Archive for December, 2010

End Of The Year Thoughts For 2010

December 31, 2010

I recently heard from a friend of mine who was saying that no matter how much he does in any given year, when the end of the year rolls around, he never feels like he got as much done as he could have.  I understand that feeling.

I don’t share it . . . exactly, but I do understand it.

This year, particularly the latter half, has focused around L. for me one way or the other.  And even though this was the right and proper use of my time and energy, there were a number of goals of lesser priority that didn’t get accomplished.  Aside from vaguely wondering if maybe this should bother me more, I’m happy to say this doesn’t really bother me.  I made my choices and I made them well, and if ever there was a time in my life for the rallying cry of “Next year for certain!”, this year was it.

But we can talk about the future another time.  Tonight I celebrate the passing of the old year, and the coming of the new.

So Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone, and be safe out there tonight; may this candle guide you all safely into the year yet to come.

The Ghosts Of Christmas Presents (Part Three)

December 30, 2010

So if I can pay the bill, you may be asking, what am I fussing about then?

Well . . . in part, as the trappings of the season (in theory) of “peace on Earth and good will to Man” fade away like spirits to be packed away until the next coming of the season, I can’t help but continue to reflect on how this bill could have destroyed someone else’s Christmas.  L. might be too little right now to understand things like bills and money, but if my Christmas had been ruined, it would have made his first Christmas that much less special, if only  in my memories.

Fortunately, it didn’t happen that way . . . but it was a near thing.

I’d like to thank luck for that, as well as foresight and planning, but as important as all those things were, in this particular case none of them deserve the lion’s share of the credit; that goes to plain old human generosity.

You see, people have been very generous in helping out with both L. and in preparing for his arrival.  Of course, it would be a lie to say that I couldn’t have done it without them, because I could have . . . I’d be a burnt out, useless wreck by now, but technically I still could have done it.  Even with that generosity though, the household’s financial reserves are at an all time low, and while they would have covered the bill, it would have driven the reserves that much lower and well into the zone where I officially started worrying.

Fortunately, someone who shall remain nameless (they know who they are) understood my situation and my answer of “Your banking information” when they asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year.  And while they didn’t go that far, their unexpected generosity arrived a few days before the bill, and meant that I could legitimately smile through Christmas, and even smile (however pained) when I pay the bill.  The ghost of that generosity will linger with me for some time, and this candle is for that nameless person so that L. can someday realize what kind of impact this person made in his first Christmas.

Thanks, Dad.

(What?  I said “nameless,” and that’s not his name, now is it?)

The Ghosts Of Christmas Presents (Part Two)

December 29, 2010

Now bills I expected, and bills I had already received in multiples, but they at least had the grace to be in the triple digits, and not arrive on Christmas Eve! (The chain draped spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge evidently haunts the hospital’s automated billing department these days. (1) )

And to add insult to injury, this bill was not only unexpected (the plan was for L. to be born in a birth center, not a hospital) and unwelcome (for obvious reasons), but (and it pains me to write this) . . . legally legitimate, despite the fact that attempting to pay it would break an uncomfortably high percentage of households in this country right now.  Honestly, it felt to me more akin to being bent over a barrel for immoral purposes than a bill for services rendered considering that the alternative to accepting services was to risk the life of child and mother.

My first thought upon receiving this bill and confirming that it was truly going to be an out of pocket expense was . . . unkind, to put it mildly, and involved carbon monoxide.  (You see, I’ve been trying to expunge the phrase “D.I.A.F.” (2) from my vocabulary as something I don’t want L. picking up from me . . .)

My second thought (the one I’ll be acting on, in case this needs to be spelled out) was . . . “This is going to hurt, but at least I have the resources to pay it, and pay it I will.”

But the hospital billing department is so off my Christmas card list.

(1)  What?  You didn’t really think he’d get off that easily, did you?

(2) And I’m not linking to that because I don’t think anyone should pick up the phrase from me

The Ghosts Of Christmas Presents (Part One)

December 28, 2010

L’s first Christmas was great for all concerned, let me make that clear up front.  The boy got enough presents (supplied primarily, but not exclusively, by Grandparents) that it looked like a Christmas bomb exploded in our living room.  Even several days later with the wrapping paper and boxes largely taken care of, a small cadre of  playthings still haunt the area while they await a more appropriate resting place.

I take none of this for granted.

This is the point where other people would likely start to wax maudlin about how “lucky” they were, and while it is true that luck played its much appreciated part, foresight and planning deserve equal shares of the credit.   Because when observed in hindsight, without the luck, the foresight and planning wouldn’t have been enough any more than the luck would have carried Christmas without the help of the foresight and planning.  It was truly a joy to watch how all the factors cooperated in making it a special Christmas for L.  It was so much fun to watch, in fact, that I feel the need to borrow a phrase:

“I love it when a plan comes together.”




Which is what makes it such a pity that nothing in the plan prepared me for the unexpected four digit, no decimal point, hospital bill that arrived on Christmas Eve.

Second Time Unlucky

December 27, 2010

After I posted my Happy Holidays, 2010! entry last Friday, WordPress’s automatically generated “these may be related posts” feature reminded me of this post, that I posted on January 1st, 2010 admitting that it had completely slipped my mind to mark the one year anniversary of this site.

The anniversary date for this site, for those that don’t feel like following the link, is December 4th.

Today’s date, for those still hung over from the holidays and having no idea what day it is, is December 27th.

So yeah . . . I missed it for the second year running, so be prepared for a post in about a year from now with a title containing the words “Third Time’s The Charm.”

(No bets though on if it will, like this post’s title, also contain the word “Unlucky.”)

Happy Holidays, 2010!

December 24, 2010

Last year about this time I posted an entry titled Happy Holidays!, which seemed reasonable when I did it . . . right up until today when I sat down to write this year’s holiday entry, started to use the same title, then realized I didn’t want to repeat myself (if only for archival purposes).  Hence the addition of the year to the title . . . a bit more cumbersome than the previous year’s, but unavoidable, really.

Much like the year itself, come to think.

I will, however, repeat my sentiment from last year in wishing everyone a Happy Holidays in general, and in the manner of ancestors, also wishing everyone a  Merry Christmas.  This candle is for the holidays, and also in hopes of an improved year in 2011.  (That last is a bit early, I know, but I figure it can’t hurt to start a little bit early on something so important.)

The Tale Of L’s Escape From The Hospital Bureaucracy (Part Six)

December 23, 2010

To keep a short story short (though it seemed endless at the time), we got lucky and it “only” took about eight hours for all the little check boxes to be filled, but filled they were, and L. managed his escape just barely in time for him to see (for the first time, I might add) the sun before it set.

After that, he spent a horrible couple of days trying to rest with a Biliblanket (which is a story unto itself, but at least now you know what all the fuss was about (1) ), but it least it was a horrible couple of days at home, and to paraphrase an old saying, I’ll take a horrible day at home over a good day in the hospital any day of the week.

And I’m not 100% (only 90% or so) sure . . . but, if he could speak right now, I think L. would agree with me.


(1)  As an ironic footnote though, as I wrote yesterday’s entry, a letter arrived informing me that the only information the folks who supplied the Biliblanket correctly gave to the insurance company when filing their claim was our address (something they had to get right, otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to pick up their equipment when we no longer needed it), so naturally the insurance company feels no need to pay said claim.  This will all be cleared up eventually, of course, but please excuse me while I spit and say one of the worst words I know:


The Tale Of L’s Escape From The Hospital Bureaucracy (Part Five)

December 22, 2010

My memories of what I processed from the conversations that followed go something like this:

-Painful throbbing in my temples

“Probably nothing to be terribly concerned about.”


“But in extreme case this can lead to . . . ” 


“So it’s still something to be taken seriously even though the numbers are only borderline.”


“Easily treatable in most cases.”


We can even arrange for you to take the necessary equipment home with you so you can still leave today.”


“Provided, of course, we can contact the manufacturer in time for them to contact the distributor so they can arrange delivery of the equipment before your pediatrician leaves for the day so he can finalize the release.  If this doesn’t happen, your pediatrician doesn’t have hours here tomorrow, so you’ll have to stay until the next time he does.  I’ll have to check to confirm when that is . . .”


The Tale Of L’s Escape From The Hospital Bureaucracy (Part Four)

December 21, 2010

Now to escape the hospital bureaucracy and go home, there are a lot of little check boxes that need to be filled.  For instance, L’s Mom’s doctor had to sign off on her, and L’s pediatrician had to sign off on him, all of which sounds simple enough.

But those aren’t the only things needed, and these doctors have schedules, and sometimes if some other check box hasn’t been filled during the time they’re available, then you’ll just have to wait until the next day they are available.

No pressure.

So imagine my “joy” (and keep in mind my headache), when the results from all the tests L. had to endure came back and everything was perfect . . . except “for one thing we’re a little concerned about . . . ”

As I typed that, I felt my temples throb a bit just from the memory of what I  felt as I heard those words.

No comparison.

The Tale Of L’s Escape From The Hospital Bureaucracy (Part Three)

December 20, 2010

There were other incidents, most of lesser, and a few of greater impact than what I’ve already listed, but I think you get the idea.  None of it was critical, but all of it was some degree of frustrating . . . to the staff as well as to us.  They really were doing their best, but when you’re doing a juggling act consisting of a flaming torch, an egg, a chainsaw, a baby, and a silk handkerchief, if you have to drop something, you drop the handkerchief.  Simple as that.

In other words, I assure you that none of these problems stemmed from the staff being underworked and overpaid, and given the red tape draped, constant state of emergency conditions they were working under, the level of care they gave was exemplary.  I know that now, and I knew that then . . . but that didn’t make the literal headache I woke up with and couldn’t shake that final day in the hospital any better.  In fact, the words that should have been a beacon of hope, only served to make my headache worse, and it is with those words we properly begin our tale:

“Today might be the day you go home with L.”