Push Through The Pain… Or Don’t

Hello, hello!  For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been having some issues with pain brought about by adjusting my seat cushion.  Needless to say, it’s been interfering with my writing.  For three days, it was so bad that I didn’t do anything productive.  Since then, I’ve been able to focus on doing most of the stuff I needed to do.  But I wanted to take today to talk about pain and when to suck it up vs. when to take a break because of it.

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I try.  Sometimes, I fail.

When you’re cripple, pain is pretty much a guarantee.  Every doctor I visit inevitably asks if I’m in any pain, and my go-to response is “no more than usual.”  It’s a given that my neck/left shoulder always hurt, along with my back and hips.  It’s more a matter of how bad I’m hurting.  Low-level (about a three) aches that randomly spike to about a seven on a scale of one to ten are my norm.  Those are the pains I’m used to, and yes, you eventually get used to hurting.  They’re the pains that I can ignore and go about my day with.

But what about the days those random spikes linger?  What about the days when the pain is so different (not necessarily bad, just unusual) that it distracts me from the things I need to focus on?  Honestly, most of the time, I pop some Aspirin and goof around until it kicks in, then get back to work.  As long as everything eventually returns to normal, I don’t worry about it too much.  Granted, sometimes I waste a lot of time trying to figure out why I’m feeling the way I do, but that could just be another form of procrastination for me.

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Occasionally, there are days when the pain is higher than normal and doesn’t go away even with Aspirin.  If I can figure out why I’m in pain, I try to figure out how to stop it, which can be a trial and error bit that lasts a couple of days (like with my seat).  I know I’ll never be able to focus on those days.  When I have pain like that, I usually move around a lot and have to sit in positions that make working at the computer impossible.  Not to mention, pain makes it really hard to focus.  My mind gets all jittery.  Those are the days that I say screw writing and everything else I need to do.  And that’s okay.  We all deserve a little time off when we’re in pain.

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Stare blankly at the wall until the pain goes away.

So, if you’re not already aware of what kind of pain is normal for you, try to learn.  It makes the decision to push through or take a break much easier.  What do you do when you’re hurting?  Do you pop a couple of pills and wait for them to kick in?  Do you do yoga or tai chi or some other exercise in the hopes of working the pain out?  Perhaps you meditate.  Whatever your method of dealing with aches and unusual pains, feel free to share your tips and tricks here or on my social media pages!

Toyota Music Factory: State-Of-The-Art Experience Or Not?

Hello, hello!  On Monday, Dad surprised me with a trip out to Irving to see the Moody Blues.  They’re a band that Dad and I both enjoy.  I was raised on them.  They played a lot of songs I knew and a few I didn’t.  Of course, Dad sang along to all of them.  We both had a lot of fun, though Dad couldn’t figure out how all the other fans had gotten so old while he stayed young.  But I wanted to talk about the venue, the Toyota Music Factory, and our experience there.

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Still love their music!

According to their FAQ section, “Toyota Music Factory is an experience – with 25 restaurants and entertainment concepts, an Alamo Drafthouse Theater, and the Pavilion – an 8,000 capacity indoor/outdoor, state-of-the-art concert venue, Toyota Music Factory is the new soul of the DFW Metroplex. From power lunches to happy hours, date nights to show time, it’s sure to satisfy any taste in food, music, movies, and more.”  But is it really?

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a fabulous concept.  Being able to arrive a couple of hours early and stop for dinner at one of the on-site restaurants is great, especially for people who don’t know the area well (like us).  And since it’s not even a year old (it officially opened in September of 2017), minor problems are to be expected.  Case in point, the security people on parking duty had absolutely no clue about handicap parking.  Even the valet people seemed confused, but there was one cripple spot left up front, so they told us to go ahead and park there instead of in one of the garages.  And that was once we were there.  The signage to get to the place was absolutely horrible.  But I don’t know if that’s a venue issue or a city of Irving issue.

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Borrowed from TMF’s website.

The Pavilion (the music venue itself) was a nice place, but I wouldn’t call it state-of-the-art by any means.  It was stark, all concrete and wood.  It actually reminded me of some of the small venues I’ve been to, only ten times the size.  There wasn’t an actual elevator.  Instead, they have a “lift,” which is a base with a wall on either side, but the front and back are exposed to the concrete/doors of the shaft.  So, while it’s moving, you better keep yourself away from the front and back.  Then there was the seating.  Handicap seating was fairly close (second section) with a barrier that didn’t obstruct the view.  We were in the center.  There was also some handicap seating up in the third section.  But even though the floor seating was the same as the companion seats in the cripple sections, easily removed folding chairs (seemed kind of chintzy for “state-of-the-art”), there weren’t any handicap tickets available down there.  It wasn’t a bad venue by any means, but it certainly wasn’t what they advertise it to be.

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The lift was something like this, encased in concrete.

Overall, it’s a venue I wouldn’t mind going back to if a band worth seeing comes through.  All of the staff were friendly and helpful, which goes a long way to balancing out the not-so-good aspects of the place.  However, it’s definitely not going to be the “new soul” of DFW unless they make some significant improvements.  Plus, it’s all the way over in Irving, so the bands will have to be really good to make me go back.

It Just Irks Me

Hello, hello!  The past few weeks, I’ve been really diligent about submitting to at least two magazines or anthologies each Monday.  This means that I’ve been going through Duotrope, Ralan’s site, and random calls for submissions.  In my searches, I came across a really neat anthology that I will likely submit to if I can come up with a story that falls in the realm of Sci-Fi, but something about their call rubs me the wrong way.  They’re looking for people who “identify as disabled.”  I had to read their call three times before I realized it was that exact phrase that made me twitch every time.  Something about it just irks me.

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If I could tilt my head, this would’ve been my reaction.

The anthology is being put together by people with disabilities and will be comprised of stories/essays/poems/etc. by people with disabilities, so I want to be clear that I think it’s a wonderful thing and I look forward to reading it.  The thing that makes me pause and overthink everything is the concept of choosing whether or not to identify as disabled.  It’s something I never really thought about before, because my crippleness is so apparent that not having it as part of my identity was never an option.  In my experience, people are either disabled or they aren’t.  They don’t really get a choice.

Sure, some disabilities are less severe than others.  Some are even invisible.  But a disability is a disability regardless of whether outsiders can tell it’s there or not.  If you’re disabled in a way that isn’t apparent to others and you choose to keep it to yourself, that’s your prerogative, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re disabled.  If you don’t have a physical or mental deficit/difference, even if you want one (which apparently is a thing, though I have no idea why anyone would want to be disabled), then you aren’t disabled.  You could become disabled in the future, but you aren’t right now.  Disabilities don’t care how you identify.  They either happen to you or they don’t.

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From Ctrl+Alt+Del.  I still laugh when I come across this one.

I suppose my biggest issue with the idea of choosing whether or not to identify as disabled is that it implies disability is some kind of social construct that people can opt into or out of whenever they want.  It’s not.  Disabilities are diseases and abnormalities that people have to deal with every single day.  It’s not a choice.  It’s not politics.  It’s the hand life decided to deal us.

But I also know there are a lot of people who struggle with the idea of whether or not they’re “disabled enough” to claim the title.  That’s why the anthology uses the concept of identity in its call.  They want to include as many people as possible and they want people with disabilities to know that they aren’t judging what counts as a disability.  They want people to feel welcome to submit no matter the type of disability or severity.  In my head, I know and understand this.  I even think it’s a diplomatic way to handle a tough situation.  It’s just something that made me stop and think.

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I do this far too often.

I’m going to stop rambling now.  Feel free to leave your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

The Problem With Privilege…

Howdy, howdy!  Any time something awful happens in the world, after the initial shock wears off, there seems to be an uptick in talk about “privilege” among my Interwebz friends.  I don’t know why.  Awful things happen because people suck, not because they’re privileged.  But still, the debates arise.  Normally, I avoid these conversations and keep my opinions to myself because, frankly, my opinion doesn’t really matter and doesn’t mesh with most of my friends’ opinions.  So, instead of joining the debates on Facebook and Twitter (which almost always devolve into name calling), I thought I would share my thoughts about privilege and my experience with it here.

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I, in fact, do not like to live dangerously, but here it goes

I actually really hate it when people start throwing around the word “privilege.”  It’s not because I don’t believe it exists, but because I don’t believe it’s an insult to the people you’re calling privileged.  Nor is it something to be ashamed of.  A privilege is a good thing.  According to the OED, a privilege is “a right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by an individual, corporation of individuals, etc., beyond the usual rights or advantages of others.”  Why would anyone in their right mind be ashamed of that?  Granted, not everyone has earned these benefits, but be honest… if you received some kind of special treatment from other people, would you feel guilty?  I don’t, and I get a lot of special treatment (cripple privilege is very much a thing).

The word “privilege” is, however, an insult to everyone you’re not including in it.  I’m white, which comes with its own set of privileges according to the people who bandy that word around.  I’m also female, crippled, and not entirely heterosexual.  All of which, according to these same people, make me somehow lesser in the eyes of others.  Don’t get me wrong, these people will tell me that I’m just as good as everyone else, just as good as a straight, white, able bodied male, then they turn around and say that the male has more privilege (read: is treated, and thus viewed as, better by others) because of the way he was born.  That’s a contradiction.  I’ve had this conversation before (oddly enough, never with the straight, white, able males because I’ve never met one with the gall to insinuate I’m lesser to my face) and I really want to tell people to make up their damn minds.  Are we equal or is he (the so-called privileged guy) better?  You can’t have it both ways.

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I also dislike calling people privileged just because they got certain genes, because it gives them a kind of power they don’t deserve.  Everyone deserves respect and courtesy, but that’s because we’re all humans.  Treat people the way you want to be treated until they give you a reason to treat them differently.  Don’t give them special treatment then call them privileged, because at that point they’re just accepting what others are offering them.  Now, if they demand to be treated better than everyone else, they’re entitled asshats.  Entitlement is different from privilege.  Entitlement means they’re assuming they’re special.  Privilege means you’re assuming they’re special.  At least, that’s how I feel about it.

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This is what I think of when they talk about privilege.

I know this post will piss people off, but it’s just my own thoughts.  “Privilege” isn’t something we should feel bad about having.  It’s something that is given to us by other people and it can be taken away.  All the word really does is reinforce the idea that some of us are lesser because of genetics, which is stupid and hurtful.  I think a better phrase to describe people who think they’re privileged is to say they have an unhealthy “sense of entitlement.”  That’s all.

Feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

Books Vs. eBooks

Hello, hello!  It’s October already, so I wanted to give you a quick update on my September goals before I get into this week’s ramblings.  I wrote about 19,000 words (huzzah!), finished reading two books and am working on a third (which is where this post is coming from), queried my 100th agent (the waiting continues), submitted a flash piece to my critique group, and messaged some different people (the conversations didn’t last long, but at least I tried).  In other words, September was super productive and I hope October will be as well!

Now, onto what this post is really about: books.  Pretty much everyone I know has strong opinions on whether regular old books or ebooks (Kindle, Nook, etc.) are better.  Here are my thoughts.

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Book 1, eBook 0

First up are books.  Personally, I adore them.  The smell of an old book is basically the best thing ever.  The feel of a page against your hand is lovely.  And going into a library or bookstore (or our back bedroom) to peruse titles is one of the funnest activities in the world.  Or maybe it’s just a nice activity because it doesn’t usually have to involve other people (unless you’re me), which is a plus for introverts.  There’s also something about seeing book covers outside of a screen that’s awesome.  I bought one book online and had no idea its cover was shiny and metallic until it got here, which only made it cooler.  So yes, I love books.

On the other hand, books are a pain in the ass for me.  If they aren’t in a couple of very particular places, I can’t grab them by myself when I’m in the mood to read.  I know asking someone (read: Dad) to hand me a book isn’t a big deal, but it requires them to stop whatever they’re doing just for that.  It’s weird.  Plus, I sometimes have trouble opening/keeping a book open (especially when they’re new).  If you’ve ever had a book close itself and forgot what page you were on, you know how annoying it is.

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Next up are ebooks.  In my opinion, they aren’t nearly as magical as regular books.  No one can see the cool cover as you read or how far along you are, so they can’t really strike up a conversation about the book (but who really wants that when they’re reading?).  They don’t smell, they don’t have weird stains on the pages, they don’t have the right feel.  BUT!  They’re easier for me to use.  I can pull a book up on my phone or computer whenever I want.  I can browse for titles online without any help.  They’re just really convenient for people with a limited range of motion.  And that makes them awesome in their own special way.

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It’s true.

Ultimately, for me, both books and ebooks have their pluses (neither of the plurals for that word look right) and minuses.  If I love an author and can be reasonably sure I’ll like the book, I’ll automatically opt for a hardcopy.  If I don’t know the author or have doubts about whether I’ll enjoy a book, I automatically go the ebook route.  For everything in between, my choice usually boils down to how fast I want/need the book.

What about you?  Do you prefer one over the other?  Why or why not?  Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Avoiding Becoming The Token Cripple

Howdy, howdy!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful week.  Today, I want to talk a little about some of my struggles with deciding how much to reveal about myself when submitting to publishers and/or agents.  I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, especially with Garnets and Guardians, because being cripple is the best asset one can have when writing cripple characters, right?  But, honestly, it’s really difficult to know how much to reveal about yourself and how that information is going to influence the people who are ultimately judging your talent (or lack thereof).

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There’s a thin line that I don’t want to cross.

When it comes to submitting short stories to various magazines, I don’t bother mentioning my disability.  Mostly, I keep it to myself because it has no bearing on the stories I submit.  There aren’t any cripple characters in my short stories, so there’s no point in mentioning it.  But, I also keep it to myself because I fear the concept of a pity pub (getting published because they feel sorry for me).  I understand that these are professionals who are supposed to be above such actions, but years of “cripple perks” (earning awards in high school for simply doing the work I was assigned, being called “inspirational” at college just because I preferred classes on campus instead of online, etc.) have made me wary of succeeding in subjective areas.  It’s just something I will always be worried about.

However, when I began submitting Garnets and Guardians to agents, I was forced to reevaluate the choice to keep my disability out of things.  On the one hand, I don’t want to take the chance of people judging my writing less harshly just because I’m cripple.  I also don’t want agents to become intrigued by me even if they aren’t enthusiastic about my writing.  I’m not interested in being anyone’s token cripple.  On the other hand, the protagonist of my novel has a disability, so my own crippleness gives me a unique perspective into her development as a realistic character.

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We can’t all write Timmy and Jimmy.

In the end, I chose simply to mention my disability in passing in my query letter.  I don’t know if it’s the correct decision or not.  Sometimes, I wonder if I should go into more detail, but then I worry it will seem like I’m hoping for special treatment, which I also want to avoid.  I was raised to never expect or ask for special treatment beyond the accommodations I need (but not to turn it down in certain cases either).  But ultimately, a brief mention of it to establish that I have knowledge about cripple experiences feels necessary.  Besides, if my query letter intrigues an agent and they decide to look at my website or blog, they’re going to find out about my crippleness anyway, so it’s not as if I’m hiding it.

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I try, but how much of myself should I be?

So yeah, while I don’t technically hide my disability from people, I remain wary about announcing it in a professional (virtually anonymous) setting just in case it will cause people to think differently about me.  What about you?  Is there anything you refrain from mentioning because of similar reasons?  What about completely different reasons?  Feel free to share here or on my social media sites!

Until next time!

Writing Cripple Characters

Hello, hello!  I hope all of my US and Canadian friends had wonderful independence days!  Mine was quiet.  It was spent writing this and playing mindless games, because I was a little tired and didn’t feel like doing anything else.  But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.  I wanted to tell you all a bit about the protagonist of my current series-in-progress and why I chose to make her cripple (this is my preferred term, so if it offends you… sorry, not sorry).

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I wish I had cupcakes.

Garnets and Guardians is the first book in my Demonic Jewels (working title) series.  The series follows Bailey Donovan, a thirteen-year-old who has recently been diagnosed with Limb-Girdle disease, as she struggles to cope not only with her illness, but also with moving to a new town and the dark discovery she makes there.  Despite everything, she remains fairly stoic, which occasionally causes drama within her family.  And yes, unlike many protagonists in the fantasy genre, Bailey’s family remains whole and supportive.

So, why did I choose to write about a young girl who is newly cripple?  I’ve actually heard a lot of theories on this in various workshops.  The one I get the most is that I’m writing what I know, or that Bailey’s a fantasy version of me, or similarly weird things.  In a lot of ways, she is like me.  She doesn’t do well with emotional displays and she likes to handle things her own way.  But her disability is nothing like mine, so she has to cope differently, which really means she’s a completely separate person from me.  There’s also the theory that I write cripple characters because they are few and far between in genre fiction and I want to see myself reflected in these genres I love.  I’ve covered that before: yes, diversity is important, but I (personally) don’t need or want characters to be cripple in order for me to identify with them.

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Apparently, this is a thing?  Interesting.  Chose to share because of number 3.

All of that is great and I’m sure it’s why some people choose to write cripple characters, but it’s not why I did.  Honestly, I just wanted to write about a hospital full of demons.  What better way to do that than to give my protagonist a chronic disease that forces interaction with such a place?  Yeah, I chose a disease within my realm of understanding, but that’s only because I hate doing immense amounts of research.  So, for me, writing a cripple character has less to do with crippleness itself and much more to do with what fits the story and me being too lazy to look stuff up.

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Writing is hard enough without the research.

Have you ever written a cripple character?  Did you do so for the sake of diversity or was it just something you wanted to try out?  Have you wanted to write a cripple character but chose not to?  Why?  No judgment here, so feel free to share your thoughts and stories and reasons below or on my social media pages!

One Long Vacation

Hello, hello!  It has been a fairly blah few days with an unidentified sickness.  I haven’t written anything except this since Wednesday (the 14th).  It’s currently Monday (the 19th).  I guess when I said it was okay to take a self-care day now and then, my body decided to take it seriously.  Tomorrow (yesterday?), I have (had?) a dentist appointment, so I probably won’t write then either.  Shame on me, but it goes well with a question someone suggested as a blog topic last week: “What would do if you no longer needed to work/write for a living? How would you spend your time?”  Apparently, I’d spend it being sick!  Really though, it depends on the situation.

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This isn’t entirely inaccurate as far as the possibilities go.

 First, I have to actually get to a point where I’m making a living with my writing.  That’s a distant dream all on its own.  But, dwelling on my current lack of success (I refuse to claim defeat or failure in such a subjective field) isn’t as fun as daydreaming about the possibilities of the future.  However, it really depends on the circumstances surrounding my ability to quit writing.  What are we talking about?  Am I able to quit writing because I have billions of dollars and awesome investments to keep that money rolling in?  Do I have enough for the near future, like a five year plan or something?  Have I simply found a different job that I like better?  The answers are always going to be different.

Honestly, if I had enough money to survive in luxury for the rest of my life, I probably wouldn’t write much anymore.  I know I should say that I would and that writing is in my soul and I can’t live without it, but I can’t lie.  It’s just not the way I am.  Writing is great, but it’s a job.  Instead, I’d get a tricked out RV and travel the country visiting with all my distant friends.  When I got bored with that, I’d hit the connected countries.  Then, I’d look into a customized private plane if the doctor gave me the okay to fly (if not, maybe a cruise ship) and travel the rest of the world.  But cripple friendly RVs and planes and ships probably cost more than I could ever think of making.  It’s my daydream though, so the money supply is unlimited.

Port of Entry at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Can’t forget to stop at some theme parks.

However, if money wasn’t an issue for only five years or so, I’d definitely keep up with the writing.  I’d probably take a few months off here and there to do some traveling and visiting, but I’d still want to produce work to put out for when money started running low.  Plus, I’d need some extra cash to buy an RV to do the traveling in.  So, I’d have fun, but I would keep planning ahead by writing.

Lastly, if I found a different profession, I most likely wouldn’t write at all unless the job called for it.  Writing is time consuming.  I love it.  But, if I want to do something else, that would be where all of my energy gets focused.  Though, I can only think of a couple of professions that I’d drop everything for, so I think my writing is safe.

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According to this, I’d be the most productive writer ever no matter what.

 What about you?  What would you be doing if you didn’t have to write or work anymore?  Would you go on a grand vacation or stay locked up in your home to avoid the world?  Share your daydreams in the comment section here or on any of my social media sites!

Mini-Update on the Previous Post

I just wanted to update everyone who was wondering what happened with the pulmonologist (see the previous post, please).  We ended up pushing the appointment back until August, so that the insurance people have a chance to work things out on their end.  BUT, one of the respiratory therapists that I have known basically forever informed Dad that my primary care physician can sign the paperwork for me to keep my second vent.  Yay!  That means all of this was definitely unnecessary stress.  Hopefully, everything is on its way to being straightened out.  Wish us luck and send good vibes!

How Not To Treat Your Patients And Acceptable Alternatives

Hello, hello!  Today’s post will be devoted to the cripple side of life, rather than writing or food (and it’s kind of a rant).  As many of you know, at best, I dislike doctors and, at worst, I despise them.  I don’t like people who touch/grab/pull at me without asking FIRST and listening when I explain my limitations (doctors are great at the grabbing, but not so much with the listening).  My anxiety levels are usually already maxed out before I even enter the building due to other fears mingling with the whole “it’s a doctor’s appointment” thing.  Still, if a doctor says they want to see me, I make an appointment.  I’ve never missed an appointment without a legitimate reason and, if something happens that I have to cancel, I do so as early as possible.  Even though I don’t particularly like doctors, I’m not difficult to get along with as long as space boundaries are respected and they make their wishes known.  Communication is key here.

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This applies even if I can’t physically throat punch you.  Rest assured, I am visualizing it.

 So, here are some things that I do NOT respond to well as a patient (for my pulmonologist, but any doctor really):

1. Threatening to take away one of my machines.  He didn’t threaten this directly, but he refuses to sign the paperwork okaying my second ventilator unless I come see him.  We (my dad and I) have received no phone calls or emails or anything in the last year and more than a half (since my last appointment) saying this doctor wanted me to come in for a check up or else we would have complied.  Instead, we got a call from the company supplying my vents that said they are going to take one away if the doctor won’t sign the paperwork.  Does he really think I’ve gotten better since my last appointment?  No.  That’s not how this disease works.

2. Being forced to make a rushed appointment when it’s not technically necessary.  Which is exactly what the above situation called for.  I’ve only seen this doctor twice before, but both times he was booked months out, so a quick appointment isn’t exactly easy.  Luckily, he had an opening for tomorrow (today? Wednesday, July 13th).

3. Being informed two days before my appointment that the hospital doesn’t accept my insurance.  So, my options become a) cancel the appointment and risk losing one of my vents or b) paying $570 out of pocket.  This is the ultimatum amidst a clusterfuck (pardon my language) of people trying to figure out if they can get my insurance to work with two days notice.  I’m just glad I have Dad to field the phone calls (sorry I’m a PITA, or at least the reason you have to deal with this crap).  It’s unnecessary stress that will most likely end up with us out $570.  We’ll find out tomorrow (today?).  If the appointment isn’t pushed back.  We won’t know what’s going on until some time in the morning (just hours before the appointment).  Yeah.  Great.

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Some acceptable alternatives to these things:

1. Call/email/text/send a carrier pigeon to schedule an appointment BEFORE you decide I don’t need a machine.  I, like many people, don’t even think about doctors unless I’m sick/in immense pain/dying.  And 90% of the time, I don’t even go then.  If you want to see me, tell me.  It’s that easy.

2. Give me plenty of notice.  Hell, I will gladly make (and keep) an appointment for a year out if you want to make it as I leave the appointment we just had.  If you don’t want to do that, see the first item of this list.  Preferably, give me a month or two notice in case we run across any issues like you not accepting my insurance, so we have time to work it out.

3. Take my insurance information earlier, so we can work out any wrinkles without the pressure of an impending appointment.  Follow the first two steps, and this one will be no problem.  It’ll also give us time to explore our other options (whether that be insurance or doctors or whatever).

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Because awkward Sheldon makes me smile.

 In other words, use common sense and common courtesy.  I don’t know why these things are called ‘common’ when they’re anything but.  Hopefully, my appointment tomorrow (today?) won’t be as much of a disaster as I’m imagining.  Many people involved in this debacle have been very nice and understanding.  Some have not.  Either way, Dad and I have been stressing about all of this, so someone (knowing Dad, probably a lot of someones) is going to get an earful.  If we go.  Like I said, still waiting on the green light.

Sorry for the rant!  I know my problems don’t compare to what’s happening in the rest of the world, but they bug me nonetheless.  Thanks for listening/reading.  Back to the regularly scheduled randomness next week.  Peace out.