A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sunday Morning Post (V.1, #41) - Another Hospital Stay (Boo!), But More Drugs (Yay!)

Hey gang, remember last week when I looked forward to going back to work after being out for six weeks recovering from surgery?  Well, the fates threw me a curveball.  I ended up spending most of the week in the hospital.  To be fair I blame my optimism on youth; after all I was seven days younger than now.  Ah, to the naivety of youth.

I did make it back for one day, slept badly that night, and called in sick on Tuesday because I was too exhausted to answer phone calls and listen to complaints about health insurance.  It would not take much — I estimate it would take no more than a response of "Bite Me" to one caller — to sharply curtail whatever is left of my career ambitions.

I was only going to be at work for a half day since I had a previous follow up appointment with my opthel…opoth…(why can’t I spell ophthalmologist) for my glaucoma treatment.   I have a visual field exam performed at least once a year for the glaucoma.  This time the exam showed more vision loss in one quadrant of both eyes.  The doctor on duty at this office showed me the results and urged me to go the emergency room.

I’ll admit that I have been overly glib in my narrative so far, but the doctor’s point was very serious.  She explained that my peripheral vision loss may have been caused by a silent stroke.  Oh, eff!  She wrote an order for a brain MRI which I was to give to the emergency room personnel.

Truth be told I did not go directly to the emergency room from the doctor’s office.  Warrior Queen’s office was on the way to the hospital.  I stopped in long enough to give her my latest health news.  She did not take it well, as she is still feeling the stress of lifeus interruptus due to my hip surgery. WQ recovered quickly and, with profuse apologies for what was about to happen, I left for a quick stop at home.  I had a physical therapy appointment for later that day and I needed to call from home (where I could find their phone number) to cancel my appointment.  Then I was off to the emergency room.

I have had a complicated history with this emergency room.  Sometimes I wait for hours to see a doctor and watch others, who came in after me, get called in to the treatment rooms ahead of me.  Then there was the time I walked in the middle of the night and explained I was having chest pains.  That time my butt was in wheel chair within seconds and I was wheeled immediately into triage and a treatment room.

I half expected to be kept waiting this time.  I presented my order to one volunteer and explained that I am here for an MRI.  She pointed me to the outpatient department where testing is performed.  I was grateful that she instructed me to go there as I did not relish (without mustard or ketchup) the idea of waiting in the emergency room for the customary two to five hours for service. 

My gratitude and elation was short-lived.  The receptionist at outpatient testing looked at my order, said something about emergency room may want to do the ordered service, and walked me back to the emergency room.  All this walking was more than I’ve done at once in recent memory, but I could at least count it towards my exercise for the day.

The outpatient person gave my order to the emergency room personnel who read it and wondered out loud why the physician didn’t order me transported to an emergency room via ambulance.  Another employee in the emergency room had my butt in a wheelchair within seconds.  I made a mental note to myself for future reference:  heart attacks and cardiac vascular accidents get prompt service in the emergency room.

Back in the treatment room, my vitals were taken and noted, I was hooked up to a heart monitor, and a CT scan of my brain was performed.  One physician who came in explained that the CT scan was the “black and white television version” of the brain, and he would prefer an actual MRI because that would pinpoint whether the stroke was acute or chronic.  Unfortunately, the presence of my pacemaker precluded the use of an MRI.

Another physician came in later and gave me the news I was really dreading: they would have to admit me for more tests.  I was told that night that they would move me to a room or the newly opened observation area as soon as space permitted.   

Apparently, there was no room to be had that night or most of the following day.  I was not moved from the emergency room for a full 23 hours. *

The CT scan confirmed that there was a blockage in my brain which was most likely caused by a mini stroke and said blockage was the cause of my vision loss.  Blood work hinted that a certain enzyme was present which indicated that my heart had been damaged by a heart attack.  Subsequent blood exams discounted this diagnosis.  The scan also found a blockage in my carotid artery, which begged for more testing for a possible surgical procedure.   I waited around in my hospital room for two more days until they could do the ultra sound, and have cardiology, neurological and vascular surgery physicians review all tests to determine the course of treatment.

In the end, it was determined that surgery for my carotid artery blockage was not needed at this time, but I needed to follow up with all of these physicians.  More good news:  they prescribed two more medications to my drug regimen which would anti-coagulate my blood further and, hopefully, prevent future blockages.

I was released Friday night and drove myself home.  WQ was not able to visit me in the hospital due to her ongoing medical condition which is just was well. I suspect that she needed a break from me for a few days.  Our cats missed me and we had a grand reunion when I came in the door.

“…and that, friends, is how we fly across the ocean!”

*Believe it or not this is not my record with them.  I once waited a full 24 hours in the emergency room (same hospital when it was in a different location) before I was moved to the ICU cardiac unit.  That time I was left alone in a window less room no bigger than a Kardashian walk-in closet, with all lights turned off save for the lights coming from the monitors to which I was hooked up.

(Thank you for reading.  And how was your week?)

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sunday Morning Post (V.1, #40): Back to Work

My surgeon has cleared me to start driving again.  I have called my supervisor and advised her that I can return to work tomorrow, 11/18.  It may prove to be a hellish week.

The months of October and November have always been our busy season when we take phone calls about open enrollment from what seems to be every company and business concern on the planet.  We have to go live for phone calls usually as early as 8a until our shift ends.  For most of us that is 5p, unless we volunteer for overtime beyond our usual quitting time.  

The problem is that a new call comes into the queue as soon as the old call is finished.  We barely have enough time to breath between calls in the months of October and November, let alone try to solve the problems of advising callers about their health insurance choices for (again, what seems to be) everyone on the planet.

Breathing?   Let’s pencil that activity in for the first week of January, but we can’t guarantee that.

The callers expect us to know every single detail about their plans.  We do have some training about some of the plans, but most of the time we are learning the plan details cold.  The average time we have to review the plans which enables us to give an intelligent-sounding answer to the caller’s question is the same amount of time between answering the call and saying “Hello, how may I help you,” to the caller.   In other words, no time at all.

Many times, we can advise the caller that we will need to research our various resources to answer their question.  Many are okay with our promise of researching and calling them back in a few days.   Unfortunately, it only takes one nightmare call to ruin the day.  Invariably we all get this one call where the caller demands his/her answer NOW and it cannot wait, and suddenly it’s OUR fault that he/she procrastinated until the last day of their open enrollment.

Such are the perils of customer service in our modern, capitalist system.

At the end of the day, we are all mentally exhausted.  My employer does several things to relieve some of the stress.  They usually provide dinner from any of the local fast food outlets in the area for those who stay beyond 5p.  Occasionally they will do other things for the day shift who have to endure a hellish situation.

My employer also tries their best to ensure that they hire more people for the open enrollment season.   They were constantly hiring and training new employees throughout this year which, it was hoped, would be enough for the annual rush.  Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough people and resources to meet the demand which seems to be increasing year after year.

This is the situation which I am returning to tomorrow.  I hope that I am coming back at the tail end of the open enrollment season.  The greatest demand usually winds down before Thanksgiving, so I am hoping I will only have to endure one week of hell.

So yes, the good news is I am well enough to return to work.  The bad news is I am well enough to return to work.  It’s enough to make one start believing in organized religion again!

(Thank you for reading.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of office cubicles I will fear no evil.  Or something like that.)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sunday Morning Post (V.1, #39) - Reading the Transcripts

The impeachment inquiry started by and conducted by the House Democrats has grown out of the Constitutionally questionable language in a phone call between our President and the new leader of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky in September.  The President released the transcript thinking that it would exonerate him.  His supporters are urging everyone to read the transcripts for the same reason. 
Okay so we have read the transcript—declassified, redacted and otherwise.  The Democrats see a problem and a possible impeachable issue.  They do not believe the printed word exonerates the President. 

Unfortunately, I found the complete transcript is too redundant and, yes, I’ll admit, too tedious to reprint in its entirety here.  We can point out and analyze where the Democrats believe they have a good argument for impeachment.

Please see the complete, declassified transcript on the Politico web site:

As we can see, the call between the President and the newly elected Ukraine President Zelensky included several moments of mutual congratulations and general ass-kissing between the two leaders.   Then Zelensky expresses his desire to purchase more weapons from the United States.  At this point the President states, “I would like you to do us a favor though…” 

(Cue dramatic music)

At this point the President requests that Zelensky and his people investigate the server Crowdstrike which had determined that the Russians had hacked in to the Democratic National Committee server and later hacked into a Ukraine military server.   Later on, the conversation moves on to the great work done by the former Ukraine prosecutor who was investigating corruption in the Ukraine, but was “shut down”.  A little while later in the conversation the President mentions a second item on his quid pro quo wish list: investigate the role of Joe Biden’s son in a Ukraine company which had previously been found to have carried out some shady dealings.

The President believes that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to get rid of this prosecutor because he was investigating his son.  Joe Biden claimed that he wanted the prosecutor out because he was not pursuing corruption enough, which is a sentiment shared by the leaders of the other nations in Europe.  Also, Hunter Biden had been investigated and his actions were not found to be involved with the corruption previously found at the company he was doing work for.

Now, had the President asked for a national security favor in exchange for the funding to buy weapons, then there wouldn’t be a problem.  He could have asked the Ukraine leader for permission to establish a base within the Ukraine, then it would have been okay.  Unfortunately, the transcript appears to show that the President was asking the Ukraine leader to assist with digging up some dirt on a potential political rival for the President in 2020.  Now there’s a problem.

(Cue Hitchcockian screeching of strings ala Psycho.)

Now let’s compare the official transcript of the phone call with a copy of the President’s Ukraine call transcript distributed to his MAGA hat-wearing supporters.


Subject: Telephone Conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine

Scene: The Ricardo apartment – late afternoon

(The door opens and Ricky Ricardo enters.)

Ricky: Lucy, I’m home!

(Lucy enters from the kitchen.)

Lucy: Hey, Ricky!  How was your day?  You know the President is totally innocent.

Ricky: I truly believe that, Lucy!

Okay, I think I see the problem.

For the record I have read the transcript, Mr. President, and speaking as an American tax-paying voter, you, sir, are guilty as hell!

At this point the impeachment inquiry will proceed and may God help us all!

(Thank you reading.  Please tune in next week when we will hear Lucy say: “The President will be impeached by Christmas?   WAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!”)