Saturday, July 29, 2006

Don't take it personally

Nothing like a steam bath when you're fully clothed and there's nowhere you can take off your clothes without the police getting involved. So much for public places, especially the back patio at Poor Richard's.

I got a surprise when I arrived for lunch. Nancy Jo and Cathryn were there. I hadn't seen them since the Gay Pride Parade and I'm glad the boys surprised me today with the extra company. I had planned to have a quick lunch with the boys and spend the rest of the day in the air conditioned comfort of Rico's Internet cafe sipping a fresh fruit smoothie (called a Liquado at Rico's) and letting my fingers do the racing over the keys and get more of the new novel done, and maybe even finish the editing on last year's novel. Best laid plans and all that stuff.

Over great salads and sandwiches, we plunged into the conversational abyss. We talked about philosophy and religion. I'd always heard that was like setting off an atomic bomb in a tropical paradise. Everyone will hate you for blocking out the sun and moving the white sand beaches into a smoking hole in the middle of a devastated coral atoll, killing all the fish and food for miles around. Good move, Fix. Not good. Cathryn took the conversation personally when we moved into a comparison of different religions outside of Christianity. Nancy Jo, also Christian, was more tolerant. Cathryn wasn't. She got very upset and went inside for a while. When she came back out, she was still so incensed she said she was leaving and asked Nancy Jo to choose where she wanted to be -- on the back patio with us or going with her. Nancy Jo, ever the diplomat, suddenly remembered she was late for a celebration.

Religion in the midst of a friendly conversation? Not a good idea without a flak jacket and a bomb shelter in the middle of an iron mountain.

The boys and I finally moved inside to Rico's, dripping with sweat and hot (not in a good way). We sipped. We talked. We laughed a lot. I didn't get much writing done -- at first. Bear looked at the novel I'm editing and suggested more drag queens and a lot more melodrama, but I nixed that idea. He did say that anything that kept his attention for five whole pages and made him wait for a cigarette was good. He's not a big reader.

After a while, they left for home and I stayed and wrote for another hour or so. I got a lot done, fleshed out a few more scenes, did a little pruning and even wrote some new scenes in between clarifying old ones. I won't end up on the Harlequin shelves, but then I never expected to be there. I'll end up somewhere between romance and mainstream with a hint if the literary and I might even make it past the mid list. Besides, I have a deadline to meet.

More writing tomorrow and a trip in the country with Nel and Michael should round out an otherwise fun and interesting weekend. No talk of religion, although it won't matter tomorrow. We're all pagans.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday night frights

Friday night and I'm watching Candyman. Reminds me of when I was growing up and watched Night Owl Theater or Theater of Blood on Friday nights. The movie isn't as frightening as I remember, but none of the movies were. The horror came later when the lights were out and everyone was sound asleep. Through the darkness a blowing curtain looked like a vampire's cape or the swirling darkness dancing with shadows out of which coalesced demons and murderers, a smoky void that seeped into my fertile imagination during sleep and became monsters that chased me away from the light and into grasping arms that folded me into their bloody embrace. Amber lights in the darkness leering between the wind tossed skeletal branches of malevolent trees that hinted at safety and once close enough to bask in their protective gaze turned baleful eyes that promised death or worse.

Those movies were seeds planted in the fertile ground of my imagination, seeds that grew into unspeakable horror. Even the lamest and campiest of films were but fodder for the horrors laying dormant within my mind ready to spring to slavering life to rend and tear my innocence and slash my security and feelings of safety to bloody ribbons.

As bad as Candyman is, it still has the power to awaken hidden horrors and disturb my sleep.

Guess I'll work tonight.

It just keeps getting better

Well, the ball is rolling down a very high hill and gaining speed on the situation with the doctor who refuses to release my mother's records without being paid. The Ohio Medical Board called her the day after I called them and today I received a phone call from her regular doctor who just retired last winter. She called to get a copy of the fax I sent to the greedy doctor and and the letter I sent to her old doctor. I realized that if I sent the letter to his office the post office would forward the mail to his new address, probably the only time the post office will work with me and not against me.

That brings me to the latest edition of anal retentive mailman. I schlepped to the post office again to pick up my packages from Amazon and authors who want me to review their books. This is the third time this week. It isn't that I have an aversion to going to the post office or walking but it's a hassle that isn't necessary.

I asked for the supervisor and was told she was in the other building and one of the mailmen gave me the phone number. I ran a couple of errands and came home, put out a package and some mail I forgot to take with me to the post office and called the mailman's supervisor. Well, I called the number and it rang about a hundred times over the course of three hours and no one answered. I decided to give it another shot and got -- gasp -- a real person. He told me the supervisor was back at the local post office but would return to the annex shortly. He'd give her my message.

In the meantime, the anal retentive mailman drove up and parked his truck. I gathered some plastic bags and a book for the landlady and raced down the stairs to catch him, a fist full of plastic bags and the book when I caught him on the porch. "No mail for you today," he said with a smile.

"I would like for you to leave my packages on the bench here on the porch from now on. I was told at the post office you could do that if I told you directly."

"Oh, no," he said. "You have to put it in writing."

Reining in the desire to bludgeon him with a fist full of plastic bags and a paperback British romance, I said, "I'll leave it in the mailbox tomorrow." After that I turned and walked back through the front door not realizing I had been holding my breath and gritting my teeth until the air exploded from my oxygen starved lungs when the landlady opened the door, holding tightly to Pastor's collar. She must have seen murder in my eyes because she said I thought it was a good idea to stay out of the way when I saw him on the porch. She knows about the difficulties I have had with the anal retentive mailman. I gave her the bags and the book and took a piece of banana bread one of her clients, Ranger Rick, made and gave her. Then I raced back up the stairs because my phone was ringing.

It was the mailman's supervisor. She was not helpful. At all. I explained the situation and that he told me he wouldn't leave my mail if I didn't show him ID and all she said was, after she checked the route, "Oh, he's very meticulous." That's one word for it. I explained again that I wanted my packages left on the bench on the front porch and that I understood about not leaving mail that requires my signature. I told her the anal retentive mailman said I could leave him a note and that I would leave it in the mailbox for him to pick up tomorrow. "Oh, you can't do that," she said.

What now? I wondered. Has the entire world gone crazy? I'm not some terrorist getting C4 in the mail or the tools and material to make an atomic device. I just want my mail.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Anything you put in your mailbox has to have a stamp on it."

I'm certain she heard the exasperation and the twanging of the taut and my last nerve about to break. "Is a typed letter good enough as long as it has my signature?"

"Just address it "To Whom It May Concern" and make sure to put a stamp on it." Then she hung up.

In all the years I have been getting mail I have never had this much trouble. I expect to have to go to the post office when I am not home to sign for a piece of mail or a package, but all this for packages none of the other mailmen, and there have been a lot of them over the past year since I live on a training route, had any qualms about leaving nor did they make me prove my identity. I notice he didn't ask my landlady for ID or Nel, but they don't get a lot of packages either. I'm surprised he's willing to leave my Netflix DVDs since he won't leave anything other than envelopes in the mailbox.

Is the heat getting to me or does this sound like bureaucracy gone crazy to anyone else?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Put to rest

That's what I should do with myself -- put myself to rest.

It has been a rough week. Not much work and working at all hours of the day and night. Makes it rough to get some sleep or even eat on any kind of normal schedule, but it's the slow period of the year when doctors are goofing off, playing golf, going on vacation, doing anything and everything but dictating their reports. That means little sleep for me and not enough work to make more than minimum quotas. Not a good time of year. Oh, the doctors will make up for it this fall and winter because the hospitals won't pay them until they catch up their reports. Feast or famine. Right now it's famine.

I'm tired and achy and feeling like the rough side the sandpaper. It could be worse. I could still be scrounging for work with one eye on the clock and the other on the program that brings work from New Jersey to my computer, hoping there will be enough to make quota.

I am not going to sit around here this weekend. I need to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine that has taunted me through the windows all week long with promises of rest and rejuvenation. This morning when the work ran out I climbed back into bed. The air was cool and I wrapped up in the sheet and the blanket for the first time in weeks. I fell asleep to the sound of rain drumming on the roof and whispering through the leaves and woke to glistening trees and leaves, the streets wet and cool beneath a cloud shrouded sun. As the sun climbed in the sky the dirty gray turned to a clear and bright Colorado blue. For once working wasn't torture with my hands so sweaty my fingers were sticking to the keyboard making too many mistakes and the air like breath from a dragon's maw.

Back to this weekend. I'm going to pack up my sketch book, pencils and laptop and go to Poor Richard's and have brunch in their Internet cafe. Then when I've had time to unwind and recuperate I'm going to get in the car with my backpack and some water and snacks and head for the hills. I need to walk in the mountains and breathe fresh air and walk down dusty, needle cushioned trails until I find a river or stream to have a late lunch and sketch what I find, but mostly I'm just going to enjoy being away from work and telephones and people for a few hours.

Maybe it's worth all the work to increase the craving and hunger for open spaces and unspoiled vistas that drives me from my comfortable and cluttered hermit's cave and back into nature. I do miss the quiet and solitude of the cabin but I don't miss not being able to find company and enjoy the excitement and diversity of the city.

Monday, July 24, 2006

No more

Mercury has been retrograde and it is more obvious today than it has been during the whole cycle. Thank goodness it goes direct on the 28th.

In addition to the situation with my mother's records, and while I was taking a nap after having worked all night and most of the day, the mailman who refused to give me my mail unless I showed him ID was back today. The landlady was downstairs and he rang the doorbell, which I keep unplugged because every doorbell rung within a two block radius sets off my doorbell, so unless I know someone is coming over it stays unplugged. He rang the door bell to give me my packages, more books from Because I didn't answer the door he left receipts for me to take to the local post office to pick up my packages. It isn't as if I had to sign for the books but he wasn't going to leave them unless I took them from him. Now I have to schlep all the way to the post office tomorrow to pick up my books. I will also talk to the supervisor at that station and ask them to please inform this particular mailman that unless the packages he is to deliver specifically ask for a signature or are COD he is to leave them on the porch like all the other mailmen who came before him and will undoubtedly come after him.

As if that isn't enough, an purchase that was delivered was the wrong item. I contacted the seller and was told he would refund my money and to send the movie back. I wrote back and explained I would prefer to have the movie I order and which he advertised instead of the refund. He replied, I OFFERED A FULL REFUND AND YOU HAD TO GET ALL CRAPPY WITH ME.PLEASE KEEP YOUR MOVIE AS TO AMAZON RULES...NO REFUNDS AFTER 30 DAYS.THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND HAVE A NICE DAY.

His next email to me was:

It isn't as if I ask much: courtesy, professionalism, some sense of decency and intelligence. Evidently, I am asking too much. The seller, who is sgtkevin170, sells his wares on and they have been apprised of the situation and his responses, which I included in my email to them. I have also let sgtkevin170 know that I have contacted about the situation, sent them copies of his emails to me and that all I want is the movie I paid for that he advertised. In addition, he cannot count since it has been less than 30 days since I ordered the movie and didn't receive the movie until 10 days ago. I don't think that is too much to ask, but I am obviously wrong about that, too. So, now I am urging everyone who reads this to think twice if you buy anything on from this seller.

I am very tired of people who cannot do their jobs without acting like jerks or making things difficult when they need not be difficult. I am tired of greedy people whose only interest is in money and to whom customer service and Hippocratic oaths mean nothing. Unfortunately, I can't blame all this on Mercury retrograde because these people are like this all the time and it is only during this trying time of miscommunication that brings their nastier traits to the light.

That is all. Disperse. I certainly will.

Hot under the collar...

...and it isn't because of the weather.

I spent part of my day attempting to reason with an office worker in a physician's office and found the doctor obstinate. The short version of the story is that my mother has requested copies of her records numerous times from this doctor who bought out my mother's primary physician's practice (and files evidently) and refuses to release the records until my mother pays for them. You'd think it would be illegal to charge for medical records, and it is, but Ohio passed a revision to the Ohio medical code that states a physician may charge for copying a patient's records and lists caps on those charges.

My mother was a patient of the original doctor since 1969 and her medical history is complex and extensive, covering 36 years. According to Sharon, the new doctor's secretary, a ball park estimate for copying the chart is in excess of $100 and probably closer to $200. Not only that, but when I requested the doctor call me back when she returned from lunch and gave my phone number Sharon said the doctor would not call me back because it was a long distance call. I told Sharon to have the doctor reverse the charges.

After waiting a considerable amount of time (three hours) I called the doctor's office and asked for Sharon. When Sharon came to the phone she said she received my fax, containing my letter to the doctor, the letter from my mother's new doctor's office saying they were unable to obtain her records because of the charges and the signed consent to release her records, and had dictated a letter to be sent to me. In effect, the doctor still refuses to copy the records without being paid first but would be glad to talk to the new doctor and answer any specific questions he might have, despite the fact that she was not my mother's primary physician and knows nothing about the medical history. I suggested that since the original primary physician, from whom the doctor bought the practice, is now retired and since she was never my mother's doctor she should box the records up and send them to the new primary physician. That suggestion hit a steel wall at 100 mph. "By law we must keep all records for five years," Sharon said.

I did some more checking and Sharon is indeed wrong. There is no stated time limit for retaining old records and a retiring doctor may appoint a custodian for his patient's records. Considering the fact that the doctor has never treated my mother and is not her doctor, and since the original doctor may name a custodian, I wrote to the retiring doctor and suggested he make my mother's new doctor custodian of her medical records and request Sharon's boss box up my mother's files and send them to the new primary physician. Since I am not allowed to talk to the Sharon's boss directly (Yes, I asked) and since I cannot find a current address for the retiring doctor, I did the next best thing. I wrote a letter to the doctor, attached copies of my fax and the information I sent Sharon's boss and sent it to his old address. I'm sure the U. S. Post Office will be glad to forward his mail to him. It will take a little longer but I'm certain he will get the letter and the attachments. I also sent a copy to Sharon's boss in which I mentioned that I had contacted the Ohio Medical Board and the U. S. Dept of Health and filed complaints and that I have also contacted The Columbus Dispatch and been approved to write an article about what patients don't know about their rights and the costs doctors won't tell you about. In fact, the editor at the Dispatch was glad to hear from me and work with me once again. We do have a history.

I am perfectly willing to be reasonable and have offered several solutions, all of which have been met with immediately negative responses. I even called the doctor's Hippocratic oath into question and mentioned malpractice if something happens to my mother because she refused to release my mother's records without payment first.

When it gets right down to it I just do not understand what happened to people. This doctor, who makes far more than I do, won't call me because it would be long distance. She is more worried about the money and time involved in making medical records available to a patient who has asked for them and gone through the normal channels several times over the past few months (even going so far as to say she never received a signed consent for release of the records even though my mother signed one in their office and her doctor has sent several signed and dated consents over the past months) than in whatever misdiagnosis or lack of treatment a patient receives. How did we get to this point where money is more important than people and doctors can no longer be trusted to care for the people they got into medicine to help?

Any wonder why I'm hot under the collar?