High Deductible???

Year-of-the-high-deductible-health-plan

I’m cramming!  Cramming in every medical appointment that I can possibly think of.

My work’s fiscal year is October 1.  That is also when our medical insurance renews.  I have a high deductible health plan.  That means I pay out the wazoo until I hit the deductible.  Then I’m golden til the next year.

It works well if your entire family contracts Ebola.  It is less useful for the sniffles.  I had never met my deductible until this year, and I was strategic about it.  I had shoulder surgery on Oct. 4, 2018.  I met my deductible in the first week of the plan year, and I’ve seen every doctor in town since.  I have had major back issues and taken care of them – or at least tried.  I’ve had my shoulder rechecked to ensure all is well.  I tackled my toenail fungus last November, and I’m thankful to report it is gone – WHOOP WHOOP!  I’m sure I picked that up in the Y shower.  YUCK.

I saw a counselor to make sure I was mentally sound – still in question, but it was good to talk some things out.  I had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy and an ultrasound of unspeakable parts, just in case.  I talked to my doctor about my poor sleeping habits, saw a sleep doctor and am on a drug to give me rest.

All this and I have three more weeks to go!

I’m hitting the chiropractor again, getting my ingrown toenail sliced open and perhaps steroids shots in my back.  The only thing I hate worse than physical pain is financial pain.  I gotta get it all in before my plan goes back to ground zero.  October 1, its back to suffering.  I do not plan to go to the doctor again unless I lose a limb – or two.

If I have a prescription, it shall be filled, this month.  I don’t care if I need it or not.  I might get pink eye again… at some point in the future, and there is one refill left on those little drops!  Maybe I have an anti-nausea suppository refill.  I better check.

I may get Botox, pectoral implants and see if they can do a bladder lift by the end of the month.  I don’t even know if that’s possible, but I might as well ask.

I’ve been overlooking issues for years simply because I don’t want to spend so much stinkin’ money on medical care.  I don’t like to go to the doctor, but I also don’t like fungus on my toes.  I’m not going back for some time, so I guess I’ll invest in some heavy duty flip flops.  And fellas at the Y, would you please do the same?  I’m finally clean here!

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#1 #2 #3 #4 #5

Julie with #4 at Furman!

#3 at Elon in her new apartment!                          

Julie and I have so many kids I can’t keep up with them all.  I’ve found it is best to just refer to them by birth order.

Two weeks ago, #2, #3 and #4 returned from working at overnight camps for the summer.  With them, they brought enough laundry to fill a school bus. You could smell them driving down the highway.  Whew!

Julie only got #2 for about 48 hours.  #3 and #4 were home for a couple of weeks.

#3 was preparing to move into an on campus apartment at Elon University.  Between her new curtains, bedspread, dishes, pillows, toaster (you get the picture) and her invitation to participate in the NC Debutante Ball, she has been quite the economic drain on the Tanner family this month.  I actually save money when she’s in college – which I find peculiar.

#1 graced us with her presence last weekend for about 18 hours.  Long enough to drop off laundry, pick up her new (used) VW and head to DC to see her boyfriend who spent the summer in Texas.  She returned the next weekend to pick up the laundry she left the previous weekend.  I just wash and fold as instructed.  I prefer to be referred to as Tide-man.

Last Friday, Julie and I drove #4 to Furman University in Greenville, SC, to move her in for her freshman year!  Other than her soon-to-be stepfather (a.k.a. Tide-man) losing her room key, unbelievable, it was a smooth transition.  The key reappeared that night, after we had the locksmith re-key the door on the third floor of Thurman Dorm and after I walked the entire campus no less than five times trying to figure out where I dropped the little booger.

This past Sunday, Julie and I drove #3 to Elon University in Burlington, NC, to move her in for her sophomore year.  #3 called that same night:  “Dad, I just wanted you to know that the new knife you bought for our apartment works great.  I just sliced my finger with it and am headed to the emergency room to have it stitched up.”

#1 texted tonight – “I’ve broken out in hives all over my legs.”

#2 called to make sure #4s drop off went well.  He’s a good man.

Next weekend, #5 and I are headed to Charlotte for Labor Day.  We are volunteering at a community event for Julie’s work.

Then we have the Deb Ball in Raleigh the next week.  We are hopeful #1’s boyfriend will join us from DC.  He’s a really nice guy.  I sort of feel sorry for #3s date.  He’s never met any of us, this could be overwhelming.  He’s just a friend, but still.

We follow Deb weekend with #2 at the Georgia- Arkansas game in Athens (he’s a Bulldog) then Furman parents’ weekend with #4, then Elon parents’ weekend with #3 and then St. Mary’s parents’ weekend with #5.  #5 and I are going to visit three colleges the first week in October and the second weekend in October is #4s Fall Break.  I won’t see her because I’ll be with #3 at Elon for Men We Love weekend with her sorority.  Two weeks later is #2’s Fraternity’s Parents’ weekend in Athens – and we can’t miss that!  They have an open tab at a downtown bar which they tout to encourage parents to attend – also unbelievable.  Fun, but unbelievable.  Last year we went to a dance club and were heckled for being so old.  I’m gonna wear skinny jeans this year to fool them.

Fortunately, all we have in November is a business trip to Vancouver (Julie is going to join me) and Thanksgiving (likely in a couple of cities across NC).

I’m writing like this is stressful – it’s really not.  We’re busy, but we are having the time of our lives with five incredible kids!

Expectant Joy

I went to a guitar playing church in Charlotte last Sunday.  My church here in Raleigh is more pipe than string.  It’s fun to have a little worship diversity every now and then although a bit uncomfortable for a bow-tie, suit wearing stuff like me.

It is interesting that often just the right message or quote or phone call comes when you most need it.  I got it in the sermon last weekend.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s coming – lots of fun fall weekends at various kid’s parents’ weekends.  A getaway with Julie in November.  An impending wedding.  A new house.  I’m not 100% sure what lies ahead, and yet, it is exciting!  All good stuff to look forward to.

But therein is my problem.  I spend way too much time looking forward – not basking in the goodness of today.

The pastor at this church called it “expectant joy.”  We expect it to come at some point in the future.  But what about today?  Is joyful stuff here, and we can’t see it because we are so focused on what might come?  Will we ever really see joy?  Will we ever really enjoy it?  Or will we continue to hope for more?  Will we look forward to tomorrow until tomorrow doesn’t come?

He told the story of a single mom he knows who has four kids.  If you looked at her life from the outside, you’d see a lot of tough.  Finances are tight.  Hard relationships from the past.  Loss.  Illness.  But she exudes happiness.  It seeps from her inner self.  She has discovered that recognizing what you have today and being thankful for your blessings is the way to live.

Maybe that is part of the struggles in our society – spending too much time expecting and not enough time enjoying.

Cat. Cow.

(That is actually not a picture of me.)

I started participating in hot yoga classes back in February after I pulled my back out.  I’ve done it a couple of times a week since.  And yet, there are parts of it I still don’t get.

The instructor implores us to breathe.  But I do that almost all the time, even when I’m not in class.  But it is a major focus for her.  She not only wants us to breathe, but she wants us to breathe loudly.

“Take a deep breath in, totally fill your lungs, all the way through to your pelvis (how do you even do that?).  Now blow it out!  Let your neighbor hear you.”

I don’t like other people’s breathe.  It should be personal.  It’s been all inside you.  Yuck.  Keep it to yourself I say!

One guy came into class late last week and was breathing so loud I thought he was on a ventilator.  Rude.

And some of the positions she puts us in.

Happy Baby pose: Lie on your back.  Pull your legs to your chest and grab your feet.  There is nothing happy about that pose to me.  It is actually Sad Baby pose when I do it.

Down Dog:  Make a “V” with your body.  Feet behind, hands on the ground in front of you.  Stay there for an endless amount of time while the instructor stands tall and watches you suffer.

Gorilla:  Bend over at the waist.  Stand on your hands.  Like literally, put your hands, palm up, on the ground in front of you and then put the soles of your feet on your hands.  The worst part of gorilla is that now your hands smell like your feet for the duration of the class.  For those of us who wear loafers without socks in the summer, it is not a pleasant smell.  Not at all.

We do butterfly, pigeon, dragonfly, frog, and sphinx.  Oh, and don’t forget cat and cow which are actually fairly simple.  The only problem I have with those are that I want to make sounds to accompany the pose.  Meow.  Moooo.  Meow.  Mooo.  She WOULD NOT like that.  So I suffer in silence, listening to my neighbor’s breath.

They also use language that for a non-yogi, is difficult to understand.

After class I ask Julie, “What is Thin Casa Mow?”

“Ah, that’s Vinyasa flow.”

“Well I was close…”

Apparently Vinyasa is a kind of yoga or something.  Flow is a series of yoga moves.

My favorite is when we stand tall, Tree, holding our arms in the air.  That one I excel at.

You’d think I’d like corpse, that’s at the end of class, on the floor.  You lie on your back with your arms out by your sides.  Palms up.  Eyes usually closed.  But it reminds me of being at the doctor’s office.  I’m afraid someone is going to run in and try to take my blood out of my arm veins.  So I keep one eye open – just in case.  I hate it when they take my blood.  I feel so vulnerable.

So I started hot yoga in February because I pulled my back out.  Last week in hot yoga, I pulled my back out.  What the heck?  I can’t win.

I now have a college graduate. DJ is pondering her future. She will land well.  She always does.

Her ponderance of job possibilities made me think back on my work history.  She has definitive ideas about what she does not want to do.  You gotta start somewhere, but I don’t blame her for being excited about sitting in a cubical all day.  That might drive me mad.

Perhaps the best job I had was collecting quarters from Pop-A-Shot basketball arcade machines.  I’d hit bars midday, fix any issues with the game, collect the quarters and go home and count the loot.  I’d bag the dough, keep 10% off the top – tax free, and haul the rest in a locked bag to the owner.  Some days I’d pull $400 leaving me a whopping $40 for about an hour’s worth of work.  That was a truck load of money back in 1986!  Like two weeks’ dinners at the K & W back then.

The job I hated most was working in the men’s department at Thalhimer’s Department Store at Cross Creek Mall in my hometown, Fayetteville, NC.  Yeah, I got a discount, purchased my first double breasted sports coat, it was white, but it wasn’t worth it.

Thalhimer’s sold about 50,000,000 sweaters over the Christmas holiday.  I folded each one three times a day in December.  What the heck?  Some folks would come in and unfold 15, 16 sweaters at a pop and then walk out the store empty handed, not buying a single one.  Rude.  That’s probably why I hate doing laundry today.

One time we had a hand written note on the cash register from management.  It described a woman who would come in the store and return used Members Only jackets.  They’d be obviously worn, but apparently employees would just blindly give her cash back.

Not on my watch.  Homegirl came in with a gray jacket that had Clorox stains on the sleeves.  I excused myself and called security.  She was escorted out at gunpoint.  The next day, Weezie, that’s what we called the head of HR, brought me a single rose in a vase for my bravery.  It was a nice gesture, but I would have preferred a couple of hour reprieve from the folding.

I didn’t much enjoy retail.  People were not grateful for my service, they were pigs in the dressing rooms, and there was always someone stealing.  I won’t suggest DJ go to work at the mall.  But, I might suggest Amazon.  The don’t have any dressing rooms.

You Said What?

I was trying to find a couple of presents for Julie for Christmas. She is way more thoughtful than I.  I knew she’d creatively celebrate me.  She’s just so good at that.  We gave each other a weekend away as our primary gift, but I wanted her to have a few things under the tree to open on the big day.

One of my very stylish daughters asked for a pair of leggings she found online.  I ordered two, one for DJ and one for Julie.  I wrapped Julie’s and put it in her stack of gifts on Christmas morning.  When she opened the present, the name brand of the stretchy wear was prominently printed on the box:  SPANX.

“Oh honey.  I can’t wait to tell my friends that you got me Spanx for Christmas!”

We laughed.  She paused.  “Is there a hidden message here?”

“They’re leggings!!  Just leggings!  Because you’re so fit and do yoga all the time, you fit female you!”

The more I spoke the deeper I dug.

She really wasn’t offended; we all had a great laugh.  Since then, Julie and I have recounted the story and have started a list of things not to say or do when you’re trying to find your mate.  We plan to share these suggestions with our future sons and daughter-in-law.

Number 1:  Don’t give your girlfriend Spanx as a gift.  Ever.

I also learned it is not great when I complain about my weight loss: “Baby, I accidentally lost 4 pounds today.”  Sometimes it happens – well for me.  Apparently not for her, or the other four females in our home, and they really don’t want to hear about my sudden shedding of self.

Number 2:  Don’t tell your girlfriends when you accidentally lose 4 pounds.

I was thinking about what girls shouldn’t say to guys and remembered being at a bar in my early twenties with a buddy of mine.  We were sitting by two attractive women and Andy struck up a conversation with the cute blonde.  She asked if we played any sports.  He said he played football in high school.  Her response?  “But you’re such little men.”

Seriously?  I’m over six feet tall and have been since my sophomore year in high school.  I’m not overweight, but I’m certainly NOT little.  I still take offense at that comment.

Number 3:  Don’t tell a guy he is little – or that any part of him is little for that matter (unless you’re talking about his stomach).

These are lessons we will pass on.  Maybe our kids will have easier communication if we share our past mistakes.

She Did It!

She did it! DJ, my oldest, graduated from The George Washington University with a degree in Media and Public Affairs. If you have a hunkering to hire someone with a degree in Media and Public Affairs, please let me know! After her summer commitments, she will be aggressively seeking full time employment.

We had a great time on graduation weekend in DC. Good dinners, met her favorite professor, spent time getting to know her closest friends and their parents and then… we went to the graduation ceremony.

This event was held on DC’s National Mall, right in front of the Washington Monument.

The idea of it was so exciting! I remember at freshman orientation receiving the pitch, “If your child comes to GW, they will graduation on the National Mall with the Washington Monument in the background and the White House behind you.” So stinkin’ cool, I thought.

It wasn’t cool.  It was in fact, hot. VERY HOT. Like 120 degrees HOT!

We arrived more than an hour in advance to score decent seats. I had planned to wear a suit but thankfully settled on a dress shirt, no jacket. This was concerning to me because I like to dress the part. When I go to the theater, I wear a sports coat. I am sort of appalled at those who walk in with cargo shorts and Reeboks. I know, folks are looking for comfort. But do we all have to be comfortable all the time?

We sat, with the sun on our backs, roasting while we waited for the graduates to arrive. My father wasn’t feeling great that day. He quickly took his program and tucked it in the collar of his shirt to protect his neck from the rays. The woman in front of us had an umbrella. The ushers made her take it down.

Thirty minutes in my dad was leaned over with his head propped on his cane.

“Mom, is dad ok?”

“Oh he’s fine. He just didn’t get enough sleep last night. He’s resting.”

“Or maybe he is having a heat stroke!”

It only took the 2,000 graduates 40 minutes to process through the crowds and up to their seats. I could not find my child. She sat with her best friends, apparently on the other side of the event. One of them, well perhaps all of them, had a bit too much to drink the night before. He wore a t-shirt, dress shirt, sports coat and his polyester robe. As I understand it, by the end he looked as if he had been submerged into Lincoln’s reflecting pool.

We started the ceremony with a row full of Tanners. Mom and dad.  Julie, Stephanie, Michelle and me. An aunt, uncle and their two young children. Julie finally took my parents and the girls back to a small shady area closer to the White House. I though she might knock on the door and ask Melania if they could observe from their covered porch. The aunt and her daughter joined them in the shade. About an hour in we decided it was best to send the grandparents back to the hotel. Michelle and Stephanie eagerly agreed to help Julie with those logistics. The rest of the family was close behind.

I, however, was committed. If the event lasted ten hours, I was determined I would stay. I needed closure.

As I sat in this long aisle of now empty seats, important people spewing advice from the stage, I pondered.

I’d had a tremendous amount of help raising this child. For twelve years we were a normal family. After Lisa died, grandparents, other family and friends jumped in to support. And yet, perhaps I felt the greatest level of responsibility for this little life. With some good things I did through the year, and many times, not so good, this kid had won. She had grown up to be an independent, confident and capable adult. And for that, I am proud!

The Colonoscopy Chronicle

Just waiting for the cranberry to kick in…

Tuesday, May 21, 4:45 PM

Colonoscopy scheduled for 8:45 AM tomorrow.  Let the games begin!

I just drank a bottle of Clenpiq.  It is supposed to clean out my colon.  Actually mine stays fairly clean – if you know what I mean.  The box says it is cranberry flavored.  Is that what that was?  Maybe cranberries that were eaten and thrown back up.  Mixed with rotten cabbage.  And raw beets.  Dis-gusting.

At work today, they served make-your-own deli sandwiches at our Board meeting.  I drank water.  In fact, I haven’t had solid food since last night.  I fear that out of desperation, my stomach will eat my spleen.

I am sucking a lemon cough drop to rid myself of the “cranberry” taste.  It is embedded in the crevasses of my mouth.

7:11 PM

Ooops.  Forgot to take the laxative at noon.  Well, forget is the wrong word.  I choose not to take it because I work.  Someone told me I should have taken Tuesday off for the prep.  What would I tell HR?  I need the day off to poop?  I’ll take it now.  Better late than never.  I guess.

7:42 PM

The laxative is working.  Thank goodness for Spider solitaire.  I wish I had a TV in my bathroom.

9:22 PM

I am now peeing out of all orifices.  This is unreal.  It is as clear as Evian.

10:56 PM

This must end.

Wednesday, May 22, 2:00 AM

Henson and Fuerst Law Firm.  Who advertises on local TV at 2 AM??  Who is watching this except people prepping for their colonoscopy who also didn’t take the laxative until 7:11 PM?  I think those attorneys need a new marketing director.

6:00 AM

It continues but how?  I think the fluid from my brain is coming out.

8:45 AM

I am nude save a cotton gown with a slit up the back.

Me:  “Can I get the IV in my hand?  I don’t like you digging in my arm veins with that teeny little needle.”

Nurse:  “You can if you have good veins in your hand.”

Me:  “I have the best hand veins your eyes have ever seen.”

9:12 AM

“We’re gonna give you some medicine that will make you drowsy.”

10:01 AM

“Mr. Tanner, it’s time to wake up.”

Honestly, I have no idea what happened in that 49 minutes of my life.  They could have shot me out of a cannon at the circus.  Who knows what they did to me?  I feel so clean.

Doctor:  “You have a beautiful colon.”

Me:  “I KNEW it!”

I also had an endoscopy.  They stretched my esophagus so I could eat larger amounts of food more quickly.

10:50 AM

Chicken salad bagel, salt and vinegar chips, coffee.

Free and clear.  Ten more years til the next.

 

My wife died nine years ago at age 39 from colon cancer.  We take colonosopying very seriously at my house.  My daughters will start theirs at age 29 due to family history.  If you are 50, don’t delay, make your appointment today.  If you are any age and are having significant issues with your digestive system, please go get checked.  If you have a family history, you already know what to do.  Many forms of this disease are treatable if caught early.

One Down, two to go

At age 17, in late August of 1983, I drove my blue and white, two door Chevy Chevette to Wingate College in Monroe, NC, where I started my secondary education. My mom was in the car with me. My father followed with the majority of my stuff in tow.

Still 17, in mid-September, 1983, I surprisingly fit all of my belongings back into my Chevette and drove myself back home. I can’t really explain what happened. I didn’t have a traumatic experience or anything. I just didn’t want to go there anymore.

As I recall, my father got all or most of his money back, which lightened the blow a bit. But still, if I couldn’t be successful at a college that was only two hours from my house, that was about the same size as my high school, with two of my best friends in in a dorm nearby, it certainly appeared I might likely stay with my parents forever.

To all of our surprise, even mine, I headed to NC State the following fall, a gigantic university in the capital city, and never looked back.

This weekend, DJ graduates from The George Washington University in DC. I’m not sure why they call it THE George Washington University, but they are very specific about the THE. Perhaps there are other GW wanna be’s and the THE brands this one as the real one.

I recall the drop off at her dorm. I had to don sunglasses inside to hide my welled up eyes. She was OK, but not great either. DJ had four roommates and two of them had arrived early and scored the primo corners of the very small room. She was stuck with the girl from Vermont with the smaller closet and bunk beds. I tried ever so hard to make lemonade.

“Maybe the top bunk will be warmer in the winter.  Heat rises ya’ know.”  I had a lump in my throat for a full 24 hours anticipating the final goodbye.

We hid her plastic “Pink Baby” in her pillow case. She’d slept with her since she was two. I cried like a blubbering idiot the first fifty miles headed home. But I adjusted, and she did too.

A lot has changed in four years for both of us.

I have since dropped a second child off and only cried for twenty miles when I left.

DJ lives in a brownstone near campus and spent a semester sailing around Australia.

I redecorated her bedroom at home and finally stopped trying to plan spring break trips for the family – which she was not interested in attending.

She interned at Politico and worked at the Correspondent’s Dinner a couple of weeks ago. She did not meet Robin Roberts or David Muir. But cool nonetheless.

I exercise and stretch more since she left and have dabbled in hot yoga. I’m spending a bit more time on me.

She jogged to find the Chic-Fil-A food truck simply to get a taste of home.

We’ve both come a long way.  And I’m sure we both have a long way to go.

But dang, I’m so stinkin’ proud of her accomplishments!

The Bully

Who could bully this cute kid??  DJ, about age 4.

 

I am currently reading a book by J.D. Vance called Hillbilly Elegy. It is a memoir that chronicles his life growing up in Appalachia.  It is an interesting look at a life of poverty.  One tenant of Vance’s family was loyalty.

Vance recounts a bully picking on a kid in his grade school.  Apparently this was sort of an ongoing issue for a number of kids at the school and the teachers and school administrators were aware of the problem.  One day, this bully, walked over to another boy and asked, “Are you gonna cry again today like you did yesterday?”

This pissed Vance off, and, as his grandmother, yes grandmother, had taught him, Vance approached, stood sideways (to be a smaller target) and punched the bully in the stomach using his hips for additional force.  The bad guy went down.  I guess the message was don’t mess with my people.

I remember DJ returning home from 3-year-old preschool one day and sharing that Belva, apparently the mean girl in Mrs. Wishon’s class, had made fun of her shoes AND wouldn’t let her play in the classroom’s miniature kitchen. Needless to say, I was angry.  I was tempted to head over to St. Michael’s preschool the next day and punch Belva in the stomach as Vance did his school bully.  After considering her age, I decided against my initial plan.

It’s one thing to stand up for your child.  I think there’s sort of an innate parental protection gene that makes us want to attack those who emotionally or physically hurt our kids.  What was startling to me about Vance was that the guy he defended was not related to him. In fact, he wasn’t even a great friend.  It was just a kid in his class who was being treated poorly.

After reading his story, I began to wonder if I had ever stood up for the little guy.  The one who struggled to find his voice.

Perhaps I have – or perhaps I too often do nothing for the underdog.  There isn’t much coming to mind – no list of heroic acts I can refer to as examples of my bravery in the face of worldly unfairness.

As I hear derogatory remarks about someone, as I consider inequities around me, as I run into individuals with no voice, I wish I’d do more.  It’s easy to ignore.  It’s easy to walk by.  It’s easy to just be thankful you’re not the one suffering at the moment.

I’m gonna work on that.

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