Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Mammogram Rules

Read a few Tweets about folks saying that the new mammogram rules 'throw women under the bus'. That strikes me as odd.

First - it's not like mammograms are risk -free. It's still ionizing radiation. It still does its part to screw up the body.

Second - the new guidelines still recommend them for at-risk women. Ya know, sort of like their recommendation for PSA screening for prostate cancer .... except for high-risk men they say starting at about 45, not 40.

Third, and to me most important - mammograms are NOT PREVENTION. Mammograms (increased diagnostics) and new drugs/therapies (improved treatments) mask what I'd call the REAL need: REAL PREVENTION. We need research, lots of it, into what causes breast cancer in the first place and then an ability to put that in place.

The focus on diagnosing and treating cancer rather than preventing it is like saying 'we won't worry about immunizing anyone against influenza or pneumonia, we'll just make sure we have lots and lots and lots of hospital bed and respirators'. If we actually get PREVENTION going, we will need less (yes, still some) diagnostics and treatment.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, November 14, 2009

MomSaga Goes On

So, Mom has decided that home care is too expensive - it's some $900 a month more than her long term care would pay for (no inflation rider in her LTC policy). So starting tomorrow she's trying a month in an apartment in a senior living place. Does it provide enough care? Hell if I know. The rehab nursing home says no, she needs someone by her SIDE 24/7. But this would be abouto $1500 a month. Dunno what that includes. 3 meals? Dunno. Do they make sure she takes her meds? Dunno.

So, tho' I've bought a plane ticket to Chicago, I shouldn't go there at Thanksgiving during her trial month - she'll just want to come home since I'll be there. Tuesday I'll see if I can pay some small amount and change the trip to after Christmas. I'll bet that the fee for changing it will be almost as much as the ticket cost - I cannot afford to get expensive easy to change tickets. I fly Priceline when I fly. And flying is still less expensive than any other way of getting there. And, of course, takes less time as well.

But no one has been keeping me informed on decisions.

Today Mom got out of the rehab place and is in her condo till she goes to senior living tomorrow. She no longer knows WHY she needs senior living or such. Not a good sign.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, November 13, 2009


So, in reading one of the hundred or so blogs I read on occassion (for I sure don't have time to read 100 blogs regularly!) this guy was raving about a chocolate cake a friend of him Mom's had brought over. Turned out it was chocolate cake mix plus a can of canned pumpkin. No eggs, oil, water, buttermilk, whatever.

So I tried that with a very old box of spice cake mix I had in the house. Okay, I have the Spawn, so no cake mix here is REALLY old, but it had been around longer than any other cake mix in the house. So it being 'old' and a boxed mix, I added more spices when I tried this experiment.

My goodness, that cake rocks. AND it's lower fat (but still has way too much sugar) and has more fiber and lots of carotene.

Obviously we're still at the point we're having pumpkin with at least one meal a day. I've only dried 3 of 'em so far, have 7 more to do. But now I have another range of options on what to do with the meat.

Pass the cream cheese frosting, please.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Post Halloween Pumpkins

Somehow I had the impression that after about November 1 the harvest is supposed to be over and all the food will have been safely stored. It's sure not that way in my house!

Yes, Fronds, I picked up my annual supply of 10 pumpkins. This year a few days after Halloween one of the churches that had been selling them even put a post on Freecycle inviting folks to take them. So far I've only fully processed ONE of them. Half of another will be blanched and put in the dehydrator this evening. I'm getting well and truly tired of hearing the fan of the dehydrator, but I'm never tired of eating.

It was easier to can them, but I just don't have enough jars or room to store them. I had thought that I had 10 dozen jars, but I only have about 100. Which is only about 1/3 of how many I'd LIKE to have.

Next year, Gods willing and if the creek don't rise, I'm going to get some of the leftover 'little pumpkins' that they had, too. No meat for cooking, but they looked like they were incredibly full of seeds! Yum!

Off to cook dinner, then blanch the slices. Laters!

Frondly, Fern

Friday, November 6, 2009

Long Term 'Care' Rantfest

Yes, Fronds, I'm ranting.

Mom's still in the nursing home, getting rehab.

"Everyone" thinks that Mom now needs care 24/7. She has limited eyesight & hearing. She is paranoid and somewhat delusional (she thinks that people come into her condo thru' the walls and steal things). She doesn't feel that folks come in when others are staying with her - I assume because she gets stimulation with companionship so her brain doesn't fill in new things to see and hear. She has muscle weakness which along with her limited eyesight contributes to her falling. She has some level of dementia. This, to them, equals incompetence. This, to me, equals disabilities.

Mom would like companionship after the cousin that has been staying with her goes back to Florida.

The same cousin who wouldn't get her husband the lawyer to help Mom give me Power Of Attorney (either medical or financial) now wants me to make all medical and financial decisions for my mother. Which I can't legally do, because I don't have the bloody POAs. And which is hard for me to do since I am in DC and Mom in is Chicago. And NOW can Mom legally give me POA if she is 'incompetent', or do I have to bloody go to court and PROVE that she is 'incompetent'?

Let me guess - I'm supposed to hide the fact that she's 'incompetent' to get the POAs and then use the 'fact' that she's 'incompetent' to USE the POAs.

But let's add to that issues with Mom's Long Term Health insurance. Which I can't talk to, because I don't have the financial POA - and let's not pretend that insurance is about her medical issues, health, or safety. I need a FINANCIAL POA to get information from them.

The insurer that she has been sending thousands of dollars to for years and years and years is, shall we say, severely financially unsound. So, rather than saving that coverage for when she gets really frail and vulnerable and care is even more expensive, the cousins think we should use it now. The company may die, and, 'let's face it, she's 94, she's not going to live that much longer. In their 90's they go quickly'. This from a cousin whose father lived to 99.

But it IS true that our family members die soon after they go into nursing homes. Is it because they are old, because they are frail, or because they give up (or because of some combination of the above)? They last a month or two, then die of pneumonia.

Anyway, the Long Term Care insurer doesn't accept what any silly doctor, nursing home, social workers, therapists, etc, say a person needs. First, Mom needs a date when she'll be released from the nursing home. Then Mom will need to call them and ask for care, they will set up a phone evaluation of her, then they will send paperwork to the doctor, then a nurse will evaluate her, then they will decide what THEY think she needs. A 30 day process. They can't even tell me what her policy covers, since I don't have a financial POA. Never mind that I'm asking what MEDICAL/CARE coverage that is. So even if I had a medical POA I'd be screwed.

At the end of 30 days, of course, what THEY decide to cover is not guaranteed to be 'what the doctor ordered'.

And the policy only runs 3 years. Not to worry, says cousins, both she and insurer will be dead by then. Let's hear it for the Death Panels!

Frustratedly, Fern

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And the Prep Goes On.....

Word from a friend who speaks fluent astrology is that the end of July/beginning of August has the worst astrological line up he has ever seen. Not for natural disasters, but for humans doing things to other humans. He advises having food and water for a month on hand.

Well, that I've got, but it kicked me into overdrive on adding more and such.

I'd already started rotating stored water, a bit late mind you, before I heard this from him. And, my stored water supply being scant for a month, I'm enlarging it. I also figure I'll flush and fill the 55 gallon barrel mid-July.

I'm buying the heck out of all produce loss leader specials in the stores and storing them. Apples have been on sale, I've now got two half gallon jars filled with dried apples and 5 quarts of apple sauce canned. I'm drying potatoes and pineapple now. I should go drive over to the churches that had pumpkin patches for Halloween and see if they have leftover pumpkins I can take and dry.

I've been lax about exercising again, doing very little. But at least my tendonitis is clearing up!

Mom wants me to visit ASAP, but I can't do it till after Thanksgiving, and will have to figure out how to afford a plane ticket.

It's all a bit overwhelming, but I'm taking it one day and one task at a time. And I'm getting LOTS done in the mornings, thanks to the time change - I now get up an extra hour before everyone else, since I don't rise with the exterior clock I rise with my interior clock.

Oy, just remembered I have to build two more cold frames AND winterize the house. Well, back to work!

Frondly, Fern

Crisp and Crunchy

Yes, Fronds, the leaves have mostly fallen. They are over ankle deep on the lawn, smothering the grass. But who has time to rake?

Mom's out of the hospital and into rehab at a nursing home. She whines piteously that she wants to go home. I have explained to her that her lack of exercising is what landed her in the hospital/nursing home - which she seems to accept as real. She seems to believe that if I was there to care for her they'd let her go home. I have talked to the Dr, and that is NOT the case. She still needs PT twice a day, so they want her inpatient so she can easily have that, rather than trying to arrange transportation to their facility twice a day. AND she is not strong or steady enough on her feet to be on her own. Which is why she needs PT twice a day, and to walk as much as is possible.

They keep giving me different spins on her kidneys - they are 'monitoring' them, and she has an other appt with the specialist coming up. But then they say that it's not unusual or dangerous, at age 92 and after years of high blood pressure. OTOH what they described as a 'cyst' might be something else, I suppose, as it was for my friend John. He, being young and strong, insisted on more tests and they removed the cyst, finding it to be cancerous. But I digress.

Money is still pretty tight, one client has been turned over to collection agency, another client has a deal where a govt agency pays half - and we're still waiting on the govt to pay it's half of each fortnightly invoice.

Drying foods, canning foods, planting things in cold frame, etc.

Frondly, Fern