york swirls

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Leah turns 8!

 We celebrated Leah's birthday today with the whole family here, including both sets of grandparents.  She chose BLT's for supper.  It took me at least an hour to fry 5 pounds of bacon.
 Her sisters and her cousin, Bridgette, gather around to see what she got.
She's very excited about a Tinkerbell doll!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Welcome, Spring!!

This was the view out my kitchen window this morning.  I think those poor robins were wondering what in the world was going on!

Maple Syrup Days

The girls went on a field trip with Grandma & Grandpa Sanders and Aunt Becky and Bridgette while I was getting Grandma Cooper settled after she got home from the hospital.  I was planning to go along, but just didn't have the time.  We didn't want the girls to be disappointed, so Grandpa drove our van and took the crew.  They went to Deep River County Park between Merrillville and Valparaiso for Maple Syrup Days.
 Laura, Bridgette, and Kara with Nanna in the back seat
 The brown splotches on the board are maple candy.
 Cousins:  Leah, Kara (up ahead), Laura, Bridgette, & Nanna
 This is the fire where they cooked the maple syrup and made it into maple sugar and maple candy.  Laura thought this was the most interesting part.  (Laura is our 'guest narrator' on this post since I wasn't there to get the details.)
 These benches were set up all around the fire in the picture above.  The clear liquid in the buckets is the sap from the maple trees.  It's 97% water and 3% sugar.  They have to boil down 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.
 The Sugar Shack
 Cooking down the sap in the Sugar Shack.  This is the modern-day way to do it.
 This is a visual aid to show the 40-gallon milk jugs of sap that would equal 1 gallon of syrup.
 Kara, Nanna, Bridgette, Laura, and Leah
 Kara, Laura, Bridgette, Leah, and Nanna
 This is the old gristmill.  They have a gift shop in there now.  The girls all brought home a little souvenir of their day--stuffed animals, tea sets, and tea pots.
 Laura is grinding corn like the Potawatomi Indians.  
 Nanna is grinding corn too.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Our Healthcare System Needs Fixed

Grandpa & Grandma Cooper at Christmas

I spent three days last week  in the hospital with my mother-in-law.  While I was sitting there, I started adding up how much time I've spent in the hospital over the past year, starting with when Ryan was born.  I've spent 24 days in the hospital, and I haven't been sick a day!  I'm beginning to feel at home there.  I have 2 pairs of exercise pants that I usually wear to the hospital when I know I'm going to be there for the long-haul.  They're comfortable.  I can be in any position with them, unlike a skirt.  I can sleep in them.  Now they are known as my "hospital pants."  It's pretty bad when you have clothes specifically designated for hospital wear.

Since coming home from the hospital, I've spent quite a bit of time getting my mother-in-law's medical care and prescriptions organized.  I called the pharmacy yesterday about one of her medications.  She is paying $42 for 90-days of this medication, while I pay $10 for the same thing for Heather.  I asked if Walgreens has a program like Walmart where you can get that prescription for $10.  They said they have a similar program, but, by law, they can't offer it to people on a government program like Medicare.  What?!  Do you see anything wrong with this law?

That reminds me of my first eye appointment after we closed down our trucking company.  While we had the trucks, we had union insurance.  Now being both the employer and the employee, we know what all those benefits cost the employer to provide for the employee.  It was costing us over $400 per employee each week to provide those benefits to our employees.  It was a little scary to give up that health insurance, but it was certainly a huge relief to not have to pay such outrageous premiums.  We decided to join Samaritan Ministries which is a group of Christians that share their medical expenses each month.  When we go to the doctor, we tell them we don't have insurance because it is not an insurance company, just a sharing ministry.  While I had union insurance, my bill at the ophthalmologist  was usually applied to my deductible.  I ended up paying the full amount in the end.  Those visits would cost me $160.  After I didn't have insurance, they charged me the self-pay rate...$40!!!!!

Now wait a minute, my mother-in-law pays 4 times as much for her prescription because she has insurance.  I paid 4 times as much for my office visit because I had insurance.  We have a problem!!!

I recently took Kara to a pediatric dermatologist.  Their usual office visit is $259.   Since I was self-pay, I paid $73.  Once again, the office visit would have cost me 3 1/2 times as much if I'd had insurance.

Now that we don't have insurance, we are free to choose our own doctors.  We don't need a referral!  (Did you know it's your insurance that requires a referral?)  We switched to our little small town optometrist this year from one in Lafayette.  It doesn't matter anymore that he isn't on our list of providers.  We can choose our own!  Dr. Reed is the friendliest, most down-to-earth man.  He gives us a family discount.  He has a rate chart based on their age.  We're so glad we were able to make this change.

While my mother-in-law was in the hospital, they had her drinking some nasty stuff for contrast so they could do a CT scan of her abdomen.  It made her sick, and she vomitted it up after a while.  She has a partial upper plate, and she vomitted so forcefully that she spit out her teeth.  The nurse flushed them down the toilet.  Now I'm dealing with the hospital trying to get them to pay for her teeth to be replaced.  When I talked to the lady there yesterday, I told her our family felt that the hospital should pay more than half of the cost as is their policy.  She said it was an accident.  It wasn't their fault.  So whose fault is it?  I told her, "Yes, ma'am.  It is the nurse's fault."  If we are in a car accident, whoever the policeman deems "at fault" pays the repair bill on the other's car.  Even if it's an old beater, the insurance company pays to put new parts on it to fix it.  If we put a baseball through our neighbor's window, we pay to fix the window.  We don't split the cost half and half.  It's somebody's "fault."  That  nurse should have checked that before she dumped it.  My mother-in-law was losing blood and that should have been checked.  Nobody wants to take responsibility for their actions anymore....accident or not.  So now the fight begins...

I'm finished venting...for the moment....almost.  It makes me sick to see how much the government has invaded every area of our lives and how many freedoms are slowly being taken away from us, often without most people even realizing it.  Step back and look at your life.  We can't choose our own doctors.  We can't put in a new well or add onto our house without a permit from the government.  We can't tear down an old shed without a demolition permit from the government.  Even though we own the property, we can't build our new shed on the outside 10 feet of our property.  The doctor's office asks if we wear a seatbelt or have guns in our homes.  These are just a few of examples from my own life.  I can't bear to think of what my grandchildren will face in their lifetime.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Heather's Annual Visit to Riley's

Heather with Dr. Leiser...12 years later

When Heather was just a little girl of 17 months, she somehow contracted E. coli 0157.  In one out of 10 cases of this E. coli, it goes into Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.  Heather was that one out of ten.  Her kidneys were breaking down her red blood cells.  When we took her to the hospital her hemoglobin was at 5.5.  It should be about 12.  They told us a level of 5 is almost certain heart failure.  

Heather spent 19 days in Riley's Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.  They gave her blood 3 times.  There was no medicine they could give her to make her better.  It was just what they called a supportive cure.  In other words, they gave her blood when she needed it and waited for her body to heal itself.  

Her kidneys were damaged because of the HUS.  Your kidneys are directly related to your blood pressure.  Hers was very high, so they put her on Lisinopril when she was only about 20 months old.  Since she was too young to swallow pills, the CVS pharmacy in Kentland had to get instructions from Riley's of how to make her medicine into a suspension (liquid).  They had to order special equipment to make it.  She is still taking Lisinopril.  We take her blood pressure once a month and record it for Dr. Leiser.  We go to see him once a year at the Riley Outpatient Clinic; and today was our day.

The next two pictures are poor because I just took a picture of the pictures in Heather's scrapbook to include with this post.
Heather was in isolation because of the E. coli, so whenever she had visitors they had to wear gowns and gloves.  My sister, Aimee, stayed at the Ronald McDonald House nearby with Autumn, Meagan, Krissy, Erin, and Laura (who was only 2 months old at the time).  They came to visit every day.
This was Heather with Dr. Leiser one year later.

That experience was a very hard time in our life, but it was also a big growing time for us.  I can definitely say we grew spiritually as we placed our daughter's life in God's hands.  There was nothing we could do humanly to restore her health.  We were also learning to trust God to care for our financial needs.  It was quite an experience to sit back and watch God work.  People sent us money because they felt God's direction to do so.  We also learned to have a greater empathy for those experiencing a health crisis.  We had a better understanding of their needs during an extended stay in the hospital.  Since then, we've made many hospital visits, taking things like food, flowers, books, activities, money, or whatever we felt they needed.  Heather told me today that she doesn't remember anything about it except what she sees in her scrapbook, but somehow I think it made a lasting impression on her.  She's the first one of the girls to write letters or send a card or make something for someone that is sick or having a tough time.  She may change her mind before she grows up, but she's said for a long time that she wants to be a NICU nurse at Riley's when she grows up.  I think she would make an excellent one!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Day in the Snow

It was very hard to get a video while turned around backwards on my knees in the seat trying to hold on for dear life and hold my phone.  This video is the best I could do.  You should get a pretty good idea of what we did in the snow this afternoon.  Gary & a friend built this sled, but this is the first chance we've had to use it in two winters because we haven't had enough snow.  Today was her "maiden voyage."  
 Meagan and Leah are working on a snow woman.  Do you really think they'd build a snow"man" in a house full of girls?!
 Autumn, Leah, Kara, Nathan, & Meagan
 Autumn was in charge of her face.
 Leah helps Autumn set the head in place.
Almost finished
Finishing touches
Meet Francine!!
Laura, Leah, Nanna, & Heather taking their turn on the sled.
Gary pulls the sled with our Polaris Ranger.
I started a fire in the shelter house and kept it going all day.  We cooked hotdogs & s'mores out there for lunch.  It was a good place to come in and warm up without dripping all over the house.  I kept a pot of chili simmering in the house for supper.  That was a welcome meal after a day outside playing & working.  Before they played, they had to do the cattle chores and shovel out both sets of grandparents and our house.  Gary used the tractor and cleaned out our driveway, the grandparents' driveways, and the driveway down at the dairy farm where we keep the cattle.
The snow sprayed all over them as they rode.
Nanna loved it! She didn't want to get off.
Laura resembles the abominable snowman.
Now it's Meagan's turn.  (Laura, Meagan, & Heather)
Kara didn't want the snow being thrown in her face!!!  This is how she rode the sled.
Kara, Meagan, & Nanna
Nanna takes a turn in the backseat of the Ranger.
Laura & Heather
Grady came to play with Gammy in the shelter house and the house while Mommy & Daddy played outside.  We had a good time.   Next year we'll go out and play in the snow!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday to Our 1st Grandson

Today was Ryan's 1st birthday.  Krissy planned a big party for him.
He had a HUGE pile of gifts to open!! 
 Krissy used a Cars theme.
 She made him his own little cake.
 He's getting ready to check out that cake!
 Hmm, what is this?
 It sure is gooey!
He only took one bite after playing with the frosting for quite a while.  I think he was just too tired after his big day.  He was ready for a nap.