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Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 30, 2011. Insurance

"A recent study analyzing the effects of the 2006 Mass. health care insurance reform law revealed that while insurance coverage has increased overall and cost has become less of a barrier for obtaining coverage, the reform’s effects have not been felt equally among certain groups of people.

"Romneycare" and "Obamacare" have quite a few similarities.

" Both Obamacare and Romneycare involve the private health insurance industry. Neither creates a single-payer system or a government-run public option.
Increased regulation of insurance rates is used in an attempt to decrease the number of uninsured.
Subsidies and tax credits are provided to low- and middle-income individuals, as well as small businesses, to help cover the cost of insurance.
Both strategies rest on an individual mandate that requires people to either buy health coverage or pay a fine.
Each has been criticized for doing too little to control costs.
Residents can purchase a health insurance plan through an exchange, which allows them to band together for lower rates.
On the other hand, there are several differences between the two versions of affordable health insurance legislation, which Romney has recently pointed out:

Unlike Obamacare, Romneycare only applies to a single state. That gives it slightly more appeal for conservatives worried about states' rights and the federal government overreaching with its power. Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown has reconciled his previous support for his state's reforms with his opposition to the national law on similar grounds.
Romney initially supported a provision, later deleted by the Massachusetts legislature, that would have allowed people to opt out of the health insurance mandate if they signed a bond that demonstrated their ability to cover their health care expenses. The federal legislation includes no such exit valve.
Massachusetts did not partially fund their plan with a tax increase, as the federal legislation does. However, they did redirect some Medicaid dollars to the program.
National health insurance reform incorporates some cuts to private Medicare Advantage programs, although individual states have no opportunity to do so to begin with.
The federal government is given the power to review rate increases, which Romney considers as a step towards price controls.
Romney intended healthcare reform to expand access to catastrophic coverage for major conditions, as opposed to more generous coverage. The federal plan sets minimum standards for what must be covered."

I now pay, the following insurance premiums monthly:

Health Insurance $1,500.00
Disability Insurance $ 200.00
Malpractice Insurance $ 300.00
Auto Insurance $ 200.00

That's $26,000.00 per year. This doesn't include unemployment insurance, office insurance, homeowners insurance. That's a lot of money for something that ideally, one hopes not to use.

I'm working for the insurance companies!

Except for the fact that if I'm not working, I lose my health insurance, and I don't know enough about "Obamacare" to know how I'd be covered under that, it would be cost effective for me to go on disability.

Now how is that right? We live in a society where there is a greater incentive not to work.

The General Accounting Office says that national health care will reduce the deficit. It has in Massachusetts.

Without supplying any evidence the opposition denies this bipartisan organizations findings. Pharmacologicals is the number one lobbying industry. Insurance is the number two lobbying industry.

It doesn't take too much to tell whose interests are being served by those who oppose National Health Care.

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29, 2011. The Happy Curmudgeon

At one time the Earth was dominated by a strange and wonderful creature, The Curmudgeon. I think that the Curmudgeons were the happiest creatures in the world. They saw things that the rest of us didn't and exhibited no trepidation about pointing them out. I, myself was once a curmudgeon in training, but I couldn't yell at little children, "Hey get off of my lawn!" (Having no lawn, just a balcony, it made no sense to me. Ergo, I flunked a required course, Grumpy 101.)

We all knew somebody who fit the description. You know, the uncle who you dreaded seeing, but you loved repeating the stories about him. I often felt that Marvel Comics should get rid of some of its lesser super heroes and replace it with The Curmudgeon.

"The Adventures of The Curmudgeon. Slower than your mother’s goodbye on the telephone! More flatulent than you old bulldog! Able to scare children with a single growl! ("Look! Up in the laxative aisle!" "It's a grump!" "It's a grouch" "It's The Curmudgeon!")... Yes, it's The Curmudgeon ... strange visitor from another era, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! The Curmudgeon ... who can change the course of mighty dinners, clear rooms with his strange odor, and who, disguised as (fill in the blank) , unwanted relative for a great American family, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way! And now, another exciting episode, in The Adventures of The Curmudgeon!"

The Curmudgeon is pretty much an American character. In the fifties, he sat on the park bench yelling about communism. In the sixties he complained that you can't tell the boys from the girls. In the Seventies he started to hate the Government. The Eighties, he was truly miserable. That is because he was happy, he had Ronald Reagan. The Nineties brought pure joy to our hero, he had Clinton and Monica to grumble about.

I'm afraid that this past decade was too much for the Curmudgeon. He was conquered by a stranger more dangerous creature, "The Tea Partiasaurus."

The "Tea Partiasaurus," without the obvious charm and sense of humor of the Curmudgeon, also has major complaints; 1) Gay Marriage, 2) taxing the wealthy, death taxes (to those worth in excess of $5,000,000.00), etc... They'll fund unjust wars, give tax credits to wealthy oil companies, worry about a birth certificate, object to the elimination of junk food on a school lunch menu, let insurance companies, not doctors, control your health care. They are the new American.

Someday they too will be extinguished. What will replace them.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 28, 2011. Smile

It took 2/3 of my expected life to learn to smile! Not to take life so seriously.

I often wonder how some people make it through the day. The guy who speeds up at the yellow light, only to save less than a second, because the next light is red. The people who spent three years screaming about a birth certificate, who won't accept the proof anyway. The kid who practically knocks over the elderly lady to get a seat on the bus. Life's too short to be that angry!

Anger about mundane matters is a waste of time.

I wonder what I would have done with my life had I realized this earlier. Would I have gone to Law School? Probably not. How many Lawyers do you see smiling?

If I had someone to advise what to do, if my pointless, point of view, meant something, I'd say, "Make sure to find a career that you are passionate about."

Following my own advise, I would have tried to write.

Life is strange, by the time that you realize what is important, you're not in a position to act upon that realization.

April 26, 2011. The Eveready Rabbit

My wife thinks that I am obsessed about walking, past the point where it is necessary. She probably is right.

I have been exhausted the past two weeks and it is directly attributable to my obsessive walking. I don't know if I can stop or even slow down.

I'm running from a stalker. When I first was diagnosed, the depression had me resigned to believe that I only had a few good years left. I was obviously wrong.

There is a short window of time when I can take advantage of the weather. In the winter, my clumsiness makes the ice treacherous. In the summer, one of the effects of the Parkinson's is the "flop-sweats." They seem to be starting early this year. In the spring and the fall New York is lovely. So instead of my one mile a day, I've often stretched it to Two to Three miles. I avoid the subway, unless I'm exhausted, or it's a long trip.

I don't know what the answer is. I've been exhausted the last few weeks. I can fall asleep anywhere, at my desk, on the train, in a meeting. This is not good for my career.

Yet what is the alternative. It's not in my nature, to acknowledge that I can't do something. The thought of giving up is repugnant to me. Yet it hurts. The clumsy, almost Frankenstein like style of walking, puts a great strain on the neck, back and knees.

I'll probably just keep on going.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 24, 2011

I keep fighting the feeling of exhaustion. I try to walk at least one mile a day. Today is a beautiful day. No jacket needed, the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Perfect walking weather. So I fought it. I walked about 2.5 miles.

Last week on my team was an ex-professional hockey player, his triathlon partner and a marathon runner. To them 2.5 miles is just the warm-up. Yet I'm now shot for the day.

I feel like I'm fighting an enemy who doesn't obey the rules.

When the weather gets nice, and I can walk, the "flop-sweats" begin. My meds make me feel better, but also throw me for a loop. I can fall asleep at any time. When I do sleep, the dreams are so vivid that when I awaken, it takes a few minutes to figure out that I was dreaming.

Parkinson's, you don't fight fair! All I can do is keep fighting back, and remember that after each bad period, there often is a good period.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20, 2011.Crash

The body is capable of strange things. Last Friday and Saturday I felt great. I was on a natural high. Since then I've crashed.

The adrenaline kept me going last week. The Parkinson's took over this week. I went to work out today and I had no stamina.

So which is the true me? The one who walked from 38th to 90th Street last Friday, or the one who struggled to get to 10 minutes on the treadmill today? I suspect that I'm somewhere in between.

The Parkinson's and the Medications wipe me out. I often wonder what I'd be like without the meds. Would I have a tremor? When I started taking them my tremor was insignificant. would it still be that way. I know that I'd have discomfort in my feet. I know this because I know have it until the pills kick in.

I never liked to take aspirin, Now I take 15 pills a day. Isn't that special.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 16, 2011

What a wonderful couple of days this has been.

Both days were spend on Parkinson's related activities. Yesterday was my first meeting with The Parkinson's Disease Foundation People with Parkinson's Advisory Council. Besides sone enlightening conversation, I met people whose Parkinson's is far more advanced than mine. These people are exceptional. They don't ask for sympathy. They are passionate and vital.

The meeting adjourned at 4:00 PM, and it was off to dinner on the upper west side, with the same group. I had two hours to get there, so I decided that I'd walk as far as I could. I walked from 36th Street to 90th Street. I was tired, but I felt fine.

Today I participated in "The Parkinson's walk for unity," in Central Park. My family and friend came out to join me. All gracious and generous. Some wearing the t-shirt with my unshaven face, and a fake nose and glasses, with the words, "Team GrouchoMarc." I set a goal of $1,000.00, raised nearly $6,000.00.

My friends came out in the cold. My mother and siblings and nieces and nephew, ignored the damp weather. My Uncles, Aunts, Cousins and their adorable children walk with funnv nose and glasses all smiling.

Joann, my physical therapist, brought her workout buddy with her. Bob Nystom, of The New York Islanders. I had season tickets throught his entire career. He's a very warm, nice, generous man.

Many of us went to Patsy's for lunch afterwards. It was great to spend time with my cousins, who I don't see often enough. It was a thrill to play with their beautiful children.

This was a weekend that will remain with me forever!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12, 2011. Here come's the weekend!

It is quite a busy week! On Friday is the “People with Parkinson’s advisory Council” meeting, followed by a dinner. On Saturday is the Parkinson’s walk, followed by a team lunch. I haven’t has so much attention since my Bar Mitzvah.

I calculated that my team, “GrouchoMarc’s team,” by raising at this writing $5,509.00 is 34th out of approximately 450 teams. We have about 40 walkers, which includes a professional athlete whose long career I had followed from his first to his last game.

I knew that he was a friend of my Physical Therapist. On a Saturday, not too long ago, I received a very nice e-mail from him, asking to join the team, with a $200.00 donation. I’m excited like a little child.

This is going to be a fun week!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April 10, 2011. Dear Pop

Dear Pop:

It occurs to me that 3 weeks from today is your 85th Birthday. We haven’t spoken in a while so I thought that I would bring you up to speed.

Every time I see a old Schwinn bicycle, I think that you’re sending me a message. It’s very comforting to know that you watch over us. I remember when you sold the stores. First the Sporting Goods store, then the Bike shop. You first offered it to each one of us. You were secretly glad that we said no. I don’t know how much you loved working there. I think that I loved the idea that my Dad owned a Toy Store, Sporting Goods Store and Bicycle Shop.

You never particularly liked sports, but there you were next to us and The Ranger games and later The Islander Games. Fast asleep. I tell a story about those days. There are 17,250 people at Madison Square Garden, screaming at the top of their lungs. You’re snoring. Suddenly you awaken, and say, “That was some play!” Michael says, “Dad, that was the Zamboni.” Only three people know that this is a canard. But when the rumor becomes fact, print the rumor. Anyway, I think that you’d get a kick out of it.

I remember as a kid wanting to have a catch with you. Before that day, I’m not sure that you had ever thrown a baseball in your life. You took out an expensive, Wally Bunker, Rawlings mitt from the store, and we had a catch. You weren’t bad. It meant a lot to me.

Every January we’d go to the trade shows. I know meeting Mantle, Mays, Aaron and Brooks Robinson among many others didn’t mean much to you, but you knew how much it meant to us. Because of what it meant to us, you enjoyed it.

As years went on, your love of family didn’t change. 10 years ago, I had 4 tickets to a Friday Night Yankee game. Of course one went to Michael, another to your granddaughter. We told her to choose a friend for the fourth ticket. She chose you. You hadn’t been on a subway for 30 years. (We took the 7 train to the 1969 World Series.) When she asked you graciously went. In the Fourth Inning, I looked over, and there you were, asleep.

I look in the mirror and I see your face. I wish that I had more of you. You used to say, “watch your words, you can’t take them back when they’re out there.” I know that you had a sarcastic sense of humor. You knew when to restrain it. I don’t always know. I’d like to learn to restrain my tongue.

Yours was a special generation. No hyperbole, but it truly was the greatest generation. Like many veterans of you generation, you first supported the Viet Nam war. Later you became vehemently opposed to the war, and all subsequent wars.

You may have been the most educated, informally educated, person that I’ve ever meet. You never went to college, I'm not sure if you graduated from High School. But if asked, I'd respond that my Dad was well educated.

You never were an enthusiastic writer, however. When I traveled Europe in the summer of 1976, I kept sarcastically writing and thanking you for his long letters. Until one day a letter finally came. I found in it 2 feet of toilet paper, with the words on the top Dear Marc, and at the bottom, here's your long letter, Love Dad.

I know that you worry about us, but don’t. You left us quite a legacy. Each other. My Parkinson’s has developed very slowly. I may be more functional today then I was when we last spoke.

Mom is great. You had great taste in women. My brother, my sister and your four grandchildren, follow your example of loyalty and love.

It’s been almost three years. I miss you dearly, but I’m not sad. I’m very satisfied with our relationship. We spoke frankly with each other and I know, just as I hope that you did, that we love each other.

I hope that you don’t mind if I write again. Please write back, I’m low on toilet paper.



April 10, 2011. A Little Bit of Luck

It's been a while since I've written. I've actually been spending my spare time reading. I always kick myself for not reading enough. I sometimes find it difficult to start reading a book. Yet I always enjoy it when I do read.

My mother gave me a Kindle. What a wonderful devise. It's light, it's small and you can download a book in seconds.

Believe it or not, I'm now reading "Goldfinger." I never read anything by Ian Fleming, and I'm enjoying thouroughly. I think that the thought of a Martini "shaken not stirred," appeals to someone with Parkinson's disease.

Why else haven't I written? Maybe because we often talk about bad things, but when things are going well we keep it to ourselves.

I feel great. When I stick to the "No protein for lunch" diet, the pills work and my energy is level is high.

I've also been touched by the reponse to my fundraising efforts. The Parkinson's walk is one week away. I set a goal of $1,000.00. Raised that goal, very quickly to $2,500.00. As of this writing, a total of 45 different people have contributed $5,309.00.

These contribution come form family, childhood friends, high school friends, college buddies, work associates, current friends and people that I've only met through my writings.

How could I be sad, knowing this support that I've received?

Parkinson's has no known cure. But these are the cards that I've been dealt, and I will play with them. even though there is no known cure, I'm winning most of the battles. In my opinion there are four criteria to winning these battles: 1) A support system; 2) exercise; 3) attitude; 4) Luck. The first three are a necessary component of number 4. So far I've had all four.