Setting the Record Straight

I want to provide some clarification about my recent healthcare related posts. I worry that in my attempt to tell the stories with a bit of humor, I may have been overly broad with the tar, as it were. In addition, I didn’t consider the folks that hadn’t read the earlier stories, (here and here if you’re interested) as I wrapped-up on Saturday.

First off, I am feeling fine. My hearing has improved, my head wound is healing nicely and my doctor refilled my prescription for the only NSAID I can use, Voltaren cream.

As before, I had to explain how I’m allergic to some NSAIDs but not this one, and this time I had to argue to get the real stuff, not a generic. When you have allergies, you want to stick with what works. So, just like the previous time, I had to pay for this out-of-pocket. And, just like the previous time, I didn’t care.

More importantly, I want to make sure people understand that my recent posts weren’t meant to be a sweeping condemnation of healthcare in general. The healthcare providers I have encountered during the past few months have been wonderful. This includes, but is not limited to:

The woman at my doctor’s office who refused to send me to Cranston, RI for an MRI and alerted me to that fact that my insurance company might consider the radiology clinic five miles from my house to be out-of-network. If you’re not familiar with US healthcare, out-of-state is apparently OK. Out-of-network costs more and does not apply to the “high deductible” portion of your insurance plan.

The Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor, who diagnosed my sudden hearing loss and set me on the road to recovering my hearing.

The audiologist, who conducted the hearing tests without making me feel stupid.

The people at the radiology center who almost had me laughing too hard to get a clear MRI.

My wife, who schlepped me from appointment to appointment, advocated for me when necessary, asked all the right questions, wrote down the answers and tip-toed through the bloody mess in our bathroom to take charge of the situation after I fell and cut my head. Don’t ask her how she did that…it remains a mystery.

The policeman, who arrived while my wife was still on the phone with the emergency dispatcher and offered to assist in any way possible.

The paramedics, who arrived in the ambulance a few minutes later and quickly, comfortably and safely delivered me to the hospital.

Our daughter, who joined us at the hospital and safely delivered us home three hours later.

The Emergency Room staff, who made me comfortable from the moment I arrived (except for those shots to numb my head) until the moment I left.

These people have chosen a life of service (my wife might not have known that, but in sickness and in health, and all that), and they are remarkable human beings.

The for-profit medical insurance industry, and the less-than-remarkable people that stand between the people who need care and the people who are willing and able to provide that care, is the problem with healthcare in the US.

The larger, looming problem with US healthcare is the clown car in Washington containing about 550 people (whose healthcare is gold-plated and guaranteed for life), who will decide the future of healthcare for 330 million slobs like me.

Maddie took it upon herself to make sure I got back on my feet and got some exercise, even though the Mrs. drew the line at operating power tools and making sawdust until there were only the normal number of openings in my head. I did manage to collect some fun photos, and almost a nice reflection. Click on any one to start a show and see the captions.

Posted in Current Events, Customer Service, Opinion | Tagged , , , , | 70 Comments

We’re Talkin’ Healthcare at the Bar

For the love of beer

The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

If we were having a beer, you’d be interested in my health, but you might have ulterior motives.

“You feeling better?”

“Yes, I’ve been cleared for takeoff by the medical establishment.”

“Good, then you’re buying.”

“Is that all you cared about?”

“I was so startled by those stitches last week that I offered to buy without realizing that I had bought the time before that.”

“Hey guys. Dan, you’re looking much better without the stitches.”

“Thanks Cheryl, I feel better too.”

“So good, in fact, that he has offered to pick up the tab today.”

“OK, then I imagine he still wants a Yuengling, but you might want to step it up a notch.”

“You read my mind, Cheryl. I’ll have a splash of Woodford Reserve.”

“Ouch, it didn’t take long for you to even the score.”

“As Scrooge said: ‘A great many back-payments are included in it,’ so I might have another later.”

“Coming right up boys.”

“You do know that, when Scrooge said that, he was talking about payments he should have made…right?”

“Yes, but I wasn’t going to wait for you to say it. Dickens wouldn’t mind a little Improvisation.”

“Dickens was a writer, not a jazz musician.”

“He was a social commentator, too. He would appreciate any attempt to put out a message about economic injustice.”

“I don’t think he’d approve of a wealthy man using his words to coerce a free drink from a friend.”

“Who says I’m wealthy.”

“Everybody knows your wealthy. Remember the whole ‘wealthy people tip less’ discussion? Anyway, here are your drinks. You boys want any food?”

“None right now, Cheryl. And, I’m not wealthy.”

“Well, as they say, as long as you have your health.”

“Speaking of health, have you managed to pierce the bubble of that high-deductible insurance plan yet?”

“Yeah, I think the ambulance ride put me over the top. If not, I’m sure the ER visit did.”

“I still say, for what you were paying, they should have had the sirens on.”

“Let’s just hope it’s considered a valid use of an ambulance and a valid visit to the ER. Otherwise I’ll be fighting with those bozos again.”

“Again? I wasn’t aware you had to fight them.”

“For the MRI.”

“They didn’t want you to have one?”

“Oh, I could have one, but they wanted me to have it somewhere else.”

“Joe’s Discount MRI and lube?”

“Pretty much.”

“Don’t they have a list of approved providers?”

“Yeah, they suggested an radiology center in Cranston, Rhode Island.”

“Cranston, Rhode Island? Yikes. Do they know you live in Connecticut?”

“I reminded them. They also had centers in Norwalk and Danbury.”

“There you go. The next time you go to Pittsburgh, you can stop in Danbury and have an MRI. Nothing in, say Enfield?”

“The place my doctor sent me is in Enfield. It’s run by St. Francis Hospital. St. Francis is in-network and the radiologist is in-network, but the facility isn’t.”

“Um, the radiologist kinda needs an MRI machine…what the…?”

“They finally found a radiology center in Enfield, but they didn’t tell me about it until the day before my appointment, which was two days before I was flying to Iowa.”

“I guess you wanted to know if you could take that flight.”

“It was a concern.”

“So they let you go to the place where you had the appointment?”

“Not at first. They wanted me to cancel that appointment, then call the other place and tell them I had an emergency.”

“What emergency?”

“My healthcare sucks, I guess. I told them I wouldn’t do that. I reminded them that they approved the MRI, so it should be considered in-network.”

“Did they agree?”


“Did you have any trouble after that?”

“It wasn’t much better with the ear nose and throat guy.

“How’s that?”

“He was in-network, but only in his Bloomfield office. If I saw him in Enfield, he would have been out-of-network.”

“That’s crazy.”

“As crazy as two guys nursing one drink and not having anything to eat?”

“You’re right Cheryl, enough about health insurance, let’s have another round. And, that pizza last week was pretty good, let’s have another.”

“No pepperoni for me today.”

“So, half pepperoni, half cheese?”

“You could put spinach on my half.”

“And you could pay for your half. I’m not buying a pizza with spinach on it.”

“Cheese, cheese is good.”

It’s been raining a lot this week. If you want to read the captions, click on any photo to start a slide show.

Posted in Customer Service, Humor, If having a beer | Tagged , , , | 91 Comments

beer and boats (1)

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Originally posted on itkindofgotawayfromyou:
There is a blogger out in the wilds of Connecticut who has a regular feature entitled something like  “ If We Were Having a Beer ” . He mentions Yeungling in just about every one of…

Gallery | 6 Comments

Thursday Doors – Railroad Doors

Main doors to the station.

If I know my regular readers, they’ve been expecting this post. Initially, I thought I’d hang on to it until winter and surprise you with a blast from the past set of bright sunny summer doors. I can’t. I just can’t. I see these photos in my folders and I just want to share them.

I am pretty sure that I’m not the only blogger who struggles with wanting to write a blog post about an event or a place, but also wanting to show off the door photos that were collected. It’s made even harder now that our loved ones, our friends and even some of our coworkers are looking out for doors for us. Each significant visit generates two posts. The good news is that, since the story about New England Railway Museum was recently told, I can let you off the hook with way less than 800 words today.

Thursday Doors is the fun weekly blogfest of the Frampton Montreal Railroad (FMRR). Participation is not limited to railroad doors, or even North American doors. FMRR and its benevolent host, Norm Frampton welcome doors of all types, shapes and sizes from all points on the planet. Run your locomotive to FMRR’s main yard. Step onto the platform and look for the blue frog. Before you click that tadpole, step into the station and give a look at Norm’s doors. You won’t be sorry.

I’ve done my best to explain the museum building and rolling stock in the photos. If you’re interested, click on any photo in the gallery to start a slideshow and see the full caption. If you’re in a hurry, the collage should give you a good idea of why I had a wonderful day on Father’s Day. I know there are a lot of photos today, but I eliminated a lot of the ones I had. Thanks for reading.

Posted in History, New England Life, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , | 89 Comments

One-Liner Wednesday – How Many Es in Eeew?

Let me start with a great big disclaimer: I don’t normally take my cell phone into the Men’s room at work and I have never taken a picture in there. OK, that’s not true, I took a picture of a disgusting scene (near the trash can) once, with the thought of sending an email to the company across the hall from us. I never sent the email and I deleted the photo.

Don’t ask – just don’t

I’ve been carrying my phone with me these past few days, after falling in my own bathroom, like a security blanket. Of course, I know that if I fell, the phone would break or slide to a point where I couldn’t reach it, but this is what you do to convince yourself that you are once again in control of your surroundings. Replace ‘you/your’ with ‘I/mine’ and you get the picture I don’t want to share.

So, I took my phone into the Men’s room, fully planning not to use it. Upon walking into the stall, I snapped (and cropped for your benefit) the photo at the right, thinking I might use it for a light-hearted “things you’d never expect to see’ post. Then, after getting, ah, um, er, situated, I heard the one-liner I can’t resist sharing:

“Excuse me, did I leave my water in there?”

I am ending this story right here.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday. You can follow this link to see the one-liners from the other participants.

Today’s gallery includes a variety of photos from my office window. They are replacing the roof on our building. Am I lucky, or what?


Posted in Humor, One Line Wed | Tagged , , , , , | 84 Comments

Escape to Sears

I would have rather been labeled a flight risk.

I wanted to talk about Sears (yes, again) because the closing of our local Sears store has hit me hard. The prospect of Sears not surviving hit me even harder. Still, I wasn’t going to tell the story, because I’ve talked about Sears before and I don’t remember what all I’ve said. Then Greg at Almost Iowa jogged my memory. I was about to make a snarky comment about that probably being the only jogging he does, but I don’t know him that well, so…oops. Anyway, I added a comment to that post that Ikea, his post was about Ikea, doesn’t have a tool department so you can’t hide there like you ustacould at Sears…before they closed.

I used to wait in Sears when we shopped as a family and my wife and daughter needed to go somewhere and try stuff on. We would have parked outside of Sears, the entrance to the tool department, so when they were done, we were done. One time, before my daughter had her driver’s license, I was roped into driving offered to drive her and three friends to the large Mall in not-so-nearby Holyoke, MA. I told them I’d drive, but I wouldn’t drop them off and return later – I wasn’t interested in making two 90 minute round trips. Faith was worried that they might run into me. I said: “just stay out of Sears.”

Entering through Sears and staying close to Sears is a family tradition. There’s a funny story about my dad and Sears that I thought would be good summertime reading. I thought I had written about this before, so I checked – that’s the kind of transparent blog-guy I am. I’m not trying to pass off a bunch of summer reruns for new stuff.

Uh-oh. I may have just dated myself. How many of you remember summer reruns? How many of you remember that, if you missed an episode of your favorite show during the season, that summer reruns were your one last chance to see it. Back then, we didn’t have VCR, DVR, Internet, YouTube, etc. etc. It’s why we said things like “they’re the best thing since sliced bread, or bottled beer” when they started showing reruns. There were people alive when I was a kid who remembered a time before sliced bread.

Bottled beer had been around a lot longer than sliced bread, but the impact had staying power. Lots of stuff was invented between bottle beer and sliced bread (steam engine, camera obscura, typewriter, telegraph, sewing machine, etc…) but we’re still left with those two milestones.

Among the things we didn’t know back then was the fact that old TV series would eventually go in to syndication. Lots of people didn’t know that. In fact, Dawn Wells, the woman who played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island was the only cast member to ask for a slice of the syndication revenue. She and Sherwood Schwartz were the only two members of the show that made money in syndication (Schwartz made about $90 million).

Wow – I took a wrong turn somewhere. Oh yeah, with the reruns.

Anyway, the story starts when Sears agreed to join Nordstrom-like Joseph Horne’s and Gimble’s to anchor South Hills Village, the first major shopping mall in our area of Pittsburgh. Prior to that store, interacting with Sears was mostly a catalog process for us. Joseph Horne’s, Gimbles and Macy’s-like Kaufman’s all had downtown stores, I don’t remember where the closest Sears was. My dad didn’t care, he wasn’t much of a shopper. Mom was.

One day, Dad burned up the saw blade on his table saw. He decided to go to Sears to buy one. He asked my mom if she wanted to go to South Hill’s Village. Mom was thrilled. That mall had 102 stores!

We hopped in the car, and drove to the mall. Of course, we parked near Sears. The entrance led to the Hardware and Paint departments. We stepped inside, dad bought a saw blade, and we left.

We never entered the mall.

When I wanted to see if I had told this particular Sears story before. I checked, and I found this old one. I really like it. You can read it if you like.

Not much in the gallery today. A few photos from around the house, from which I wasn’t going very far.

Posted in Family, Humor | Tagged , , , , | 79 Comments

Late Night Activity

For the love of beer

The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

If we were having a beer, the conversation starter would be obvious.

“Holy crap, what happened to you?”

“I fell.”

“You fell? That’s like Bill Gates saying ‘I made some money in software’ what did you fall from, or into?”

“I fell at home, in the bathroom. The exact details are less than clear.”

“Yikes, Dan! What the heck happened?”

“He fell.”

“I did.”


“He doesn’t remember.”

“I didn’t say that. I fell in our bathroom. I’m just a little sketchy on the details.”

“But, other than the obvious, you’re OK?”

“Yes, Cheryl. Thanks for asking.”

“I was gonna ask.”

“OK then, for the critical detail. Are you on any medication that prevents you from drinking alcohol?”

“I am not.”

“Good. Then I prescribe one Yuengling, administered orally, via frosted glass.”

“Add a glass of Meiomi to that order, and put it on my tab Cheryl.”

“Aww, thanks.”

“I thought you were going to say ‘you don’t have to do that’ at which…”

“…at which point you would have retracted the offer. I cut my head, I don’t have a concussion.”

“What were you doing in the bathroom before you fell?”

“Um, guys, let’s remember that people are trying to eat here. Maybe a light touch on the details is in order. Here are your drinks.”

“Agreed, here’s to good friends and a light touch.”

“You guys have a point. Can you tell me when it happened?”

“Thursday night, around 11:30.”

“Did you call 911?”

“My wife did. After she helped me up, asked those annoying questions and helped me control the bleeding.”

“Annoying questions?”

“You know, ‘what day is it?’ ‘How old are you?’ ‘What’s your birthday?’ those things to see if you’re still thinking straight.”

“Oh, ok. So who came, ambulance or cop?”

“The police arrived first, followed in a few minutes by the ambulance.”

“What did the cop do?”

“He offered to help and then asked all those annoying questions.”

“Did you get to ride in the ambulance? I mean, did they take you to the hospital?”

“They took me to St. Francis.”

“Lights and sirens the whole way?”

“Lights, no siren.”


“Yeah, but I got to ride the stretcher down our ramp.”

“Wow! That must have been quite a thrill.”

“It was! I heard one of the paramedics comment about how smooth it was. I built that ramp, that’s quite a compliment.”

“I’m happy for you. How long were you at the hospital?”

“About three hours.”

“That’s a long time for one, two, three…”

“14, there are 14 stitches, a new record for me. But they ran a bunch of tests, too.”

“CBC, Chem, EKG, and all that ER stuff?”

“You watch too much television.”

“ER is on in syndication.”

“Ha ha, yes all that, and a CAT Scan.”

“Wow, in two months, you’ve had an MRI of your head and a CAT scan. I guess that proves there’s something in there.”

“It does, and what’s in there is fine.”

“I came to ask if you boys planning on eating, but I need to know, are you going to stick with ‘Dan’ or switch to Scarface?”

“I’ll stick with Dan. The doctor promised a minimal scar, if I get these out within five days.”

“Come on, I’ve had stitches, they aren’t magic.”

“I just have to give it some time.”

“How much time?”

“About a year. Cheryl, how about putting an order of 20 wings on his tab?”

“I can do that, but are you sure you want to look at napkins covered in barbeque sauce?”

“Good point, make that a large pepperoni pizza.”

“And another round?”


The gallery includes some June leftovers from the Solstice and the high water at Great River Park. And, if you’re not too squeamish, there’s a shot of the new look I’m sporting. I kept it small, but you can click on it or any photo to start a slide show.

Posted in Family, If having a beer | Tagged , , , , | 139 Comments