Friday, February 19, 2016

Changes - and Updates

Just when you think you've got a plan....

Surgery is both the same and different. My 1st new knee is still scheduled for early next month. I've done the see-your-primary-care thing, been working on the pre-surgery PT thing, gotten the strong meds to replace ibuprofin for that last bit of time when I have to cease so-called blood thinners. I'm being good. I've even been to Joint Club, where they fill you in on all the expectations and requirements of the surgery.

Yes, I'll be walking right after surgery, just as soon as I'm awake enough to stand up. They promise us no bedpans and lots of fluid input by IV, so there will be a WHOLE lot of incentive to get up and ... uh ... go. Wish me luck with getting an assist with that soon enough after the urge hits. That, or somebody with a good mop. I can't imagine the staff being in as much of a hurry as I will be, without demonstrable incentive.

Not to put too fine a point on it.

The big change comes first in paying for it, and second in scheduling the second one. Which will also render a change in scheduling the northward journey this year.

First, BCBS (stands for Blue Cross Bull...) just send me a letter informing me that the supplemental insurance I am paying for will renew automatically on the 1st of April. OK, I guess. First I heard of that as the renewal date. Since we have to sign up for it to start on Jan. 1st, shouldn't it carry through Dec. 31st?

Apparently not. And guess what happens with the renewal? Yep. Price increase. Ding ding ding, you got it.

So I called our health insurance agent. Just another thing she neglected to inform us of back when we signed up for the new year's coverage. Turns out she knew about that renewal date thing. Apparently it's a change for this year. Oops, sorry.

After a lengthy couple of phone conversations, one with BCBS and one with the agent, it turns out that supplemental insurance is a bit different. It can be changed any time during the year, not just during the sign-up period. And yes, there are cheaper options out there. The cheapest one that's equivalent to what I now carry is just over half the price, with a couple caveats. I need to sign up before my next birthday to qualify for the lowest price. And I need to be able to honestly answer questions about dialysis, end-stage renal failure, and whether, within the last two years, any doctor has recommended any surgical procedure that has not been done.  So there is a rush to get the second knee done before my next birthday. Once I qualify for that special price, there is a lock-in on price increase increases, an even bigger incentive to act ASAP.

Keep in mind we want to head north to see family including a planned wedding, escape the summer heat, and in Steve's case, fish. Could we do all that in time?

I contacted the orthopedic office to check when the second knee might be scheduled. The delay to next fall had been my idea, accommodating summer plans and my not driving long distances on a recently replaced knee. (We're doing the right or "driving" knee second.) Best possible case, no complications and good recovery, good follow-through with the PT, the second knee could be scheduled for late April and I would be required to stick around The Valley for 8 weeks.

OK, we're good for the insurance scheduling, knock on wood. But what about the driving? We are used to making over 1800 miles in three days, two motel nights. That includes dog walking as well as our own necessary stops. I would not have been doing much of any driving for close to four months by then. No daily 300-500 miles for work on a regular basis. The body readjusts.

I called Paul, my youngest. He's coming down to visit and escape winter late next month. That will use up his available paid vacation, but when would he have more days? And would he be willing? Two of those three driving days can be over the weekend, so maybe two or three more off work, one to drive, one to fly, one to relax and help with the closing up the house routine, as well as "insurance" against weather delaying his flight. And yes, he was willing, as well as having more time off by then.

Another phone call established that the family wedding is planned for July anyway, so we won't need to miss that.  Great! This one is really important to me, being my granddaughter. Maybe by then I can even walk for it!

So, other changes? My brother is finally a granddad. His eldest daughter just had their first baby, and already we're being flooded with adorable pictures. (Keep 'em coming!) Many years ago my mom bemoaned the fact that all my kids carried my married surname, and my brother's kids were both girls. The family name, Maxson, on this continent for nearly 4 centuries, would not be carried forth by this branch of the family. What did my niece and her husband do? They named him Maxson James for first and middle names. While I suspect he's mostly named for my brother, I prefer to think of him as being named in honor of our father. Either, both, doesn't matter. He's healthy, adorable, sucks his thumb with his fingers all but poking his eye, and once again makes me a great aunt. This makes two great nephews from different sides of the extended family.

I think I smiled all day. It didn't hurt a bit that he was born on our Valentines Day 4th wedding anniversary. I wasn't surprised, as his mother was born on my daughter's 12th birthday. At least there are two relatives whose birthdays I can remember.

Don't confuse that with getting sent presents. Or even cards. Sorry.

Another change that means a whole heck of a lot more to us that it will to any of you, unless you come visit, is that we now have two functioning showers. And for way less that the $18 grand the first plumber quoted, though to be fair it was for a somewhat bigger job. To still be fair, it also didn't include wall repairs, etc. so the final price would be still higher. For those who haven't been following or haven't cared, the shower in the master bath had a knob you pulled out to switch water from tub to shower, then pushed for back to tub. One day well over a year ago I pulled and the knob just kept coming. One shower down.

A couple weeks ago I was using the other shower, since I don't do tubs. It started making that funny high pitched sound - luckily at the end of the shower - it made when the water was almost all switched back to the tub but a bit was still being forced through the pipe at high pressure. I couldn't push this knob all the way back to shut the water off. I had to call Steve for enough muscle to shut it down. No more showers.

It's not like we now needed to be filthy nasty or anything. There was still what one can do at the kitchen sink or down in the pool showers at the community center. But still.

Steve and I went to Home Depot shopping for tub surrounds, knowing any plumber would have to bust through one wall to fix both showers. We would up with a handyman who could do all the other work and who had a helper who's a licensed plumber in the state of Washington. They started Monday and finished Wednesday. Both showers now have hand-held water saver nozzles, look good, don't leak either behind the wall or around the tub tops.

And I still have a bit of a budget left. In case. You just gotta know something else will need repairs.

Shhhhh, don't jinx it!

And if you happen to be local and need some work done, I heartily recommend Cletus. He does stuccoing too, if you're interested. But I'll only tell you how to reach him if we don't need him at the moment. We've gotten selfish. You can decide for yourselves if that's another change.

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