Wednesday, March 29, 2017

fifteen days and seven hours, give or take three months :/

Back in October of last year, when we moved outta our Burbank apartment, into our NoHo (North Hollywood) apartment, I started having some major breathing issues. I'd never been asthmatic or diagnosed with bronchitis, but I do know that I'm allergic to something other than Sulfa. I take a daily OTC loratadine (generic Claritin) because I know for a fact that I'm
this much
allergic to pet dander, and there's no way in H-E-double toothpicks I'm givin' up my feline furbabies! But the breathing in October got to the point where I'd have days where I felt like I could only inflate my lungs 50% of their normal capacity. I was getting winded really easily, and when I would stop whatever I was doing to take a breath, that breath would be on the "wheezing" side. Not comfortable, and certainly not comforting for those around me. Just about every person I encountered on a bad day was afraid they'd have to do something to help me not die.

So, since I still had Kaiser coverage through Warner Bros., I called to make an appointment. That was a Thursday, and the earliest they could get me in was Monday, but they gave me the option to call first thing Friday to see if there had been any cancellations. That is what I did.

That Thursday was a 50% day. Friday was, miraculously, a 90-95% day. Of course. Like when you've been listening to your car make a bunch of funny noises, but by the time you get it to the mechanic, it purrs like a kitten. That was me, but I wasn't gonna ditch my chance to be seen before I dropped dead, maybe, over the weekend, waiting for the Monday appointment. I wasn't diagnosed with asthma or bronchitis or anything, but I was prescribed a rescue inhaler to cope with the shortness of breath and wheezing. And the doc indicated that if my condition got "worse" in the next week to month, I should follow-up with him. Okey-dokey!

The rescue inhaler did exactly what it was meant to do: it rescued me on winded days, and on other days, it just patiently waited to rescue me, just in case. My condition did not worsen, so I did not follow-up with the doc.

And then, in November, my health insurance "ran out". I immediately filed through the Covered California website, but apparently I did it wrong, because I never really heard from the state saying "pick a plan" or from Social Services saying "here's your free Medi-Cal coverage, because you're clearly eligible for it".

So from time-to-time, particularly before the ACA renewal deadline hit (January 31st, right?), I would re-visit the CC website. According to them, I should pick a plan, but also, I might be eligible for Medi-Cal, so what was the Department of Social Services telling me?

Finally, I got frustrated enough to call Social Services, because I ain't got the money for a self-insured plan through the website. According to whomever I spoke with on the phone, I needed to provide income evidence AND evidence that I wasn't still covered by Kaiser Permanente (oh! THAT's why I haven't heard back - you think I'm still covered!)... so I did. I took in all the supporting docs I could, and the day I went in, the elevator was out, and there wasn't a public stairwell for the hordes and masses to use, so the whole system was backed up with people waiting for a worker to see them. The worker who came to see me was not my assigned caseworker, so she took what I'd brought, made copies, and sent me on my way with a supervisor's phone number so I could follow up. #BureaucracyAtWork

Then some more time passed, and I still hadn't heard anything, so I called the supervisor a few times, leaving messages a few times, and then finally reaching a person! He told me the name of my caseworker and transferred my call. THAT guy said I was probably definitely eligible, but could I send/fax/bring in supporting docs? Ugh.

We made an "appointment" for me to show up 2 p.m.-ish that day, and things went very well. And now I'm going to tell you why I was beginning to panic about having no coverage:

My "rescue" inhaler had made it through the winter, and now it was Spring (well, for us), and the construction on the Shitology church was reaching its end-phase, and my breathing had gone back to total shit again. As of Monday of this week, I had 2 (TWO) doses left! From whence would I be acquiring a refill? I couldn't see, or even speak with, the original KP doctor, since I was no longer a KP member, nor did I really want to pay for the inhaler, if any insurance would cover it.

So on the 14th of this month (fifteen days ago, around 2 p.m.-ish), I was officially "granted" Medi-Cal coverage, and I was given numerous phone numbers to call to be able to use it to get that inhaler refilled, because even though Medi-Cal is state-sponsored "insurance", it still has to be attached to a "real" insurance plan. And since I had had a Kaiser Permanente doctor before, I have been trying to attach my Medi-Cal plan to KP. So I can see the same doc! And he can prescribe a refill! And I won't die from trying to take a full breath! #WooHoo!

Sooooooo Many Phone Calls have I made in the past two weeks. Interesting mail have I received, from both Social Services and Covered California (the latter is still saying that I should sign up for a plan, but I won't get the tax break, because I don't make enough money, but while we're on that subject, I make too much money for Medi-Cal, so ... I should sign up for a plan. All the while, the former is saying that I've been covered by Medi-Cal since November. What?)

On Monday, when I had two doses left in the old thing, I walked to the local CVS Minute Clinic, which I had been told by a CVS pharmacist would be able to "diagnose" and prescribe for me the same dealio I already had, and Medi-Cal would cover it (in case I couldn't get back to KP in time). It was a 10,000 step walk, but I didn't get winded (thankfully). But the nurse running the clinic couldn't take my Medi-Cal. She told me to Google free/low-cost clinics and call them to see if they do, or to do the same with Urgent Care facilities, as most (but not all) of those will be able to do what the first pharmacist had told me the Minute Clinic could.

But also on Monday, I received my Anthem/Blue Cross card in the mail. That is what the M-C plan is attached to until April 1st, when I'll be officially enrolled in Kaiser. Big deal. I'm not interested in seeing a rando doc I've been assigned to, this close to getting my Kaiser coverage back. So Monday afternoon, I took a new tack. I called the KP pharmacy phone number on the old Rx, told them what my issue was, and while I was talking to them, they sent an internal memo to the doc I'm not allowed to see or talk to, asking him to authorize a refill. If I had known to take that route as soon as I had my Medi-Cal letter, I'd have called them while I was also calling all the other numbers trying to switch plans.

*****See, Medi-Cal has to be "attached" to an insurance plan. In order to "attach" it to Kaiser, you have to have been a member already within the past six months. I was, so no big, right? Wrong. You still have to request "permission to enroll" and you have to get approved, and unless you stress that it's incredibly fucking urgent like I was, it could take up to a month to even happen, and then up to another half-month to your "effective" date. Meanwhile, you die of shortness of breath.*****

Ennyhoo. The KP pharmacy requested a refill from the original doc. He had up to 48 hours to approve it, but did so as of mid-day yesterday. Then I was instructed to have my local CVS pharmacy call to get the Rx transferred out, so M-C would pay for it. By the time my local CVS pharmacy got it done, it was today. Like, mid-day. When I called to see if I could pick it up, they asked me about insurance, and then they said that only Rite-Aid takes the M-C plan I'm currently covered by, but the Rite-Aid pharmacist would have to call the CVS pharmacist so they could transfer the Rx again.

So I found the closest (walking distance) Rite-Aid pharmacy and requested that they make it happen. They assured me, since they close at 9, that it would be done today. I called a few times, because by 6 p.m., I still hadn't heard that it was filled, and I knew I'd be walking, and I really didn't wanna walk both directions after dark. Their pharmacist had been trying, ever since my first request. CVS was holding my damn refill too damn busy to take care of business that they'd lost anyway. So I decided to walk to Rite-Aid, knowing I'd probably have to wait, but being there in person, I couldn't get ignored. (Not that Rite-Aid had been ignoring me, but what did I know?)...

Arrived at Rite-Aid ~7:30 tonight, and once it was my turn (there was a line), the pharmacist immediately tried calling them again, after telling me that the person at CVS had "lost the fax" and then gone to lunch. Whatever. I was sent to wait, so I checked my blood pressure. "At Risk" - wow. That has NEVER happened! I was called back to the counter so the pharmacist could tell me she'd been on hold for an hour, and what did I want to do? I recognized the classical piano on her speakerphone, so I didn't doubt that it was CVS on the line. I decided to call them from my phone, and wouldn't you know it? As soon as someone actually answered my call, and I was telling them that my pharmacist had been on hold for an hour, HER phone picked up with a real person!

She was a delight. A saint. She said she hated the classical piano, but I think that's only because she'd not gotten to choose what she'd be hearing on her speakerphone for a full hour, and frankly, it is one song on repeat, so I completely understood. However. she really did everything she could to help me not die of breathlessness, and she even wished me a safe journey home (walking in the dark)! Now I have My Friggin' Inhaler Refilled and all is right in my world. It only took fifteen days and seven hours to do it, give or take three months.

If you ever need a prescription filled or refilled, I give two big thumbs up for Rite-Aid, or at least the specific one on the southeast corner of Victory and Tujunga. Ask for Olivia. ;)

Monday, March 27, 2017

I've been angry lately

... and I'm not used to being angry. I don't like it. This has been growing, and it reached a true boiling point the other day. Here's the sitch:

Back in October of last year, we moved outta our +/- Burbank apartment, into our +/- NoHo (North Hollywood) apartment. I'm classifying them both here as "+/-" because they both had/have pros & cons, and the move itself was probably a "wash" in the long run.

The new place is geographically located next to a rather large church that was under construction when we moved in. According to our upstairs neighbor, that building has been under construction for the past four years.

Lately, the construction's gone into overdrive, as the workers have been bringing the project to completion. Some days, they'd have huge trucks parked at the corners, with cranes, installing lights or cleaning windows or painting walls or whatever. The trucks have been parked in the red zone at the corners, which has made navigating into traffic a bit of a bitch.

That's not what I'm angry about. That's just a nuisance.

They started putting up signage. Oh! This "church" is going to be occupied by Scientologists! That's... interesting!

Again, not angry about the residents. Honestly, a little ambivalent about them.

Then they hung A CROSS on the front-facing exterior wall. Ah, there it is! That's my trigger!

Now, you may not know anything about my spiritual life. I may have posted vaguely in the past. You know I don't shy away from cussin', but you also know that when I feel #Blessed, I say so. So here's the backstory for you:

I grew up in the Southern Baptist denomination of Protestant Christianity. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Personal Lord and Saviour into my heart when I was 7 years old, and I was baptized by immersion on Palm Sunday of that year. I have read through two different translations of the Bible. I have tried other denominations; I have dabbled in being open to Universal Truths. I do not currently attend any particular church because I feel very strongly that "me and God are tight. I got Him here (in my heart), and if He wants me to go to any particular church, He'll tell me."

But I do feel like the cross is symbolic of Christianity, and no other "religion". So, when I saw that cross up on the side of the Shitology building, it enraged me. Every time I passed any of the new inhabitants, while they were moving in, blocking the sidewalks with their furniture trucks or whatever, I would give 'em the stink-eye. I would shout at them "you're blocking the fucking sidewalks with your damn trucks!" or something equally cussy. Even upon our return from seeing Logan, after they'd fully moved in and were simply beginning to proselytize, I randomly cussed at a random S-ist.

***This is too much anger for me to bear. It's too much anger for me to carry around. And no, I can't just "get over it", thankyouverymuch, well-meaning but ignorant neighbor upstairs. I have to talk to someone. Maybe a minister, maybe a therapist, definitely not a close friend or family member.***

... and then I was booked for a day on set again, and out of nowhere, a person I know just happened to mention a perfect segue for me to talk about all my anger issues. So we talked. He agreed that he'd feel pretty much exactly the same way I do; the cross is a symbol of Christianity, not "church". But then he was able to steer that conversation toward symbols and why we create them and "own" them, as we do. Even though he had always accepted the cross as his symbol of his own faith, it always bothered him that Christians would choose an instrument of torture to remember their Saviour. Even the empty cross is still symbolic of the way Christ died. Wouldn't we rather envision our Redemption by choosing the empty tomb instead?

I really dug where that convo led, and it gave me an instant sense of peace. He used his phone to look up "empty tomb" symbology, and I saw a necklace I really liked, and decided to get one, if it wasn't too expensive, because it could just be jewelry without screaming my faith at anyone who saw it.

... but when I got home and Stephen Googled the image, what we discovered was that the "stone" I was seeing rolled away was, in fact, brushed silver or gold, and on the reverse side were the words "He Lives". Um, no, un-unh, that's a little too "in your face", and also, not as pretty as the "stone" I thought I saw.

So I found a stone to make into the perfect piece; I just have to find a way to make it into the perfect piece. Until I do, I'll carry it in my pocket to remind me to not be angry. So far, it's working. I am #AtPeace, and I once again feel #Blessed.
it's a deep, dark blue with metallic flecks
... any jewelry makers out there?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

that time when Cocoa went adventuring

Here are the facts:

  • around the country, folks have been experiencing "unseasonably" warm and/or frigid weather of late
  • we, here in Southern California, have had about a week or less of truly (gloriously) WARM and sunny days
  • we, here in our specific household, have opened up the apartment for the past week or so, and last night was the first that I went to bed feeling "cold" enough to allow the heat to run if it reached lower than 75ยบ inside, once the windows were closed
  • my breathing has been for shit for the past two weeks or so, so I can pretty much attribute it to "seasonal allergies" and/or the weather changing
  • in addition to general breathing issues, I've also been doing my damndest to cough up a lung or two, rather than just "clearing my throat"
  • TODAY was a cooler-than-of-late day, hovering in the 60's and very low 70's for most of the day (and definitely "cool" now that it's nighttime)
  • Stephen had a late night last night (just couldn't sleep) and a fairly "crap" day today; he works early tomorrow, so he had a nice warm soak in the tub and went to bed early
  • it's hard to sleep when there's someone coughing up a lung in the other room
So here's what I did, in just the last hour or so:

I took my laptop, cough drops, and glass of wine out into the courtyard, so any noise I made coughing would escape UP into the sky rather than be trapped in the living room (and echo down the hall).

Cocoa sat in the (open) front window and watched me, meowing her version of "bless it" every time I coughed.

When I opened the front door just enough for a furbaby to venture out, it wasn't long before she peeked her head out, and then carefully investigated the courtyard area adjacent to the front door. While she was checking out the smells in front of Josh and Janette's place (immediate neighbors), Smokey poked his head out to stand guard.

Cocoa ventured as far as the foot of the stairs to the second level (not quite to the other adjacent neighbor), and past the potted plants of the neighbor across, and around the table where I sat watching her, to not-quite the top of the stairs leading down to the parking garage, when Smokey sent her some subliminal cat signal that she'd had enough adventuring for the night, Dearie, and she skulked back into the apartment.

I wasn't too far behind her tail, as we both needed to pee. ;)

But now she's begun acting like "outside" is where she belongs, dammit, and why haven't I opened the front door for her for more adventuring? I mean, c'mon, Momma! It's only not even 10 o'clock yet!

I love my brave girl. I gotta keep that bravery in at least a little check, right? They're both good furbabies.
Smokey guards the back while Cocoa snuggles in

Monday, March 13, 2017

I blame Netflix.

I haven't worked much on set this last quarter/"semester", as you know. And as you also know, I'm really only happy when I'm working on set.

I managed to NOT slide into my standard winter SAD or any Depression, despite not working much on set. Probably because I picked up my crochet hooks, and because I started re-binge-watching The West Wing.

So now that the weather is improving and my breathing is worsening and I'm still not working enough and I'm caught up on all seven seasons of The West Wing, I seem to have become
a mashed couch potato.
So even though I have been meeting my nonFitbit-thingy's daily "step challenges", I haven't regularly hit 10,000 steps in a looooooooooong time. With my breathing/coughing/allergy issues in flare-up, I feel good about the step challenges but would really like to re-build my energy to the 10K level, which should help me tone up ^that^.

Now, this post is not in any way meant to body-shame you or anyone else you know. It's my own dissatisfaction with what I have allowed to happen to MY body('s shape). Pretty sure I was hoping/planning to get fit in the recent past/nearish future. I haven't, and

I Blame Netflix.

Friday, March 10, 2017

when Breathing is a difficult thing

It's becoming a chore, kids. It's a real drag. Some days, I struggle to fill my lungs to 75% capacity. Some days, I struggle to fill them to 50%.

And on days where the act of breathing isn't the problem, then I cough my fool head off. Or I clear my throat All. Day.

Here are "just the facts, Ma'am":

  • we moved in October
  • adjacent to our new building is a church that's been under construction for something like 4 years (timeframe per our upstairs neighbor)
  • I started having shortness of breath issues in November
  • I had health insurance through Warner Bros. until the end of November
  • I called Kaiser on a 50% day to make an appointment; I was seen the next day as a walk-in to fill a cancellation void
  • my appointment was likened to taking your noisy car to the mechanic but the car purrs like a kitten - my breathing that day was probably at 90 - 95%
  • the doc found nothing physically wrong with me (I'm not sick, kids) but did prescribe for me a rescue inhaler of Albuterol, with the admonition that if things got worse in the next week or so, I should follow-up with him
  • my rescue inhaler started with ~200 "hits"
  • I no longer have health insurance
  • the construction is nearing completion
  • the weather has changed to warm, sunny days (from cold and wet)
  • I'm down to fewer than 20 "hits" on my rescue inhaler
We walked over to CVS yesterday, because my non-productive cough was worrying for Stephen. The lung capacity is more of an issue in my mind, but I understand that if my coughing keeps either or both of us awake, then our sleep is interrupted, and our next day is likely to be pretty crappy all around.

So we picked up some Mucinex DM, which is both an expectorant (to make my coughing productive) and a suppressant (to quiet me enough for us both to sleep). I have taken three dosings so far, and my cough is more productive. I do not know how long I will need to continue taking Guaifenesin (the active expectorant ingredient). According to my nonFitbit-thingy, I slept pretty damn well last night, and I guess I can blame the Dextromethorphan (cough suppressant) for that one. Also, I've been feeling a bit sleepy since about 9 p.m., so I'm thinking that one of the "inactive" ingredients may also be contributing something there.

But I have been unable to reach a person at Social Services to see if I qualify for Medi-Cal or if I'm supposed to be paying out of pocket for health insurance that I cannot afford at this time, and my inhaler has fewer than 20 hits left. The CVS pharmacist told me I could get the doc I saw to refill my Rx, or I could go to a CVS insta-clinic (he called it something else) or an Urgent Care center to get a new Rx, but without insurance, how much will that cost me? I just don't even know.

And right now, Breathing is a difficult thing.

What advice would you give me, since I'm pretty sure you can't just send me a cartridge of Albuterol or any Prednisone (steroids) to help open my airways?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I'm Ba-ack! (Maybe. We'll See)

So I worked a total of three days in January, and that was GLORIOUS. I mean, I really thought it meant I'd be working my "regular" shift of at least once per week, throughout 2017, until the Scripty gig for that show I'd worked in the late summer picked up for season two (which would mean MORE than once per week). So January left me feelin' pretty good about myself and my industry.

And after I marched in the #WomensMarch, I crocheted myself a Pussy Hat.

Then I crocheted a smaller version, thinking one of the young nieces (or nephews, 'cuz I won't say no) might want one. No takers, so I unraveled the thing and made another Moebius Scarflet to match my Pussy Hat. Because, why not?

Meanwhile, I kept looking for work. I ran into one of the actors from last summer's show, and he told me that he'd been contacted about going back to work in late March. It makes sense that they'd contact the cast before crew, because you have to build your shooting schedule around their availability. He also told me that the writer/director had gotten his SAG card in the meantime, so there was a good chance the project would be a SAG Signatory. That's great news for the cast, and it's not bad news for the crew, because IATSE Signatory comes next (usually by Season 3). So I shot an email off to the director/writer, checking in, congratulating him on his Union status, and hoping to hear back regarding crew scheduling soonish. This was February, so it's not like I had any worries. Just trying to do my own "due diligence".

But I did not work a single day in the month of February, and Depression crept in. I reached out to the producers on Friday (March 2), and the email response that I received, pretty quickly, was that they were all crewed up but thanks for checking in.

When they (the production) made the announcement that there would, in fact, BE a second season, one particular producer seemed to go out of his way to Promise Me the gig.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that ANGER is not one of my go-to emotional states. Sure, there are things that will piss me off, but I usually get over those things and get back to Optimism or Joy or at least OKAY. But for most of Friday, I was LIVID. I couldn't see straight. My world was burning.
And then, when I finally was able to focus enough on "now what?", I got really sad/upset/crying... about the fact that I had somehow done something to lose a "promised" gig.

So Now What?

I called Warner Bros., because when my temp assignment ended last year, I was told I should reach out to HR if I wanted to come back. The job I had done for them was listed on their careers website, so I went ahead and completed a new application. But the group assessment for potential new hires had just happened on Thursday, so my odds of "perfect timing" were 50/50.

And I continued submitting for other appropriate gigs, and Wouldn'tYouKnowIt? I booked work for tomorrow. It's a semicasual background role on the last day of the season for a show I've worked very sporadically in the past. It should be a pretty laid-back day, from what the casting director has said, and it should (hopefully) reboot my psyche back into "work begets work".

Aaaaaand I made another thing. It's amazing to me that crocheting has such an impact on my mood. I started this thing on Friday, and finished it today. It's a prototype, really, because I can't figure out when or where I will actually ever have a real opportunity to wear this rather-dressy-while-still-very-casual "summer sweater", out in the real world. But I made it myself, without a pattern, tweaking as I went along, and I'm pretty happy with it, for a first attempt at brain-vomiting a wearable thing.

Whatcha think? Should I go yarn shopping and make more things? Should I come back to blogging? Would YOU (or your female SO) wear the boobalicious bulky summer sweater above? WHERE would you (or your female SO) wear it?