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Archive for August, 2011

August spending

August 31st, 2011 at 10:07 pm

August was indeed a crazy month. All that time spent in the hospital made expenditures superficially low. I say that because I know I racked up a lot of bills lying there -- just don't have to pay them yet.

Rent: 1132
Utilities: 302 (high phone usage)
Business: 87
Groceries: 77
Insurance: 66
Gifts/Charity: 54
Gas: 34
Entertainment: 23
Medical/Health: 15
Eating Out: 12
Clothing: 5
Vet/Pet Supplies: 5
Miscellaneous: 4
Furnishings/Equipment: 3

Total: 1818

Another day at home

August 30th, 2011 at 02:02 pm

Just got a call from the infusion delivery service. They are going to deliver new meds today based on the blood tests done yesterday. Don't know if it is good news or bad, but I feel pretty darn good.

Yesterday one of my co-workers brought me three homemade chicken pot pies! I was craving pot pies, so it was quite a treat. I ate half of one and will eat the other half today. The other two are in the freezer.

I tried to log into my work computer from home yesterday, but it didn't work. I'll try again today. I didn't hear from my boss yesterday. We were going to talk about possibly working from home. She probably had a busy day.

I've missed 15 days of work so far, and my house arrest doesn't end till Friday. Then I still have the actual surgery ahead of me. I think my workplace is going to have to file for some kind of medical leave, but nothing has been decided yet.

I took a peek at the BCBS website today. About 7-8 claims have already been paid, most showing some "patient responsibility." Seems to be under $1000 so far. I believe my total out-of-pocket limit is $1750. I still have about $400 on my flexible spending card. So, while this won't be cheap, it won't be devastating.

I went through my closet and pulled out two big garbage bags full of clothes to give to Goodwill. Feels good. The closet still looks pretty full, but at least there is breathing room.

We haven't heard from Patient Saver in a few days. I hope she wasn't affected by Irene.

No spending

August 29th, 2011 at 01:01 pm

Easy to do no spending when you are housebound!

I have had a craving for Italian ice, but I haven't walked to the store to get it. A craving is just a craving, not a need.

Yesterday I made a great smoothie for lunch out of the last of my yogurt, ice cream, a very soft banana and some frozen blueberries. I ate more of the spaghetti for dinner. (I think I have two more servings of spaghetti). I've thawed some chicken medallions, which I will saute today.

Today the visiting nurse will come to change my dressing and draw blood.

I am actually getting quite good at giving myself the IV. Only two more days of that.

I'm getting nervous about how much work I am missing. I told my boss I could probably do some work from home now, but I have to get my home computer set to access my work computer. I did it once before, but I'm not sure I still have the instructions. Or if the instructions are still up to date.

Tooling along

August 28th, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Last night one of my co-workers brought me a big serving of spaghetti with meat sauce from a local restaurant, as well as a pint of specialty ice cream. I didn't eat it all, but I am definitely raking in more calories than I need! Gotta start cutting back to normal levels.

Yesterday while doing my IV, I spilled some of the antibiotic on the floor before I got the line clamped. I am hoping that there is a margin for error, and that I got enough.

I have almost finished "The Help." I also watched "Daniel Deronda" on Netlix -- four episodes -- and I've done several double acrostics. So I am keeping busy with fun things. Doing the minimum on housework. Every day I take a leisurely walk to the garbage bin. There are so many medical supplies that must be tossed every day.

Today my big plan is to wash my hair in the sink. I can't shower, because of my PICC line, or sit in the tub, because of my drain site, but I have been keeping myself decent with spit baths from the sink. Still, I will be glad when I can just soak myself all over.

Yesterday I paid $5 for cat food, which was delivered along with my meal. They tried not to take it, but I insisted.

I have lost about 10 pounds during this ordeal. That, and the upcoming change in season, is prompting me to clean out my closet. I want to get rid of everything that is too big. That would be a good project for today.

Better and better

August 27th, 2011 at 05:13 pm

Today I feel even better. I am feeling almost normal, but I am still resting a lot and taking it very easy. The visiting nurse came (I'm back in the fold after agreeing to do my own IV). She just took my vitals and so forth and said I was doing very well.

Tonight another co-worker will bring dinner. I'm finding it's quite easy to manage breakfast and lunch when I know that dinner will be prepared for me.

No financial issues at this time. I know some out-of-pocket expenses are on the horizon, but I have the emergency fund; I'm not going to sweat it. Interesting how when your health goes south, financial issues suddenly seem less important. Health is everything!

Ironically, one of my co-workers had an emergency appendectomy while I was in the hospital. She got to the hospital before hers burst. And she is young. So she is already back on her feet. I wish I had caught mine in time, but what happened, happened.

Did the IV myself

August 26th, 2011 at 04:08 pm

Today I finally did the IV totally on my own. I guess I did it all right 'cause I'm not dead!

I am continuing to feel better, and I slept really well last night.

I have a little spending to report. Yesterday I gave my boss $20 toward a wedding gift for a co-worker. And my electric bill hit -- $63. My prepaid phone plan has cost me this month -- two $54 payments. Lots of texting while in the hospital.

There will be medical bills coming. Having switched from an HMO to a PPO plan will affect my pocketbook. However, my experience with the HMO was so bad, customer service wise, that I have no regrets about making that switch. Not yet, anyway!

Getting better

August 25th, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Today was a good day. My drain was removed, and it has made such a difference in the way I feel. Then I went to see my primary care physician and got lots of encouragement on how well I am doing.

I have decided to give myself the IV's. I could have changed my plan to having it done at the health center, but then I would have had to pay for all the meds already delivered, as well as the ones the center would provide. It would have been really expensive.

My boss came today to help me with the IV. (She has a daughter with many health issues). I think tomorrow I will be able to do it alone. My boss also brought me a reimbursement check for my conference -- $1127. I deposited it into savings.

I am really looking forward to sleeping tonight without that drain in my butt!

I've had three free delicious meals this week; I am really enjoying this aspect of my illness!

Day One of "house arrest:"

August 23rd, 2011 at 08:45 pm

The visiting nurse came this morning, and it is so much more complicated to give myself an IV than I ever imagined. And even though they had the procedure written down, it was not up-to-date and the terminology wasn't clear to a lay person. I had to insist that someone come again tomorrow and take me all through it again before I will feel confident enough to do it on my own.

I also learned that my drain had not been flushed in the hospital (the bag never collected much). She flushed it, and it hurt like crazy. The orders are to flush it every other day. I can't do it myself because it's on my butt. So someone will have to do that. The nurse called to ask if there were any other alternatives, like other family, to train. I said, uh, no, I have two sons and they both live 40 miles away and work full-time.

What is home health care service for? I need help! I don't want to be a DIY-er with my life!

Sorry about the graphic detail.

I called the Human Resources person at my work, as directed, but only got voicemail.

I made followup appointments with my family doctor and with the surgeon.

I'm exhausted. But I'm still so happy to be home. In an hour and a half, one of my co-workers will deliver some KFC. I'll have supper, read and watch TV and then go to bed.

Then it will start all over again.

I'm home!

August 23rd, 2011 at 10:40 am

The best-case scenario won out. I was dismissed yesterday from the hospital. I will stay at home now for ten days and the Home Health Service will visit and help me with my meds and drain.

It feels so wonderful to be home. I can't even tell you. Last night my son and his family got me settled in with groceries, prescriptions, etc. Beginning tonight, my co-workers will deliver dinner every evening, as well as any extra groceries I might need.

I am feeling very blessed!

I slept well. I expect to catch up on some Netflix streaming and a lot of books.

Financially -- I spent about $40 for groceries and $10 for prescriptions.

Today not as good as yesterday

August 22nd, 2011 at 12:26 am

My white blood cell count went up today -- the docs don't like that. I didn't feel as good.

Tomorrow my surgeon will decide whether to go ahead with surgery now. So I may not be communicating again for a little while.

I'm scared. Frown

Nice news

August 21st, 2011 at 10:03 am

I had some nice news yesterday not at all related to health -- well, somewhat.

My appeal was accepted! BCBS HMO will pay the $8,000 to the surgery center for the removal of the pin. I feel like I just had Christmas!

Now it's on to the next big medical financial challenge. I also got in the mail an acknowledgment that benefits will be paid for my admission to the hospital for three days -- huh? I've been here twelve days already! Why did I get that kind of a notice without even being discharged yet?

Guess I'll wait and see.

I continue to feel better and I am so very hopeful that I will be dismissed on Tuesday after the observation period is over.

After that I will be committed to housebound (visiting nurse) care for ten days while I continue to get anitbiotics. Then the surgery can be scheduled weeks after that. It would be so much better than a bigger, more complicated surgery now.

There is a lot of work I can do from home once I get there, so I may not have to take medical leave. Just a whole lot of sick time!

I'm in the hospital

August 20th, 2011 at 01:32 pm

And I've been here since August 9. Turns out my stomachache was a ruptured appendix. All this time the doctors have been trying to kill the infection so they can operate (that's the latest way to treat a ruptured appendix). It has walled itself off (a good thing), however, two abscesses have popped up in my colon. One was successfully drained, but the other is in a place that cannot be drained. If things are not improved in 48 hours, they will operate, even though it would be better to wait until everything is clean and dry as possible.

This the first day I have felt any good at all. I can finally eat, walk and sleep fairly normally. I am hopeful for the best outcome.

I haven't caught up on anybody's blog and won't for a while, but I just wanted you to know I'm still kickin'.'

Needless to say, all financial experiments are off.

Sick!

August 10th, 2011 at 06:21 pm

Last night I came home from work feeling tired and uncomfortable in the stomach area. I went straight to bed. After a while I got up and ate a few pieces of bread to settle my stomach and went back to bed.

Thus started the worst night of my life! My stomach got worse and worse. I never got nausea or diarrhea but the pain in my stomach was incredible. I didn't know what was wrong, but I was starting to imagine it could be a heart attack, or gall bladder attack, since they don't always present systems according to pattern.

I couldn't hardly sit up and knew I couldn't drive to the emergency room. I toyed with the idea of calling 911, but on the other hand, I thought it might be just gas!

I slept for brief intervals. I didn't take any medication but Dulcolax, because I really feared what putting drugs in my stomach might do.

In the morning I called work to let them know I was sick. I was no better. The pain had been unremitting since the beginning and I was exhausted as well as in pain.

I drank some baking soda in water and I did get rid of some gas -- but no improvement in the pain. Finally I decided to bite the bullet and take some painkillers since it couldn't get much worse. I took two Aleve and went to sleep. I woke up a couple hours later feeling much better.

So I guess I just have some weird kind of flu and I'll be able to manage it with Aleve.

For a while I thought it was the salad I'd eaten at noon, and was imagining salmonella, etc. Your mind can really run away with you when you're not feeling good.

So. I need a plan for when I get sick. Who should I have called? What should I have on hand? Where is the urgent care? I need to figure these things out before I get sick again.

At least being sick is frugal. No driving, no food, no desire to spend!

Tomorrow is my birthday and I hope I am better, but if not, c'est la vie!

$159 left

August 9th, 2011 at 09:13 pm

My Netflix bill hit my credit card. Since I didn't count Netflix among my fixed expenses, and I expect to want entertainment when I retire, I counted it.

Last night I hard-boiled some eggs and cut up the two packages of chicken breastd into medallions (most of which went into the freezer. So much easier to cook that way. I expect these groceries will last me a while. Tonight I'm having chicken stroganoff.

I got my notice from Amazon today that it is time to ship Align. I told them to skip this shipment. I have plenty of probiotic pearls to get me through till the next shipment. They may not work as well, but they will help some, I'm sure.

I have a doctor's appointment coming up, but I will reschedule. Not just because of the challenge -- I have to go to a retreat that day. But I will make the new appointment in September.

Got an email coupon today for a free birthday scoop of ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. That should be totally free! No tip involved!

$167 left

August 8th, 2011 at 03:43 pm

I didn't think my weekend spending was too bad, but it did cut well into the $300.

Gas - $34
Groceries - $37
Prescription - $5
Parking - $4
Eating Out - $12
Gifts - $6
Wall Hanging - $3
Necklace - $2
Socks - $3

Gas and groceries -- not much I can do there. I felt like my grocery shopping was pretty productive. I bought my 15 items (I like to have several challenges going on at once, tee hee)

Granola - house brand
Milk - on sale
Red pepper - on sale
Green pepper - on sale
Shredded cheese - on sale
Horseradish spread - no-name brand
Bag of lettuce greens - on sale
Eggs - on sale
Can of tuna - on sale
Craisins - on sale
2 loaves of bread -- BOGO
Raspberries - on sale
2 packages chicken breasts - BOGO

Total savings: $12.82

Prescription -- a necessity, and cheap.

Parking -- surprise trip to the airport (helping out son)

Eating Out -- this was actually two "free" birthday meals -- one at IHOP, one at Brio Tuscan Grille. I did buy beverages and tipped appropriately for the value of the meals. The two meals actually fed me thee times, as the Brio meal was quite large -- and very delicious!

Gifts -- I went to Goodwill with my 25% off birthday card. Did not spend very much, but I spent $6 on a new shirt for my son and a gift bag.

Wall Hanging -- I also found a beautiful framed print of dogwood blossoms that will go in my bedroom. Dogwoods are special to me, and the price was amazing. This is a beautifully framed, professionally matted picture. Great find.

Necklace -- Goodwill again. Old gold beads with jet spacers. Couldn't pass it up.

Socks -- DSW. They sent me a $5 coupon. The cheapest thing I could find in the store was two pairs of half-socks. Anne Klein. Nice quality.

I think these are all things I would do as a retiree -- try to find the bargains wherever I can. Just have to watch the bottom line, also.

I also found some items for my booth at GW, but I'm not counting them, as I do not expect to have a booth after I retire (unless the thing miraculously starts making money!) I found a Japanese teapot, a Royal Holland pewter coffeepot, and an old tin (in good shape) for some kind of British goody (I can't remember what right now). Anyway, those three items cost me $5 and should bring in about 7 times that if they sell.

Free food

August 5th, 2011 at 01:13 pm

This is my birthday month, and I have lots of free food coming up. I have coupons from IHOP, Houlihan's, BRIO and Benihana, all for free meals. Also, the new school year will kick off this month, and I'll get a free breakfast and lunch. I already had a free lunch for going to a nutritional lecture provided by the College's wellness program. Sometime, when my kids get home from their Disney cruise, they will take me out to lunch. I think I can really take it easy on the grocery shopping. Actually, I already have -- I haven't been to the grocery since I left on my trip to Austin last Wednesday.

I haven't spent any more out of my $300, but that will change tomorrow. I have to get gas, grocery shop a little, and I really should get an oil change.

Oh, and Goodwill sent me a coupon for 25% off anything. I have to look.

DSW also sent me a coupon for $5 off anything. I might go see if I can find some socks or something.

Clammy, clammy, clammy

August 4th, 2011 at 01:00 pm

That's how the walk to work was this morning. I thought the temperature was low enough, but the humidity was high. Note to self: Check the humidity, too!

I will probably bum a ride home, since the weather won't improve during the day.

I'm a little downhearted this morning. Our apartment management posted a note about feeding stray cats, encouraging people to turn in the offenders. Of course, I'm one of the guilty ones. I can't help it, they break my heart.

When I saw the note this morning, I brought in the dish. I don't know what to do. I don't want to pay a fine, or even worse, lose my home.

$300 experiment

August 3rd, 2011 at 08:54 pm

Okay. I'm back to my $300 pretend-retirement scheme. I will try to spend $300 or less on non-bills, as I think that might be what retirement is like for me.

I spent $15 on a Groupon for a boat ride yesterday, and today I spent $28 on gifts from Amazon. That was rather impulsive, but I couldn't pass it up. My son loves board games, and the expansion game to one of his favorites was marked down, with free shipping. Then, if I selected two other games, they would be 34% off. Since my grandsons' birthdays are coming up in the fall, it was a good opportunity to get something for them. So I ordered three games for $28, with free shipping, and the value is something like $47.

That leaves $257 and most of the month to go. However, part of my retirement will be entertainment and gift-giving, so I do need to figure out how to fit these things in.

Parking issues

August 3rd, 2011 at 01:06 pm

It is time to pay for parking on campus. It is an annual $100 fee. However, there are other options offered.

One, there is a "free lot" at a church which is about an 8-minute walk away. There is a shuttle to this lot, also, though I don't think it runs real often.

Two, you can opt out of parking from April to November, and get a $25 pass to park on campus from December to March.

It takes me about 35 minutes to walk from my home to work, which is fine in nice weather but would be horrible in the rain or cold or excessive heat. Plus, carrying things is a problem. Sometimes my tote is heavy.

I thought before I decided I would try out the free lot. I parked there this morning. I tried to take a shortcut through the park, and got my shoes very wet in the dew. Not the way to go. Also, my shoes were rubbing me the wrong way by the time I got there, so I must wear walking shoes, even for a short walk like that. Still, I think it is an option with a little tweaking.

On the nice days I can walk all the way, and on the bad ones I can park at the church and wait for the shuttle.

It is only a savings of $8.33 a month, so I don't know if it's really worth it. The downside of not having a car on campus is that I couldn't use it at lunchtime and I couldn't run errands on the way home. I couldn't take home boxes like I do regularly (for hauling my booth items). It would be difficult on the days I had to bring in treats.

I don't know, what would you do?

July Recap

August 2nd, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Rent -- 1132 (new rate)
Vacation/Travel -- 854 (expenses from 2 trips)
Utilities -- 196
Groceries -- 116
Business -- 81
Gifts/Charity -- 67
Insurance -- 66
Furnishings/Equipment -- 54 (mostly for a wall hanging)
Eating Out -- 105 (birthdays)
Entertainment -- 10
Gas -- 0 (the only fill-ups were vacation-related)
Medical/Health -- 88 (vitamins etc.)
Clothing -- 112 (swimsuit, coverup, jewelry, alterations)
Personal -- 18 (haircut)
Fees/Services -- 57 (AAA)
Vet/Pet Supplies -- 45
Household Supplies -- 38
Car Repair/Maintenance -- 0
Miscellaneous -- 0

Total -- $3039

That's more than my take-home pay, so it's a red flag. But it was a pretty crazy month, and I expect this month will be very quiet.

Home again

August 1st, 2011 at 09:34 pm

I'm back from my conference. It was awesome. And my extra day with my cousins was fabulous, although I spent a little more than I wanted to. But then, they picked up a lot of the cost, too.

I'm getting back $1128, if my expense report is approved. What I spent above that was ...

$84 for food on Saturday/Sunday
$14 for entertainment (boat ride to see the bats)
$50 for ground transportation (didn't get a receipt -- long story)
$58 for gifts (good finds for Christmas)
$18 for a souvenir necklace for myself
$217 for the extra night in the hotel
$5 tip for the hotel maid

Whew!

What I resisted:

I didn't buy a book, even though my Nook lost its juice.

I didn't spend $$$ to get an earlier flight when I was dropped off at the airport early.

I didn't buy food/water to keep in my room.

I didn't order a movie in my room.

It could have been worse, financially.

Now I'm ready to try my $300 experiment again. It's August 1, and I have spent....

$15 for a Groupon to ride a Tall Ship at Navy Pier. Let me explain. I really, really wanted to do this last year and didn't get the chance. They only come once a year and now's the time. And my birthday is coming up, so this is my present to myself. I'm riding the Tall Ship!