Without Insurance A Death Sentence

US Department of Health and Human Services and Medicare logos.

I am alive today and will be alive going forward because I have great health insurance — Medicare with a (free in California) supplemental plan. Though Helaine and I saved up a significant nest egg over 30+ years it would have been wiped out in one fell swoop by my cancer.

Though I pay some money for drugs my medical treatments and visits have cost zero dollars! I’ve had a half dozen ‘procedures’ plus major surgery, spent six days in the hospital, gotten 28 radiation treatments plus eight weeks of chemo with eight more to come. Zero dollars!

My worries started one night after dinner. One of my spicy favorite meals uncontrollably began exiting my body. It was everything gross you can imagine. It followed a few months of low level stomach upset. That night I decided I’d see my doctor in the morning.

My cancer was found while looking for the reason my stomach was upset. It took thousand of dollars of tests to make the diagnosis. Would I have proceeded had the money been coming out of my pocket? Maybe not. Probably not.

Like I said, we’re lucky. We were able to put money away over time. Most people cannot.

Without insurance my cancer would have been a death sentence. It wouldn’t have been found until my symptoms were more classically those of pancreatic cancer. By then it would be too late.

All around the globe in every other “first world” nation healthcare is something you get, like an education or police protection. It is coordinated and often provided by the government. That’s one reason our healthcare system is so lacking and expensive. Your health is constantly being weighed against an insurance company’s profit.

Congressional Republicans are finding Americans scared of the “every man for himself” system they’ve been promising for years. It’s 2017. Medical care doesn’t seem like it should be optional anymore.

Sometimes You’ve Just Got To Cut

This being California things tend to grow really well. That’s what happened with some bushes alongside the patio. They were at least four feet tall at the end of last season.

Unfortunately there was no longer growth in the lowest few feet. The bushes had gotten leggy. Not a good look.

I called Dennis Westler.

I grew up in 5E, Dennis 5F. Neither of us should know anything about plants. It’s what Dennis went to college for. He is the Orchid Doctor. He answers my simpler questions too.

“Shade,” was his answer. The bushes had grown so well they were now shading themselves, limiting lower growth.

It was time to cut. Cutting back plants has always been successful for me. Still, I cut one and waited to make sure.

Now the other bushes have been reduced to bare stubs. From a distance they look dead but when you’re close you can see growth has begun.

Sometimes you’ve just got to cut.

Verdict On My Yellow Phone Case

HTC10 in yellow case.

A few months ago, sick of constantly misplacing my phone in plain sight, I bought a case with yellow highlights. The reaction on Facebook was mixed. Some had tried themselves with poor results. No one gave it much chance.

My phone is an HTC10. It is a marvel of manufacturing, slender yet strong. The hard sided case makes it bigger, bulkier and a little industrial. I love it.

How weird is that? Shouldn’t I gravitate toward the slim? It just feels better this way.

As to the effectiveness of the case, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is I misplace the phone just as often as ever. The good news is I find it much faster. Yellow stands out.

All-in-all I’m very happy with my purchase. It works.

There’s This Law We Need

We have no recourse if the data is wrong. You can correct incorrect data on a credit report. You deserve the same ability with online data.

By now we’ve all come to the realization someone (something?) is looking over our shoulder every time we use a computer. Your moves are being tracked. Your value is being assessed. It’s the price we pay for everything we get free on the Internet.

It’s definitely creepy.

I’m not sure we need protection against data collection. Where we need it is in how that data gets parsed.

Your browsing data allows you to be categorized. Should you see ads from Saks or Fingerhut? Mercedes or Mazda?

We have no recourse if the data is wrong. You can correct incorrect data on a credit report. You deserve the same ability with online data.

I propose companies collecting data disclose the demographic categories they offer and where each of us fits in individually. Like a credit report we should have the ability to flag and remove incorrect data.

These categorizations affect your life in a big way. They shouldn’t be cloaked in secrecy.

I’m Conflicted

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations against a target in Syria while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. The Porter conducted naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams)

I’m conflicted about our recent bombing of a Syrian airbase. Assad needed to be reminded the world is watching. The bombing was justified.

I wish it wouldn’t have been us who unilaterally launched the attack.

Through my adult life I’ve watched America insert itself in other nation’s business. We seldom make the situation better. Syria is a perfect place to make the wrong decision because there’s really no ‘good’ side in their civil war.

The raid should have been conducted by a coalition of Syria’s neighbors, folks with skin in the game. We sell them enough armaments. It’s not like they don’t have the hardware.

They are scared of the repercussions. No matter how good your intentions you will piss somebody off. We should be concerned too.

My opinion is out of step with the majority. In fact, I understand perfectly how those who support the president’s action feel.

It shouldn’t have been us.

I Am Very, Very Lucky

Throughout this whole cancer thing I’ve avoided posting the statistics. They’re really scary.

With my prognosis excellent it’s time to show how lucky I am.

Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. 91% of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis – only 9% will survive more than five years. 74% of patients die within the first year of diagnosis.

I am very, very, lucky. I’ll try not to forget.