Friday, October 25, 2013
Notes from the Cave
We've started a new weekend rotation at work and thankfully I will no longer have to work third shift on the weekends. I might have mentioned this in my last update, now that I think about it. Either way, it's officially started now, so my weekend night shifts are done. Thank God.
For those of you interested in hearing my original music, I haven't been posting new songs to Serene Musings lately, because I can post them to Tumblr instead in audio file format. It's just a better medium for it. So if you want to hear my latest stuff, click here. I bought a MIDI keyboard device, which allows you to use computer software to generate just about any virtual instrument you can think of and play it on the keys. So I have been adding more instruments to my arrangements. The last one had virtual drums, bass, and honky tonk piano, along with my own vocals and guitar playing.
I typically try not to talk politics on NFTC, but I hope you'll indulge one comment on all the criticism surrounding the problems with the federal exchange website, Healthcare.gov. This is the site where uninsured people can go to purchase health insurance under the new healthcare law. Users have apparently been experiencing a lot of bugs and glitches and various other problems.
Originally, the healthcare law envisioned each of the 50 states setting up their own state-based health insurance exchanges. Federal grants would be given to those states that followed through and set up their own exchanges. For those states that were unable to set up their own exchanges, there would be a federal exchange website people in those states could go to. This is what Healthcare.gov is. It's the federally-run health insurance exchange for people in those states that don't have their own state-based health insurance exchange.
The problem is that way more states ended up not setting up state-based exchanges, not because they couldn't afford it or didn't have the resources, but because Republican lawmakers in those states essentially refused to do it out of spite over the existence of the law itself. In the end, only 14 states ended up setting up their own healthcare exchange; 36 did not. This is far more than what the original law envisioned.
It's little wonder, then, that the federal healthcare exchange website has been experiencing problems. There are way more users than what the developers of the site originally envisioned.
I also think it's ironic that Republicans scream the most about states' rights and how states should control their own destinies without interference from the federal government, etc., etc., etc., yet they willingly deferred to the feds on the healthcare exchanges, and now are sitting back with looks of smug self assurance saying, "See, I told you so, the federal government can't do anything right." Then maybe you should have set up your own state-run and state-operated healthcare exchange! The federal exchange was never supposed to be the primary way health insurance was purchased by uninsured Americans. It was supposed to be largely state-based and state-run with the federal exchange just there as a backup for a handful of states who legitimately didn't have the resources or funds to start their own exchange.
For what it's worth, my home state of Kentucky (whose governor is a Democrat) does have it's own healthcare exchange, and it's working just fine!
Okay, I'm sorry. I didn't intend for that to go on so long or get so heated. I'm sure half of you skipped everything I just wrote anyway :)
Now for the story of my stress test and echocardiogram, which I had on Wednesday.
I was scheduled for the echo (an ultrasound of the heart) at 9:15 and the nuclear stress test at 10:00. The stress test is where you walk on a treadmill and they take your blood pressure and monitor your heart. It's "nuclear" because they also inject you with a radioactive dye and give you two heart scans, one before the treadmill workout, and one after.
I had the echo, and then went in to get the IV started for my stress test. I was nervous about this, because I sometimes get faint when I get blood drawn. I was also a bit nervous about being injected with this radioactive dye. In addition to that, I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything that morning, and I tend to get jittery and become more prone to anxiety when I have low blood sugar. I wasn't even allowed a drink of water.
Long story short, the tech tried to start the IV in my hand (which I wasn't happy about), but missed the vein. He didn't want to poke me there again, so he went to my elbow next and successfully got the IV started there. I was fine up until he started injecting the dye. At that point, I felt faintness come on me very suddenly, and within seconds I fainted dead away to the floor. The tech apparently had to catch me and let me down. I have a sore back from flopping over.
I woke up flat on the floor with someone holding my legs up, and about six other people standing over me calling my (first) name ("Byron! Byron!"). I was apparently out for a minute or two and didn't respond immediately to the smelling salts.
Ah, life as B. Scott Christmas.
After a short time with some oxygen and a saline drip, I started feeling better and was able to complete the stress test and nuclear medicine scans. I was able to get all the way up to my heart rate limit (182 bpm), which a lot of folks apparently can't or won't do.
I don't have the results back yet. They told me my cardiologist looks at the results immediately, and if there is anything urgent, I would be contacted. Otherwise, he'll go over it with me at my next appointment, which is in November.
This was two days ago, and I haven't heard from them since, so I assume no news is good news. I might call them next week to see if I can move my appointment sooner than November 20.
My weight, by the way, has been holding steady at about 199 pounds. I DID finally break that 200 pound plateau that I complained about in the last edition of NFTC, but was not able to achieve my goal of 195 by the time I had my stress test. Oh well. Not a big deal.