Tag Archive: life


A Chorus of Prayer

Raining Up to JesusI don’t normally post my religious beliefs, much to my discredit, but this week I experienced something that I have to share.  My son was dealing with a health crisis and the power of prayer was strong. I am a christian, but sometimes my faith waivers as everyone’s does. Please don’t misunderstand.  I am neither sinless or a pious person.  Jesus Christ has purchased the forgiveness of my sins through his death and ressurrection.  What follows is my testimony of God’s mercy and the healing power of prayer. Please read this entire post before you form an opinion.

My youngest son had been passing kidney stones but there were 4 that were too large for him to pass.  He had the shockwave procedure done to break up the stones. It is quite normal for bruising to occur inside of the lining on the outside of the kidney.  Bruising is caused from bleeding that usually clots and is absorbed back into the body. They did not get all of the stones broke up.  Three were left and he was sent home.  Two days later he went to the emergency room when the largest stone blocked the duct to his bladder. (Please pardon the lack of medical terms.  For more information go to Medline Plus.)

They admitted him into the hospital and tried to manually pull it out.  The stone was too large and they could not use the laser to break it up as the laser was broken.  The doctor on call decided to put a stint in too prevent the stone from blocking the flow from the kidney to the bladder.  Once again, he was sent home.

He began having severe back pain the next day and by the night he was back in the ER.  He was admitted to the hospital.  When he got up to go to the bathroom, he fainted.  He was put in ICU with internal bleeding.  When they put the stint in, the stint dislodged the clot in the bruise and it began bleeding inside the lining of the kidney. His blood pressure dropped and his heart was having to work too hard. My daughter-in-law called and asked us to come down. They gave him four pints of blood total.

As soon as I got off the phone, I prayed, then I called my friends to pray, then I called my church prayer chain, and then I put a call for prayer on social media.  I prayed a prayer of praise for the healing my son was going to receive.  A sense of unbelievable calm filled me. Imagine a reverse rain carrying prayers to God.  I knew that God was hearing a chorus of cries for the healing of my son.

My son was sent straight home from the Intensive Care Unit after 3 days and is doing fine!

It was a little unsettling to know that my son could be dying but I felt no worry or despair.  I just knew that God was taking care of him.  God says that if we but ask, he will answer our prayers. The bible tells us: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not”. Jeremiah 33:3; “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14; “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:22. So why do we not believe in the power of prayer?

I know that there have been times when depression and despair have kept me from believing my prayers would be answered.  Usually in those times, I cannot find the answers to my prayers.  I am so immersed in the situation within myself that I cannot see the answers that God gives.  We must have the faith to believe that God will provide answers. We must give Him the praise and thanksgiving that He deserves and demands.   “I will praise you with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise to you” Psalms 138:1; “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Hebrews 13:15

Let this post be a testament to the power and love of God and his son, Jesus Christ.  Thank you, God, for healing my son.

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Trying New Things

Painting, gardening and crafts

As I continue to define my role in life as a disabled retiree, I have tried several alternative directions. I have tried tutoring, sewing, painting, care-giving, volunteering, and gardening. Oh yeah, I blog. There just hasn’t been anything that cranks my tractor yet. I know I have a hidden talent that is just waiting to be found.

Tutoring went well and I enjoyed it.  The point of tutoring is to get the student to the point that they don’t need to be tutored.  At first, I got several calls a week requesting tutoring. I had 4 or 5 regular students for 3 or 4 sessions.  Each student became confident enough to end the sessions.  The school hired another math teacher and I quit getting calls.  Guess I was too good for my own good! I even tutored a few adults that wanted to learn different technology. While I enjoyed that, adult students taking private lessons can be truly demanding and required too much babying.

I thought I knew how to sew.  I made pillows and seat cushions.  I even taught a friend to sew.  We made at least 5 summer dresses and tops.  She wears the dresses all summer and they look great on her.  They just look like sacks on me!  I tried to make my great-nieces clothes.  I only saw them wear them a few times.  I suspect their mother made the girls wear them then.  I left wads of elastic in the waistband because I couldn’t get it back around to cut it off.  The seams were too large making the legs tight.  Honestly, I wouldn’t wear them and I won’t even display them here!  And my bloody fingertips became too sore.

 

crafts displayed on a table

Countless hours and burnt fingertips produced an array of crafts to sale.

My latest effort was crafts.  A local church was having a bazaar and you could rent a booth for $20.  Great. I was excited. A friend of mine decided she would do it with me. We spent a week gluing, painting, and tying.  We collected craft ideas and were diligently preparing to sell our first million, or a 100 at least.  I found it very painful. Hot glue and hands that shake or drop things should not be in the same room together. I think I lost the fingerprints on at least two of my fingers. The big day came and we went to find our booth.  It was at the very end of the booths, behind the musical equipment for the band that was playing.  And it was farther from the door than any other.  I think we sold $120 but spent $60 on materials and paid a $20 booth rental.  We cleared about $30 each and I got rid of those pesky fingerprints!

So far I haven’t found my next calling, but I am certainly going to keep looking. The desire for individuality and purpose is uniquely human. As long as my fingers hold out, I am going to keep searching for what I want to do with my life when I grow up!

How Did I Get Here

I have been spending time lately thinking about how I got to the life I lead today. The only thing I can say for certain is that the 18 year old me would not believe me today. I think I changed into someone else along the way, or maybe it is who I was meant to be.

My journey has been the same one that most people in my age bracket has faced. When we were teenagers we had the world by the horns. We were the greatest generation yet. The “establishment” had created The Vietnam War, civil injustices, and anything else we didn’t like. We were the “anti-” generation (That hasn’t changed apparently!)

As a teenager, I was basically a follower and did whatever everyone else was doing. Thankfully I didn’t fall down a rabbit hole. I was quiet and a little shy. I didn’t join clubs because I didn’t know how to start a conversation. Now I am loud and outspoken. I have actually held a job that required public speaking. I don’t care if opening my mouth proves my IQ.

Fog

Since I started school I have always lived in cities. I grew up walking to the store or taking a short ride to the movies. I seldom stayed home all day. Now I live in an rural county in an isolated location overlooking the lake. While the view is great, conversation is limited to me and me. My huband still works so days can get long. Oh, did I mention I can’t drive due to Meniere’s Disease?

I think I missed something somewhere. How did I get here???

Re-Purposing Myself

Re-purposing is all the rage these days.  Bing returns over 2 billion results for “repurposing.”  We turn used plastic bags into purses, old ladders into bookcases, and even suitcases into chairs!  It seems we can give everything a new start.  What happens when we must give ourselves a new purpose?

A lot of the younger basuitcase chairby boomers are in the position where they have to change directions.  They are the boomers that have lost their jobs due to down-sizing, the economy or health issues. A lot of them worked for one employer the past twenty years or more and their salaries had risen too.  Retirement was on the horizon, but not yet an option.  From a business point of view, I can understand why it makes financial sense to lay-off the more costly employees.  Why pay someone $80,000 when you can get someone young and hungry for $30,000!

Unfortunately employers rarely hire anyone within 10 years of retirement. My friends say company interviewers always ask when you plan to take retirement. If you are honest and say less than 10 years, you can bet you will never hear from them again. One of my friends told an interviewer that he was going to work till he died in order to pay off the debt from being unemployed.  A retired military non-commissioned officer was laid off from his civilian job just after building a new house.  The result was a heart attack.  Knowing that no one would hire him now, he put the house on the market and prepared to re-purpose his self.  Me

I now face my own re-purposing.  What do I want to be when I grow up?  So far I’ve been a daughter, a wife, a mother, a procurement clerk, a typesetter, a secretary, a teacher, a manager, a computer technician, commissioned artist, training manager, certified facilitator, graphic design artist, webmaster, and a host of other things. Not much left to choose from now.   I am not able to physically hold a job so I think for the first time in my life, so I will just be me.

Maybe I will take out my past purposes and play with them now and then. Maybe I will travel, paint, sing, or play.  We are embarking on a new adventure with exciting challenges and freedom.  I say embrace it and take it one day at a time.  Now is such a wonderful time.   Let’s re-purpose ourselves just to live in the now.

Surprised?

Well, Cigna canceled my disability insurance payments.  Surprise!  I am initiating an appeal. My doctors have not changed their positions. Cigna Life Insurance coverage is no longer in force, as they have canceled the premium waiver.  On top of all this, my COBRA health insurance coverage expires the first of September, but I can’t get Medicare until November. I am about at the end of hope.

I expected my disability payments to be canceled.  That is how the insurance game is played. But they canceled it because the strength in my legs had increased. I never knew that leg strength helped to type or hear! Once again my ENT and rheumatologist had to fill out forms and send in letters. They make it so difficult to get and keep payments coming.  The reason I signed up for disability insurance was to make sure that I would have enough income to pay my bills.  These payments are less than I draw from Social Security, but they are needed to cover the bills for insurance.

Image

I cannot get life insurance coverage outside what I used to have.I received a letter from Cigna stating that they had also canceled the premium waiver for my life insurance.  The letter said I had the right to appeal the decision, but I had to apply for conversion to a private policy within 30 days.  AND I had to send in the first three months payment with my application which would run about $1400.00!  I am fortunate to have some room with my finances but that and my health insurance run more than I draw from Social Security. Our home is on the market and we are building a smaller, handicap accessible home to lower our expenses.

You have to be on Social Security for two years to be eligible for Medicare.  COBRA coverage last 18 months and cost me about $900 a month.  That means that for 6 months I will not have health coverage.  I cannot possibly afford insurance that will cover my pre-existing condition (about $1300).  Believe me I have checked. I went through the procedure to try to get COBRA extended but they denied it because they weren’t notified within 60 days of receiving SSD.  That also has an appeals process.

The Sarcoidosis is in the joints of my fingers and my wrists.  I cannot type for more than 30 minutes without pain. I lose my grip at all the wrong times.  I can’t sit comfortably due to pain in my hips. I can’t walk without pain in my knees or feet.  I can’t stand still without falling because of the Meniere’s. I can’t walk without looking at my feet.  I can’t drive more than 10 miles from home.  Yet Cigna thinks I am faking and can work a full-time sedentary job.

I don’t have the energy on a good day to be active for more than 4 or 5 hours.  Someone is with me whenever I leave home in case I fall.  The medication I take is messing with my body and the disease markers keep going up.  The doctors tell me to avoid stress.  The insurance companies count on people either giving up or dying.  And the way this is going I think they are literally killing me!

 

 

Here We Go Again

doctorMy private disability insurance policy from my former employer finally approved my long term disability payments.  The Social Security Administration, SSA, approved my disability coverage six months ago and ruled “disabled without hope for improvement.”  This means that SSA will not need to reevaluate my disability for five to seven years. After receiving one monthly payment from the private insurance, I received a call from their representative that I will need to be reevaluated due to criteria changes.  It is a wonder that I didn’t have a stroke right then.  I know my blood pressure must have been elevated because smoke was coming out my ears.

I don’t understand insurance companies.  Disability insurance is gambling, period.  The insurance companies are betting that you will not be disabled before reaching retirement at 65.  You are betting that you will be disabled.  In my case, I won the wager, but I have to prove that I won.  Unlike bookies that pay out winnings, insurance companies do not simply pay out winnings.  You must prove you won and guess who decides whether you proved it.  That’s right.  It’s the insurance company.  Even the law is on the side of insurance.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, ERISA, was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1974 and applies to most insurance obtained as an employee benefit. According to the website of Pillsbury & Levinson, LLP, ERISA is one of the worst and most poorly understood laws ever passed by Congress. ERISA gives insurance companies enormous advantages that may actually encourage them to deny claims unfairly.  It would appear there are no penalties for the insurance companies that deny benefits.  After 2 years, I am finally approved but must be re-evaluated because they changed their criteria.  The insurance companies can decide to change the requirements for disability at any time without notice to you.

US SenateUnder ERISA, a policyholder may NOT sue an insurance company for any damages caused by the wrongful denial of benefits no matter how egregious, outrageous, or malicious is the conduct of the insurance company.  Under ERISA there cannot be a jury trial, the policyholder must sue in federal court and there is no pretrial discovery.  If you sue the insurance company, under ERISA it must be filed in federal court and heard by a federal judge.  I had to go through this process in order to received short term disability from the same company that is providing long term benefits.  You do not get damages for the time without an income or the cost of filing the law suit.

ERISA covers retirement, health and other welfare benefit plans (e.g., life, disability and apprenticeship plans). Among other things, ERISA provides that those individuals who manage plans must meet certain standards of conduct,  detailed provisions for reporting to the government and disclosure to participants, assuring that plan funds are protected and that participants who qualify receive their benefits. As pointed out above, this law actually encourages abuse by insurance companies instead of assuring that qualified individuals receive benefits.

ERISA has also been expanded to include new health laws. The Affordable Care Act addressed pre-existing conditions, coverage of adult children, and other protections to ensure affordable health coverage for all.  The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) amended ERISA to provide for the continuation of health care coverage for employees and their beneficiaries (for a limited period of time) if certain events would otherwise result in a reduction in benefits.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) amended ERISA to make health care coverage more portable and secure for employees.

Wet cat

My benefits were reduced by the amount of my Social Security Act Disability funds so the amount to be paid by the insurance company is rather small.  They are supposed to pay for about eight years.  It appears that the eight years will consist of constant harassment, evaluations, and forms.  My employer paid for this benefit, but I wonder if the harassment will be worth it.

The really bad thing is that there isn’t a thing I can do about it. We are always told these laws are to protect us, but who do they actually protect!

Brain Fog

out of orderIt has been over a year since I have went shopping on my own. It has been over a year since I drove myself to the doctor. It has been nearly a year since I went by myself to visit a friend. It has been almost a year since I have done anything unplanned. It has been over a year since I had to think!

Everything seems slowed down, almost like swimming in hard set jelly. I hear people tell me things and react as one should react. Later though I can’t remember them telling me and I have to ask again. I never remember people’s names, but then I never did in the past either. I have a degree in math, taught high school math, and did graduate work in computer science, but I find myself stumped when trying to figure out the difference between two prices. I used to always be elected to keep score during game night. Now I am accused of cheating because I add wrong!

I truly do not believe it is due to any physical calamity, although God has given me a few. I think this “brain fog” is just laziness. I have set and hibernated for the past year.  Am I better physically? Maybe in some ways.  Mentally?  Definitely not. Because of my physical limitations, I have allowed my brain to atrophy. I have not been challenged with true problem solving. I let my physical dependencies morph into emotional dependencies. My brain became a couch potato.

So I need to get off my rear and motivate. I am not sure how to go about it. I know exercise is in order in some format. Balance and fatiguing the muscles are issues. I need to find some way to volunteer for something even though I can’t get anywhere or predict if I will even be able to volunteer on any given day. Crossword puzzles and smartphone games are gwoman holding shopping bagsreat, but lack that charge you get from social interaction.

Recently I did go on a shopping trip with two other friends. I was out of the loop when they began talking jobs, shopping, or anything outside our little group. I quickly tired and began walking slower. How do people do this?

How do you become a healthy shut-in? I do not live near a metropolitan area. My husband would not move to the city. There is no public transportation. My husband works long hours and has to rearrange employees to take me places. I want to get healthier and continue to grow stronger. I want to grow sharper mentally and to continue to live independently. Any suggestions?

Sometimes Life is Good!

Islands, mountains and lakes

A view of Guntersville Lake in Alabama

There are times when life is such a struggle for us all. Then there are those moments that are so wonderful it takes your breath away. But sometimes, life is just good!

Early summer in the southern United States is like that. The sun shines and the birds sing.  The squirrels scurry from tree to tree, chattering to each other along the way. The insects chirp and the frogs bellow.  Sounds of life fill the air and force us to stop and listen.

Sitting outside listening to the sounds of nature in the rural south feels good.  It calms the nerves, relaxes tension and slows the heart rate. Somehow the air fills our lungs more fully and clears the negative thoughts from our minds. Life seems to slow down.

Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our daily struggles that we forget to appreciate life around us. There are so many beautiful things all around us. When we are struggling we only need to stop, look and listen for a few minutes to find the calmness and renewal to continue.

Riding the Tiger

Life is like riding a tiger.  It will try to throw you, scar you, bite you and chew you up.  We have been with out my income for 8 months now.  I haven’t driven at all in months and spend most of my time sick.   My husband recently reminded me that we have been thrust into drastic changes before.

In 1994, we sold a rental property and my husband’s business property to the state for a highway.  The state paid residential prices for highway frontage.  My husband could not rebuild with the price they paid.  He was without a job. A male Sumatran tiger  I had just finished college and did not have a job.  Then a real-estate agent knocked on our door.  He had a couple that were interested in our home that wasn’t on the market.  Next thing we know we had sold our home and had no place to live.

I found a teaching position and went to work. My husband took a much needed vacation, raised our two sons who were teenagers, cooked, cleaned and fished a lot.  We built a new house with a pool.

Two years later I lost my job.  I found another, better position with much better pay.  My husband was able to rebuild his store. We not only came out on top but better for it.

We call this “riding the tiger.”  If you can image yourself sitting on a tiger, it becomes clear.  The only thing you could do if you found yourself on a tiger is hold on for dear life.  Unexpected things happen.  Just as being on top of a tiger is unimaginable, so can some of our experiences in life.

The tiger will not allow us to have any control.  I am a control freak and this is probably the hardest thing for me.  The more you struggle to get back in control, the more it bucks and twists.  By struggling for control, you allow the tiger more control.  If you hold on and relax the tiger will slow down eventually.

If you try to give up and jump off, the tiger will attack.  Once you are on the ground, it mauls and tears you apart.  Life can get to the point where you want to give up, but where does that get you?  If you give up and lose hope, you can’t survive till a better day.   Life can be painful and leaves scars.

I have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t the tiger that determines how the ride will end.   Each of us determine our own outcome.  We control our attitudes and actions during crisis.  When things get tough, we have to climb on and “ride the tiger.”

I trust in God that he will see me through, but we don’t know God’s will for us.   The tiger may be part of the plan.  Sometimes, we just need to ride the tiger.

A Great Loss

Emma Jean Whitaker

Last fall my mother-in-law, Emma Jean, came to live with us.  She was falling and in very poor health at 80.  We did not realize how bad she was until it was almost too late.  She stayed with us for two months before she passed away.

Whenever I had to help her with something, no matter how unpleasant it was for her, she would always thank me.  We would sit and talk.  I found out the most fascinating things about her life.  I learned that she had a brother and a sister that passed away as infants. She did not have an easy life.  She lost a husband and two sons early.  Her husband was just 58 when he died of an abdominal aneurysm. My brother-in-laws died at 34 and 38.  When she died she only had 2 sisters and 1 son living out of seven siblings and 3 children.

Going through her pictures were really sad.  She had three grandchildren and two of them were ours. No great-grandchildren.  She left us a letter that stated how much her faith and family meant to her.  I know she had been very lonely for a couple of years.  Everyone had a busy life.

How sad it must have been to lose the people you loved so early.  I didn’t give her enough credit for her strength.  She was an incredibly strong lady and I know she is free from pain and suffering now.