Month: November 2012

Minor Frustration

Since my mom found out she has cancer my sister and I have done all of the heavy lifting.  I’m retired so I can take her to appointments, chemo and to see her friends.  My sister works and has an active family but still takes care of her on the weekends and so much more.

I took my mom to the pharmacy to get a refill on her nausea medication.  The chemo causes terrible nausea and this offers some relief.  I went in and it was nearly$35 for fifteen pills.  This seemed excessive to me and I asked how much it would be without her insurance and they said they didn’t bill her insurance.  Instead the gave her 10% off via a discount card.  I asked why they didn’t bill her  insurance and they said it needed to be pre-approved.

She has been taking this medication for months and overpaying for it all this time.  They never bothered to tell her this.

I took her straight to her doctor.  There I was told that her oncologist would have to deal with it since she is on long term care.  I called her oncologist and said that the pharmacy had to call the doctor to give them information.  This was becoming Orwellian and I lost my patience.  Finally the woman said she would take care of it.  She called back later and confirmed that they got it approved, got a larger dosage so she could it less often and thirty instead of fifteen.  This helps incredibly.

My mother is 82 and has cancer.  My sister and I are advocates and she was still overpaying.  There needs to be a change in health care in this country.  We need national health care that manages all of this.  It’s too complicated and bureaucratic for the layman.

UPDATE:  Went to the pharmacy today and it was rejected by the insurance because it wasn’t pre-approved.  They said they sent a fax to her oncologist.  I called the oncologist but they were at lunch.  I tried later and was told they hadn’t received a fax.  They are looking into it for me.

FINAL UPDATE:  It was finally pre-approved.  She was paying $34 every four or five days for   Now she is paying $7 for a month’s supply.  It isn’t right.  The pharmacy should have called the doctor but instead my mom overpaid for months.


Chess and Mickey D’s

Sitting for a few hours three days a week gives me the opportunity to get some things done.  When it was nice I would sit in my truck and play banjo or guitar and when the weather turned I came inside and wrote or studied chess.  It wasn’t long before I got back to intense chess study.

Back in the 90’s I was on the German American Chess Team that played in The Cleveland Industrial Chess League.  I love playing on the team.  My score the first year was 19 1/2 – 1/2.   Although I still play chess and run a chess club I haven’t studied that much lately.  McDonald’s changed all that.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I’m at McDonald’s with my set and Irving Chernev’s The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess.  It’s an incredible book.  Playing through the games makes me break out in laughter and incredulity.   I’ve always been a fan of Alekhine but now I am in awe.

As I go through the games people walk by and ask, “Who’s winning?”  I usually look at the book and say, “Alekhine over Lasker, Zurich 1934”

Every once in a while someone will watch me for a while, then timidly approach me.  They tell me how they used to be really good at the game.  I invite them to play and after they sit down the always play some variation of Scholar’s Mate. I rebuke it easily and win within 20 moves.  I enjoy the conversation and it breaks up the day.

My enthusiasm for the game has returned with gusto.  I’m thinking of playing in some tournaments over the winter.  My mother has told me that she hates to waste my time, but time is never wasted.

Here is my forty year old copy of Chernev’s book.

Mom’s Storytelling Project

When my mother got lung cancer she was surprised.  “I’ve smoked for seventy-one years and it’s never bothered me!”  After her diagnosis it became apparent she couldn’t drive anymore.  My brother’s death had hit her hard and the inability to drive compounded things.

One of the things she enjoyed doing was going to visit friends at McDonald’s (where she had worked for eighteen years), getting a senior coffee and holding court.  People gathered around and she told her stories.  We had to keep that going so I started taking her there three days a week for a few hours.  Some days I would sit in my car and play guitar or banjo, other days sitting inside and studying chess.   Other days I take her to doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy.  The chemo was the worst as it was usually three to five hours.  Due to her anxiety issues I had to wait with her, I couldn’t leave.  I decided to make the most of it.

Armed with my iPhone 4s I started taking video of my mom telling stories.  I then would go home and edit them, either on the iPad with Pinnacle Studios or on the PC with Adobe Premiere Elements.  I try to keep them short, none are more than two minutes in length.

So far I have fifteen up.  Some are sad and most are funny.  She is the smartest, funniest person that I know.  Here are a couple.

You can see the rest at my YouTube channel.