Sunday, June 30, 2013

Where was I in May and June? Making a PHR

Sorry, I've been on a bit of a blog hiatus the last couple of months.  I was putting together a personal health record (PHR) by trying to pull together all the information from my various health care providers over the recent  (sometimes nightmarish) years.  (How did I survive 2009?  Seriously.)  It's been . . . challenging to say the least.  It's also been educational.  Some things I've learned:
  • I am a spreadsheet nerd.  And I like it.
  • What your doctor tells you and what s/he means to tell you are often not the same thing.  
  • Your medical records are wrong. (And you can't change them, but you should try anyway.)
  • You need to take control of your personal health record now (before it gets/especially if it's complicated).
  • Your health care providers do not really understand that this information is yours and should be easily accessible, so you will have to go on the offensive mission and gather it even if they treat you like crap (or like they think you're a hypochondriac and not a responsible adult).
  • Request your medical records annually, while they are free.  If you've been tracking them with your PHR, this should actually be a piece of cake.  You will know exactly who you saw and when and what kinds of records you need to request.
  • Doctors don't really understand chronic pain.  People who have it for a long time are used to hiding it.  So doctors who are looking for "signs of visible discomfort" are not going to find it, and this is going to make them think you are a hypochondriac and not an excellent actor.
I will try to post a little bit about each of these lessons I've learned in the hopes that I can prevent others from running up against the problems that have bruised me so and maybe to also help you from having to reinvent the wheel by telling you about some of the research I did and some of the resources I created.  Once I do, I'll link them to this post and maybe set up some chain linking, as well.  The 4th of July weekend is coming!  Maybe then  I will finally be able to catch up and polish and post all the things I've been writing about.  : )

Folks are not living their lives AT YOU

This is a great article to read, whether you have kids or not.  I am not a parent, but I fall into this trap sometimes, as well, and it was great to feel convicted when reading this.  I mean, it doesn't make me feel happy, but it is important to be reminded to watch out for this tendency.  And it does feel weird when I'm in the middle of it and have to take that step back and realize I'm being self-conscious in this particularly sad and dumb way.  I guess I prefer to avoid the error instead of have to deal with it when I'm in pretty deep.  Most of the time, nobody is judging you but yourself, and nobody is really motivated to better behavior in order to make you feel bad: I guess that's the message I got.
"I felt as if this woman had materialized for the sole reason of making me look bad. I am telling you that I decided right then and there that this mother was feeding her child avocados AT ME. And that also she had matched her child’s clothes that morning AT ME. And also that she had likely disciplined her child effectively for years AT ME. And that as icing on her (likely homemade and gluten-free) cake she was enjoying a lovely, peaceful, well-planned, healthy lunch AT ME. I felt judged. I felt like her approach to parenting was maybe developed solely to shine a big old spotlight on my “not good enough” parenting.  She was parenting AT ME, I tell you!
For years I lived in world in which people lived AT ME. For example:
  • Craig worked out AT ME while I tried to enjoy the couch. So aggressive.
  • People discussed natural child birth AT ME because they could sense my previous sixty epidurals.
  • People attempted ATTACHMENT PARENTING AT ME. ( I still don’t know what that really is but it certainly doesn’t sound like something behind which I’d rally.)
  • People threw Pinterest parties AT ME.
  • People trained for triathalons AT ME.
  • People refused to eat carbs after 8 pm AT ME.. . ."
"Feeling judged by other people’s decisions is an insanely ego-centric way to live. Like my dad always says, “Glennon, nobody is thinking about you as much as you think they are.” Everybody’s just doing the best she can, mostly.'  - Glennon Doyle Melton

A House Hunting We Will Go? (2013 edition)

So here's the situation. My rent already went up once this year. And now it's going up again. It'll have gone up 6.5% after this. (I did the math.  Twice.) What with all the medical issues and student loan payments, that's, frankly, too much for my budget and attempts to get out of non-mortgage debt, especially if it's going to happen every year. Below are the options.  Do you have any suggestions about things I've missed or opinions on what seems like the best idea or time frame?

I'd really appreciate your advice . . .

    What I Dream About
    SITUATION: A good friend will get a full time job and she and her family will be able to buy a big house (duplex or apartment building or mother-in-law suite or whatever), and I'll move in and help them pay off their mortgage faster ($500 a month) while being able to pay off other loans faster (by not having rent keep going up crazy, unexpected  amounts all the time)
    DIFFICULTIES: To be frank, my friend might not be able to get solid, full-time employment.  The job market just isn't terrific for her field in this area.  It definitely won't be in place before my rent spikes for the second time this year.
    ONE MORE THING: If I do find another place, some corollary to Murphy's Law guarantees that my friend will soon land a great, full-time job.  But I'm willing to take that one for the team.  : )  Also, I may end up increasing my commute time and end up even further away from PT.
    The Next Best Thing
    SITUATION: Buy a condo or townhouse.  Still living in a community for safety but with fewer neighbors than an apartment (and hopefully less having to overhear raging domestic arguments)
    DIFFICULTIES: Finding one of these that is single level in the price range I'm looking is sort of impossible.  I really only need a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen on one of those levels (possible surgery concerns).  Also, these have association dues, and those can go up randomly year to year just like rent can.
    ONE MORE THING: To avoid ending up with double payments, I'd have to give notice ASAP that I'll be vacating my apartment; if I don't find a house and close on it in that time, I'll be stuck in a big way.  I could end up being allergic to some hidden thing in the house I won't know about until I start living there, and I may not have the money to get it fixed.
    The Next, Next Best Thing
    SITUATION: Buy a house.  It's easier to find single-level houses with all the rooms on the ground floor, and there are no association dues to pay. 
    DIFFICULTIES: I would be living alone.  That can be dangerous for a number of reasons (and my mother would worry ridiculous amounts).  Also, I have to shovel snow and mow the lawn, something I am not really physically capable of doing, so I'd have to pay someone else to do it and be concerned about someone getting hurt or getting trapped in my house if the snow removal people get tied up.
    ONE MORE THING: Hiring a snow removal service and some kid in the neighborhood to mow the lawn is an expense that can also go up suddenly. 
    The Status Quo
    SITUATION: Stay here for now (and pray the dream comes true [SOON, DEAR GOD, PLEASE]). 
    DIFFICULTIES: Deal with the rent hikes and the extra money I have to blow running my AC all four seasons because I live on the third floor and nobody in this building pays for heat, and so they waste it insanely, baking those on the third floor.  And all the screaming and the strangers my fellow tenants casually let into the building.  And the added trouble sleeping because of the light and noise from the rigged up AC in the bedroom.
    ONE MORE THING: At least I wouldn't have to pack and inflict moving on my friends.  Again.  In summer.  And if something did come up (sudden job loss or something else), I am still probably more easily mobile in this situation.
    The Least Best Thing
    SITUATION: Move to another apartment.  It could be better.  It would have to be more expensive to be this size but better quality.
    DIFFICULTIES: Seriously?  Pack and inflict moving on my friends when I will just have to move again and when I can't know if the rent will be more stable or if the situation will be improved.
    ONE MORE THING: Just don't have the energy to do the research on this for some place knowingly  temporary. 

"Trying to change unfair behavior with submissive niceness"

"The problem is that trying to change unfair behavior with submissive niceness is like trying to smother a fire with gunpowder. It isn't the high road; it's the grim, well-trod path that leads from aggressive to passive, through long, horrible stretches of passive-aggressive. The real high road requires something quite different: the courage to know and follow your own truth. If anyone in your life is exploiting your courtesy and goodwill, it's time you learned how all of this works." - Martha Beck 

So.  Thoughts on the intersection of this and Christianity?  (Especially the bits of common wisdom in the evangelical culture today?)

In my experience, this quote is correct.  I worked with some amazingly terrible and toxic bosses at my last job.  I did try the old Christian standby of being humbly submissive.  It didn't work.  I went down that crappy path and in the end found myself loathing the schadenfreude I felt when my bosses' incompetence caused them additional problems (and no only because their problems caused more problems for my beleaguered co-workers).  It was a very bad place to be in.  I don't recommend it.  But how do we reconcile our desire to stand up for the oppressed (ourselves and our co-workers) with the command to turn the other cheek?  It's a tough balance to try to figure out. 

Any thoughts or experiences you've had that you can share?