no light. Steve finally finished his pipe, just in time to go rummage around and locate the proper tool, so out I went. The front plate came off fine. So did the back plate. But the new one didn't go back on fine. I couldn't properly find the right set of holes that were small enough to hold the screws in place tightly enough to not have the plate fall off while working in the dark and at about the level of my toes. So I gave that up too until daylight and with a chair brought out for the job.

I wound up leaving voicemail for my insurance company, giving the new license number and requesting a hard copy version of the proof of insurance, as the printer is still not functional. The insurance company loves e-documents. I don't.

I also decided it was time to watch TV with Steve until bedtime. Bedtime became a more relative term as well. My body still hasn't decided on a time zone. I couldn't get to sleep. The room was too cold/hot. Maybe both/and. The dog had to sit next to my head and work on an itch. Pipe smoke came wafting in the open window. Etc.

So I came out to watch TV again. Steve had recorded a movie that he advertised to me as terrible sci-fi but I'd get a kick out of Elizabeth Shue, something before she joined the cast of CSI. He was right about the terrible sci-fi part. The movie was "Piranha." We agreed about it being even worse than "Dante's Peak" as far as science goes, quite an accomplishment. What predator has red eyes that glow? Isn't the point to sneak up on your prey rather than to let them know where you are? How can green plants grow in a cave totally cut off from light? I could go on and on here, but it all served as a good chuckle. As for Elizabeth Shue, I'm not sure what kind of a kick I was supposed to get. He made it sound like she was silly. For my nickel, she was the one sensible character in the whole flick, and well-acted. Don't know how they got somebody that good in something that bad.

We had a few good chuckles during the flick, poking fun at the movie rather than laughing along with it, cheering when certain characters added to an astronomical body count, wondering how others remained breathing rather than bleeding out instantly from loss of half their body mass. The biggest yuk came at the end, however, once everybody you cared about was rescued and the characters were congratulating themselves. The line was never finished, and it was hilarious. It was to have been, "So where are the parents?" and how it got cut off left us both laughing repeatedly. And finally, after 2:00 AM, ready for some sleep.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spa Games

One of the better things about wintering in Sun City is the system of recreation centers. We are just beginning to explore the range of offerings, both together and individually. Steve will vote at one of the rec centers next week. We've both been to Spanish Club, and are finding classes and instructors who fit our needs in learning Spanish. Both of us have library cards. Steve actually uses his, while I have a huge backlog of titles to get through on my Kindle. Neither of us will ever hit the links, even though the closest golf course has just been redone and is getting good reviews. I plan to learn more about jewelry making, waiting for enough others to sign up for a wire wrapping class that the instructor will actually hold it.

By far, the facility we both use the most is the pool system, both on our own and with guests. The big pool, kept at 85 degrees, has three sections. The walking section is a serpentine course with levels varying from three feet to four and a half. I enjoy that for the exercise without the knee pain, even in the low water sections where I scootch down as I walk so the water still supports my weight. The swimming laps lanes I ignore, leaving that kind of swimming for those with good shoulders. Occasionally I hit the last section, going from 3 to 6 feet, just for relaxing and playing in the water. Treading water is still resistance exercise.

Eventually 85 degrees gets a bit chilly. Then it's time for the spa, 104 degrees and jets at multiple levels. It's about sitting. And conversation. This is where the games begin.

So far it seems to be a guy thing. I don't know why they don't just whip them out and measure, but there seems to be some drive when any two or more are in the spa to assert their superior status to all other males in the spa. Conversational topics vary all over the place, but I'll just summarize last night's offerings between two newly meeting men. The patterns seem similar to most other nights, just minor details differing.

It starts with comparing how long each has been retired. Depending on the individual, that's either a declaration of how rich they were that they could retire early, how necessary they were that they couldn't, how vitally healthy they were/are that they could work so long. Careers may or may not actually be mentioned, which I find ironic, considering how they're used among those still working to assert status. I also find myself wondering how many early retirements actually translate to layoffs, and late retirements translate to no savings in the bank.

Then conversation shifts to how busy each is keeping themselves post retirement. Organizations they are involved with, number to times per week they hit the links with a little name dropping of favorite courses, visitors stopping by, travel done both involving grandchildren and avoiding family.

Houses are listed, sometimes by states they are ( or more often, were) located in, sometimes by remodeling projects underway or the number of years taken to accomplish creating the dream homes. Included under this topic are declarations of where they go to avoid the summer heat, even if under the layers once peeled away it comes down to which relatives they are mooching off of. Even the monster remodeling projects can be boiled down to the fourteen years it took to get the house perfect meaning it had to be done on a budget, a little here, a little there. They just don't see that. But guys, here you are, living in an inexpensive community with modest fees allowing access to an abundance of activities. If you were as rich as you want us to believe, you'd be over in Fountain Hills or Scottsdale, some place with quintuple the square footage and staff to take care of it for you.

Last night had a little extra twist in the status games. One fellow was talking about his racing car. 16 years ago he enclosed his garage and parked the racing car in it. Apparently it's still sitting there because "they" wouldn't "let" him race it any more, something to do with having had a stroke. Somebody offered him a nice price for the engine not too long ago, which I guess means the rest of the car is crap, at least to the potential buyer. But the guy who was speaking is still hanging on to it, tucked away, unused, useless.

Probably how he's feeling too. Isn't that what all those games are really about?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Piecemeal. But Progress.

The planting is finally done. Not permanently final. I still want another specific kind of tree, and some interesting aloes, something with colors beyond green and white. Other plants will demand my attention in upcoming months or years. But everything brought down or purchased here is in the ground. It took a few different days, with a couple or more days worth of breaks in between. But they're in. Two new trees, four Ocatillas, 3 ponytails, one aloe, three agaves, one nasty little but attractive dickia, and a scattering of hawarthia. Chicken wire cages surround them all. We bear assorted scratches and punctures.  I think the shovel is still in the front yard.

The knees are now demanding a few more days before something else is tackled.

They won't get them.

I'm hoping for the time when all the moving-in projects are done and the daily tasks are just that, merely daily tasks. That's not happening either, not soon.

Steve now has his own bedroom. It's cluttered with boxes to be unpacked, full of stuff needing spaces to be unloaded to. Spaces like the library, once two more walls are covered with shelves, and a closet is turned into an office. His room is much less messy than before we came down, since he got an attack of unpacking and we discovered where the Red Wing had been, and a few pieces glassware and of southwest pottery purchased long enough ago they had actually been forgotten. Those now have temporary homes until, again, the library shelving is completed and things taking up space in the living room cabinets are relocated so... well, same song, different verse.

Despite that work, the house remains full of packed boxes. We did organize Steve's room to the point where a full garbage bag of bubblewrap went back to the thrift store which had Steve's bed delivered, so we can now walk on the floor. The lady carrying it off to the truck had a bit of fun, going pop pop pop-pop pop all the way down the driveway.

I will finally believe the boxes are unpacked when I find the one holding my orange glass fish mobile/wind chime, and several other wind chimes. They are probably in one of the dozen remaining boxes marked "cabinet crap." Seriously. I packed a whole lot of boxes labeled "crap." Two and a half years ago.

Looking around, unpainted walls bear new colors, new-to-us furniture serves our needs, broken things have been repaired - not all, but some - and hastily placed things have been more thoughtfully located. A simple example of the last is our hummingbird feeders. We have three, formerly all located around the edges of the backyard patio. Hummers are territorial, however, and I though it might be more interesting, and better for them, if one were to be moved to the front yard. I found a spot where a hanger had been left by the previous owner, and moved a feeder there.

It's been appropriated. The back yard is full of battling females. A male has claimed the front feeder, and not just any male, but my favorite of all the hummers down here. We have a Lucifer! I fell in love with those lovely purple feathers when my parents stayed down here and a male Lucifer claimed their feeder as his own. Steve has now seen his first Lucifer, and he loves the color as much as I do. We have moved the wicker loveseat out to the front, and sitting there during planting breaks gives us plenty of times to appreciate him as he perches on the chicken wire cages protecting the garden plants about three feet from us.

We are waiting to get the "lawn" work done. That translates to having Felipe and his grandson come out with the backpack blower and rakes and rid us of pine needles and cones. He's done work for us for two years now and is appreciated enough that Steve has his business card to contact him when needed. While doing planting, we have already had 4 men stop by offering their services. Two were this morning, and the second one seemed skeptical when we turned him down with the excuse we already had somebody. I just told him that we were waiting for the first of the month so we could afford to get the work done. More needles and cones will fall by then anyway. He still may not believe we have our own preferred helper, but the suggestion of no money at the moment seems to have done the trick.

Cleaning is backed up a fair bit. It's not enough that every time I turn round, Fred has left another growing clump of hair to drift into a corner. They get picked up one here, one there, and occasionally a whole floor gets swept. That's just the normal cleaning. Mice have left presents, and not only do those have to be tackled as energy permits, but sticky traps are set out and baited, to no avail. I do not see new droppings, so maybe our return has chased them out.

Sure, right. Uh huh.

Lots of cleaning got left undone when we left last spring. It was a very short visit before hitting the road. Laundry has included all kinds of bedding in addition to the daily stuff. Food was left sitting in from-the-store boxes, and there appear to be a lot of tiny critters who are experts at invading pasts, beans, rice, pancake mixes....  There have been days spent sorting buggy from -we think - non buggy, and finding or buying sealable containers for future storage. Just to be more secure, the "good" stuff spends a few days in the freezer before heading back to the shelves.  I'm hoping that works. In case there were eggs.

Our garbage company will take all our moving boxes at once for merely $10, so we are sending them out a few at a time, mostly either as extra containers to take away recycling, or holding prickly pruned branches from yet another set of just-returned-down-here chores. Those go in the garbage but understandably our garbage collectors hate grabbing thorny stuff by hand. Non-prickly branches can be bundled with twine and laid on the ground by the can. Prickly goes in a box, thank you.

No problem. We have boxes. Lots of boxes. We'll still have boxes to dribble out next spring. That $10 fee is simply annoying.

There's a lot of wandering through the house opening and closing windows. We kept the AC on while Rich and Brenda were working in the house. Then we got the bill, so now it's open up at night (it helps they've finally gotten cooler and dryer) and close before morning heats the house, so we can get by with perhaps an hour of cooling via the AC. Open windows of course give Ellie a myriad more excuses to bark at whatever, even if that whatever is across the street, or perhaps, if our suspicions are correct, totally imaginary. Fans are a great help at night. Rich fixed the one in the master bedroom ceiling. The one in Steve's bedroom has always worked fine, and is hanging down from a short enough stem that nobody's tall head had bumped it out of whack. If Rich had more time here, the fan in the living room - brand new and with a shorter stem than the one it replaces - would also have been installed before I took them to the airport. I guess we can stare at the hole and wires for another... what, two years? He at least climbed through the attic and put in proper bracing so that this time a fan could be adequately supported.

Did I mention that he also found out that the attic fan does not work? Another repair for the future.

Like replacing the plumbing. Rich tried to fix a clog in one bathroom sink. After two trips to get the proper tool to open the trap, it turned out that 1) the trap was so rusted in place that it could not be replaced once moved, 2) the clog was up by the sink anyway, and 3) both bathroom sinks drain into that same trap so now both are unusable.

Speaking of nights, as I was a long while back now, I've discovered a weird adaptation to the time zone change. I go to bed on Arizona time. No problem there. But I wake up on Minnesota time! For somebody whose doctor is concerned that I get enough sleep, this is NOT HELPING! Even the dogs are getting into the act, creating a plethora of noises starting about 4:00 AM. About the only positive in the whole situation is that I'm getting to see a whole lot of beautiful desert sunrises.

And I can take naps. They cut into my reading time, but...


Monday, October 13, 2014

When They Say It'll Be Simple...

Don't be too quick to believe them. Especially when they're just sending along second-hand information.

Take a piece of medical advice I received as an example. I need my coagulation levels checked, now that I'm finally conceding I need to be on a blood thinner. We're still juggling the dosages, trying to find the level that prevents a clotting stroke during some future A-fib episode, without allowing me to bleed out in case of an accident.

Moving in the middle of the start-up process is a complicating factor. I needed to find a new lab in a new state without any actual medical referrals from my former clinic personnel. They don't know who practices in Arizona, who's good or not. They have no connections.

What they do have is other patients who've turned snowbird, needing the same kind of follow-up medically. Those other patients have successfully located labs to do the testing, sending the info back to the Minnesota staff for feedback on medication levels to maintain the proper coagulation levels.

Therefore, it must be simple.  Right?

First, there's finding the right kind of lab. I wanted something associated with the local hospital, keeping travel simple, along with maybe establishing a medical relationship with someone with local admitting privileges. I started with the hospital's administration office.

 Is it too much to ask that somebody might actually know what I was talking about? Much less know how I might go about learning what the area choices may be? They did finally refer me to a clinic several miles away who couldn't figure out what I needed but would be happy to accept me as a new paying patient. Ummm... no.

 Start again.

There are medical referral systems down here. You can look them up in the phone book, after, of course, trying in vain to find the exact specialty needed in the lists of doctors and clinics names. I go way back to when Yellow Pages listed doctors both by specialty in one list and by locality in another. All my local phone book offered was an alphabetical list, leaving me to try to figure out who was local as opposed to 40 miles away, and who would know what I needed.

Having given up on getting anybody who understood the term "coumadin clinic", I figured I could at least ask for a local cardiologist, thinking their staff should know how to locate a lab. They did. It was there, right in their office. And did I want to establish a medical relationship with one of their cardiologists, so I'd have one locally who knew me and my history should something happen?

Well, yes, in the near future. But right now I just needed a finger prick test done (more of a stab, actually), resulting in a number ideally between 2.0 and 3.0 that could be faxed back to Minnesota as per the "snowbird letter" my clinic sends south with its patients, allowing them to contact me with their recommendation for any dosage changes and how soon the next test needed to be done. Besides, my bills from previous work, accumulating after Medicare paid their bit, were become discouraging. If my heart would behave, my budget could get a break. Then let's talk.

Apparently they heard only the "yes" part. A letter was sent out requesting four pages of medical history, to be filled out and brought to my appointment this morning. Fine, I could do that, but the more blanks I filled in, the more I wondered just what all they figured on charging me with once I arrived.

Deciding to clarify that with the receptionist when I checked in, I caused a minor back-up at the window while she checked with other staff to see if they could do that little wee thing for me. Oh, and the copier was just fixed leaving a backup of copying to be done so she needed my Medicare card for a while so they could copy it. (Note to self: don't forget to get it back!) I finally requested to sit down while that was straightened out, incidentally allowing the next 7 people to check in.

When I was called back, we went through weighing, BP check, and the nurse was going to have me undress and put on the paper gown before I got it through to her just what I was actually there for. Now she too had to leave to see if my miniscule request could be granted. After all, silly me, coumadin clinics were only held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. My inconvenient appointment was set for a Monday. While she checked, I should sit and the Doctor would be in to talk with me shortly.

His first question to me was whether anybody had ever talked to me about a surgical solution to my A-fib.

Really. I'm in for a simple blood test. You start talking surgery. Already I'm starting to have issues with this guy. Not getting enough money from the procedure. fella? He continues, pushing my need to establish a medical relationship with a local cardiologist in case... etc. etc. I'm liking my 50 mile commute to Fairview Southdale back in Minnesota more and more as this guy talks. Eventually, however, he decides to respect my declining another EKG, opting for a simple stethescope listen to prove to himself whether or not I can actually feel for myself when I get a flutter.

I almost think he was disappointed to detect normal sinus rhythm.

For the record, once I was finally down here, stresses removed, sleep schedule not ruled by alarm clocks, tasks accomplished by convenience and momentary need versus arbitrary schedules, there has not been a single flutter nor A-fib episode. Not a one. And leading up to the move, they had become a fairly regular part of my daily life. I hadn't realized they were gone until I started thinking about this appointment.

He also took my BP while I was in his exam room. The nurse who took it several minutes earlier got 110 / 70, my normal on medication. He got 160 / 110. I'm thinking he pissed me off. Or maybe she's just better at taking it accurately.

Finally he got me set up for the test, with a last offer to experience more care from him before turning me back over to my nurse.

The major inconvenience I caused by showing up on a Monday involved turning on a room light, getting out the test meter, inserting a test strip, getting out an alcohol wipe, setting up the "stab", squeezing a drop of blood on the strip, and reading the resulting number about 30 seconds later (2.5), then offering me a cotton ball to hold against my finger until the bleeding stopped,  and throwing away the stabber and test strip. A number was entered on a piece of paper, and they prepared to fax it to the Minnesota clinic.

That last paragraph is the usual routine for this test. In Minnesota they also offer a bandaid. It is simple. It should have been simple down here. I understand the expectations that getting tested down here would be simple.

Except that it wasn't.