Insurance + Medical Field= The Ugly Side of America

Recently, a friend posted on social media about her daughter’s trip to the ER following an unexpected accident. As a mom, of course my first thought was: that would be terrible if I had to rush my son to the ER. Soon after that thought came the guilt of this: the first reason I should feel horrible is that my son would be hurt/sick/in danger; then why is it that the first thought is how much a trip to the ER would hurt our family budget?

The answer to this lies in three parts. Our for-profit insurance system, the business side of the medical field, and the lack of addressing either by hour representatives in our state and Washington.

The idea of insurance is so great, having people contribute in the case of ill-health of someone else. It shows such a strong sense of community. The idea became tainted in the 1970s when greedy business decided they could make profit off of someone’s potential misfortune. I think I heard somewhere that a certain big-name insurance company statistically makes $1 million per minute. I can certainly believe it. I don’t care if you are for or against Obamacare; you just need to be pro-saving money.

Let’s breakdown the costs a little of my situation. I will point out that I am beyond blessed to work at an institution where my health insurance is paid for; if I were to add members to my plan, it would cost upwards of about $500. Therefore, I have a completely separate plan for my son. I pay between $260 and $300 per month for him in premiums just to keep the plan. This is what I’m guessing is an average cost per child for other families as well. Keep in mind, my son is probably just like 90% of the rest of the children out there: healthy, only needed to visit the doctor for recommended check-ups, vaccinations, and the occasional virus….so I pay about $3000 a year just to keep up that little routine. Of course that doesn’t go towards the actual medical costs billed to my insurance and then to me, like making a co-pay towards to 5-minute visit with the doctor, prescriptions,  possible procedures, etc. until I “meet my deductible.” What a laugh. Luckily my son’s deductible is less than $5000, but it’s a little ridiculous that people have to scrape up $5000 before the company they’re paying about $3000 per year decides to cover some of the cost. And usually it’s only 80%. It’s outrageous how those premiums and deductibles can waver from year-to-year, based on how “those in charge” want it to work. And the fact that there’s a lifetime cap for spending? Sorry, a pre-existing condition doesn’t abide to your boundaries. Doesn’t it make you wonder who’s controlling the insurance companies and assuring that they are being fair? It seems like the answer would be no one.

The second part of this obnoxiousness is the cost of medical services. I recently watched a video about a soon-to-be dad’s attempts to find out the out-of-pocket cost for his wife’s upcoming birth. Same story here, but I didn’t go as far as to spend hours of my busy day making pointless calls. Side note: the medical billing department of the healthcare services in our area is useless, but that’s a completely different story. On February 25, I had a normal, healthy delivery and stayed in the hospital less than 48 hours. With the epidural, the total bill came to $15,000. $15,000. Let that sink in. No surgery. $15,000. That’s the cost of a new car, a down-payment on a house. Now, the epidural was $2000 of that, and I would have gladly paid full price to make sure I had that, but $13,000 for a normal delivery is ridiculous. But I was sooooooo lucky that I got “discounts” with my insurance (insert eye-roll emoji), and had already pre-paid my deductible, so I only owed about $1000 out of pocket for myself….and $1,600 for my son who was also in the hospital less than 48 hours and was in perfect health. There was no detailed description on the bill stating each cost, but I can pretty well assure that everything done would be well over-priced. Again, who’s controlling these? Who’s making the decisions to make the costs of medical procedures and visits what they are? My favorite was when the afore mentioned medical billing forgot to bill the insurance for my son’s 2-month vaccinations and sent me the whole bill. It was over $800. For PREVENTATIVE, COMMON vaccinations administered by an LPN. I actually laughed out loud (once I made a call to straighten out the billing error). Insurance companies and healthcare providers so strongly encourage vaccines (and we are VERY pro-vaccine), but then they think they can charge $800? That means if I didn’t have insurance, I would have to come up with $800? Just like insurance, our medical field needs monitoring and stat.

The driving force behind both, in my opinion, is the lack of work in addition to the symbiotic relationship our politicians have with both the insurance companies and the people in charge of the finances in the medical world. Think about it: why else are we fighting so hard to repeal Obamacare and pass Trumpcare (again, your opinion on it is pointless) instead of passing laws that prevent these companies from committing a reverse Robin Hood and stealing from middle-class America to give to the rich? And I love it when they offer solutions like investing money in a health savings account. Yeah, that’s all well and good when you have that extra $100,000 just lying around, waiting to be invested so when we do have a medical need we can just withdraw from that. I have it waiting alongside my yacht, Ferrari, and Olympic-sized pool….

I think I do pretty well to save what I do each month, and 99% of America is probably in the same boat as me, and it’s just a basic fishing boat, not a yacht. So don’t tell me I can take my savings and put it into a health savings account like you do. The problem is, none of these three groups wants to go at each other, because they all have potentially something to lose. And they want to keep you in the dark and paying insane costs, because they know you think there’s nothing you can do about it.

Instead of fighting over the Obamacare/Trumpcare issue, maybe some of our very well-paid politicians could go after the real enemies of our nation.

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Tips for Flying with an Infant

I’m one of those people that scours any article I can in preparation for potentially unsettling situations, in this case: flying in an airplane with a 4-month old.

We flew out of the Memphis International Airport, which is about a 3-hour drive from our home. A very nice atmosphere and no issues for us as far as the airport goes. Below are the things that worked for us. To set up the scene, my parents already had a carseat in place in Florida for us to use.

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  1. Children under 2 can sit on your lap; there are many people against this for “safety” reasons (no seatbelt, oxygen mask, etc.), but our little guy did just fine. And it was free.
    1. Make sure to bring a copy of the birth certificate to verify age. They need something to give them a boarding pass.
  2. Use a baby carrier; you COULD use a stroller, and also check it at the gate, but the carrier made the experience hands-free.
  3. Toys- carry at least 2 different ones. Even if they make noise, a noise-maker toy is preferable to a screaming baby.
  4. You can carry formula in your carry-on. We carried a quart-size container for easy pouring into bottles. TSA just has to hold their little test strips over it.
  5. You get through security WAAAAY quicker….this is not really a tip, just a perk of traveling with an infant.
  6. Seating: my personal preference is to sit as close to the front as possible in the aisle seat. To do this, you have to board as early as possible. You will find mixed tips about this, but the aisle is great for obvious reasons, and sitting near the front allows for a quicker escape. Do what works for you.
  7. Clean the tray with a baby wipe. Those things are germ magnets, and I don’t need a sick infant.
  8. Try to feed your baby as the plane is ascending or descending. Ours slept through one of these on each flight, so we didn’t have to feed through both, but it did quell his crying on the descent as the air pressure was building on our return flight. If they aren’t hungry, or don’t take a bottle, try pacifiers or even a sippy cup for older kids.
  9. Travel with your spouse. Then you can actually use the bathroom alone in the airport and have someone to carry items. They are also useful for getting items from your bag while the baby is asleep against your chest.
  10. Bring tylenol or other pain reliever. We didn’t use it, but had it on hand.
  11. Along with every other item you pack and carry in the diaper bag, add a receiving blanket. It works to either keep your baby warm, or as a cover for you to avoid being spit up on.

 

Maclin actually did GREAT traveling, even though I was a nervous wreck the whole time waiting for something to go wrong.

Florida Family Vacation

Traveling to Florida for us is more of a family affair and less of a vacation, since we go down to visit my parents who moved to Clearwater about 3 years ago….but it is a change in scenery from Swampeast Missouri, and we took an airplane, so I’m counting it as a vacation.

We had plenty of fun, spending most of our time at my parents’ pool, but also managed to make the trip to the lesser-known (and less crowded) beach at Honeymoon Island. The sand is not nearly as great as Clearwater Beach, but the crowd and set-up location is much more preferable.

Because “taking a vacation” from fitness doesn’t feel like an actual vacation for me, my Anytime Gym membership allowed me to workout each day at the location in Dunedin, only 2 miles from my parents’ house.

 

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Maclin’s 1st time in the ocean

Top 10 Foods

I’m SUCH a creature of habit, and there are a few foods I stick to on an almost daily basis. I choose to prep all of my lunches, snacks, and main dinner dishes on Saturday or Sunday of each week, depending on the schedule. This is for 2 reasons. It keeps me on track, and I hate cooking during the week.

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Top 10:

  1. Asparagus- steamed via the microway
  2. Sweet potatoes-cooked several different ways; so much fun to try new ways with them
  3. Broccoli– frozen, because it’s much easier to digest and taste just as awesome.
  4. Apples– most kinds
  5. Berries-whatever’s on sale
  6. Plain Greek Yogurt- partial to Chobani’s, but haven’t found one I dislike
    1. Also Dannon flavored Greek Yogurts in the single serve containers
  7. Egg whites– either from boiled eggs or from the carton; I dislike the texture of yolks.
  8. Oatmeal
  9. Chicken– for the past few months, I’ve been guilty of just buying the rotisserie chickens and using them throughout the week; almost too easy
  10. Twizzler’s– because I’m human. And it’s all about the balance.

Working (Out) Around the Coach’s Schedule

Just got home from a professional development for our transformation to a 1:1 technology school. We worked with our Learning Management System (LMS) called Canvas. Having the time to sit and work through it was super helpful.

For most teachers, the day after Memorial Day is just another day in the life of summer vacation; however, most teachers aren’t married to a football and basketball coach. Our summer schedule is almost busier than the regular school schedule. This year even more so because of having Maclin and wanting to add that to the balance. My normal gym workouts have to be divided into “Do at Gym” and “Do at Home” so that I’m home when my husband leaves for football every day at 5:30 a.m. So, most days I’ll do some cable and accessory work at the gym, and, because I have such a great husband who built me a home gym complete with a homemade squat rack, I’ll do any major lifts at home.File_000

You’re probably thinking 2 things:

  1. You have a home gym. Why are you still paying and going to a commercial gym?
  2. Why don’t you just workout later after your husband is home?

Answers:

  1. I do A LOT of cable, kettlebell, and machine work in addition to my major lifts. It’s going to take more time and $ to add any/some of those to what I already have. I also like the mirrors.
  2. Lol….how many times have you said “I’ll work out after work” and found something else to do or had something come up? No excuses early in the morning. Besides, I teach summer school, and after it’s over I would like to get in some time with my baby.

 

So between adjusting my workouts and their timing, dealing with summer school,the endless camps/weightlifting sessions/scrimmages/games/practices that my husband has, professional development for school, and spending time with Maclin, my summer isn’t that ideal summer that people who aren’t teachers imagine.

Coffee and Naps

I thought these two things were pretty good about 10 years ago. Little did I know at the time how GREAT they actually are. If you’re someone who doesn’t drink coffee or any caffeine, stop reading now. We won’t get along.

3:00. In the morning. This is the time I was awoken the past 3 mornings (two of them being weekend mornings) by Maclin, who I had mentioned was sleeping through the night….

That’s what growth spurts will do. Throw your hard-earned schedule for a loop. During my pregnancy, I completely lost my taste for coffee. The thought of it made me sick. A coffee drinker since college, I was devastated. Magically, the taste returned hours after Maclin was born, and for that, I’m thankful.

Just because I was startled awake at 3 in the morning doesn’t mean I didn’t get a good workout in. Instead of an intense full-body weight session, I choose to do a HIIT workout either from home or at the gym. I absolutely LOVE planning out my own HIIT workouts, but though my body may have been working that early, my brain sure wasn’t ready, so I resorted to a YouTube video, which gave me such an awesome workout! The only equipment needed was a set of dumbbells.

I’m excited to spend a few more days with this baby before summer school starts!IMG_3439

My Baby Story

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Most surreal day/night ever. I’ll fast forward through some details, but I think it’s important to get the main story written down. As far as labor and delivery goes, I think mine was pretty much textbook. But it’s my story, and therefore important.

My due date was February 22. A Wednesday. Of course I believed I would go against the typical first-time mom and have my baby on or before that date. This caused near tears when after my 40 week appointment that day, the on-call doctor (mine was out of the country of course…) said I wasn’t dilated at all. None. Zero. The following morning, my workout stayed the same, but near the end I started to notice a few cramps that caused me to rest more than usual. Later at school, my bad mood stayed and was accompanied by worsening cramps, that I attributed to the check-up the day before. They continued to worsen throughout the day, but after I called the doctor’s office, I was told that it was just early labor and that it could take a long time to progress into actual labor. I went home right after school, and asked my husband to do the same. We went to the grocery store to get a few items in case the “big day” came, and walking without a shopping cart to support me was almost an impossibility. The pains strengthened to the point where sleeping for 15 minutes without expressing my pain through screaming in a pillow and focused breathing was the new norm. Now with teaching, you can’t just call in sick to work. You have to arrange a sub, and make plans, for all 150 students. Around 4 a.m., I’d realized I was probably going to miss my first workout in months, but was still very insistent to my husband that I wanted to try to go in to teach. Too much to do, it was a special celebration day at school, just easier to go it, etc were some of the excuses. Luckily he didn’t listen to me and told me there was no way middle schoolers could take me seriously if I was leaning over breathing in pain every 5-7 minutes. I begrudgingly called in a sub and emailed her plans. I refused to go to the hospital at that time though, since I’d read too many stories about women being admitted, only to then be sent home for not being far enough along. I didn’t want more disappointment. We held out until around noon before heading 15 minutes to the hospital.

Once admitted and hooked the monitors, I was only 2 cm dilated. Only 2??? One of the many great nurses on staff told me they’d give me an hour and check again. If I’d dilated more, they’d admit me. Then she gave me the best advice: walking around DURING labor helps it progress quickly; walking around BEFORE labor really does nothing. My husband and I spent the next hour roaming the halls of the labor and delivery floor, pausing to lean over for each contraction. An hour later, I’d progressed enough to stay, and began making phone calls. Determined to keep progressing, and to not get the epidural until the halfway point, I continued walking around, IV intact. Finally around 6:30, the pain had brought me to tears. Luckily, I had made it past the halfway point and was almost 6 cm dilated. Bring on the epidural! At that point, I didn’t care how big the needle was. All I know was that all the pain went away after getting it.

***I know there are women who swear by all-natural births, the way it was meant to be; I’m not one of those women. If science created something to make the process a little easier, I’ll try it. And I’m not sorry.

The next few hours were sort of a blissful blur. I napped at times, or talked, or watched the monitors. They had to hook me up to some oxygen…mostly because my already-low pulse dipped lower after the epidural. The ONLY downside with the epidural was the catheter. Around 1:30 Saturday morning, I had progressed to full dilation. At the time, there was only 1 doctor on staff, as every other doctor was on vacation out of the country…what are the odds in late February?? So getting him in the room was a chess game, finding the right slot to bring him in amidst the 7 other deliveries happening that night. I wasn’t mentally ready for the pushing part, and I think my baby felt the same. I only pushed less than 8 sets of the pushing, but we had to take several breaks since every time I pushed and would get Maclin close enough to come out, his heart rate would dip in half. Once the doctor figured out how his body was turned and was able to rotate his head correctly, a few more pushes brought him right out, at 2:38 a.m.IMG_2261

Everything after that was in bits and pieces. Getting stitched, holding my baby, moving rooms, sleeping for from 4:30-5:30 before the nurses came in for their hourly check and press on my uterus, FINALLY getting to drink water, and the fiery pain of going to the bathroom for the first time postpartum. Holding my baby more and taking a small nap before the parade of visitors. It was quite the 48 hours from being admitted to being discharged, and as he grows I already feel my connection to those memories slipping away.

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Wednesday Workout

In my fitness book, Wednesdays are back days. As in lifts that strengthen parts of the back. I look forward to these lifts, as they are some of my favorite. I’m pretty consistent with what I do, but change up some of the accessory lifts from week to week.

Today’s lifts, (3 sets of 12 reps)

  • Hex bar deadlift, assisted pull-ups, wide grip lat pull-down, dumbbell lateral raise
  • Reverse grip lat pull-down, alternating lat pull-down, Smith machine wide- grip row, rowing lat pushdown
  • Seated face pulls, Smith machine low row, close grip lat pull-down, seated wide grip cable row
  • Deltoid cross cable flies, lat push downs, machine deltoid flies, single arm cable row

Nap Time Reality

Things I should be doing while Maclin takes an afternoon nap:

  • Clean. Anything really. My house is already pretty clean to the naked eye, thanks to my obsessiveness. But isn’t there always one more closet to organize or one more baseboard to clean?
  • Nap. I’m so thankful he’s sleeping through the night right now (I know it will change, so I’m enjoying this time), but that doesn’t mean that I’m getting a ton of sleep. Ironically, more sleep than I did in the third trimester of pregnancy…
  • Read something for school. Like revisiting Teach Like a Champion to refresh myself on some of the concepts.
  • Read another section of What to Expect: The First Year to stress about things that my baby isn’t doing that other babies are…

 

What I’m actually doing:

  • Holding my sleeping baby because I can’t face waking him up to lay him in his crib after he fell asleep on me.
  • Typing this post. Obviously.
  • Watching a rerun of My 600 lb Life that I haven’t seen.
    • If you haven’t seen any episodes, fair warning that it gets addictive.
  • During commercials reading The Killing Lessons, a psychological thriller I started over a month ago and have yet to finish. Not because it’s not good or anything, but because #momlife.
  • Looking at things on Amazon that I shouldn’t be spending money on.

 

This is the reality of nap time.

I was never the girl who envisioned her “perfect” wedding

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I met this guy in January of 2007 (technically I think fall of 2006) in a teacher prep course when a mutual friend formed a group with both of us in it. Other than thinking he was pretty cute, I had zero interest in dating any one at the time. I’ve always been a career-centered person; my goal in life was to be great at whatever job I ended up with…preferrably living in the city with a picture-perfect life; luckily, real life interfered. I kept in touch with Luke, and finally in September of 2008, he invited me to his birthday dinner, where he told me that I “looked pretty” in the dress I was wearing. I can’t believe I missed out of the time from when we met until that September because I didn’t have the vision of meeting and marrying someone. Luke is the absolute perfect complement to my in every way. Where I’m over-organized and scheduled (almost compulsively so), he teaches me to be laid back and enjoy the ride. Where I fret about everything, Luke approaches everything with very little stress. He makes me laugh and love life, and makes me a better person. Sometimes NOT following your “dream” gives you the life you never knew you wanted.