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To my kind and caring friends here on the GOS: I'm still recuperating from a painful bout of pleurisy (an inflammation of the lining of the lung, a common complication of the more severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis), but I didn't want to wait any longer to say thank you.

I simply can't begin to thank you enough for your kindness and generous support. In June it will be one year since I was diagnosed with RA and had to leave my job and go on temporary state disability--a leave-taking that resulted in a cascade of negative events and mental health-mangling financial woes. My state temporary disability benefits were terminated in November of last year, and yet I couldn't go back to work--in point of fact there were days I could barely walk. I was in terrible trouble, the worst I'd ever known.

In the midst my physical decline, I want to mention that in February of this year I also came within a hair's breadth of losing my house, but thanks to the good advices of many knowledgeable kospeeps, that nightmare was averted, and I remain in my home for now.

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Fri Dec 05, 2014 at 11:00 AM PST

Crossing Over

by aitchdee

That's a picture of my funniest little valentine, Camoo. Absurdly, I named her after Albert Camus, the philosopher and novelist about whom I knew almost nothing other than that Barnes and Noble was advertising the publication of a new, "definitive" biography of the Frenchman. I'd spotted the signage for it in a B&N storefront window one day and for some reason thought oh, that's it, that's what I'll call her, Camus. Crazy! In an effort to keep it from seeming too terribly pretentious, though--as if it weren't, or wouldn't be, either way--I decided to ditch all that silent French fussiness and spell her name my own way, quasi-phonetically. Camoo. I suppose at the bottom of it all is that those syllables sound like marmalade to me, and she was an orangey one. Chalk it up to synesthesia.

Now, this funny, beloved little face has been a constant in my life for many a year now, and to my heartbreak I do believe the time is upon me to help her cross the rainbow bridge. She isn't well--more about that in a moment. Unfortunately, it costs money to do what must be done--$150 to be exact--and I'm embarrassed to say at the moment I simply do not have it. I've been living on temporary state disability benefits, having been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in June--and let me tell you, it doesn't provide you with much. I mean, there's just not an inch of wiggle room in my budget for any unexpected expense. So, without knowing what else do to and feeling that time may be of the essence, I am here again to ask you all for your generous help, for I desperately need some assistance paying the veterinary bill to help my friend cross over.

Let me tell you a bit about her.

Well, first of all, Camoo isn't the least like her namesake; no, there was never anything contemplative or philosophical about her. On the contrary she's a dizzy, ditzy little girl whom her sister, the late Bloomberg (the more sober-minded of the pair who might have borne the name with a bit less irony) had continually to try and keep in line. I was thirty-three when I took them into my home. It wasn't quite the plan, adopting two cats, much less these two cats--fate had a heavy hand--but of course now I wouldn't have it any other way.

I had a good job, then, and had just (amicably) left a boyfriend and was living alone--without roomies or bedmates--in a well-situated, attractive city apartment for the first time in my adult life. I had the money--then--to modestly furnish it more or less to my taste, and when that was done, I decided the only thing missing in my self-made domestic haven was (what else) the presence of a cat. It was my intention to visit the animal shelter and choose him or her myself, but ... well, something else happened. As things are wont to do.

The ex from whom I'd amicably split called one weekend to say a friend in common was in a harrowing jam: he'd brought home two shelter kittens two weeks previous, and had since discovered an intractable allergy to them. So, ah ... would I? Could I? No way could they go back to the pound.

They're very cute, he said. Just adorable, he said. You've really got to see them.

Oh, hell. Bring them over. And so they did, the ex and our friend, whereupon the babies proceeded to walk all over my coffee table and paw my tchotchkes and claw the stuffing out of the new chairs and shred the new drapes. Oh, my God, what a duo of destruction they were, flopsy-mopsiying throughout the place--and I couldn't have loved them more. I was wrong about what my perfect domestic nest needed. What it needed was two furry destructive infant nuisances, not just one.

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Attention! Everyone! I have met my goal!

Whew! It was touch-and-go for a there minute, wasn't it? But now I am happy to report that I have met (and somewhat exceeded) my cash goal. This should be enough to get Franny, Camoo, and myself through until the first of November.

Bear hugs and great, heartfelt thanks to all.  Love you! xoxo


PRESCRIPT: If you want to send dog food and the system says it needs an address (it shouldn't but it might) please just PM me and I will give it to you. Don't give up! It's so impt for me to have food for Frances. Thank you so much for your help!
So, I've been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis--that was in June--and have been living on temporary state disability (SDI) benefits ever since, having no other income. It's not a lot of money, but so far it has been enough to get by on until, I had thought, either my RA goes into remission (it can happen) and I return to work, or I move from temporary state to long term Social Security Disability if it doesn't.

But now, suddenly, SDI has cut me off, and I am still very much in the midst of treatment. A new doctor makes two small but crucial mistakes on my recertification form, and the State Disability Office has unplugged me, leaving me in a lurch, with no income whatsoever.  

A brief bit of background.

I was able at long last to get a diagnosis in June when ... well, wait, I'm jumping ahead of my own story. What happened first was, after five months of mounting pain I finally stumbled into the ER one evening after work and bawled at a triage nurse to help me, please, God, help me--whereupon she informed me that joint pain of this sort is not an emergency and thus not treated in the ER. "Go home and make an appointment with your primary provider," she said.

I don't have a primary provider, I told her. I don't have health insurance. My employer doesn't offer it.

You see, in the past, I had rarely been sick--and when I did catch a flu or manifest the odd ear infection, I'd always just made an appointment with my mother's doc--a handy, known quantity--and paid cash. It wasn't that expensive. I never needed blood work. And antibiotics are cheap.

Now, back in May I applied for Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, but I hadn't heard anything from them. (Of course the system was completely overwhelmed.) I tried to explain this to the nurse, and to get across how badly I was hurting. I needed to see a doctor, I said. The pain was clearly abnormal; my body was throbbing from shoulder to heel and my joints were so stiff, it was as if they'd been wrapped up tight in masking tape. I was crying like a little kid, but still she dismissed me, saying there was nothing the ER could do for pain like mine.

So I was about to hobble on back home when, just then, a social worker with

Sacramento Connect tapped my shoulder and--having overheard my exchange with the triage nurse--beckoned me to follow her outside to a portable office in the hospital parking lot. It was truly surreal, the way she appeared as if out of nowhere to deliver me from my misery; it was like an episode of "Touched By An Angel" or something. All that was missing was the rising orchestra and the holy golden glow spilling down from the heavens.

Her name was Rose, and back in her office, this real-life angel (who required no holy glow for me to perceive her as archetypal Goodness embodied!) listened to my story, picked up the phone, got my Medi-Cal situation straightened out on the double (I had been approved months ago, somebody just forgot to send out my card), and got me hooked up with a Medi-Cal clinic where, two days later, I would meet a wonderful Physician's Assistant by the name of G., whom I wish I could have remained a patient of forever, but it was not to be. I'll come back to that in a moment.

Upon my first appointment with this new PA, he took my blood and examined me stem to stern, asked a dozen questions and listened to all of mine, and within a week--one week!--he had diagnosed me with aggressive, seropositive RA. Now, I had asked for and was granted a short leave from work, but I really wasn't in any condition to return. It was at this point G. suggested that, with his help I should apply for temporary state disability, a.k.a., SDI. I agreed and was promptly approved—although it would be another scary three weeks from my last paycheck until the first benefit load appeared upon my dedicated Bank of America/SDI benefit debit card.

I will try to cut to the chase, lol; I realize all this byzantine health insurance stuff makes for less than scintillating reading.

In short, at the end of August, for reasons that are not altogether clear to me (but have to do with the new Medi-Cal expansion laws) Sacramento Connect was obliged to move me from “Straight Medi-Cal” to a Medi-Cal plan called Health Net Medi-Cal, which in my case meant I would have to leave G. the wonderful PA behind and switch to an assigned Health Net doctor in private practice who is so overwhelmed and burned-out that he is making mistakes, not least, failing to properly fill out my SDI recertification form. He's a nice man I'm sure, but his mistakes have resulted in, among other things, my benefits being suspended for what will be the entire month of October. Yes, it will take that long for SDI to elicit from him the required information, do the corrective data entry, and then to flip the switch that makes the bennies I depend upon to live start up again.

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Wed Sep 10, 2014 at 10:20 PM PDT

UPDATE: Frances Muffin is OKAY!

by aitchdee

A nail in Frances' front right paw had broken all the way down to the quick. It probably had a fissure in it, which was softened up yesterday when I bathed her (a process that takes far longer than it used to, now that I have RA, which means she stood in bathwater considerably longer than usual). Anyhow, somehow or other this afternoon the fissure got caught on something--possibly a loop in the carpet--and tore the nail right up the middle. I'm told she was probably in terrific pain, and it's a tribute to her good nature that she let me touch or move her at all. No growlies, just (very understandable!) squirmies.

They put her out and took care of the broken nail--and clipped all of her (thick, black) nails while they were at it. When the vet tech finally emerged from the inner sanctum of the hospital, she said, "Frances is fine--but it's going to be a while before you can leave, because she's a serious lightweight. She's really enjoying the drug!" They had wanted her to walk out to the car on her leash on her own, but--an hour later--she still couldn't manage it, so I dumped a sack of clothes out onto the back seat (clothes meant for the Goodwill that had been riding around in the trunk for months) and we placed her there, a furry little sack of potatoes. We're home now and she's still out. (They told me to expect as much; some dogs--like some people--are just extra sensitive. She will open her eyes and look around--and then a minute later it's snoozy time again.)

The doc sent me home with pain meds and (just in case) an antibiotic. The whole thing--including tax, lol--came to $178.08. I estimated the damages pretty darn well. To those of you who donated, commented, and/or recommended the original diary, thank you so much for caring about me and my little dog. We are both happy and contented now.


Wed Sep 10, 2014 at 03:20 PM PDT

It's her paw

by aitchdee

Hi. We have REACHED OUR GOAL and are dashing off to the vet hospital RIGHT NOW. Thank you so very, very much to all who donated and/or recommended this diary - you are wonderful, you have saved us!

Upside down on the bed; picture taken on a happier day
Okay, worst fears just got real.

This afternoon, about one hour ago, just after her afternoon meal, Frances suddenly refused to jump up onto the couch. I couldn't even catch her eye; she was lying down and appeared to be licking some little portion of the carpet. I went to see what in the world was up, and on closer inspection I could see she was frantically licking her paw, which she had hidden from view, tucked under her body.

I've lifted her and placed her on the bed. I have tried repeatedly to have a look, but she is having none of it--which is unusual for her. She won't put her weight on the paw and she won't let me anywhere near it. As I write this, she's by my side diligently tending to her paw with her tongue. When she pauses, she pants--a lot. This is all very sudden and entirely strange because we have not been outside and nothing whatsoever was going on before the paw began to hurt. We weren't even roughhousing. Something is terribly wrong and--it's a nightmare come true--I don't have the money to have her seen by the vet.

The situation is thus: I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in June of this year and was almost immediately approved for temporary state disability. The benefit is based on one's income--you get 55% of whatever you made during the corresponding quarter the year previous. That means--working as I was as a caregiver to the elderly and special needs kids--I'm not getting much, and the electric company wants half of what I will be getting next Tuesday.

I have never more desperately needed a little bit of help, as this time it is not me who's in trouble, it's my angel, my Frances. I expect an office visit and an x-ray will cost about $200. If you can send a little bit my way, I will use it to take care of this dog right now.

My PayPal email address is as follows:

There is one more thing you need to know. The USB port on my computer is dying a slow death. Half the time it does not recognize my keyboard--and when that happens, there is nothing for it but to wait a minute or two--or ten--until it does. So if I should seem to go AWOL in comments, you shall know why.

Thank you, dailykos friends, for reading.


My typing is terrible, forgive me: I'm a bad-ass, lightning-fast typist no more.

First, big thanks to those of you who recommended and/or posted comments to my last diary wherein I talk about my RA diagnosis; I appreciate it

Hangin' up my keyboard for an ice pack
more than I can say. I thank as well those who helped by means of donation. I'm deeply grateful to everyone who helped out, in whatever way they were able. Now, I'd like to give you an update on my ongoing medical treatment as well as my (occasional mis-) adventures in low-income health care--and this last especially because I desperately need your advice!

I'm finally on California's answer to Medicaid--though confoundingly, here they call it MediCal. (Try using that as a search-term for pages and pages of completely irrelevant hits!) Now lest it seem I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth, let me say up front that the ACA's expansion of Medicaid/Medical is an exceedingly good thing! In my case, for example, I now have access to a PA who, among other saving graces, has prescribed for me a pain medication called Celebrex--and thank heavens for it, for at least I can still type a little and keep my house modestly tidy.

However, the rapid, all-at-once expansion has created a few problems for those of us who are already (or who became simultaneously) sick--and in particular people with a recently-diagnosed, progressive disease which can be halted in its tracks with the right medication delivered in a timely fashion. You see in recent months--as you all probably know very well--MediCal has been inundated with something like 900,000 new members both sick and well; thus no one knows when folks like me will be able to get an appointment with the right sort of doctor. For now, we're being told to be patient and wait. Well, I would if I could, but I suspect my circumstances may be extenuating. So I guess my question is twofold: 1.) Are there any provisions for people like me who find themselves this predicament? and 2.) If there are, who does one talk to about that?

Please understand, I know the situation is nobody's fault; it's just the way it is and I accept that. It is up to me, now, to do the leg work to find out if there is even any such thing as expedited help for folks in my category: sick and getting sicker. So far the social workers and medical people that I've been talking to have precious few answers, for the very understandable reason that the whole situation is unprecedented.

Anyway, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, there is somebody, somewhere with up-to-date, possibly even quasi-insider, expert MediCal information, and that if such a person exists, this blog will know where to find them. For more about just what it is I'm hoping to find, I commend your attention below the immoderately fancy dailykos esquiggle.

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THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH, MY GOAL IS MET! NO MORE DONATIONS! I will be able to go back to work on Wednesday, thanks to all of you. Thanks as well for all the wonderful, kind commenst, for lifting my spirits, for just hanging out with me today in my diary--because this morning I was in the spiritual basement for sure!


I'm sitting here alone in my little messy house freaking the hell out. I'm not sure what to do, where to turn: whom shall I annoy this time for a bit of desperately needed help? I'm unmarried and have no living family. My friends off-blog are barely scraping by themselves. I have a few well-heeled acquaintances (mostly ex-bosses) who have very generously helped me in the recent past, but I know I cannot ask again--it would be embarrassing for all concerned. My neighbors have been more than kind when I initially became unemployed, but I'm embarrassed to ask them for help now that I'm working. I've been asking myself all morning: do I dare bother dailykos again? It's a hell of a risk. I don't want you to hate me or think me a grifter. I'm not. I'm really not! I work, 45+ hours a week. I'm just in a terrible spot right now.

I'm on temporary (week-to-ten-days) medical leave and I have been since last Wed. It was sudden: you see, I've been suffering moderate to severe joint pain, virtually neck-to-toe, since January--the cause of which is presumed to be Rheumatoid Arthritis. In blood work (which I had done many months ago and paid for myself) it shows I have the rheumatoid factor--and while that's not perfectly conclusive, together with the visible symptoms--stiffness, bruising and swelling, added to the symmetrical regions of pain (it comes in pairs: both wrists, both knees, hips, feet, etc.), it's a near certainty, according to at least one Urgent Care doc, that RA is the culprit.

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UPDATE: GOAL MET! One kind and generous kossack has offered to shoulder the burden. Thank you SO MUCH to you angels who recced this diary. I was about to panic, but it's going to be okay now.

Six months ago--after a long miserable spate of unemployment which some of you may remember my moaning interminably about--a caregiving agency hired me and, with my very first case, I began earning about $1,500 mo. Unfortunately, that case ended in late November and the next one that came my way--my current, steady, permanent gig that's sustaining me while my boss tries to get me into a few 24 hr. live-in gigs (or I leave the agency and take a position entirely elsewhere) is only 20 hrs. a week. Because of this, I have on occasion in recent weeks, been unable to make ends meet. This, alas, is one of those occasions.

Most times though, while money has been tight, I do well enough. I own my home outright (I inherited it from my mother) and I drive a paid-for car. There's not much food in the house, but there's usually enough to get by. I am not starving.

I'm not starving, but this month has been especially hard otherwise. A few unexpected expenses earlier in the month put me quite a bit off-budget--and now here we are approaching the end of January and several more unexpected problems have sprung up. And they're not funny. They're urgent. So urgent, I have to turn to my friends at dailykos again for help. I hate to like mad to do it--but if I don't at least try to get help for myself, I could wind-up really, really hosed. And so I have to ask.

I need $50 to save my sanity and my job. Can you help me? I realize it would seem unlikely that $50 could save anything, much less one's livelihood, one's very mind for heaven's sake. Surely that's hyperbole! But it's not. Here's why:

My phone is out of service and I need it, I must have it, for my job: I'm a caregiver on call 24/7; my boss must be able to reach me by talk or (his preference) text message at all times. So this is my #1 issue right now: if nothing else, I need to find a way to deal with this problem ASAP. (All suggestions welcome.) I'm out of airtime, and this despite the fact that I bought $10 worth online earlier today. That's right, the minutes I bought with what amounted to my last dime did not make it to my phone. I have an e-receipt for the purchase--my financial institution shows the withdrawal. But no airtime has shown up on my phone. It remains heartbreakingly nonfunctional. Clearly there's been a computer glitch of some sort. I've been waiting all day for the customer service unit at my  wireless company to respond, by email, to my complaint (I have no airtime with which to actually call them), but so far there's been nothing. And I just got a testy email from my boss saying, yeah, I get it--there's been a foul-up and it's not your fault--but still: I need you to take care of the situation, fix it, like, ah, right now.

So that's why I need $10. It's less than what I normally purchase (I usually get the $30 unlimited talk and text), but as I say--this month's been a toughie, and so $10 was all I could afford. I just have to hope that the auto-texts I get from work--which I cannot refuse because while there's a lot of repetition, some of it's new and relevant--won't burn through the time too fast. At least, not until the 10th. Payday.

What else?

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I am so worried
Greetings, kospeeps! 'Tis I, aitchdee. So, listen. I have a dear friend--his name is Airedale Sam--and he's just worried sick about his best friend Karen, a.k.a. esteemed kos-personage Fineena. Perhaps you've seen her around; yep, she's the dailykos Yarn Laureate, the Queen of Crochet ... Chanteuse of Shawls. Incredibly talented, that woman. So, when her dog Sam called me all upset about there being no money in the cookie jar this month--none for rent nor for the utility bills--I just had a hunch that if dailykos could hear his story, folks might be moved to help unfurrow his fuzzy little brow a bit. And I've decided, clearly, to go with my intuition.
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Here's what's going on with me.

I own my home. It's paid for, so housing is not a problem.

I'm on food stamps, so I eat well enough.

I have a paid-for car, an old purple Saturn, but the gas in it is low. About a quarter of a tank as of this morning.

I've got a good bit of airtime on my Go Phone--about $23 worth. That's plenty for my purposes. I don't talk to anybody on the phone for fun. Phone's reserved for business calls only.

I have to be strict about rationing it, because you see, I (still) do not have a job. I have no cash at all right now, and while I qualify for food stamps (in CA it's called Cal-Fresh), there is no cash aid for an individual in my situation who is neither pregnant, nor disabled, nor over sixty-two. Moreover there are no minor children living in my home; I am childless and live alone, so I am out of luck on that score.

My unemployment bennies terminated in September.

Yesterday a neighbor said to me that it seemed to her the economy is on the upswing throughout the state ...except for Sacramento, where we live. Sacramento is lagging, she said, still in the doldrums.

Lots of strip malls in Sacramento. Lots of them standing empty, too.
I have a similar sense of things, alas.
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Wed Apr 30, 2008 at 04:55 AM PDT

Radical - Updated

by aitchdee

UPDATE: 5/8/08 - I want very much to delete this diary; I no longer agree with myself in any way, shape, or form. The situation is far, far more complicated than I accounted for here (for starters, I didn't so much as touch on the media's hand in creating this disaster). The wounds to both men are deep and deeply personal and, as Bill Moyers said tonight in an interview on Democracy Now, both will likely go to their graves with them. That a disavowal was forced out of Barack Obama at all is an American disgrace, and few of us--least of all me, a daily cable news/CNN consumer--can say that we are not, at the very least, indirectly complicit. In good conscience, however, I think I'll have to leave it, if nothing else as a record of my own growing and learning process. I am not proud of it.
Tuesday's events with respect to Sen. Obama and his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright have left me--and I suspect a minority of my fellow Obama supporters on this blog--feeling a more than a little bit troubled. Tonight (actually it's already early Wednesday morning) I'm still kinda flailing about in a stormy sea of conflicting emotions, so I guess right now I'd just like to just toss a couple of my mostly muddled thoughts out there, and then call it a (altogether poopy) night.

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Good moring America, how are you? Doncha know me, I'm your native son

Who remembers that old refrain? I heard the song yesterday on the in-store sound system at the neighborhood grocery behemoth where I do my shopping. No surprise, really; it's just the kind of thing they play there. But then again it was a surprise, and it was entirely different, hearing that song Friday afternoon, September 2, 2005. Hum a few bars to yourself. Are the lyrics coming back to you?

Well, here's help. John Denver made it a hit, but Steve Goodman composed the words and music, and his original arrangement is exquisite: You might open the file in a new window and listen while you read on.

Now I don't expect for a minute that an actual human being queued up the song for the occasion, Day 4 of the New Orleans hurricane disaster. Clearly not, sandwiched as it was between incongruous, bubbly numbers from Leo Sayer, Avril Lavinge and Cheap Trick. For sure nobody's playing topical deejay at Raley's. It was just grocery store pipe. It was the music of chance.

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