never thought that’s where we’d end up

When Terry and I were in Silicon Valley I used Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) for my healthcare. I was generally happy with it. They accepted my PPO insurance, and having all the various departments and specialties under one roof, metaphorically though not physically, made things easy. Terry had a doctor she really liked who was out-of-network, but when that doctor kept raising her fees Terry moved to PAMF as well and liked it.

caduceusWhen we moved here to Hemet there was no analogous medical group in the valley, but rather a patchwork hodgepodge of private practices. I got a recommendation for a doctor from a reliable source at church and made an appointment for my physical. That doctor accepted my PPO insurance. I had two appointments. At the first appointment in October 2015 he ordered my blood work and checked my breathing with his stethoscope without having me take off my shirt. That was all. He told me to come back in six weeks to review the results. Six weeks? Really? When I went back he reviewed the results with me, but did not touch me. Are you kidding me? And I was charged a copay both times. The annual physical was supposed to be no charge under that plan. When I called the insurance company they told me what they claimed he had seen me for—things we never discussed. I was determined to find another doctor for the next year’s physical.

Things happen for a reason. When I sat next to a couple at Rev. Kathleen’s farewell luncheon in September of last year they told me that one of the reasons they were in Hemet was that they had long been in the Kaiser system and needed to me near Kaiser facilities. Kaiser? I asked. Where is there Kaiser near here? In Moreno Valley they told me. That’s just up the road, perhaps forty minutes or so. No father than Terry and I had to drive for PAMF when we were in Gilroy. That got me thinking.

I had never seriously thought about being part of Kaiser, but I knew people who liked it. They certainly had a reputation for being proactive when it came to preventative care. And aside from the issues with my doctor, I didn’t like going to a lab independent of the doctor’s practice, and I hated not being able to log on with my web browser to see my test results.

Then a couple of things happened. Terry went to see her doctor for her annual physical in October. After waiting ninety minutes she god mad, asked for her test results, and left. At open enrollment time the packet that arrived told us that my former company (which very generously reclassified me as a retiree shortly after laying me off in 2014) dropped the PPO option in favor of a percentage indemnity plan.

Time to become part of the Kaiser system. I won’t go into how we signed up for both Covered California and my company’s plan, and then elected to go with my company’s plan rather than the California version of Obamacare, even at twice the monthly premium, after the disheartening results of the presidential election. The essential point is that we’re with Kaiser.

So far we’re pleased. Terry is happy with her doctor, I am happy with mine. Both are proactive with respect to our care and well-being. Terry had a call from orthopedics the day after her physical to schedule an appointment for her. Our doctors don’t hesitate to schedule tests when appropriate. For things like blood work we get in and out of the lab quickly.

I have to say that I feel much more secure with Kaiser than with the private practices here that seem more intent on maximizing their insurance billings than on patient care.

I believe we made the right decision.


on taking nothing for granted

I make a point of taking nothing for granted. And I make a point of being grateful.

I first got my hearing aid in 2010. I was delighted at the difference it made. I was grateful to have it. I had to send it in for repair twice and missed it terribly while I was without it. I never took it for granted.

Recently I lost it. It was, literally and metaphorically, the perfect storm. On Friday 17 February Southern California was hit by the largest rain storm it had seen in a dozen or more years. That same day Terry was scheduled for a procedure at a location about thirty miles away. (You know the procedure. It’s the one we have to get every few years after we turn a certain age. The one where the preparation is more unpleasant than the actual procedure.) When we arrived at the facility it was cloudy and cold but not raining. By the time they released Terry the storm had arrived in full force. I had Terry in the wheelchair and was trying to juggle that and the umbrella. As I often do when going from a building to the car when it is raining I took off my hearing aid and put it in my pouch. I managed to get Terry to the car and into the car, get rid of the wheelchair, and get myself into the car. When I went to get my hearing aid out of my pouch it wasn’t there. The battery was there but there was no hearing aid. Retracing my steps in the pouring rain produced nothing, and even if it had the hearing aid would doubtless have been ruined.

Hearing AidIt being a Friday afternoon, there was nothing I could do until Monday. I researched local hearing aid centers over the weekend and selected one that had been in business for a long time and sold multiple lines. I called them first thing Monday morning and though it was President’s Day I was grateful that they were open. I made an appointment for 8:00 a.m. Wednesday. The audiologist was very competent and thorough. I asked him about a hearing aid that would connect directly with my iPhone. He recommended the ReSound brand and as it was only a little bit more expensive than buying the brand I previously had, I decided to go for it.

The hearing aid arrived last Thursday and I immediately made an appointment for this morning. I went inHearing Aid App and again the audiologist was very thorough and helpful. The features are somewhat different from my previous hearing aid, but I am getting used to how they work. And not only am I able to use my iPhone directly with my hearing aid (without an intermediate device), but I can control it from my iPhone. I can change the volume and the settings. There is a restaurant setting that I can adjust for the ambient sounds, and then tell the app to remember that restaurant.

It’s all very cool and I am delighted to be able to hear properly again.

I am grateful and I take nothing for granted.


my new fern

I’ve long had a houseplant on the file cabinet between my desk and computer table. Last fall, the old plant we brought down from Gilroy was pretty much on its last legs. There wasn’t much green and it wasn’t growing. We replaced it with a nice full green plant. I really liked it, but this winter we have had an influx of annoying little gnats. The gnats liked the plant and the water in the catch tray at the base of the pot. I hated to exile my plant to the back patio, but it seemed to be a necessity.

fernI asked Terry to get me an artificial fern at Michael’s. I don’t make a habit of sending Terry on my errands, but she is much better at craft things than I am. She came home with a basket, an artificial fern, some additional fern fronds, and a Styrofoam block. She said that she was frustrated and almost gave up, but I told her that she got me exactly what I wanted. Which she did. It needed a little finishing off, so I went back to Michael’s and got some more fern fronds and some artificial moss. The moss made a terrible mess, but once cleaned up I was delighted with the end result.

I’ve always liked ferns and won’t have to worry about keeping this one alive.


a neighbor departs

When we moved here to Four Seasons in Hemet in May of 2015 our neighbor to the west was most gracious and welcoming. Sadly, she was not well and died some months back. The folks who bought her house, however, are very nice and we like them.

Our neighbor to the east, however, was another matter entirely. Her name is Glenda, though she likes to think of herself as Glinda. Glinda she is not.

house next doorShe did not like Tasha and her barking. Rather than admitting to that, however, she said, “The neighbors are complaining already.” She didn’t want to say that she was the one who didn’t like the barking. When we tried to get her to sign off on our plans to install artificial turf to replace our lawn in front she ignored all of our attempts to contact her.

Terry managed to enable a sort of reconciliation by asking, “What did we do to offend you?” She gave us credit for keeping Tasha from barking so much, and Terry established a somewhat amicable relationship with her. My relationship with her was, at best, civil.

Last fall she put her house on the market. Her son lives up north on the coast in Grover Beach. He is divorced and has custody of the kids. His situation was such that she felt the need to send him a check to buy them clothes. She thought it would be good to be near them.

Her house finally sold. On Friday, a wet, rainy day, a U-Haul truck showed up with a pair of husky young men.

Terry and I wish her the best being close to family, as we are. She told Terry that the woman who bought her house likes dogs.

We look forward to meeting her.


taking different approaches

sfgate logoI hated leaving the Bay Area in May 2015. But we did what we needed to do. There are good things about being in Southern California and it’s good to be close to family. I follow the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I don’t follow the San Francisco Giants or the Oakland Athletics.

Terry reads the San Jose Mercury News web site, sfgate.com, the San Francisco Chronicle we site, and the Gilroy Dispatch web site. I don’t.Mercury News logo

We’re here in SoCal. I’m focusing on being here in SoCal. No point in making myself unhappy. There Is much to be accomplished here.


being prepared

overshoesThis winter, so far at least, has been one of the wettest here in Southern California in several years. That is great and I love it. The downside is that the drainage in our city of Hemet is less than optimal. It is excellent here in our Four Seasons community, but once we exit the gates it is a mess when it is raining.

When it’s raining you have to cross a virtual river to get from the parking lot to our primary grocery store. I soaked my tennis shoes one rainy day. The office that Terry works out of to do her permit running work has similar issues.

Terry found rain boots at Tractor supply. I looked there, but all they had was oversized yellow hip-high rain boots and overshoes, the largest of which did not fit over my tennis shoes.

So what did I do? I did what I always do when in doubt. I went to Amazon. And I found a solution that works. I’m keeping these in the car.

No more soggy tennis shoes.


serving two purposes

thermosSince Terry has been working, part-time at least, and since the days have been chilly, she has been heating up soup on the stove and putting it into a thermos. She also heats water in our hot pot, warms up the thermos with it, and then puts the water back into the hot pot before hot water potfilling the thermos with soup.

There are two good things about this. First, it reminds me of when I was growing up and my dad would heat up soup and put it in a thermos before leaving for work on a cold winter morning.

Second, I don’t have to wait long at all for my hot tea in the morning.

Good stuff, all of it.