Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

I believe that the American people have forgotten that they can truly create change.

I wondered recently, quite publically, why no one seems to have heard of HR 676, which I discussed in my most recent post. I have also wondered, more privately, what would happen if people DID know about HR 676, and as a result of that knowledge, began calling and writing their representatives voicing their support? I’ve wondered about the many families I’ve met that are literally crippled by the current health care situation in the United States, and more concisely, their lack of appropriate and affordable health care. I’ve wondered if they know about HR 676. Even if they do know, would they know what they can do to support this bill?

I’ve touched a lot recently on health care/coverage, and the elitism in the United States. I’ve discussed Human Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights created and published in 1948, which stated in no uncertain terms that medical care is a basic human right.

I’m tired of just writing about this, and I have decided that it is time to take action. But what can I do that I am not already doing? I write my legislators, I make myself a big pain in the ass, and seriously (although I’m not officially declared this) my coworkers have not a clue what to do with the one “Greenie” among them.

So what am I going to do that is different from what I’ve already been doing?

I am going to assume that people just don’t know about HR 676. I am going to start leaving copies of this bill in places that I visit throughout my day. For instance, this afternoon I am visiting my endocrinologist office for training on my MiniLink. While perusing the waiting room, out of my bag I shall pull my 27 page HR 676 document and leave it promptly on a table with all the other magazines, where it surely will be seen. Perhaps it will even be picked up. And should it be picked up, I imagine that most patients in an endocrinologist office might be interested in what it has to say.

I am not just going to do this today; I am going to do this every day, once per day. I haven’t set a date that I intend to stop inconspicuously informing the public masses. Perhaps I will stop distributing HR 676 when it is passed into law, or conversely when it is defeated in the House. Either way, I believe I have found a fabulous way to share the “goings-ons” that perhaps the media, due to some “big-money” interest or another, have found undesirable to share with the general public.

As an afterthought, perhaps you would care to join me in my campaign? Go here and print your own copy. Leave it anywhere you think people may find it!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Amazing Change on Our Horizon? HR 676

We don't hear about this stuff on the news. Why not? Do they not want us to know?

Fortunately, with the help of a wonderful listserve from the MNUHCC (Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition), I have heard about this.

This is a real bill in our very real Congress.

Now would be a good time to call your Representative to tell them just exactly how much you support this bill. Even better, after you call, write them a letter.

After you finish all that, go back here and read everything there is to read about this bill. While you are at it, use the power of google, and search HR 676 and see what you get.

Knowledge is power.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Newspaper Funnies

I read an aside in the Saint Cloud Times today about the health clinic in Cash Wise and how they have added a “handicapped accessible” exam room recently.

Sometimes, when I read things like this, it really makes me wonder.

Wasn’t the ADA signed into law in 1991?

This clinic was built only a few short years ago into the existing Cash Wise structure. Why wasn’t the clinic accessible to begin with?

I enjoy reading the paper, because at times, it really makes me laugh (at others, not in general joviality.) Lucky me, I also got to read about the President’s State of the Union Address. The best part about this was a quote published “in response” to the President’s speech.

Representative Tim Walz: “I’m pleased that this is President Bush’s last State of the Union Address…”

Well, Representative Walz, I am googling you now because seriously, you just made my day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

May The Force Be With You

It seems that intense bouts of happiness render me fairly useless in the writing arena. It isn’t that I have nothing to update, it just suddenly all seems less important than mooning over Bob love and planning weddings with a red dress and a band bent on jazz.

Our wedding budget seems less tangible lately, and I find myself thinking longingly of Visa, Discover, and Mastercard. (And let us not forget JC Penney.)

I hadn’t any idea that weddings involved all the things that they actually involve. While in discussion with mister Bob last night, he muttered something along the same line (furthered by muttering something like “money …..lots of money….”)

I find myself thinking of Star Wars, and the “force”. I’m wishing: “May the Force of Not Using Credit Cards Be With Me.”

Monday, January 21, 2008

November 1, 2008

Many things will come to pass on November 1st of this year, the most notable being that I shall no longer be a Rittmann and will commence my life as a Waline.

Amidst frigid temperatures in Saint Cloud this past weekend, my beautiful Bob the Babe theoretically dropped to one knee (okay, not one, nor even two, but stanced evenly on two feet) and asked me to spend my life committed to him in marriage.

I, of course, accepted.

Should you happen to be in Saint Cloud these next few days and wonder about its unnatural glow, understand that it is most assuredly the residual of my happiness.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Check It Out

I know I can download this stuff from my pump and look at the charts from the minilink, but I still have to have my own stuff. The red is the sensor, the blue is finger pricks.

On Friendship and Day Care

Sandis came to me last night, somewhat sad, to tell me this: “Mom, I’m kind of feeling like none of the kids at day care like me. I’m kind of feeling like I don’t have any friends and no one likes me.”

I was distracted when he told me. I wanted to continue what I was doing. I wanted him to be in bed. I wanted him to be where he was supposed to be (in bed). I wanted these things, but I also recognized that Sandis was trying to deal with and understand something that can be extremely painful. Growing up, I can never say I was popular. I was more like the antithesis of popular. I was the anti-popular, which of course, meant that I was the butt of many painful jokes and exclusionary activities. I remember dreading going to school because I would have to deal with the children. I would have been happy (beside myself really) had I happened to arrive at school and all the other children in my class had just so happened to not show up. Children were cuttingly cruel.

My memories from childhood in regards to other children are vivid. I always felt inadequate around my peers. I was always scared of how whatever I said or did would be used against me at some point in time. I was acutely aware of the fact that I could not enjoy anything “cool” because upon recognition of that fact, it would suddenly cease to be cool in the minds of the other children. I enjoyed spending time alone, and although I attempted to culture relationships with other children my age or younger, I had little success until I was old enough to do drugs (I’ll spare you the specific age). In that circle the children were much less discriminating.

It is acutely painful to watch my son in this same predicament. I had somehow hoped that the unforgiving brutality of children in their relations with other children would have morphed into something more humane and nurturing over the passage of time. I am without words when he tells me of his painful circumstances.

The other day he went up to one of the teachers in his sister’s day care class and told her essentially the same thing that he said to me last night. My boy is reaching out. My boy is reaching out and for the life of me I cannot change other children. I know that there is only so much that you can do from the outside to change the demeanor of children that do not know nor have the maturity to understand the implications of their simplistic demeanors. I also know that many of the problems my son has socially lie not only with other children, but in his inability to understand social scenarios. He misses so many cues, doesn’t understand appropriate responses, and has very little understanding of personal space. I want so badly to help him, but I’m feeling stumped as to what to do.

In school Sandis does fabulously, which is no wonder as he has amazing supports there. Sandis has a team of professionals (including myself) that work with Sandis to help him navigate the intricate social systems of first grade and elementary school. Sandis doesn’t have that in day care. Sandis is on his own in day care, and it is no wonder he is overwhelmed and underserved because of that.

I need to figure out a plan to help Sandis function better in day care with his peers. I can’t change Sandis’s peers but I can help him to better deal with a situation that is hard for him, and hopefully in that process Sandis will grow even more into the confident young man that he is meant to be.

Consider this a networking occasion. Please tell me your ideas on how to better help Sandis deal with day care. Ideas I’ve considered are :
1. Visual Schedule for Sandis in the morning that he can carry with him.
2. Visual Reminders of a Transition (Teacher hands Sandis a card at 10 min & 5 min before major changes (like catching the bus or going outside).
3. 1 Social Story per day (is this possible in a day care?) on dealing with peers and difficult situations. I’m sure they could do this with the entire class. It would help everyone in the end, but these sorts of things would be especially helpful for Sandis
4. Chart of Calm Down and Rev Up Activities to help Sandis switch gears. So, if a teacher notices that Sandis is really struggling with whatever activity he is working on, he can go to the chart and pick one of the calm down or rev up activities (whichever he needs to do) and do that for 5 minutes.
5. Visual Schedules for Sandis to help remind him of what to do when there is conflict.
6. Weighted Vest

On a different note, I’ve been wearing my MiniLink for over 24 hours, and it is fabulous. I was worried the alarms wouldn’t wake me up, but they most certainly do. I think my pump woke me up at least five times last night. I was high though, not low. At least I know they wake me up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

8 & 5

Gracie turns five in April. Sandis turns 8 in August.

I’m caught, wondering exactly when it was that my babies grew into such remarkable young children. Their legs are no longer bowed, their faces no longer cherub, and I’m caught. I’m caught wondering when exactly they became so beautiful, so striking, so affective.

I sneak in gazes at my Sandis and I can imagine him another 7 years from now with gangly legs, mussy curly hair, and freckles spattering across his perfect nose.

Gracie doesn’t mind me staring (well she does, and she isn’t sweet about it, but she does like being admired, so if you pose your stares in the correct format, you can stare all you like.) I imagine her at Sandis’s age with thick brown hair cowlicked with curls all about her head and deep brown eyes accentuated by her two perfect pin-prick dimples. She is what is referred to as petite. Before Gracie, I hadn’t any idea exactly what petite referred to. (Smaller than me.) Now I understand that it means a cross between “little” & “short”. And in being more than a little little and more than a little short, you are perfectly proportioned “petite.”

My kids are quite possibly the most beautiful children in the whole entire world (no offense to all you other mothers.)

When embarking on the journey most often referred to as “motherhood” no one ever told me that children only grow more beautiful with time and love grows exponentially with each birthday celebrated.

How awesome is that?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


It is hard to believe, in fact, I’ll believe it when I have my grubby hands on it. I spoke with Medtronic on the phone moments ago, and it seems to me that with very little effort at all they received a reference/approval # in regards to my CGM MiniLink purchase and I should expect to receive said product as early as tomorrow.

Hard to believe.

I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have experienced a certain amount of disbelief dealing with this new health insurance company. Blue Cross Blue Shield was such a struggle in regards to, well, ANYTHING. Definity Health thus far has been extremely accommodating, helpful, and knowledgeable (as in the person who answers their customer service line can actually be relied upon for an accurate answer).

Acquisition of this prime piece of DME will mean exhaustion of my initial “HRA”, plunging my family into our $1,125 worth of “member responsibility.” I’m expecting my health costs to be shooting up immediately after tomorrow. Should be fun.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Upcoming Plans for 2008

My boss recently told me that she feels that I thrive when I am challenged.

This is a very interesting perception in regards to my personality. After some introspection of my own, I was astonished with just how accurate it is.

I have no problem stepping up to the plate. In fact, I do it with an exaggerated flourish. When facing a challenge in which the outcome is perhaps uncertain, I find myself writing more passionately, experiencing life more intensely, and upping my levels of organization and activities to accommodate my “new” challenge. I accomplish the most mundane, ordinary tasks more effectively when fed by looming challenge, even when the challenge is unrelated to the task.

Conversely, if there is no plate to “step up” to, I tend to languor in contented complacency.

This week I expect to “graduate” from physical therapy for my back. I will no longer be the participant of two 50 minute strengthening sessions per week as I seem to have turned a corner in regards to pain in my back, and I have built up a wonderful core strength reserve. Yay! I also intend to complete my Occupation Therapy myofascial release sessions. What does this mean? This week ends my hectic four appointments per week recovery schedule post-surgery. I will have some much needed pause in my schedule.

I began Partners in Policymaking in September of 2007. In this program, despite having an intense recovery program to adhere to in this same month and month’s following, I have learned just how capable I am of adding “one more thing” to my list of responsibilities and endeavors. I have spent countless hours reading, writing letters, reading, and then writing even more letters. The knowledge I have gained in the area of disability advocacy and effecting positive policy change to affect entire communities is incredible. I am convinced that my life has found a personal & career direction that it previously lacked.

What does this mean? I graduate Partners in Policymaking in May of 2008. In June of 2008 I intend to go “back to school” (as in college) in pursuit of either a political science or social science degree. I intend to focus not only my personal endeavors, but my future career endeavors on disability policy advocacy. Partners really gave me the confidence to pursue this, as I know that I can handle the load of a class or two per semester. I also know that if I choose to pursue a career in disability advocacy, while I can garner much professional experience without a degree, I can accomplish so much more with a degree.

So wish me luck, and as we get closer to “take-off” I’ll share more of my plans in this regard.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

This Is So Cool

Below is an email I received from a Minimed Associate in regards to my CGM Mini-Link:

Hi Sarah:

Great news! Just wanted to follow-up with you to let you know I was able to get the benefits for your Transmitter and Sensors. These items are covered.

Take care!


Patricia Egger
Insurance Verification Specialist, SOS Insurance Verification
Medtronic Minimed
Fax: (818)576-6339
Alleviating pain, Restoring Health, Extending Life

I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. They still have time to deny this claim. I'm still crossing my fingers, but I'll be damned cuz from here, it's looking pretty good!

A Letter to the County Commissioner

Recently I wrote a letter to my County Commissioner about the need to train Children's Mental Health Case Managers on programs offered by the Community Supports Division.

I've posted two .jpeg's of my letter, which was CC'd to me in PDF form when the County Commissioner forwarded them to the Director of Human Services for Stearns County.

I can only hope that good things come from taking the opportunity to share our experiences with someone who can truly make change in the system I am discussing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

CADI (Community Alternatives for Disabled Individuals) Waiver Success!

To learn more about the CADI waiver, go here.

After quite the struggle, Sandis was eventually assessed for CADI Waiver qualification. Lo and behold, he was found to qualify. However, the CADI waiver is not an entitlement. This means that if you qualify it does not mean that you automatically receive a waiver. The next step is your “case” goes to a committee and they decide whether or not the individual will actually receive the CADI waiver he/she qualifies for. Sandis’s “case” went to the committee last Friday and God’s above he was given a CADI slot! The final step is to be awarded a “budget”, at which point you determine how you intend to use your CADI funds.

I find it hard to believe that he actually received a CADI slot after all the county did to “discourage” me from having a Long Term Care Assessment for Sandis. This is a wonderful example of what happens when families are educated about county systems and benefits. The education lays the groundwork for families to more efficiently seek services for themselves and their children that most closely meet their needs.

I can look back at this blog and I see victory after victory after victory when it comes to services for my family. Our victories (for Sandis) include having a para-educator for Sandis in school, qualifying for PCA services, and obtaining a duplicate key from the Housing Coalition for Sandis’s PCA. The waiver is just the next victory, the next step on our path to help ensure that my guy, my Sandis, is successful.

When we expect failure, we accept things as they are and set ourselves up for just that: failure. When we expect success, we do everything within our power to ensure that we are just that: successful.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Not Even a Phone Call?

The Saint Cloud Times didn't even bother to let me know they printed this letter.

Only by the grace of a google search in my name (don't ask why) did I happenstance across this gem.

Life is good :)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A State of Morbid Mind

I stockpile things. Well not ALL things, but more specifically I stockpile diabetes supplies. Why? Why is it that I don’t stockpile water and food but I have a slew of syringes, pump supplies, test strips, and an over-abundance of insulin?

In the back of my mind I venture places that I otherwise would not dare. I imagine situations of war, terror, or natural disaster and in these places, I calculate the number of days or weeks I would live off of the insulin supply I have. I plan ways to conserve insulin in these situations, and I imagine that should there be a natural disaster or act of terror that permanently destroys our infrastructure my first act would be to loot the pharmacy and take ALL the insulin I could, no matter the type of insulin, just whatever I could fit into my pack and carry. That and syringes. I imagine guarding these precious supplies as if they were my life, which in all actuality they would be.

So what about you? If I haven’t triggered hoarding tendencies by this post alone, perhaps you already stash a sizable amount of supplies “just in case.”

This reminds me, I really do need to get more syringes…….

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Health Care Expenses in 2008

I’ve been focusing on health insurance coverage lately. It’s no wonder with SCHIP up for reauthorization over the fall(what a miserable failure this was), followed by fear of losing Medicaid for my peanut, and the change in the type (and quality) of health care plans offered by my employer. My dismay concerning the health coverage situation for those of us on the “right” side of the health insurance fence (to say nothing of those who AREN’T insured) only grew as I calculated my own annual health expenses (out of pocket including premiums)and discovered that I had managed to spend over $9,000 in 2007. At almost 27% of my entire income, health care was my primary expense with rent following at a close second (around 23%).

My situation can’t be hugely different from many other insured Americans with a chronic condition (or two). Why is this allowed to continue? This disproportionate burden of cost is stifling for Americans whose alternative to investing this amount and percentage of their income on their health is summarily a loss of health.

So what am I going to do about all this? First of all, I am going to continue to write about the expense of health care for insured Americans. Secondly, in recognition of the new year, I plan to track my medical expenses throughout the year on this blog. I haven’t yet created a space in my sidebar, but along with my blood sugars & averages currently posted, I intend to add my own personal ticker which will show what (thus far) I have spent on things like Test Strips, Premiums, FSA deposits, Insulin Pump Supplies, Sensors & Supplies, %’s of therapy & doctor’s appointments, and basic prescriptions. I also intend to keep a published log of what my total YTD out-of-pocket expenses are for health coverage & health care (accompanied by what percentage of my total YTD income this is). Keep an eye out for this on my page, and I will keep all of you updated as I venture through my own public awareness campaign.

I am going to be sharing these expenses with the public because I know my family is not unique. I also know that fixing the problems of health expenditures for “only” my family is not appropriate. There needs to be a global repair in the health care system that will allow for universal affordability AND accessibility. I don’t have the solutions in regards how to make that happen, but I am going to be a part of telling MY story so perhaps other families will be inclined to do the same. Also, I’m greatly interested in what percentage of income other families are spending on health care. So please, if you know this tidbit or are inclined to figure it out, please send it my way!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Playing Memory

Last night we let the kids stay up until "midnight". "Midnight" is actually ten pm with the microwave clock set two hours ahead. That means that Bob and I got to celebrate New Year's twice. Perhaps we are cruel, but everyone was happy in the end. The kids got to stay up until "midnight" and weren't much crabbier than the norm getting there!

Last year we played a little bit of twister and got wild with the guitar. This year? We settled down for some mellow "memory" (well as mellow as staying up late playing memory can be in my family!)

I also managed to get in my annual "questions".

What was your favorite thing about last year?
Gracie - Playing Lightsaber
Sandis - Playing Lightsaber with Gracie & Mom & Bob
Bob - Tickling Sandis & Gracie
Mom- Going to Denver to celebrate Mom's graduation

What was your favorite song?
Sandis - I'm Proud to Be An American & This Land is Your Land (how did he get so Patriotic? Do I have a politician on my hands?)
Gracie - Twinkle Little Star (Seriously, I would have bet on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer seeing as how that has been all I have heard from my back seat these past few weeks!)
Bob - Broken Boy Solider by the Raconteurs
Sarah - Back to Black by Amy Winehouse & 300MPH Torrential Outpour Blues by The White Stripes

What was your favorite Christmas gift?
Gracie - Checkers (Rudolph checkers no less)
Sandis - My playstation game NHL 2K5
Mom - My bookcase
Bob - My mp3 player

What was your favorite movie?
Sandis - Star Wars VI (oldy by goody - Anakin came back from the dark side)
Gracie - Charlotte's Web (I hate this movie, really really really really hate it)
Sarah - Star Wars III (This love tragedy moves me time and time again. I love this movie!)
Bob - The Kingdom

Lastly, I'd like to close with a picture of my weight. I know, I really don't have to, but really, the last time I weighed this little, I was pregnant soon after (meaning it didn't last that long, see what happens when I'm hot?!!) And no, I don't plan on being pregnant anytime soon (not like ever).