Saturday, July 14, 2018

Medical Bills

Being chronically ill is hard. If you read my previous post about my frustration with FSAs, you will see I have been struggling a bit lately. 

Knowing that doing certain things helps with your conditions, but not having the energy to do the things is hard.

Knowing that certain things (like eating specific foods) helps exponentially, but not having the money to eat that way is hard. And when I do have the money, it seems like I don't have the energy. 

Not being able to get a diagnosis because all the testing that is required costs a lot of money is incredibly frustrating. Having your insurance deny certain tests because they cost more than the cheaper tests even though you'll end up having to have both done since the first one won't show what is needed is infuriating. And I end up paying for both, when only one was necessary. 

What tends to happen for me is that the doctors just shrug their shoulders and say well we don't know but maybe you can see a specialist. The specialist usually either doesn't care enough to go further after the one test they do is negative, or they don't really know where to start. I have been having chronic health issues for over 8 years. That isn't including my problems from my TBI and PCOS. 

Finding a doctor that actually cares and is trying to help you as much as they can, but not being able to see them anymore because your insurance stopped covering them is hard.

Fighting with insurance to cover services that are very obviously covered in your insurance, is hard.

If you can find it in your heart to help with some of my medical bills that would be so appreciated. If you can't afford to help, shares are just as appreciated. 

If you would like to see bills/screenshots of monies owed feel free to send me an email via my contact page. I can also email you a receipt showing I paid the bill once that is done. 

My current goal is $1500, to pay my primary care doctor and to get up to date on payments for my Gastroenterologist and the endoscopy costs. 

Cash App: $sylvyana

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

FSA "Flexible" spending accounts.

Lets talk about “Flexible” spending accounts and what a crock of shit they are.

So you save money on taxes; barely, you're basically just not taxed on it as income so it marginally reduces your tax burden. In order to get this modicum of savings on your no more than $2650 per qualified individual, you have to waste time jumping through hoops and getting stupid letters of medical necessity from your doctor. Using the money at a doctors office isn't enough proof that it is a covered service. No, you need to mail in a copy of every damn receipt of every service you use the card for. The only place that I haven't had to submit receipts for is the pharmacy, and I'm assuming that's because they denote anything that qualifies as a FSA item on the receipt.

So once they decide that they want to have a receipt for a service, they freeze the card. I find that I can usually pay a bunch of things off in the same day before it is frozen, but that isn't always the case. I try to pay the largest bills first. If you send in the receipts and they aren't detailed enough, they will request a letter from your doctor stating why the procedure or visit was medically necessary. Until all of this is done you can't use the card to pay for anything else, including prescriptions.

I know it doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but when you have to also fight the insurance to cover things that are deemed medically needed by your doctor but that they want to deny because it costs them too much money it is infuriating and frustrating beyond belief. Our healthcare system is a disaster and needs ground up reformation.

It's especially frustrating because there is no easy way to give them the receipts. I wish I could just email the receipt at the time of service, because that would make things much easier. 

I won't be doing another FSA after this year. There doesn't seem to be any benefit to it anymore. 

Oh, and our insurance rates are going up again! Lucky me with these preexisting conditions. Hopefully I continue to be covered. Hard to stretch the money when my doctors are chasing diagnosis and I need expensive tests. And I need another surgery but I am putting if off for as long as possible because again, $$$. if you feel like kicking something in to help pay medical bills. I pay it forward when I can but I'm really struggling right now. I was hoping that my credit would finally recover since I've been covered for a while now and we've been working hard to pay all the bills, but I still have quite a few outstanding things that need to be paid so they don't go to collections. I am looking for a job but it is hard to find something that either pays enough to cover childcare or allows the flexibility to work around my husband's schedule. I also have limitations as to what kind of work I can do, and standing for 8 hours is out.

Oh did I mention that my insurance no longer covers my naturopath? If I want to see her anymore I have to pay completely out of pocket. They don't even cover it as out of network, even though she is listed as in network on their website and I verified that before renewing our insurance policy last open enrollment.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Little Gym

I had the opportunity to have tiny human try out a class at The Little Gym thanks to Moms Meet's Influencer program.

Sebastien, what was your favorite part of the class?

Doing that upside down thing!


Yes, the somersault was my favorite part.

What else did you like about the class?

I liked the people that was teaching me, like that person that showed me how to do the things.

Did you like the kids that were in the class with you? 

Yeah I did. I really liked gymnastics!

It took a few minutes for him to warm up when he first started the class, but he really got into it once he started. There were two teachers and the class was split into manageable groups so they could give a bit of individual attention to each child. We did the "Funny Bugs" class. You can learn more about The Little Gym here. The class was an hour long. He really seemed to enjoy himself, and we plan on going back once things settle down a bit in our personal lives.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Gluten Free Birthday Cake

I made a gluten free birthday cake for my dad's birthday. Everyone said they really liked it and I think it turned out really well.

I used two boxes of the Betty Crocker gluten free cake mix. One yellow cake and one devil's food cake. I doctored them both just a tiny bit.

To each mix I added:
2 tbsp (approximately 1/2 a pudding cup) Vanilla pudding
3/4 tbst vanilla
2 tbsp almond flour (blue diamond brand)

I marbled the cakes a bit but could have done a better job on that part. I frosted the cake in homemade buttercream. My hands have not been cooperating with fine work so I used store bought candles as the only decoration. I couldn't find my turntable so the frosting job didn't come out as smoothly as I would have liked.

[Image description: partially pieced together layered cake. Cake is sitting on a plate for ease of frosting.]

[Image description: Cake layer being filled with pudding. There is a pile of pudding in the center of the cake with icing around the outside to keep the pudding inside the cake.]

[Image description: The pudding has been spread around the cake layer.]

[Image description: fully filled and torted cake waiting for crumb coat.]

[Image description: Cake sitting on a plate with crumb coat layer freshly added.]

[Image description: Completed cake sitting on the middle of a table. Candles saying "Happy 60 Birthday" have been placed on the top of the cake.]

[Image description: Cake being cut. You can see a cross section of a slice, and it shows a mixture of yellow and chocolate cake.]

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Prepping with Food Allergies

Did you know that an estimated 6 million children and 9 million adults in the US deal with food allergies? Food allergy diagnoses have been steadily  rising in the past couple decades.

Check out my post over at The Prepared about prepping with food allergies

I discuss:
Why you should have food storage if you are dealing with food allergies
Ways to find safe foods
Tips on foods that might be safe for people dealing with certain allergens
How to prepare safe foods for long term storage in your home.

I hope you enjoy the post. I was really excited to write about something I am so passionate about.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Plarn project

Plarn Project- 2 large tote bags. 
Plastic bags used: approximately 80 bags. 
Finished dimensions of bag: 19" by 19" with a bottom approximately 4.5 inches wide.

[Image description: Large tote bag filled with items sitting on cement. Bag is folded slightly over and handles are sticking out to the side.]

I had 90 ends total in the heddle, within the reed it was 21.5 inches wide and at the weaving surface with draw in was 20 inches. I got approximately 13 picks per inch which gave me about nine inches of weaving per five plastic bags. I feel like it takes me about 15-20 minutes to create 5 bags worth of plarn. I created small amounts of plarn as I wove because I was not exactly sure how much plarn I was going to need. I don't want to make too much because of  how easily it tangles, and I worried that it would be unusable in future. So I made the plarn as I went, which extended the length of time it took me to complete the project as I was stopping regularly to create more plarn. 

I worked this project on my 32" Kromski Harp Forte rigid heddle loom. I mostly beat with the heddle, however if the yarn was gaping too much I was making sure that I would go through every 4 to 6 rows and push the yard down. I used a crochet hook to do this it worked pretty well. For the most part as long as the strips were cut in the same width then they would not need to be pushed down. Once I figure this out I have made sure to be more precise when cutting my plarn. It also worked better if I didn't advance the fabric as much as I typically would. I would only advance four to five inches instead of the full seven to nine inches. If I was having to beat harder than it would be more likely to have to be pushed down. Also for some reason the tension worked better when I was weaving slightly closer to the heddle.

[Image description: bag with seams sewn shown inside out on a wood floor.]

[Image description: close up of seam being sewn. White thread is used to sew the seams together using blanket stitch.]

[Image description: woven fabric freshly off the loom laid on a hallway floor. There is a tape measure along the fabric, and the header of the weaving is in the foreground.]

[Image description: binding being sewn onto woven fabric. Picture shows the sewing needle in the down position and fabric being fed through sewing machine.]

After the plastic fabric was sewn and cut into two pieces.  
[Image Description: closeup of woven fabric turned on its side. There are two lines of sewing in light thread going down the fabric.]

I had 90 ends total in the heddle, within the reed it was 21.5 inches wide and at the weaving surface with draw in was 20 inches. I got approximately 13 picks per inch which gave me about nine inches of weaving per five plastic bags. I feel like it takes me about 15-20 minutes to create 5 bags worth of plarn. I created small amounts of plarn as I wove because I was not exactly sure how much plarn I was going to need. I don't want to make too much because of  how easily it tangles, and I worried that it would be unusable in future. So I made the plarn as I went, which extended the length of time it took me to complete the project as I was stopping regularly to create more plarn.

I used knitting cotton that I used for dishcloths as the warp. It is worsted weight and I threaded my reed every other slot, which is what gave me my 90 ends. I've been using mostly white bags; Safeway, Target, some Dollar Tree bags- there might be random takeout bags in there as well. The Safeway bag are my favorite. I like the color variations from them as you get the white, the red, and the black. I used the white bags because of what my choice of warp was. I used the Bernat Holiday pound of yarn. 

It looks like they recently changed Safeway bags to be a grayish Brown background instead of white so I won't be using those anymore. I only use the plastic bags when I forget my reusable shopping totes. 

I wrapped the bags on my shuttle in a figure 8 as I would wrap any other yarn. The plan is much wider than typical yarn so it's more like wrapping a rag around than a strand of yarn. I cut my bag pieces approximately three-quarters of an inch to 1 inch. If I cut them three quarters of an inch then I get about 16 wraps around my stick shuttle in the figure eight pattern. Any more than 5 bags or trying to double wrap the stick shuttle is going to cause problems because it's so wide it's going to snag on your weaving. You can't weave too close to the heddle because it can cause snagging. 

I tied the bags together in an overhand knot to join them. You cannot pull on the plan or you risk snapping it, but if that happens all you have to do is just tie the bags back together. It looks a little different than if you were weaving typically where you didn't tie the yarn together and you just overlap. I didn't trust that process with plastic yarn because I was worried that it would slip and cause holes in the fabric once I was using the bags. I plan on using them for shopping and I do a lot of bulk shopping so my bags can get pretty heavy.

Weaving with plarn is an interesting process. It takes a lot more bags than you think it would but it is nice to repurpose something that would otherwise probably not be reused. I don't know a lot of people that take the time to recycle their bags properly. I feel like this way they're getting a second life and not contributing as much to environmental issues. I am hoping that the bags hold up well to repeated use, and I may try a different type of handle on the second bag to see which one wears better. 

I made the handles out of fused plastic bags. I did the bags 8 layers deep. I also made a binding for the top of the bags out of fused plastic, that was 4 layers deep so it would be easier to sew. I had absolutely no problem sewing the bags on my machine, which surprised me. I have a Singer  Stylist 7258 for reference. 

I'm not sure if I would do this project again, but I do really like how it turned out and I look forward to using my bags to carry stuff around this summer. Once I see how they hold up I may make a couple more with slightly smaller dimensions. I think a 12" wide bag would be nice.