Saturday, October 12, 2013


It's been a good while since I've written just to write, writing as if to save my life, writing just to release toxins.  Smiling, offering to make coffee, smiling, asking which coffee he'd like to have this late morning. Saying "excuse me" to the cat whose tail is in my way.  Checking the phone to see if I missed any calls. Setting the mp3 player to recharge, for the third time in 24 hours.  I put up dishes, washed what was in the sink, all interspersed with continued exhortations to Buddy the Maine Coon to please take his prehensile tail elsewhere.

Even in the night I was thinking of the cyclone hitting India.  Between my screams, I'd have a vision of a young man standing on the edge of the spiral, the whorl, knowing that the edge of a spiral, a whorl is a cutting thing.  I kept half-dreaming him saying a cold and swift "good-bye" to what must have been a mother, nodding to an old man, who had nodded first to him, which my mind-state knew was his calling to sacrifice.
He dove into the cyclone, and as I looked down the line of the cliff, the billowing chaotic universal twist not yet touching holy land, I saw young people, serene-faced, push off powerfully, smoothly, launching bodies into the eddy.

I will hate my mind when the pictures roll in, the bodies floating, the water-borne disease predictions, and, surely, the misshapen face of of what must have been a mother, the stoic cold face of an old man in charge of pointless sacrifice.

I was angry at Fred yesterday, which meant I needed to eat.  Fred had done nothing but make sure, at intervals whose meaning meant something only to him (As long as he could stand?  Whenever he remembered?  If i made a moan?  I know that once he came in when he heard me laughing.), that I was still alive, and had taken my meds.  I went to sleep Tuesday evening with a high fever, the chief odd symptom of which was exhaustion, total exhaustion.  I slept and listened to music from Tuesday evening to mid-day Friday.  No food, enough water to take those accursed meds, the spotlight of Fred's face in mine, and that stupid question:  "Are you all right?"

So I tried to be normal yesterday, my normal and a little of what might be your normal.  I cleaned a bit, chatted cheerfully, answered emails, tried, and tried, and tried.

The exhaustion returned, but not the high fever.  I settled in for a normal night of sleep-some, read-some, listen-to-music-some.

And the dystonia, the spasms, the wrenching screaming twists and deformations hit within the hour.  I promptly informed God that "no, I can't do this," and loaded up on antispasmodics, told myself the usual lullaby:  "You will stop jerking in fifteen to twenty minutes, tops.  Whatcha wanna do until then?"

I walked using my forearm crutches, in a back and forth pattern, not wanting to fall but wanting to force my legs into normal shapes.  If I don't, it's grotesque, even for me, to watch, and hell, only for me, to feel.  When my legs decided they weren't going to move any more, and this after about 3 minutes, I grabbed a cat.  I groomed the hell out of that cat, and since it happened to be Dobby, well, that was swell by him.  Why I did not suddenly leap from the bed every night to groom him with ferocity was the mystery between his ears.
The pain increased as I kept denying muscles, tendons, various sheaths and demon parts the right to transmogrify into whatever rhomboid they felt like.  It was blitzkrieg time.

Fifteen to twenty minutes, tops.

Not quite.

Try all night long.  I gave in to the screaming.  I forgave myself the weakness.

I have residual pain in my legs, a new thing to add to their usual pain.  I can only describe it as a leftover electrical burn.  And that is why I try not to put too many words -- ha -- to the work of describing CRPS pain.

It makes you sound like a maniac.

electrocution wallpapers

© 2013 L. Ryan

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Room 222: The Book

Her first novel, Freshwater Road, was published by Agate Publishing, in August 2005. it received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was selected as one of the best books of 2005 by The Washington Post, The Detroit Free Press, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Newsday and The Chicago Tribune. The novel won the Zora Neal Hurston/Richard Wright Award for debut fiction in 2006, as well as the American Library Association's Black Caucus Award for debut fiction the same year. Freshwater Road was reprinted by Pocket Books.
Brown University commissioned Nicholas to write a staged adaptation of Freshwater Road, which was presented in May 2008.

It's a pleasure to be able to read again.  Limitations remain, mostly due to pedestrian concerns such as eye fatigue, blurry vision after intense Tea Party-induced marathon sessions of Mahjong solitaire,  and the steady weeping from this bleeping "inflammatory reaction," as well as a highly technical Boo Hoo and Creepy Red Veined Response to the eye medications that are treating it.  No, I will NOT parse that sentence.

The first book I read was one that came "highly recommended." When shall I learn that this is a phrase for dopes?  Do I not notice that the person pronouncing it has abdicated his personal recommendation in favor of some abstract compilation of... sigh... testimonials?  Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas.  It's a sketchy narrative about a middle-class African-American college student from Detroit who joins in the voter registration drives in Mississippi during the 1964 Freedom Summer.  People are beaten. People die.  People disappear. Children die. People are intimidated.  People rise above.  There is a dalliance with the very sexy question of what it means to be black in American, according to geography.

It's very poorly written but I figured my estimations were off, that my reluctance to pick it up again had more to do with my river of inflammatory tears than with the quality of the prose.

And my innate liberalism bullied me, pushed me around, made me finish this lousy book.  So she wasn't penning a great work.  But she was pecking her way through an important period of history in which I've great interest.  I did not learn anything, except on those occasions when I stopped to check for symptoms of Narcissistic White Liberal Diseases.  Even on those occasions, I proved remarkably healthy.

The ultimate pan?  I wouldn't even suggest this for youth as yet not introduced to the 1960s' history of civil rights' struggles.  Even factual detail is hesitantly presented, the author coming across as being as out of place in her own narrative as the protagonist facing her first use of an outhouse.

I've moved on -- to a creepy book Fred read, extolling its excellent style as well as its induction of spine shimmies.  People have been pushing books at me for the last two years, the rough period of time during which reading was a great difficulty and no fun at all.  I've a dear new friend who has authored several books, two of which I began.  I intend to finish but I am still waiting for the return of the glory days of reading -- when the words don't swim in the glare of the page, when I'm not guessing at the words instead of actually reading them as written, when I have that sense of delight to crack open the volume, yogurt at the ready, a cat leaning in (they all love "yogurt time"), and giving in to another world until my eyelids get heavy.  Now I start with fluid-laden eyelids, and often hook up to my music before making it through a single printed page.

It'll get better.

But if you have to whip your eyes back into reading shape?  Don't fall for the testimonial, the glib and slick "it comes highly recommended..." There are many senses involved in the choosing of the next right book to read, and as rotten as it sounds, relying on others' recommendations (be it the Library Journal blurb or your cousin Jan's brilliant cousin) is but part of the mosaic.

Never underestimate the cover.

Or the feel of it in the hand, the heft.

Or the "Surprise Me!" option on

I'm also, forgive me, partial to the publishing house.

And do not fear nonfiction when what you need is... nonfiction.  Aha.  There, I DID learn something.

Photo Credit:  Modern American History

© 2013 L. Ryan

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Shell Game for Shills: CTTC Has a New CEO

The Shell Game

Good morning, Dear Readers.

Without the least bit of a gloat and nary a reminder of the soul-sucking, money-stealing, totally bogus health claims made by CALMARE/Scrambler Therapy adherents, the "technology" that has kept CTTC (Competitive Technologies, Inc.) in the top spot of my list of CRPS Scams, I come before you with a heavy heart to announce that the robust company stock is for sale today at a steamy rate of .0553 -- that's per share, not the discounted price for the whole snake oil business, you chuckleheads!

As you know, I keep one ear to the ground -- not by choice, of course; it's more adherence to gravity -- and the word is that tomorrow is BOGO Day for CTTC.

On a more serious note, Competitive Technologies, "patent" capitalists, has come up with another filing to submit to the SEC.  I knew they'd get the hang of notifying the SEC of every smarmy, desperate move one day, after all that time of being unable to throw together something as simple as an earnings report equipped with super-glued pasties spinning the rip-off of people in severe and constant pain.  Just as they circle the drain, they master the art of big business!

It has to do with some staffing issues.  Here's the press release version of it:

FAIRFIELD, CT--(Marketwired - Oct 4, 2013) - The Board of Directors of Competitive Technologies, Inc., (OTCQX: CTTC) (CTI), today announced the appointment of Conrad F. Mir as President and chief executive officer, with full responsibility for running the corporation, and as a member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Mir will also serve as interim chief financial officer while the Board of Directors commences a search process to identify a suitable candidate to fill the role on a permanent basis. 
"With Mr. Mir's expertise in the micro-cap biotechnology space, along with his experience turning around distressed biotech companies, CTI has the right leadership in place to execute its corporate reengineering plan and enhance long-term shareholder value," said Peter Brennan, chairman of the Board of Directors of CTI. 
Mr. Mir has been mandated to implement a corporate reengineering plan (Plan), which he designed and presented to the Board of Directors. The Plan reengineers CTI's core business, cuts expenses, develops the wound care and bone technologies, and furthers our flagship Calmare© platform. 
The Board of Directors also announced the acceptance of Carl O'Connell's resignation as CEO. Mr. O'Connell has chosen to pursue other business opportunities, but will remain on the Board of Directors to provide continuity and ensure the Plan's success. He has agreed to serve as a special advisor to CTI in various medical technology capacities, including the ongoing development of Calmare. 
"Carl has a wealth of knowledge in the medical device field and will continue to be an instrumental part of the CTI team through his direction and guidance in the board room," added Mr. Brennan. 
In addition, CTI will not extend its consulting agreement with Johnnie Johnson, chief financial officer and consultant to CTI. The company is indebted to his hard work and wishes him success in future endeavors. 
About Mr. Mir
Mr. Mir has over twenty years of investment banking, financial structuring, and corporate reengineering experience. He has served in various executive management roles and on the Board of Directors of several companies in the biotechnology industry. Most recently, Mr. Mir was CFO of Pressure BioSciences, Inc., a sample preparation company advancing its proprietary pressure cycling technology. Before that, he was chairman and CEO of Genetic Immunity, Inc., a plasmid, DNA company in the HIV space, and was the executive director of Advaxis, Inc., a vaccine company. Over the last five years, he was responsible for raising more than $40 million in growth capital and broadening corporate reach to new investors and current shareholders.
Conrad has worked for several investment banks including Sanford C. Bernstein, First Liberty Investment Group, and Nomura Securities International. He holds a BS/BA in Economics and English with special concentrations in Mathematics and Physics from New York University. He is a classically trained pianist and teacher, and a student of the martial arts. He is married with two children, alumni council chairman of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity - Tau Alpha chapter (NYU), and a member of NIRI. 
About the Company
Competitive Technologies Inc., (CTI) is a biotechnology company developing and commercializing innovative products and technologies. CTI is the licensed distributor of the non-invasive Calmare® pain therapy medical device, which incorporates the biophysical "Scrambler Therapy"® technology developed to treat neuropathic and cancer-derived pain by Professor Giuseppe Marineo.
[I eliminated the "Forward-Looking Statements" pro forma paragraph because of the dangers it imposed on readers -- a possible choking hazard, a means to the inadvertent snort of hot coffee into sinus cavities, etc.]
The Calmare device is currently being manufactured for sale by GEOMC Co., Ltd. of Seoul, South Korea.
Scrambler Therapy®:
Contact:Competitive Technologies, Inc.
Conrad Mir
President and CEO
Email Contact
JV Public Relations
Janet Vasquez
Managing Director
Email Contact
Feeling duly diligent, I looked into the health of the boat from which Conrad Mir debarked. Pressure BioSciences, Inc and its 12 employees can boast a net profit margin for this year's second quarter of -297.99% , quite the decline from the -278.64% deficit for all of 2012.  They did post an improvement in operating margin, tightening that figure to a satisfying -239.84%.  Remember that old adage:   "If your business sustains a negative operating margin for too long, you might need additional funding"!

Oh, and if you are a neophyte investor, like me, you might want to heed Investipedia's advice about profit margins:
  • This ratio is not useful for companies losing money, since they have no profit.
  • A low profit margin can indicate pricing strategy and/or the impact competition has on margins.
Now, I have to say that Pressure BioSciences, Inc has much more interesting language in its "Forward Looking Statements" section than does poor Competitive Technologies, Inc.  For instance:

Further, given the uncertainty in the capital markets and the current status of the Company’s product development and commercialization activities, there can be no assurance that the Company will secure the additional capital necessary to fund its operations beyond September 2013 on acceptable terms, if at all. 

Not to sully the fine name of Yankee's pitcher Mariano Rivera, I am wondering if we might not hang the moniker of "The Closer" on Mr. Mir. Given that his tenure with Pressure BioSciences began in December 2012 and ended with such a huge leap up the rungs of corporate laddership in September 2013, we might even extend that nickname to another favored by that awesome relief pitcher:  "The Sandman."

Oops!  And "oops" is never a good omen!  I incorrectly calculated the time Mr. Mir spent leading Pressure Biosciences.  He managed to serve as CEO of another biotech endeavor, Genetic Immunity, Inc, in his free time before landing at CTTC.  Genetic Immunity, Inc is a subsidiary of Power of the Dream Ventures, Inc. [O Lord, take me now!] Power of the Dream Ventures, Inc is trading today at a whopping four cents.

Power of the Dream Ventures, Inc., (PDV), incorporated on August 17, 2006, is a holding company focused on technology acquisition and development enabling the delivery of concepts and ready to market products to the international market place. The Company develops, acquire, license or co-develop technologies that originates exclusively in Hungary... As of December 31, 2011, the Company had only realized limited revenues from its discontinued TothTelescope project and had not realized any revenues from other inventions.
The keenest review I could find for the TothTelescope was on a forum for telescope enthusiasts.  Rick said:
"I would be *HIGHLY* (I can't emphasize "HIGHLY" enough) suspect of this scope... The comments I have seen on Astromart and Yahoo BinocularAstronomy about this product echo this....someone even thought the website was meant to be a joke. I'm afraid it is meant to be a scam."

A joke.
A scam.
My, but the world is round, and the bean shuffled seamlessly from one shell to another, confounding even the most keen-eyed players of the game.

At least, in Mr. Mir's past, the sham toys don't seem to be aimed at desperate people living lives of declining quality, full of intense and unrelenting pain.  The pain to which he has limited himself -- until now -- appears to have been the familiar marketplace woe of separating a person from his or her money.

In keeping with my consistent attitude of respect for CTTC and their pseudoscientific, testimonial approach to business, tempered with the ardent compassion of a mature Marquis de Sade, I bid adieu to Carl O'Connell.  He's been the subject of much awe, proving worried parents of college students wrong by audaciously turning a degree in psychology into the fodder needed for growing companies in the related fields of "Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics-Spine, ENT and Dentistry." You've got to figure Carl will land on his feet.

© 2013 L. Ryan

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dear President Obama: My Experience at the Marketplace

Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation, 
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all. 
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation 
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call. 
Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander, 
This you will do, that's our strong, firm belief. 
Hail to the one we selected as commander, 
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief! 

Dear President Obama:

Every nerve ending in mine body is frayed, frazzled.

I began the search for coverage via the website promptly on September 13.  I know, it didn't go into effect until October 1, 2013, but I was anxious.  At that time, there was but a single insurance company in the bustling marketplace and since easily distraught, I became distraught.  Which led me into the arms of a very nice, calm, optimistic "navigator" -- our helpmates through this process -- Bill Rencher of Georgia Watch.

[Four Ruffles and Fluorishes for him, too!]

Since 1 October, I've been pestering the website dozens of times a day and receiving nothing but the the most polite error messages ever seen in cyberdom.  Repulsed, refused, unrecognized, I had about given up hope, despite the reassurances that the bugs in the system were slowly but surely being smushed into little bug pieces.  A carapace here, long sticky legs there, bulbous eyes strewn about.  Exoskeletons piling up, and with the government shut down, no one to sweep up the entomological detritus.  I say send 'em all to "Cry Me A River" Boehner.

Usually, Mr. President, I give no hints as to my political persuasions.  Yes, I used the plural, for like Whitman I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.  Ahem.

This morning, at 5 am, revolted by the idea of getting up to do something profitable for the domestic brood around me, I grabbed the computer and hit with something like a vengeance, but definitely with weepy eyes and no coffee.

After diddling around a bit, I created a new profile, ditched the old one, and kaboom, shazaam, wowza -- I was in!  Then I screwed up and had to call one of those blessèd telephone helpers, who was also confounded but wished me well.  I think, Mr. President, that she ended up helping out somehow, for a mere half-hour later, the glitch slid into the background of things.  It didn't disappear, but I was able to navigate from screen to screen and ignore the hell out of it.

Navigator Rencher, who helped calm the waters in September, had made several predictions about what my best options might turn out to be, coming from the Affordable Care Act's PCIP program, which ends precisely on 31 December.

He was right on all counts.  If I take up gambling, I'm bringing him with me to the racetrack.

If I could sneak past the First Lady and give you a prim kiss on the forehead, I'd do it in a heartbeat.  But what with all the shooting going on up there, they'd drop me with a head shot, for sure. (Gun control, anyone?  No destruction of the Second Amendment, just no guns for crazy people, registration and permits for all, no assault weaponry or accompanying ordinance, and equal restraint from law enforcement, including the Secret Service and Capitol Cops)

Since I doubt you'd break out into any Al Green on my account, I'll just say this here, in the safe haven of a nondescript blog:  God bless you, and thank you, President Obama.  I am a person with loads of physical woes that are constantly ganging up on my meager finances and limited sanity -- I worry, you see.  I don't want to be a victim, or whine about entitlement.  I don't want to bankrupt this good country.  But damn it, I need help.  My entire work life was dedicated to turning out well-educated citizens, both at university and at the proverbial "urban" high school level. I put my life at risk substitute teaching for the little ones, too, those cagey rug rats!  And I worked in Middle Schools where my status as a rube spread like wildfire, and the tweens often had me cornered between desk and blackboard, forcing me to throw chalk and lob erasers as a distraction.

In all seriousness, I had my life threatened and a student broke my hip in an attempt to escape capture by the kind and courteous police-people chasing him.  When I came back to work, one of my homeroom seniors stole my walker. To this day, I am convinced he was simply finding a novel way to encourage my physical therapy progress...

I was a GREAT teacher, Mr. President.  I loved my subject, I instilled a love for it in whomever the registrars put before me, and my students reveled in the concept of critical thinking and superb writing.  I'm just sayin'.  But these days, living on 60% of my year 2000 salary, no adjustment for the crazed costs of living, I need a little help.

Ted Kennedy would be bear-hugging you about now.

That website is going to drive many a USAmerican bonkers.  People unfamiliar with the terminology and the mathematics of health insurance are going to be breaking the backs of the Emergency Departments around the country as their heads begin to explode. I hope that was worked into the cost analyses.  But, like me, they will figure it out.  They will work with the outstanding navigators in their area, the phone wizards with infinite patience, and the online tech folk who speak plainly and make real suggestions -- even if those suggestions are initially aggravating.

I am now insured -- including a separate basic dental policy -- for less than what ACA's PCIP (a wondrous creation, that!) was charging. There's a whopper of a deductible awaiting me, and some nasty negotiations over medication formularies, and a doctor to switch out (but I've been secretly wanting to lose his Hoity-Toity-ness for some time, anyway).

And then there's the fear that this is all a dream.  That I filled something out wrong.

If I could throw chalk at a few Republicans for you -- I'd be up there in a minute.  But again, Mr. President, I don't want my pedagogical corrective measures to be misconstrued as some sort of attack, thereby ending my entretien with the GOP by a bullet square between my eyes.

Anyway, thanks.

You've done a great thing.

Me and all the Gang at Marlinspike Hall
Tête de Hergé
(West of the Lone Alp)

P.S.  Should you and your family ever need access to an unmappable, unflappable resort that is impervious to GPS systems, Captain Haddock has ordered us to keep one of our finest wings ready.  He has even offered to ferry you here past the sharp eyes of your protective service, courtesy of an inexplicable undersea network of blackholed miniature submarine passages, all of which end nicely in our moat.

P.S.S. I decided to repost, just under this new letter to you, an older one, so as to aggrandize the scope of my experiences with obtaining heatlh insurance under your administration.  Let's call them bookends.  There are other mentions of you throughout this blog, as you've probably surmised.  My apologies for some of them.  There is even a shot of you in a video made at one of my lowest moments, but even that connection made for a "sí, se puede" rallying cry.

© 2013 L. Ryan

Repost: Dear President Obama

First published July 29, 2010, then again on November 7, 2012, and now brought out again and brushed off on October 6, 2013.

Sometimes it is good to look back, to see how things were, how impossible the situation seemed, and, having come out the other side with only minor wounds, to be grateful.

So let this be a companion piece to today's bookend of rejoicing: Dear President Obama: My Experience at the Marketplace.

***************   ***   ***************   ***   ***************

Dear President Obama,

This is a follow-up letter to the one I wrote you exactly one year ago.  I thought you might like an update.

It's been a long time since I cried tears of happiness, and I would like to thank you for creating the opportunity for me to sit here like a complete nitwit, boohooing my teeny-tiny brains out.

Truth be told, the occasional blissful moment in an excellent movie can provoke a brief weep -- but tonight, we're talking floodgates, and bitter saline drawn for release from the Secret Inner Pool.

On September 30, 2009, I became one of the many uninsured.  That's no great story, no Big Whoop, as the kids used to say, and I still do.

One of the many things I admire about you and your administration is your willingness to hear individual stories, and to believe in the integrity of the storytellers.  You don't ridicule instances, you don't seem to fear being overwhelmed by them.

Already permanently disabled by a severe case of one of the most severe of pain syndromes, CRPS/RSD [Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy], lupus [SLE], avascular necrosis/osteonecrosis [AVN/ON], and Some Other Annoying Crap [SOAC] -- it was a real blow to my quality, and even hope of, life to come down with osteomyelitis in my prosthetic shoulders and in the long arm bones themselves.

A complicated but not unmanageable situation, given enough Local Talent, and I am blessed with Local Talent Galore.  There are three excellent medical schools within spitting distance of Marlinspike Hall.

The Author of My Story decided to spice things up with plot twists:  Make the offending bacteria be so obscure, nasty, and recalcitrant that it could not be identified by the wily microbiologist's eye and proved resistant to any antibiotic made by mortal man;  Create such a snarl of confusion that even the we-have-seen-everything, ennui-stricken researchers at the CDC threw their hands in the air, preferring an honest Ebola virus to my obscure domestic germs;  Dictate that the conditions under which these bacterial cultures could be successfully grown existed only in the warm, moist, rum-soaked environment of my shoulders.

Each shoulder having previously been replaced, the prostheses had to be removed.  Surgical concrete laced with all sorts of charms and amulets took their place for periods of up to 3 months, and then, most often, had to be replaced with new ones, as surgical concrete, like all other things in my life at this point, tends toward entropy.  Seven surgeries, President Obama, in the space of 18 months.  Five stays in ICU, three stints on a ventilator, and two resuscitations.  A partridge in a pear tree. 

It was not easy.

Lest you think that the drama lessened between sessions in the operating room, I also single-handedly supported a cottage industry of infectious disease warriors, and co-opted all the free time of Marlinspike Hall's Manor Denizens.  Back and forth we went, inserting and tending PICC lines, infusing intravenous antibiotics several times a day, making blood offerings to appease the demanding serum levels of Haute Society Pestilence, and so on, and so forth.

None of this would have been possible, of course, without excellent insurance coverage.  It was thanks to the reluctant involvement of the Grand PooPah of Tête de Hergé's Insurance Commission that I had any coverage at all once our version of COBRA ran out (here, it's THE ASP).  I was already in a high risk pool, but it was an unregulated pool over which the Grand PooPah could only utter tsk:tsk:tsk

BCBS of Tête de Herge is a wily enterprise, and my insurance premiums began to rise, rise, and then rise a lot more.  Finally, it was decreed that as of October 1, 2009, I was to pay, in U. S. Dollars, $1513 a month, in addition to the annual $5000 deductible/out-of-pocket expenses.  The cost of being insured would now amount to 96.6% of my private disability income of $1996.20/month, an amount never adjusted for inflation, despite the spiraling costs of Everything, Everywhere.

Of course, we all know that if they would just accept Lumps of Pure Gold Studded With Blue Topaz, there'd be no problem.  It's this Social Contract involving Oblong Green Rags of Value that is screwing everything up.  Some proprietary blend of cotton, silk, and linen is worth more than my Studded Lumps?  I don't think so.

Anyway, a 41% hike in the space of 9 months finally forced me into the scary position of being in the middle of a health crisis without benefit of insurance.

If you read my blog, and we all know you don't, you would read account after account of daily fever, pain, sweats, fatigue, and the certainty that I would need to cheer up to be suicidal.  It's nothing but a broken record, and to make matters worse?  I now write like H. P. Lovecraft.

I almost went permanently insane during the Great Health Care Debate, especially when it looked like the Tea Baggers might succeed in excluding Aliens from Tête de Hergé (très décédé, d'ailleurs).  ArseHoles!

You about lost me as a supporter when you stopped fighting for the Public Option, and at several other murky junctures.  I lost a lot of my natural optimism, my well known spunk. When the package was passed, it was not clear to me what was actually about to happen, if anything.  Everyone said it would be years before the real impact of reform would be felt.

But whispers in the dark persisted, and the word on our unpaved back-country roads was that some sort of High Risk Pool for people labelled uninsurable was going to be available... in July 2010!

Tall tales went the rounds about some website somewhere, rumored to be, that explained the possibilities in accessible language and without endless complication.

I went, myself, to the fabled site -- I saw it with my own eyes -- It is real, it is real!

There was one hoop through which I had to leap, and leap I did.  The application for coverage by the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan required that a rejection letter based on pre-existing conditions be attached for eligibility.  The letter must date from within 6 months of the time of application.

Last weekend, I spent four hours filling out an insurance application from InHumana, detailing every instance of hospitalization, complication, treatment, diagnostic procedure, and ingrown toenail, and sent it off to Underwriter Land with fervent hopes for swift and complete rejection.

My rejection letter, which Fred is having framed, arrived today.  It is riotously funny, a moment of hilarity in the midst of my Personal Health Tragedy Epic Saga -- every Long Boring Story needs comic relief.

Sincere in my intent to make application to the PCIP, I poured myself a stiff one this evening, downloaded the .pdf file, printed it out, and girded my loins.

Five minutes later, I was done.

My vision blurred as I read about provisions for those who qualify within Tête de Hergé's territory.  I finally made out that my monthly premium would be $495. 

My hands began to shake when I stumbled on this:

In addition to your monthly premium, you will pay other costs. Covered in-network services are subject to a $2,500 annual deductible (except for preventive services) before the plan starts to pay benefits. Once you’ve met the deductible, you will pay a $25 copayment for doctor visits, $4 to $30 for most drugs at a retail pharmacy for the first two prescriptions and 50% of the cost of the prescriptions after that. If you use mail order, you will pay $10 for generic drugs or $75 for brand drugs on the plan formulary for a 90 day supply. You will pay 20% of the cost of any other covered benefits received from a network provider. Your out-of-pocket costs cannot be more than $5,950 per year.
And it was not long before I was weeping.  Fred, too.  La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore even joined in, though she is well-insured by her operatic company.  Unfortunately, she pays more than your average soprano due to a, uhhh, errr... Cyst Situation.  But we won't talk about that...

I would love to shake your hand and give you a hug, maybe even a kiss on the cheek.  Michelle, too.  The girls and the darned dog, as well.  I don't think the Secret Service would much like that, so please accept the enclosed 2010 ManorFest TeeShirts for you and your whole family, instead.

I hope we guessed right on sizes, as they tend to run small.


The Retired Educator
Your Greatest Fan

If you have serious medical conditions and cannot get insurance because of them -- this is a good place for helpful information and suggestions: Foundation for Health Coverage Education/Coverage for All.
photo credit: Steve Hopson