A frequent refrain sung in today’s USA health care services reminds me of Humpty Dumpty – “It’s broken and can’t be put together again.”
The Medicare system mandated for our elderly is a cogent example. Enrollment is required, deducted from Social Security benefits and administered by the Federal Government.
When I first encountered Medicare, I was delighted. The cost was less than private pay insurance and Federal Law guaranteed services. My hospitalization for a heart attack was covered. I also learned the Original form was more economical and I saved the difference in cost of add-on premiums.
And then the fissures started to appear. They were not restricted to Medicare but permeated the whole structure of health care.
My first glimmer of flaws occurred in reviewing a claim where Medicare was charged and paid for services I did not receive.
I dutifully filled out and filled the fraud section of the Medicare claim. When I tried to follow up on the results, a Medicare agent told me I could not have access to the information despite the claimant’s billing me for co-payments. Perhaps it was not cost effective to retrieve the money. I wondered how many $200 payments were not retrieved a year and what % accounted for the cost of Medicare.
Last month I had an annual exam. Yesterday, I received my electronic claim history. It contained the annual exam and an additional charge for the same day. The additional charge paid by Medicare cost more than the annual exam and was charged as a ‘facility fee.’
I contacted Medicare to find out what this was for. After several hours, I finally reached a representative who read a statement authorizing ‘facility fees’ from an unknown source. Since, I had not been charged a facility fee before, and my exam was in a clinic, not the hospital, I questioned the charge.
Ascending the ladder of Medicare supervisors did not resolve my questions. Why was I & Medicare charged a ‘facility fee’ for a routine clinic visit? No one could explain this charge.
I called a Practitioner friend to determine if she had any insights. She said she had a non-Medicare patient complain about the same issue when billed for an office exam. The fee for the exam was usual however the facility fee was additional and more than the exam.
Can you hear the CRACKING sound?
Who authorized these facility fees and the spending of my tax money? Why does the facility fee equal more than the professional service exam?
Please advise if you have information on the shattering of our health care system.
The bells from Westminster Abbey summoned me with their promise of Christmas Magic. I was exploring sound vibrations as a healing tool and revisited earlier studies of tones to balance the body. An Internet search produced links to songs, instruments and ancient methods of inspiring wellbeing through toning. The sound of a bell was frequently cited as the purest healing form.
Inspired I hunted for this sound to experience for myself its ability to stimulate. Tinkling, ringing, dinging, jingling vibrations emitted from my speakers. The emotions they produced were not unpleasant but did not feel therapeutic.
Then I clicked on – chiming. My being was filled with the sound of Westminster Abbey’s bells and I was enthralled. The vibrations reach out and connected me to humanity. It embraced my being with a deep knowledge of belonging and bliss.
As I read about the bells, I learned they have been ringing from the Abbey for almost a thousand years announcing events and binding the community. One event was consistent in its yearly celebration – Christmas Day. I wondered how it would feel to stand in the Abbey surrounded by the sound of the bells. Would I be transported through time to experience the vibrations of the past?
My life was filled with a purpose – to hear the Bells of Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day. I have been told that the preparation for a quest is as transformative as the actual journey. Certainly mine exposed me to multiple decisions and required choices of the heart as well as awareness of my own fears. Where would I stay, how would I get to the Abbey, what would I wear?
Finally my journey was set. My reservations made. I choose to fly first class through the night to arrive in London on the day before Christmas. A hotel for two nights within walking distance of Westminster Abbey and a reserved place at the hotel’s traditional English Christmas meal completed my preparations.
Some believe the journey is more important than the goal. I disagree. It is not an either/or situation but an and/both event much like a musical counterpoint. I followed the melodies presented to me with each step and was filled with magic.
I savored the attention and ease of first class flight. Beginning with my wait in the comfort of the First Class lounge with luxurious seating; continual supply of food and drink; lavish restrooms with real cloth towels and a consigner to remind me of my departure time.
I felt the thrill of boarding first and the personalized attention to my seating. Legroom for my 5’8” frame and being offered three course choices for dinner completed the introduction steps of my journey. I knew the increased fare had purchased this treatment and chose to appreciate and savor every moment of this gift to myself.
The sensation of flying always inspired a quickening of my heart. My favorite part is the take off with that little thump of exhilaration as the wheels leave the tarmac and the plane ascends on pure air.
I am seated next to the Pilot’s wife. We chat as if this is a common voyage and perhaps it is for her. I notice the other first class passengers also vibrate a relaxed ease and appreciate the inclusion into the group. We arrive at Heathrow Airport.
My memories of a youthful sojourn to England burst unbidden as I recalled my attendance at Porlock Vale Riding Academy to attain a Horse Master’s certificate. My three months of training were filled with indescribable adventures and an introduction to a different way of being. My instruction was intense and packed with praise that didn’t prepare me for the failure notice from the British Examiner at the end. Now I was back having been inoculated with the pain of failure and had created a fearless life of successes.
A modern train ride followed by an English style black cab brought me to the entrance of my hotel. It had a cozy old fashion ambiance with all the amenities of a larger establishment.
Navigating to my room reminded me of passing through a rabbit warren turning left and right up two stairs and down three. There were no straight shot halls or elevators from the ground floor. On the outside it was clear that several buildings had been joined together to assure equal accesses to the windows. Safety was assured since a stranger could not predict a guest room’s placement by its number. Room 206 could be across the hall and one step down from 307.
Hungry. I was enticed to the hotel bar for a small meal with tea. My waitperson noticed I was undecided on the type of tea and suggested Blueberry Tea, which I had never experienced. Its base is a brandy glass 1/3 full of steaming black tea to which a slice of orange is added and stirred. Another third of the glass is filled with Grand Marnier Liquor. My waitperson encouraged me to inhale the aroma first then slip slowly to allow the warm liquid to perform its magic.
It was time to introduce myself to Westminster Abbey. I spied her towers a few block away but felt her presence as soon as I stepped from the hotel lobby. The doorman reminded me of the change in traffic flow and to look RIGHT before crossing. This small change in pattern added to the exotic feeling surrounding me. As I approached the structure I had an overwhelming desire to bow. A deep reverence for its symbolism and strength of character reminded me of the bond between nature and man.
I walked around the Abbey noting its brickwork and garden gates guarding the interior. Finally, I completed the circle and was back at the main entrance with its worn brick walkway leading to the arched entry reminding me of hands folded in prayer.
Nothing had prepared me for the actual experience of stepping into the Abbey. It felt like entering a sacred shrine constructed to provide sanctuary. The smell of candle wax and incense floated in the air among the wooden pews and prayer stalls. The stone walls lit by stain glass windows created a mood of protection. Here was a safe place to connect with one’s soul.
My feet moved slowly along the aisles stopping occasionally to read the placards covering the walls commemorating people for their achievements. Several elaborately carved casket filled grottos along the way and alerted me to the possibility that the Abbey was also a burial chamber or crypt for generations of notables through the ages. I recognized several novelists like Jane Austin and poets as well as musicians and politicians held in memory.
When I glanced down at my feet I became aware of another surface dedicated to memorializing people of the past. The first inscription I read on the floor was to a plumber at the Abbey in the 1700’s. More names, dates, and achievements spread about me. Some had the inscription “Here lies…” reminding me that there may be bones beneath my feet.
I returned to my hotel filled with anticipation of the morning much like a child expecting St Nick.
The Christmas morning service was scheduled for 10:30 AM followed by the Bell Ringing. I arrived at the Abbey early to ensure seating. The flow of celebrants reflected multiple nationalities and covered the full spectrum of age groups from toddlers to the elderly. All appeared filled with Christmas cheer and smiling faces. A cherub-faced usher handed me a program and escorted me to my seat.
A middle-aged couple with two preteens filled the seats next to me and introduced themselves. They were from Belgium and attended the services yearly claiming that London was very close. Shamefaced I realized I didn’t know where Belgium was located or where London was in relationship to other European nations.
I shared my inspiration to hear the Bells and felt their supportive understanding. Once again the emotion of inclusion embraced me and reminded me I was connected to a larger group. The Abbey satisfied its alternate title -“Parish of the World”.
The service was Anglican and very similar to the Catholic mass I was raised in. It felt familiar, yet contained elements I wished for in the Catholic practice. There were female priests and attendants. English was spoken. The sacraments were up close and personal. The pageantry was celebratory and richly presented.
Again, remembering my earlier trip to England, I had attended an Anglican church with another student for several weeks before I realized it wasn’t Catholic. I even confessed my error believing I had sinned by missing Sunday services. Fortunately, the priest I confessed to assured me I had not sinned since my intention was present. Afterward, I found myself excusing my presence from mass offering my intention from my bedroom. That was my first introduction to meditation.
The choir was uplifting and charismatic. It filled the space with an unanticipated magical resonance.
There was an inclusive non-punitive quality to the sermon I had not experienced in the Catholic rituals.
The emotional energy of joy mirrored that of the birth rooms I attend as a trained nurse midwife. This awareness produced a smile on my lips. The Christmas service was a celebration of Christ’s birth after all. The ritual drew all the connecting vibrations to heal mankind, as it should.
The sound proof quality of the Abbey’s walls became evident as I exited and was greeted by the urgent pealing of the bells. The sounds wrapped around me and lifted my spirit. I inhaled deeply eager to absorb every vibration into my pores. This was the moment I had been waiting for and I allowed my imagination to flow.
The ringing had no agenda other than to link humanity in awareness of the moment. It didn’t discriminate or profile its audience by sex, race, age or monetary worth. All were included in its offering. In my mind’s eye, I could see the expression on its recipients’ faces – a look of hope, of belonging to something greater than the self.
Returning to the present, I observed my fellow listeners outside. They were sprinkled like cookie crumbs beside the Abbey and across the street. I enjoyed watching the walkers moving briskly then suddenly slowing down to listen caught in the bells’ spell.
A young man with floppy hair approached me and asked what I was doing. I pointed to the bell towers and explained about the Christmas Bells. He told me he’d lived in London for several years and had never listened to the Bells. He thanked me for sharing my story and moved on.
It was time to return to my hotel for Christmas Dinner. I was delighted to have my favorite Yorkshire Pudding with Roast Beef and green beans.
When the meal was complete the poppers were pulled sending streamers to nearby tables. Some of my streamers landed at the adjacent table where two young women were seated. They immediately retaliated with giggles and a burst of confetti from their own Poppers.
The women asked if I was American and introduced themselves as also from the States. Soon we were deep in conversation. They invited me to join them on an evening walk about of the London sights.
The night lighting and presence of memorial structures like Parliament and Big Ben created a timeless setting which the women filled with details. I was treated to a tour of Harry Potter sights and entrance to all the open lodgings offering Holiday parties. The Royal Horse Guard’s housing was spectacularly decorated. Its elderly residents welcomed us to chat by the live fires without qualification.
The women were anxious to cross the Thames and ride the Eye. I was ignorant of much of the changes in London’s scenery. When we walked on the bridge across the Thames, I thought it was London Bridge and was shocked to learn London Bridge had been dismantled and purchased by an American. The Eye looking like a giant Ferris Wheel was closed, as were all the sites along the Thames.
We focused on the sculptures and again the women introduced me to the art of bringing solid monuments alive and personal.
by Alexander 1980.
Mankind is capable of an awareness that is outside the range of everyday life. My monumental sculptures are created to communicate with that awareness in a way similar to classical music. Just as most symphonies are not intended to be descriptive, so these works do not represent figures or objects.
December 25, 2007 London
Midwife Dianne births new friend through the Jubilee Oracle sculpture.
The great EYE is waiting in the background to continue its circular voyage. Big Ben chimes the hour across the Thames River.
My daughter taught me the game of What If? I don’t know where she learned it and wouldn’t be surprised if it was a product of her genius imagination. She instinctively knew that she created reality from her thoughts. She created a companion named Charlie when she was a toddler. Charlie could do many astounding things and was never consistent in his/her behavior, age and feelings. Charlie existed for my daughter.
He/she provided alibis for any perceived transgressions. If my daughter was confronted with misbehavior she would proclaim her innocence with , “Charlie did it.”
During her preteen years Charlie faded away to be replaced by an imagined horse that soon became a high maintenance reality . Triffy was a white Half Arabian who adored her as much as Charlie had. They formed a visible bond that performed with grace and won horse shows.
The What If game appeared during her late teens along with an attraction for boys and proceeded into the college years.
A typical game would sound like this:
“What If humans didn’t have arms? Would we pick up food with our feet or eat on the floor like the dogs. Maybe we would have caregivers who feed us. . . Ewww – that would be gross. I’m happy to have arms with hands. “
“What if a man on the airplane gave me his first class seat, would I take it? Really mom, it happened. I flew home first class from college. I like first class. No I don’t have his ticket we switched seats on the plane. Why wont you believe me?” Maybe it was her delighted grin but I eventually did believe her and learned that the magic is in believing What If can become reality.
My addiction began early in life at my mother’s knee and was supported by the American diet.
Bread was my substance of choice – soft squeezable Wonderbread spread with jelly and peanut butter.
My mother didn’t know she was poisoning my siblings and me. As I didn’t know that my homemade whole wheat bread was creating an addiction in my children.
I didn’t know that carbohydrates (CHO) were a non-essential food group. I did know that I felt calmer after eating CHO – the sweeter the better. So did my children.
I remember a time when my daughter declared she was a vegetarian but only ate pasta. No wonder the teenage years were so dramatic. I was living with addicts – myself included..
My medical training included courses in physiology, pathology and nutrition. The courses did not teach the dangers of CHO addiction or it’s side effects. I learned this through personal experience when I began a search for answers to my failing health.
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes followed a few months later by a heart attack. Although statistics indicated this was a fast growing diagnosis in the USA. It didn’t make sense to me, for me.
I took the prescribed medications and adhered to the ADA diet counseling only to discover that I was getting sicker. When I presented my carefully documented records to my health care providers, I was ignored, prescribed a newer more expensive drug and ultimately blamed for failure to respond due to weight gain.
Finally I began listening to my gut and discovered the Low Carbohydrate High Fat (LCHF) diet presented by a Swedish physician on the Internet (http://www.dietdoctor.com). Within a month of practicing LCHF my blood sugars had returned to normal without medication. My weight had also begun to drop.
My adventure wasn’t over yet. After a few months I noticed my weight wasn’t decreasing and though I didn’t have high blood sugars my hunger had returned. I realized that my feeling of hunger was the result of addiction. Food had become a drug for me. I was eating too much to satisfy a craving within me.
He concludes ‘It is disconnection that drives addiction . . . the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.’
Further investigation of human connection led me to Rick Bateman’s Social Wellness site that explains how to create and nurture social connection (https://socialwellness.wordpress.com/). He offers a theory of ‘Why Social Isolation Makes Us Sick’ using the perspective of a zoologist.
“Following are the first few basic questions a zoo keeper ask:
Is their diet appropriate?
Is their physical environment appropriate i.e. is it the right size, temperature . . .
Are their emotional needs being met i.e. are there things they like to do or need to have? Do they have the right living space?
Are their social needs being met? Are there others of their own kind they can interact with? “
I am an addict in the process of recovery.
My dietary changes have eliminated my medical diagnosis. Changes in my physical environment – an apartment for my cat and me; my emotional needs for a space of my own surrounded by natural scenery and a supportive communication; and social needs through meet-up groups, blogs and regular weekly contact with friends.
My intention in writing this blog is to share my over 60 year old experiences with the hope that the information will assist you in finding and maintaining your own wellness. It is not meant to prescribe or dictate.