Thursday, December 31, 2009

Confidence in the Great Physician - Suspicion About Everyone Else!

It came today. The resolution letter. (See my post "Faxing Away A Year's Worth of Tears I knew it would because of the conversation I had with Anthem several days ago inquiring as to whether they got my latest addendum to the grievance. One more bump along the way. There were so many bumps along the way, including the initial denial of the grievance. Lots of phone calls, yet another letter, and so much time spent on the phone. Was it worth it? I suppose so. It wasn't lost on me, however, that I got this letter on the last day of 2009. Perhaps it's symbolic of being done with the old things in the past year and starting 2010 off with a fresh, new, hopeful start. I was surprised at how I felt as I first scanned the letter. Fear. I felt a wave of fear wind my stomach up in a tight knot. Wow, I thought, this is real. All the words are in black and white. And then, "All of your concerns you shared have been investigated fully by our Quality Management Department." OK.
     At any rate, it's over. This is "closure," right? In a bittersweet way I suppose. Apparently, Anthem received the responses from the doctor and the hospital on December 24th. It now gets handed off to the legal department at Anthem and they will decide which course of action they will take with the doctor and hospital, if any, now that they have both sides of the story and all my medical records.  If any formal disciplinary actions are taken against the doctor and hospital it will appear on the website of the Department of Consumer Affairs. That information is made public to inform people of any problems with licensed individuals in the State of California. The public nature of the information seems protective of consumers more than anything.
     In fact, I was looking up an obstetrician on that website awhile ago who I know was formally disciplined. Next to his name it said "Probation completed." I had heard the story about this doctor a couple of years ago. Apparently, his gross negligence - not responding to calls from the nursing staff - led to the death of a young patient. He was sent away to an exotic location (I'm not kidding) for "training" or something like that for six weeks. The hospital was put on probation for several years, the nursing staff was questioned and deposed and traumatized (again) by all the disciplinary measures taken against the hospital, massive lawsuits against everybody and their brother ensued and it was just A-W-F-U-L.
     At the park about 8 months ago I met this woman with a young baby. We got to talking about her labor and delivery. She proceeds to tell me that her delivery was quite traumatic because the baby was born in the bed and no doctor or nurse was around to assist with the delivery. The woman had an epidural so she didn't feel the baby emerge under her bed sheet. She just saw blood and then looked underneath the sheet and voila! there was her baby.  Apparently, she and her husband overheard her nurse calling her doctor several times, BUT HE NEVER RESPONDED TO THE CALLS TILL IT WAS TOO LATE. You know who that doctor was? You guessed it. The doctor I described in the paragraph above. Apparently, over a decade later this doctor still hasn't changed his negligent ways.
     Want to hear something even scarier? I almost went to see him for my pregnancy with Julia. He didn't take my insurance.(Phew! Having an HMO has its unanticipated advantages I guess).On doctor ratings websites he had glowing reviews.On the Department of Consumer Affairs Medical Board website, however, he had completed probation the month I was inquiring about whether he took my insurance. I think for a small fee I could've gotten more details as to why he was put on probation. Perhaps that's what I'll recommend to women who want to choose a doctor. The ratings websites for doctors are limited. The Medical Board has way too few reports of "bad" conduct by doctors. However, with that one doctor in particular had that woman checked him out perhaps she would have chosen a different doctor. Her delivery probably wouldn't have been so scary. Who knows?
     Don't get me wrong. I'm NOT anti-doctor. My dad and father-in-law are both doctors. Both men have cared for thousands of patients over the years with compassion and integrity. My mom and stepmom were labor and delivery nurses. They, too, cared for many women with kindness and competence. I have utmost respect and admiration for medical professionals, including my younger sister who's been an ICU nurse for over 17 years. One of my close friends is a new med/surg oncology nurse. They both tell me their stories. I'm amazed they can do what they do shift after shift.
     Perhaps one motivation for my grievance came from all the hardworking and caring medical people in my family. It's appropriate to keep the medical profession at its best. Sometimes doctors and nurses need help when they've lost the vision they had at the beginning of medical/nursing school, the memory of when they took the Hippocratic Oath - "First, do no harm"- or when they're having a bad day, week, year...Perhaps disciplinary measures really help most of those doctors and nurses to take stock, reevaluate, make changes. But then there are always those doctors who never really learn. My prayer and voice to others is to do thorough research, ask around, PRAY if you have any concerns about a health care provider.
     Who really knows? I return to my steadfast belief that God is sovereign "over the affairs of men." And he's watchful. Scripture describes him as the Great Physician. How comforting and revealing that that would be one of the names of God. When I found out several days after Julia was born that my whole church prayed that my delivery would go well just 2 hours before Julia was born, I started crying and shook at relief that God really came through for me. What would have happened had they not prayed? But they did. Thank you Lord Jesus.I've been pondering the fact that all things in our lives are meant to point to the glory of Jesus Christ. My prayer and hope about this grievance I filed was that somehow that would happen. Who knows? God does. I can remind myself of that - again. And choose the title of this post as I  have really come to experience things. May God be glorified!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Held Captive in the Dentist's Chair

     Been to see your dentist lately?  Ever thought about the fact that we're held captive as we're reclining in that fabulous vinyl, hydraulically -operated chair with the little plastic-lined drool pad attached to us with little clips around our neck? Let's not forget the bright light shining in our face as the dentist skillfully utilizes each and every little sharp-pointed, stainless steel tool (does she have to use ALL of them?!) and of course, the water drill. Bzzzzz! Bzzzz! Are you feeling the water spraying sensations and loud drill sounds in your ear right now? Sorry, don't mean to bring back bad memories. Anyway, yesterday's appointment was a little more "captivating" than usual.
     My dentist, thankfully, is very sweet. She relishes talking about recipes and food.  I'm quite grateful, too, because she will frequently offer yogurt or lychee fruit to my kids if she hears them say, "I'm hungry!" And, of course, they're ALWAYS hungry at the dentist's office (Pavlov, anyone?). Additionally, I got my favorite and frequently requested b-b-q pork recipe from her. Anyway, needless to say, I always leave there hungry.
     She also has six kids and fourteen grandchildren. In fact, there's a playroom in her office with toys her kids played with (think "vintage toys") and a small tv that plays videos. It's great for me and my kids when we're all getting our teeth cleaned. We go religiously every 6 months and I usually break it up between two visits because, as you'll see, it's better not to bring my littler ones if I can avoid it. Because she is the only one that cleans our teeth (her dental hygienist - the lovely Viola - only takes x-rays and flosses our teeth at the end), and she takes her time (she's very thorough! Ouch!), the wait to see her can be quite long. In fact, when Tim has his appointment he frequently falls asleep in the chair. His snoring can be heard throughout the whole office! Anyway, the playroom has served us quite well throughout the years.
     So, it was my turn to have my teeth cleaned and Daisy, Chloe, and Elena were with me. All of them had already had their dental needs taken care of. So, I'm sitting in the chair and Daisy walks in and says that she wants to watch. Uhh...ok..."Don't touch anything!" She settles herself into a stool that is quite a bit higher than my reclining chair and looks down into my mouth. "What's all that stuff in yo' mouf?! Is the denist cleaning yo teef? I can see all yo teef! What are all dees buttons fo?" Bla, blah, blah.As she's asking all these questions, her little face is close to mine and spit from her mouth is falling onto my bottom lip and into my mouth. Eww...gross! All I can say is: "Ugh-Day-ee-do tu duh bu!" The dentist nicely says, "Oh, Daisy, don't touch the buttons." And then Dr. W  takes the tools out of my mouth and I tell Daisy quite firmly, "Get Elena for me!"
     As the dentist goes back to work ever so determined to rid my mouth of plaque, Chloe comes in and sits on the stool previously occupied by Daisy. Dr. W is called out of the room and Chloe says to me, "What's this button?" She proceeds to press it and my chair immediately moves to an upright sitting position. Shazam! "Uh, that's what it's for, Chloe. Where is Elena?!" Elena walks in. "Please take them for a walk around the block, or something, anything!" Apparently, they had tired of the playroom and there were no intriguing videos that they hadn't already watched before. Elena responds, "They never listen to me!" Ugh...I plead with her to try again and I can't remember whether I threatened or bribed Daisy and Chloe. Dr W came back to persist in her torture, I mean, finished cleaning my teeth and I was blessedly on my way.

     I had planned on being the first one to have my teeth cleaned so that the toy room would hold their interest till I was done. It didn't work out that way...this time, that is. Next time, things will be different!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gift Giving Tim-Style

Perhaps you got an idea of what my darling husband is like by his culinary, uh, efforts, in the kitchen. Wait till you hear about the gifts he's lavished on me over the years!

I got to thinking about Tim's gift giving style after we came back from Target 2 Saturday's ago. As the Christmas season began I thought about how much I love buying gifts and do all the gift buying (you'll soon realize why), but that Tim is kind of left out of the whole thing.He's never minded, but I didn't want to be selfish. So, we're at Target on Saturday evening after a dinner date and I point out a couple of things I had in mind for the girls. He responds:

"I can get that at a yard sale!"

"Tim!" I say rather shocked at the idea of going to yard sales for Christmas presents. It's actually not a bad idea, and Tim has really scored at yard sales in the past. It just didn't sound right to me.

We head down the Wii game aisle. "I know the girls have been wanting this one for sure," I announce, pointing to the exact game Camille had mentioned a week earlier.

"Are you sure they won't be on sale after Christmas?"

"No, they won't. Come on Tim. What fun is Christmas morning if the girls have to go shopping the next day? That's weird!"
We leave the store sans Christmas gifts for the girls. Tim related to me this week that he "really needed to start hitting the yard sales."

"Knock yourself out," I tell him.

Our first Christmas together Tim got me a lovely piece of lingerie. I looked at the size and said, "This is too small for me." He replies, "Maybe you could lose weight so that you could fit into it." Um, wrong thing to say to your new wife of three months. And then there was our 3rd anniversary 2 weeks after our firstborn child was born. I was eight days overdue and pushed for over two hours getting that huge baby out. At Beckham Place in Pasadena several weeks later Tim's anniversary gift for me was a 3 inch square mirrored magnet with a white lamb imprinted on it that said, "I love ewe."

"A magnet?!" I said to him.

"Well you told me to stop buying you flowers because it was too expensive." Um...that's not quite what I meant.

And then there was my birthday this year. I found a box of blonde hair color in his top drawer while putting his t-shirts away. I start laughing and take it to him. "Do you have plans for this?"

"It's for your birthday. I had a coupon for it."

"But it's such a bright blonde color."

"You're blonde."

"I was blonde when I was five!"

Interestingly enough, my responses have changed from, uh, "not good," to laughter. I think my husband's odd sense of gift giving is funny. It makes me laugh because I no longer take it personally. That someone could think way he does is amusing to me. I usually now give him a list of specific things I want from him, complete with detailed descriptions, price, and aisle number. Or, the girls help him with what they know I like. Sometimes, I just buy myself a present and tell him what he got me. "Oh, great!" he says, relieved because he knows I'm not going to return it like so many gifts in years past, and he's not going to get the silent treatment or a tantrum from me anymore.But laughter and making fun of him - oh yeah!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dieting During Christmas

Crazy, huh? Starting a new diet on December 1st? Think about it. It's the perfect time to start a new diet. (This has nothing to do with Tim's unappetizing cooking, either. He isn't really allowed near the stove with a pan.) I give myself Saturday as a "free day" because I can bear the deprivation and salads and fruit and nonfat yogurt and counting calories knowing that on Saturday I can go to Bean Town and blissfully consume an orange chocolate chip scone. On Saturday nights Tim and I go out on a hot date (well, maybe not too hot - it is colder these days...)and I usually pick at what he orders (hopefully something with fries!)  while enjoying endless refills of Diet Coke. It's heavenly. Not only do I have some alone time with my handsome husband and some meaningful adult conversation, we usually go to some tasty place. We love Island's, Claim Jumper, Cheesecake Factory, the new Stonefire Grill, and of, course, the Corner Bakery. With my family we usually try different dim sum restaurants and Thai food. We both love Indian Cuisine and I've been wanting to try a Brazilian b-b-q place, Chiarrascurro, one of these days. Anyway, so Saturdays are my "fun food" day.
    Dieting has been a strange experience for me throughout my life. I've always been a little overweight with periods of thinness or heaviness depending on the season. My three approaches to dieting have been: 1) consuming 1,600 calories a day and getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean dairy products and limited refined sugar, 2) eating whatever I have a desire for but only when I'm really hungry and eating only till I'm satisfied, and 3) Weight Watchers and counting "points." I've tried all three approaches several times and sometimes I've been successful and sometimes I haven't been. One amazing thing I discovered with the "eat anything I want, but only very small portions" is that I lost 18 pounds in three months, ate cake for breakfast (I really think Costco has the best tasting cakes for the money!) and I didn't exercise at all. I loved that diet and was able to keep it up somewhat when I was pregnant with Leanne. Then exhaustion, not feeling well, and being distracted made it harder for me to keep up with that approach.

     With all three methods I never could tell why one was successful or not because they all worked at various times. So I've been praying about this issue for a long time and asking God to help me. I really resist trendy, "bandwagon" approaches to dieting. God knows my body, my weaknesses, and what I need. So, it came to me to keep a food diary everyday, except Saturday of course, and be faithful to it just until my 40th birthday in February. I'll re-evaluate at that point. I do feel like my ability to stick with this plan (I'm on week 2 and I've been very disciplined) is ONLY the grace of God. I cannot muster the will  power or desire on my own. It has to be a work of his spirit in my heart and mind.
     What has been discouraging and shocking (still) has been how high my weight has gotten up to. I can trace back how that happened. It was in the fall of 2005 and I had just found out I was pregnant with Daisy. My pregnancy came about sooner that I had planned and I was a bit shocked. Add to that the novelty of cable television and Food Network. Then add Giada DeLaurentiis and her fabulous, scrumptious tv show "Everyday Italian." I watched that show religiously and tried many of her recipes. I love her cooking. I liken it to "food pornography," however, and no longer watch her show. I just can't resist trying her recipes, so I abstain from even turning her show on. (Plus, she needs to cover up her chest! She really flaunts her boobs sometimes and it irritates me!) I gained a whopping 60 pounds during my pregnancy with Daisy. No wonder she was over 9 1/2 pounds! All my other pregnancies I had usually gained between 32 and 40 pounds. So, I'm still fighting to lose those extra 20 plus pounds. Before I got pregnant with Julia I had lost some weight and managed to keep my weight gain to only 35 pounds. I lost all that weight, but have gone up and down about 10 pounds since.
     I'm not motivated by vanity much or what other people think. My cholesterol is slightly elevated, though, and that's not healthy. I want to be a good example to my daughters by eating nutritious foods and being self-controlled. I also want to look closer to the way I looked when my husband married me. It doesn't seem fair to him that I've gained 40 pounds since our wedding (he's made it clear that it bothers him -  I don't blame him). And, I don't want to use food to try to comfort or entertain myself. That's a bad habit. And, I'm not comfortable with how my clothes fit, look, or how I feel.So, my dependence on God continues.Hopefully I'll report that by my 40th birthday I've lost some weight and will continue to lose all the rest that I need to. I'll have to pray especially during Christmas and birthday parties this month when I see all the Christmas cookies, fudge, cakes, chocolate, savory, cheesy appetizers and on and on and on. One strategy that seems helpful is to suck on a Hershey's kiss. They're only 25 calories each! That seems to help with my chocolate craving. Now if I can only stick to just one or two, well maybe three...Oh, Lord, help me!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Frosted Flake Chicken A La Tim

 Yum!Yum! Good eats! Frosted Flake Chicken A La Tim

Need a new recipe for the holidays? Want to try a little something new and, uh, unusual? Have I got a recipe for you! Here it is:
1 "adventurous" and hungry husband
2 packages of skinless, boneless and defrosting chicken thighs that were a really, really good deal and waiting to be tried in a new tasty Apricot Chicken recipe later that week
1 cup of crushed Frosted Flakes
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 glass baking dish that is ungreased so that you have to spend an inordinate amount of time getting the chicken unstuck from it after you throw out the hard, crusty, vomit-looking inedible coating from it
 Step 1: Go to Ikea with Daisy at around 5:00 pm on a Saturday evening and leave no provisions for dinner; no leftovers and nothing already prepared.
Step 2: Don't call home with any practical, LOGICAL suggestions for dinner or suggest picking something up while en route home from said shopping trip.
Step 3: Make sure that Elena and Camille are at their friends' house so that they don't make Top Ramen or macaroni and cheese. You know, palatable dinner food.
That's it. Really simple. Bon appetit!

(As a side note ladies: please don't be jealous of what a creative cook my husband is, ok?)