Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year to one and all. =)

★。\|/。★★。\|/。★★。\|/。★★。\|/。★
★。  2014 ^:[̲̅H̲̅][̲̅A̲̅][̲̅P̲̅][̲̅P̲̅][̲̅Y̲̅] [̲̅N̲̅][̲̅E̲̅][̲̅W̲̅] [̲̅Y̲̅][̲̅E̲̅][̲̅A̲̅][̲̅R̲̅]:^ 2014   。★
★。/|\。★★。/|\。★★。/|\。★★。/|\。★
 












May everyone's lives be filled with God's blessings and a whole heart. We dream of better things, God makes it so.

 
 

Sincerely, the Andersen's. =)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Penny Medicaid letter, Travis' Humana policy, plus Christmas..... =)

We received 2 very important letters today.

The first letter was from Illinois DHS. Penny has been APPROVED for Illinois Medicaid (going back to September 28th of 2013), so the letter will be going to Cancer Treatment Center tomorrow for verification that they will accept Medicaid for her continuing treatment starting January 1st of 2014 and beyond. At this news, a HUGE sigh of relief is around the corner regarding her medical care.

The second letter was from Humana (informing us that Travis' medical insurance will be continuing at the same cost and coverage level).

Blessings such as these are truly a sign of God's hand in our lives.


Today, is my last day of unemployment, so with the good news comes the not so good.       =(

The effort at a financial solution is at full gear...... all I can do is pray a solution becomes available.

We had an very enjoyable Christmas..... and my brother was actually here for it.  The story behind it is not necessary to speak on the blog, but events happened this weekend that precipitated our communication. The hatchet was buried, and we'll see how our interaction goes.

I am going to the VA on Monday to be assessed regarding my ventral hernia.... so my efforts continue to find resolutions to my medical condition.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Gratitude". 15 months of unemployment, Cancer, Cobra and the ACA unknown, VA healthcare, and other thoughts from the frontlines of adversity.

"Gratitude" revisited (this is my June 5th post that has been updated to reflect the additional experiences since then).

15 months of unemployment, Cancer, Cobra and the ACA unknown, VA healthcare, and other thoughts from the frontlines of adversity.

Misc thoughts from the front lines of adversity (this will be another long post... so that hopefully, people in similar circumstances can learn from our approach to dealing with adversity). The word that gives us much meaning to describe this entire time period? "Gratitude" (we have learned the meaning of the word in many ways and live it daily):
 

I've been unemployed for over 15 months now (my first time unemployed for longer than a month in 31 years) and it is still very strange feeling since I am used to working over 50/60 hours a week plus weekends. A very humbling situation to be in to be sure (when one find's oneself going to a food pantry after donating to one for many years and never thinking that one would not be needing such services). God has provided for us in so many ways, we are still humbled by it all (and if it wasn't for God, we would have been homeless a while ago.... and I am convinced Penny would no longer be with us). Also, please understand.... when we say "adversity", we do have perspective (as many in the world have it much rougher trying to find drinkable water or find food or shelter)..... we know how lucky we are to live where we do and have what we have.

To give people an idea of what some people deal with while unemployed (and having 3 disabled adults living in the same home), I am sharing our efforts to give others a possible path to seek help and the hope that such adversity will not end up in despair if one uses all available resources. This essentially exposes our basic financial situation to outside scrutiny, but one must put numbers to what one is talking about to give people an idea as to how much one's finances are affected by unemployment, disability, and medical adversity.

Our friends, neighbors, and outsiders still see us as we were before Penny's cancer treatment and my unemployment / medical issues. They don't see a new car in the driveway anymore, but they still see us doing what we were doing before all of this happened. We still go to church, go get groceries, etc. But we are sometimes gone for days at a time when Penny gets surgery (and they see different people coming to our house to check on Travis). Otherwise, our home is still heated... it still has electricity and water, and the garbage is picked up. I mow the lawn with the riding lawn mower when I can and try to move the snow out of the sidewalk when it snows (despite my right shoulder and balance issues). So outside appearances can be deceiving.

We are on the brink, and that is the reality (there is no other way to put it), and our reality is about to change if I don't find a job in less than 2 weeks.... as Congress has not extended Unemployment (and it runs out on 12/28).

We are still working with many agencies (some of who's help still interferes with other's help).

1. We pursued getting help from Illinois Hardest Hit in October of 2012 (from the Federal Tarp program) as soon as I applied for unemployment. We were successful in getting approved in late December so almost 80% of our mortgage is being taken care of by this program (essentially, a 10 yr. "forgivable loan" which based on our home's value... unfortunately, one we will never be able to repay as it is doubtful our house will ever be worth $250k within 10 years... hence the forgivable part as repayment reduces from 100% to 0% from Year 5 to Year 10). Our problem of being upside down by over $120,000.00 (our principle cannot be reduced as ours is a VA loan) remains as we are paying double on a monthly basis what the house is actually worth.... while multiple properties around us are foreclosing and reselling for $75k to $120k, further reducing the worth of our home. A Credit Counseling service in Woodstock is managing the IHH program and after their going over our finances, agreed we had already done everything we could to reduce our spend. Regarding owning our home, it is a hole we cannot escape unless we were to file bankruptcy. If this program wasn't available, we'd already be in bankruptcy and would have already lost the house (which after discussing with many parties, is not an option to us on a moral / religious basis). I have been unsuccessful (during this process) in finding a job that has a minimal revenue/benefit level to maintain payments for our home once off this program once off unemployment (if our principle was reduced like it is being done for Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae customers...... I could afford to work for less reflecting the present housing and job market). In this case, VA benefits work against us regarding any mortgage relief that many who overspent for their homes presently receive. Given I am in Information Technology infrastructure front line support, those jobs are greatly reduced  and much is now outsourced... or we are being replaced by immigrants who work for less.
2. We have worked on reducing our monthly spend ever since Penny came back from the hospital February 2012 (so we have done the following over the past 22 months):
  • we cancelled AT&T wireless in February 2013, sold our iphones for a profit, and used the proceeds to get HTC Evo Android phones at no cost using Virgin Mobile/Sprint prepay (we are on the $45 a month plan) and are saving over $100 a month as a result.
    • 2 weeks ago, we then switched to TextNow.com Samsung Galaxy3 phones for $179 each (we are on the $18.99 plan). We sold 1 of the HTC's on ebay for $140 and the other 2 are presently for sale on ebay as well for $140 (meaning that the first month's savings pays for the phone. After that, Penny - Travis - and I will have a $57 monthly combined cell bill (we will be saving over $150 per month and still be on the latest  LTE cell technology). To put it another way, Obama flip feature phones (safelink) cost more monthly than what we presently use. Having these smartphones keep us in contact with each other and with others using voice/text/email (and are our primary phones).
  • we cancelled Comcast Cable in October of 2012
    • we use Netflix @ $7.95 a month and I connected an over the air antenna for our TV viewing back then. Our savings is over $80 a month from Comcast Digital.
    • we use NetTalk voip ($29.95 yearly) for our home phone. Savings: $23 a month. So our monthly home phone bill is slightly over $2 a month... and it works just as good as a AT&T basic phone solution that costs over $35 a month.
    • we use AT&T basic dsl @ $15 a month for broadband at home (which NetTalk and Netflix uses, we just don't use the HD option on Netflix... just the standard version)
    • We purchased a FreedomPop 4G broadband card October of 2012 ($50.00) which is reimbursable after a year so the device will essentially be free. The monthly fee is "free" for up to 500 mb of data (this used to cost me $65 a month with Sprint). Amazingly, it uses the same wi-max clearwire network as Sprint and is more than adequate when I am on the road (for email and remote access purposes). Savings: $65 a month/
  • we switched our car insurance provider and switched to USAA (and use a higher deductible) for $130 a month  premium (saving $85 a month).
  • we switched our home insurance provider to USAA also (and saved $1,200.00 a year).
  • We switched our electric/gas provider to Ambit Energy (saving up to 40% on our energy bills).
  • We got multiple LED bulbs on clearance at Menards ($3 each) last December and installed them in our high use light outlets (especially in the china/curio cabinets which usually don't have LED options, I used socket adapters to put LED's for their use). Our electricity use is down by 1/3 now (we have CFL bulbs everywhere else in the house in every outlet including the garage and spotlights).
  • When we shop, we go to thrift stores (Goodwill and Private thrift stores) regarding clothes and basic essentials (and minimally at that... for example, my wife purchased on a $1.23 per clothing item sale, 6 complete outfits for less than $20 with some clothes still with new tags on them).
  • I do all of the maintenance to the house and the cars (and when I need parts, I use a 40% off web coupon at Advance Auto to get parts inexpensively).
  • Penny makes laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent from scratch now (using common household materials that are pennies on the dollar).
  • It has been emphasized to Penny and I by friends, family, and governmental agencies that we should make use of the local Food Pantry in managing our costs if we are eligible (and to stifle our ego), which we have finally done.
  • We had major storms blow through the town 3 times this year. Our siding and roof took a hit and USAA replaced the siding and roof at a cost of over $25,000.00. Our cost was $1,000.00, but in the end..... our house is better insulated, the roof no longer leaks, and our utilities should reduce as a result.

3. We had to make a choice October of 2012 in order to "afford" Cobra for Penny while she is getting care for her cancer treatment (so my son got Private Medical Insurance on his own at minimal cost, and I opted out of Cobra so we could afford the expensive Cobra premium to ensure Penny was taken care of). So I was without medical insurance for the first time in my life (the first time in 50 years) from October of 2012 until August of 2013. We applied for "Medicaid" through the Illinois DHS office for everyone in the family, but we make too much money in our household and failed their "means test" (my unemployment benefits, my disabled wife's small disability payment, and my disabled son's part time earnings.... which we as his parents don't touch due to his disability situation). I was denied Medicaid due to "income". Penny was denied for medical reasons (they claim she is not disabled..... despite she has permanent limitations in her left arm due to a gunshot wound 12 years ago, knees that need replacement, herniated disc's in her lower back, and she is being treated for Bladder Cancer (having multiple tumors removed over the past 18 months). Travis was denied as he was also not considered disabled, this despite being given complete records of his last mental/physical functionality testing done at an accredited facility. It would seem, that we aren't "destitute enough" or medically disabled enough.

  • However, I was finally approved for "Illinois Vetcare" (which is essentially Medicaid) in August of 2013.  =)
  • I was then approved for "VA healthcare" via the Veterans Administration in September of 2013 (on a hardship basis).  =)

4. Our being a proactive Type A couple, we put aside our egos again and at the recommendation of friends... we started a fundraiser via fundrazr.com in October to see if we could find help paying for some of the medical costs (and thankfully, we received $2,300.00 over a month time period which got us through November). We also unexpectantly received some needed help via our wonderful church family (Fox Valley Church) which got us through December.
  • We then sold our 22 yr old Class A RV in January (our worst case scenario solution if we underwent foreclosure was this old RV, and when we were approved for ILL Hardest Hit, it became expendable). This helped us for the next 3 months regarding our bills (monthly and medical).
  • We then started another fundraiser via giveforward.com in the middle of March, 2013 when Penny had another Cystoscopy and 3 more tumors were found (it was evident that the BCG treatment didn't work and that we'd be fighting this long term). With the expert assistance of the former CEO of the company I previously worked for, we raised $10,000.00 by March 31 (in 2 weeks) which was to help  handle all of the costs we were facing as I was still unemployed and we are facing many future costs with the treatment plan becoming more complicated .. and his foundation amazingly matched those funds separately. These gifts came from 83 supporters, an amazing group of people we will be forever grateful to.
  • In October of 2013, we held a fundraiser by auctioning off a Corvette that I had traded up to (I traded the 2003 Chrysler Sebring for a 2006 Chevy Uplander which then was traded for a 1984 Chevy Corvette). We raised $1,900.00, and then the winners incredibly gave the car back to us to sell in order to raise more money. We then sold it on ebay less than a week later for $4,000.00. This is what we are surviving on now.
5. We tried offloading our 2011 Mitsubishi that we had purchased before Penny became ill with Cancer (we owe $33k and it is worth $22k) in order to reduce our monthly spend. We were  not successful (and nobody we know would take over the payments on this while newer Mitsubishi's can be had for less). Note to self... NEVER buy a new vehicle on credit ever again. We were paying $644 a month and we turned in the vehicle after being behind by 2 months of payments in August of 2013. After it was auctioned, we have been told by Mitsubishi Credit that we owe them almost $13,000 (& we have been offered to settle for half of that, unfortunately... we have no means to meet them halfway). The depreciation of the Outlander is incredible considering it was only 2 1/2 years old.

6. We are finding negotiating the minefield that are governmental plus private benefits is not an easy endeavor (it is almost a full time job keeping track of everything) plus one is walking a fine line making sure one benefit doesn't nullify another one more important. This is especially true when the State Government AND Federal Government are dealing with funding issues... and the Politicians in Washington are playing politics with a program called sequester (
which is trying to reduce spending in Washington). I am dealing with:
  • Illinois DES (unemployment) ~ Approved and on Tier 4 of the Federal funded portion (ends on 12/28/2013). Congress has not extended the extended benefits for 2014.
    • IDES has a Vet coordinator who works with me regarding working on finding a job
    • I have to apply at least to 4 jobs a week.
  • Illinois DHS (food program and medical program)
    • Steinar ~ denied based on income
    • Penny ~ denied based on medical
    • Travis ~ denied based on medical
  • Illinois Hardest Hit (Tarp) ~ Approved ($35k approved over a 18 mo. time period - ends on June, 2014)
  • Illinois Veterans Services
    • Vetcare
      • Denied 3 times due to their claim of non receipt of documentation (but finally approved after I located their email address' and send pdf's to their email address PLUS overnighting the same information to their street address).
      • "Approved" in August of 2013.
    • VRAP services
      • "Approved", but I found out I can't use it because if I do, my unemployment will end (an example of the one benefit cancelling out another - the law of governmental unintended consequences).
      • I will have 4 months left as of January 2014 (I am looking at what my options are since Unemployment is ending 12/28/2013 and I will have no income after that).
  • Lake~McHenry County "Veterans Family Services"
    • TLS Veterans-Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program
      • Approved - Food services
      • Credit Counseling ~ Approved - Review of our budget which was agreed upon as being pro-active
  • Social Security
    • My wife's disability case ~ denied at ALJ level (Administrative Law Judge indicated no evidence of disability). We have it being reviewed by the Social Security Administration under "Res Judicata" rules (I have fought for over a year for them to do so by providing detailed medical records, etc. that they didn't have in 2008 when they made their ALJ decision). Allsup and Associates is FINALLY getting involved (through Penny's Long Term Disability insurance carrier (The Standard).
    • My son's disability case ~ denied as he makes too much money part time at Walmart (over $600 a month)
    • My disability case - denied. Allsup and Associates has taken on my case as well and will be filing the appeal with Social Security.
  • Standard Insurance
    • My wife's disability insurance ~ approved despite Social Security's denial 3 times (and continues until Age 65.
  • Veterans Administration
    • Veterans Healthcare
      • denied based on previous year's salary until September of 2013.
      • Approved September of 2013 based on "hardship". My medical care has been ongoing since then.
    • VA Medical Disability Rating ~ mired in a claims backlog of up to 2 years
  • COBRA ~ My wife's medical care ~ approved (Blue Cross / Blue Shield of North Carolina). Ends April of 2014.
    • Sherman Hospital (2/2012-04/2013)
      • General Physician
      • Urologist
      • Pathology
    • Cancer Centers of America (5/2013-present)
      • Oncologist
      • Urologist
      • Pulmonary
      • Nutritionist
      • Pathology
      • Pastoral
Our difficulties in working with various agencies have been:

1. The Illinois Veterans Department:

  • I went to the Woodstock, IL. VSO and he took my information, a copy of important paperwork such as my DD214 and was supposed to submit my Application for vetcare. 2 weeks after I met with him, he called me by phone back into his office. I came by and was asked why I was there. I told him I was called by him the day before... so he tried looking up my file and could not find it. he told me that my file was missing / displaced and he would have to get back to me. Despite phone calls and emails, he never responded to me again. When I went to see him, his office was always closed (and the website didn't give any consistent info as to when he would be onsite and the National Guard Armory). After multiple emails, I was referred to the Elgin VSO in May of 2013. He is now spearheading all of my Veterans efforts from the State of Illinois side. I am six months into my 2 year wait for a review of my Disability Rating claim he helped me submit (the backlog is two years...... incredible).
  • Illinois Vetcare - they apparently have 2 employees covering all Illinois Veteran Requests. Even though I supplied all documents needed with the application that was sent to the State of Illinois (Vetcare) Springfield, IL. Office, they requested on 4/18 (which wasn't mailed until 4/22 as per the postmark) that I respond to them by sending them a copy of my DD214 and Penny's last monthly disability statement and it had to be in their office by 4/30... to a PO Box where one cannot send documents overnight to or get a signature from. I faxed it to them to the fax number provided before 4/30 and the Elgin VSO forwarded the scanned pdf application off to the Vetcare office by email via his direct report. I received a letter 3 weeks later telling me my application was denied as I had not gotten the documents needed to them by 4/30. I then tried multiple times to call their office in Springfield and left a voice mail. 2 days ago, I managed to get ahold of a live body and she indicated that I needed to resend the application (even though the letter I received stated I could ask for a hearing which is what I was trying to do. Getting her full name, I guessed her email account at the State of Illinois and sent the necessary PDF's. She left me a voice mail June 5th saying I still needed to supply them with a new application form to accept the documents (that were sent according to her not via an acceptable method of delivery). I faxed everything and confirmed receipt with her. I was then approved in late July / Early August of 2013. 
2. Veterans Administration:
  • After being denied Healthcare Benefits in October due to how much I earned in the previous year, I re-applied in January of 2013 (a hardship request). I was finally approved in August of 2013 (via that hardship request).
  • A claim has been filed for Vet Disability regarding a disability rating based on my deteriorating medical condition (with many of their causes starting during my service covering almost 7 years in the Marine Corps).
3. Illinois DHS:
Regarding medicaid for my wife and my stepson (who are both disabled and have been stated as such by doctors and private companies), they have been consistently denied Medicaid. This should be changing when my unemployment ends on 12/28/2013 (and when Obamacare kicks in on 01/01/2014).

4. SSA (Social Security Administration):
Regarding both my wife's and stepson's Disability application process:

  • Penny's Social Security Disability case depends on their reviewing her case from 2008 (via "Res Judicata"). They have finished receiving all of the additional medical information and are about to send the file to DHS Springfield, IL. office who will take up to 180 days for a decision to either re-open her case or keep it closed (preventing her from receiving benefits she paid into for her entire adult life). Allsup and Associates has FINALLY took on the case and is providing a "representative" to handle Penny's case with Social Security.
  • Travis' Disability case is still pending (for 3 months now), he saw an IME (Independent Medical Examiner) hired by Social Security 2 days ago. Given they usually are picked for their consistent reports which are generalizations and are given greater weight than one's own doctors (despite the medical evidence provided), we expect his case to be denied this first go-around as 90% of all first applications submitted to SSA are usually denied.
  • My Disability case was denied on 11/20/2013 ( after I was sent to the same IME on 11/14 that Travis was sent to 2 days ago). Allsup and Associates has also taken on my case and is providing a "representative" to handle my case with Social Security
5. The ACA / Obamacare website (www.healthcare.gov):
  • .This has been a truly painful experience. It took almost 2 months to get both authenticated AND to get the application processed through the website (this blog shows many posts since 10/01/2013 showing the many hours spent trying to use the website). We have been told we are eligible for Medicaid (but have received no communication from Illinois DHS that we are in fact being processed and are eligible).
  • I went to Illinois DHS today with print outs of the completed ACA application, the Illinois "A.B.E." website application for Medicaid, and an email I received from Illinois DHS which acknowledged they were having issues with many applications sent through the ACA website. They found our original request from back in July of 2013 (which is still awaiting a decision), so they are giving us a temporary Medicaid card (by mail, they are unable to print it in their office) that we can give to the Cancer treatment Center by 01/01/2014.
Our successes?:

1. Unemployment:
Given this is a benefit that is in IDES' best interest to process, it went through within 2 weeks upon application. I have received benefits that will be ending on 12/28/2013.

2. Illinois Hardest Hit:
We were surprised that this was processed with an approval and within 60 days of application (we suspect the fact a private agency was handling the paperwork/process is why this actually got done so quickly and having a positive outcome).

3. Cobra / Sherman Hospital and Cancer Centers of America:
Private companies ~ as long as they are paid.... we've had no problems with service.

4. VRAP program:
This is a good/bad success as I am unable to use the benefit. I was approved in march of 2013, but then I found out that if I started going to any training covered by VRAP, that my unemployment would end (thus putting us in a bad spot financially). Ouch. So even though the Unemployment ends on 12/28, that only gives me 4 months of VRAP benefits and I am still trying to work with my State of Illinois Vet VSO to work through my options.

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In the interim, I am applying for jobs where I can (plus hunting for jobs that are few and far between). I am going to IDES workshops, going to Marine for Life employer luncheons, etc. I have yet to land an interview with any company (I suspect my age, weight issue, lack of college education, and lack of up to date certifications maybe playing a role in that result).

It literally is a full time job just being unemployed......... but this too shall pass and things will be better as God has provided for us in so many ways that we cannot even count (we are truly blessed)... as I am able to be with my wife in her time of need while undergoing this extensive cancer treatment.

~ Steinar 12/19/2013
 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's been a pretty difficult week for my wife (the patient) and myself (the caregiver). But Good news in the end... =)

So, things spun out of control at home a little since last week. There are many reasons for that, but fear is at the top of that list. Penny has been worried about her future and the frustration of the return of her cancer caught up with her and with me.
With Penny, she is worried about Travis and what will happen to him if her condition gets worse. Plus, she is still trying to understand what I am going through medically.

On my end, I fell apart myself as I went through watching my wife start worrying again about her future plus my worrying about her medical condition, the Social Security Denial last week regarding my own situation (with a few follow-up medical visits continuing with the VA that included the increase of my Trazadone from 50 mg to 150 mg), the repair issues with the replacement minivan (the overheating and cost involved for repair), the upcoming unemployment deadline on December 28th (with Congress not acting and it doesn't look like they will), the unknown regarding Penny's medical coverage in 3 weeks as her "cobra" is ending soon, and dealing with the familial holiday issues we deal with each year (essentially, the issue with my siblings).

So we both went through some personal pain and miscommunication from last week until yesterday (when Penny found out that the cancer was "low grade" stage 1 and per her urologist, she doesn't have to pursue chemo or other treatment... at least not until the next Cystoscopy in March). WOOHOO!!!!!

Its amazing how the mood lightens up when we get good news (plus, Penny tried really hard to calm me down and did a good job of that). =)  Plus our life group meeting last night really helped brighten our mood also (they truly are awe inspiring and good friends who really care for us and for others). We are the better for knowing them.

So now, I am sitting here contemplating everything (while watching the Chicago Wolves game with Travis and Penny plus Sondra are baking cookies in the kitchen.... so the house feels like a home).


I am remembering Penny and I at Illinois State park in Illinois..... and how far we've made it with her battling cancer (we are at the 22 month mark since she was first diagnosed). This was a little bump in the road and we will be fine.

At the end of the day, we still have some options available to us and we will exhaust everything to ensure Penny continues to get the proper medical care.

My friend Ray:

And now, it is time for me to sit down and write to my friend Ray Kasper (who is sitting in a jail cell at the moment not knowing whether he will ever see freedom ever again). Such a tragedy (that a life can be destroyed by an over zealous prosecution team and a child who knows not the damage she has done).


So I am posting a picture of my friend (with his sister) so people know who he is and so they know that he is both well thought of by others and is deserving of our caring hearts.... not our ire or scorn. He is a victim of the system..... and we won't rest until he is free.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sometimes one breaks off relationships in order to maintain one's sanity, sometimes the problem is me. I am not a nice person in the opinion of a few people, and I am dealing with that daily.

Sometimes one breaks off relationships in order to maintain one's sanity, sometimes others do the same with me. I have chosen to do so based on just how dysfunctional some of my relationships are (you will notice a theme here). This is being posted so people know that I am an imperfect man who fails daily in my sin. It would seem others think I would rather hide this side of me from those who I interact with (according to them, I am allegedly putting on the appearance that I am not at fault for these issues and that I try to portray myself as a victim). Let the record show by this post that I share my issues with my Christian friends and with my family and don't hide anything from those I trust and those I love).

Let the record show:
  • Unfortunately, I have no relationship with my oldest son (who has had little to no contact with me for years now). This is his choice as I have tried, but have failed to find a way to continue what was a difficult relationship in the first place (due to the disintegration of my first marriage and the vitriol that ensued). In the process, I have no relationship with my young grand-daughter either (I have never seen her nor have we ever been given any opportunity to interact with her). Much to my dismay. I have no clue how to repair this. We opened up our home to him and his girlfriend in 2008/2009 and was told within a week that I am a horrible man (by his girlfriend) despite our opening up our home to them and trying to make everyone welcome... getting them acclimated, finding transportation for them, etc). Little did we know at the time my ex-wife was in constant contact with his girlfriend at the time (sabotage by text/cell phone..... she might as well have been in our house the entire time). We immediately made things right by flying them back to Washington so they could continue on with their lives (with no animosity on our part given). I can count on one hand how many times we have communicated since. 
  • Unfortunately, I have no relationship with my daughter. This is her choice as I have tried, but have failed to find a way to continue what was a difficult relationship in the first place (due to the disintegration of my first marriage). In the process, I have no relationship with my grand-son either. Much to my dismay. There is much to this story, but I am quite sure the impression is that I am at fault for all of this. 
  • Fortunately, I no longer have any relationship or communication with my ex wife. The people who know me know why, and the above are two very good reasons why that remains so.
  • Fortunately, I have no relationship with my father. Those who know me know why and there is no reason to rehash it. I pray that someday, I can forgive him for all of what transpired and that we may be father and son again...... but that day appears very far away (and further away every day).
  • I have no relationship with my sister. This is my choice as I have tried for years to help her right her ship, but have failed to find a way to continue what was a difficult relationship in the first place (due to the continued chaos in her life). I have put up a boundary in order to protect both myself and my family from her constant legal issues (especially as she tried to harm me directly by involving authorities on multiple occasions despite my and my brother's attempts to keep the state from taking everything she held dear) and because of who she chooses to cohabitate with. In the process, I have no relationship with my niece and nephew either as a result. Much to my dismay.
  • Last summer, I stopped interacting with my brother. Because of the fallout from my sister's situation and because I had not paid a $2,000 debt to my brother and sister-in-law from 2002 when I had no reliable car (I have offered and it was stated to me "not to worry about it" at the time and when I tried, it was rebuffed.... but apparently now it is stated that I have never offered to pay it back and that I am delusional). This is my fault as I should have paid him and her back no matter what was said (they were caring enough to be there in my time of need and I should have done so... so there would be no misinterpretation in the future and because it would have been the right thing to do). I will make this right, but the damage is done. At this point, too many damaging things have been stated to make this relationship heal, My wife tried to find a way to have us both reconcile, but she is crying right now (which is my fault) because I won't fix the relationship in time for Christmas so she can have him over like in years past. I apparently have to do so despite the fact that his actions won't change in my presence which will only escalate the issue, but heaven forbid I place a condition of not mentioning anything which may cause strife during the holiday, but in my view.... sometimes the bad blood gets so bad that there is no reconciliation and that the holiday will be at least survivable without any drama for a change. I am tired of the comparisons of just who was harmed by our father the most (and that the subject always seems to come up is infuriating). The fact is, we were both uniquely harmed by the events of our childhood. It isn't a contest. It was during our child-hood and needs to remain there.... as I am desperately trying to get past that (as it consumes every aspect of how I react to things as it is and I am tired of being a slave to that). I take my lumps in not taking a Christ-like approach in resolving this or taking the lead in trying to be calm in this storm, however..... the other party is not a practicing Christian (and is too negative an influence in my life for me to try to rectify it) so it is better that I concentrate on what is most important in my life (which is my wife's health and my son's future). Also, as his wife has poisoned the well too deeply to rectify this, that makes this doubly difficult as he insists in including her in all correspondence/communication (to which she will use at her disposal to further increase the rancor between all). That is not my idea of a healthy family relationship, so I choose not to participate in it. I am sorry that I am hurting my wife by being this stubborn, but I see no way out of it feeling as I do.
  • I have tried to rectify my relationship with my step-daughter. To anyone who knows me, the fact she is in our home at the moment interacting with us and is back to being a part of our lives should show that I do try to rectify situations/relationships. The relationship is not perfect and there is a long way to go. But I am trying (not only for my wife's sake, but for my step-daughter's sake as well).
So there it is folks, warts and all. I am not a perfect person. I am a rude, obnoxious, caustic human being at times (and the wall I put up is there due to the harm that has transpired in my life and my need to protect myself and those I love). I have hurt those I love also. I am seeking help via the VA regarding counseling and support to find my way past these issues and how I react to them (out of everyone that I mentioned, I am the one seeking help). I pray daily that God softens my heart (and I try to talk through these issues in our life groups). I usually fail as the wounds are deep, but I haven't stopped trying.

So, there it is.... out in the open for all to critique. And it is a shame it had to be posted in the first place. I am the first one to say things should not be swept under a rug. I defy my detractors to do the same regarding themselves on an open/public blog.

And to those who are getting to know me at Church, I hope this explains some of the demons I am facing. I have met the enemy.... and he is me. At least I am honest enough to admit it. I look to the Bible and try to wrap my head around these things...... but I fail daily. I wish that wasn't so. 

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

"Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written,” Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore if you enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."
Romans 12:17-20

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A banner week. Penny's cancer has returned, =( VA hospital visit & more tests..... and Happy 73rd Birthday, Mom.

Penny's cancer has returned. =(

Penny went to CTCA on Thursday and on Friday, had another Cystoscopy.

I met Penny at CTCA on Thursday to check into the hospital for yesterday's surgery (she drove ahead of me in her Town and Country with Sondra as I had to drop off paperwork at DHS). On my way home (to make my medical appointment with my Psychiatrist and to check on our son), the recently repaired minivan started over-heating. The check engine light came on also. I kept stopping, letting the van cool off, adding fluid and then driving another 5 miles... and repeating this for the entire trip (it was definitely misting out of the engine bay for most of the trip). I did a lot of praying also that I'd make it home. The engine "temp" remained at normal levels and at least the heat worked (meaning the cooling system was at least functioning).


I took the Voyager to the shop yesterday morning, and they took it immediately when they heard from me that Penny was going into Surgery at 9 am. It took the mechanic an hour and a half, but it was definitely another old hose in the rear that had a crack in it (that he didn't catch the other day). He had extra hose and antifreeze and took care of it.... gratis (what an incredible guy) and he told me to get to the hospital in one piece. So I made it there by noon to see Penny getting out of recovery.

We found out that the cancer is back........... (they found another tumor and removed it from her bladder by the ureter opening). Penny was surprisingly upbeat considering the news. We are now looking at additional chemo and now the possibility of radiation therapy over the next 3 months. We just need to hold onto her Cobra until it ends in 4 months (we are scrambling to try to get the ACA website to give us options that are looking a lot like Medicaid). Cancer Treatment Center of America is working on accepting Medicaid despite their normal policy not to accept Medicaid (we are looking for a miracle from them on this). We also applied for assistance from them (considering our situation).

Penny then kicked me out of the hospital room last night (she was feeling awful, and our daughter was with her at the room and I had to go home to take care of our son). So, on the way home, what happens? Well....... the climate control fan would not turn on. That's right, I drove home in 12 degree weather with no heat/defrost. My teeth are still chattering. So, now I have to take the van back to the shop to see if the resistor went bad or if the fan itself went south. At least it got me home.  =)


My VA experience.... continued

This past week, I went to the VA Hospital in North Chicago (a neurology consult and psychologist consult). The neurology consult resulted in their setting up an appointment for a MRI of my head (probably to see the loose screw up there) and also an audiology test (all of this is to see if there is a physical reason for my continued falling / loss of balance). The Psychologist's consult resulted in my needing to interact with her on a weekly basis for CPT counseling.

Social Security Disability

Me: As suspected, my Social Security Disability claim was denied.  I went to the Social Security office and got a copy of the medical report done by their Independent Medical Examination doctor. Even though I was only with her for 15 to 20 minutes, she claims she saw me for 45 minutes. Also, she claims I exhibited no signs of depression. It is obvious that she did not have a copy of my records based on her assessment. So now I will be filing an appeal this coming Monday.

Travis: Regarding Travis' Social Security Disability claim, he just received a letter from Social Security that he is to see.... the SAME doctor in Elgin, IL. that I saw on 11/14. I suspect that this is their "go to" doctor regarding getting assessments that give them the means to deny claims. Considering that we have provided Social Security Travis' last two IEP records from when he was in school AND Travis' "Functional Capacity Evaluation" from Mathers Clinic that medically details his limitations with testing results that are accepted by the medical community.... the fact they are sending him to their IME doctor in Elgin is showing me just how far Social Security is willing to go to not pay a claim. 90% of all claims first application are denied (and we are seeing first hand their methodology for doing so).

Penny: Regarding Penny's Social Security Disability claim, we were asked to provide recent medical information for her "Res Judicata" effort, so I am hoping this is a sign that they ARE taking into account the medical information that we provided to Social Security 2 months ago (the medical records that "The Standard" had failed to send to Social Security in 2007). I am filling that information out this weekend, and will give it back to them on Monday afternoon.
 
Long Term Disability

Early last month, I reached out to my former employer and asked them to forward to me the Long Term Disability carrier information for when I was still working for the company (my doctors believe that my disability stems from before I stopped working). I then went and applied for Long Term Disability with "The Principal". I sent the medical forms to my doctors to ensure they filled out said forms to expedite the process. Yesterday, I received a call from Principal indicating that they are NOT the carrier as of 10/01/2012. So, I wasted 3 weeks pursuing a claim with the wrong carrier. I've been trying to reach an HR person at my former employer for over three weeks, to no avail. Apparently, they are available if you are an employee, but are non-existent when being a former employee. Not that I am surprised at all (they are too busy serially acquiring companies and trying to enhance "shareholder value" to pay attention to a former employee that helped them save money for 4 years by keeping "IT" Capital Expenditures down to "enhance" the company's value for it's eventual takeover by private equity.  Am I upset? Very much so.......

Happy 73rd Birthday Mom. =)


My mother would have been 73 today (had she not passed away 4 years ago). We miss her terribly (she was much too young) Pancreatic Cancer is an insidious disease (as is any cancer), and we can only pray the medical community starts finding a cure and soon (so others do not have to suffer as many cancer victims have over the centuries). It is a dream we have.

Friday, November 29, 2013

What a nice Thanksgiving. Drama free, family & friends, and my mother revisited. =)

Handicap Van

So, we had to repair the Handicap Van on Tuesday as it was running on 6 of 8 cylinders. 2 of the 8 coil packs went bad, so they had to be replaced (along with the spark plugs). $369.00 later (OY!!!), we took the van home and I reflected on the cost of maintenance of "the beast" when taking into the consideration of the fact that it is too big for Penny to drive as she cannot handle large vehicles that are rear wheel drive (so it isn't the backup/secondary vehicle as I had hoped). Also, the church has not yet put a hitch on it for trailer duty (one of the reasons why I was keeping the vehicle.... for it's towing capacity in addition to it's ability to provide independence). I also have been ambulatory for about 4 months on the new gout medication (where the pain is almost manageable... and I can at least hobble when having attacks versus being unable to walk). And lastly, when driving it during the first snow a couple of days ago when going to the VA hospital, I almost slid into the ditch and that scared the living "oy" out of me (I had forgotten what top heavy rear wheel drive vehicles drove like in slippery conditions).

So when the opportunity to help another family (a paraplegic woman and her daughter who was disabled with MS).... and we got the van back from the repair shop (the mechanic had mentioned this family in need), I discussed with Penny the possibility of selling it that night. Penny indicated she did not want to get another vehicle as she was tired of seeing yet another vehicle in our driveway. However, she was not the one driving the Handicap Van... so I gave her the positives / negatives. She had to acknowledge that she could not drive a full size van, if her minivan went askew... she had no viable vehicle option, and if I set up a replacement minivan with handicap options that she could also drive if necessary, that she was at least open to it. So, I posted the ad on craigslist and the family in need contacted me within 24 hours (I had to make sure that there was actual interest). Their 2003 Dodge Caravan has many miles, was dented up/rusted, in poor shape, and the engine was failing (and they had been without transportation for over 2 weeks). Their minivan also did not allow the women independent freedom as she was dependent on her disabled daughter (who has physical issues of her own) to put a manual ramp up to their minivan to load the jazzy scooter she uses (and she needed to be lifted into the minivan's drivers seat.... a difficult option without a harness).



So, when they contacted me, I immediately drove to their apartment (the same apartment complex where we had helped 5 families after their building was on fire back in February).... and demonstrated to them the different aspects of the handicap features of the van. Let me paint a picture. The drivers seat allows for swivel movement, height adjustment, and forward/backward access (it literally is a "super seat" for handicapped people). A person can remotely start the van, come up to the van when it is warm, open the lift doors via remote controls from the passenger door while sitting in a scooter/wheel chair, get onto the lift, take the scooter inside the van, transfer over to the driver seat and swivel into position, fasten the seat belt, and use the hand controls to then be on their merry way..... all without any help from others. It allows for ultimate independence (which is why I got it in the first place).

As this woman needs it only for the occasional excursion (she is permanently disabled so she doesn't need it for a commute), she can choose when she goes out for a drive (and can drive on days it isn't slippery out so she is safe due to the rear wheel drive setup). This van represents freedom for her. These type of van setups normally cost over $5,000.00 and up for very used vans... and are usually not in decent shape. Penny and I decided to sell the van for what we had into it dollar wise ($2,200.00)... we were trying to recoup our money to get a decent minivan at no additional cost to us and we did not want to profit from another's desperate need for independence.

As the Corvette was handed back to us to sell (and we did sell it for $4,000.00 3 days ago), it was time for us to "pay it forward" for another family as well. Both the woman and her daughter wept with joy as they were stunned regarding the mechanical condition of the van plus all of the features were available within their price/point / budget. So as of this afternoon, they will have the van (which will expand her ability to get around and lighten their load regarding their physical limitations). A win/win for everyone.

But that's not all, I needed to find a replacement vehicle that would still work for me when I needed to use the scooter and yet could be driven by Penny when needed...... and one was handed to us on a silver platter. A 2002 Chrysler Voyager that looks a lot like our 2001 Chrysler Town & Country was available to us if we wanted it (for $700.00). It is a basic Voyager, but had 7 passenger capability.... was clean on the inside, had 177,000 miles but ran smooth - straight - stable (it just needs a heater core, new muffler, an oil change, a good cleaning, & an eventual replacement rear lift gate as the one on it is pretty rusty ). I can install the scooter/wheel-chair lift that we still have in the rear of it (I just have to have it professionally installed), and the woman who is getting the van is donating her old minivan's hand controls to us for us to get installed into ours as well. The total cost of the van plus repair & handicap control installation should be ultimately around $1,500.00 (so we will be about $700 ahead after selling the full size van.... which with the $4,000.00 earned from the sale of the Corvette... will help us immensely after the unemployment ends next month). It isn't a new van, but there'll be no monthly payment and it is good enough for us. =) 
 
 
  
 
 


Thanksgiving

This is the first Thanksgiving that we didn't interact with Andersen family siblings, and the lack of negativity has been a godsend to be totally honest. It is hard enough with our own children / immediate family given the difficulties over the years, but we made sure that no matter what we faced... we would not allow it to get us down. Sondra was here (I had to drive to DeKalb to get her, but it was worth it to see how happy Penny and Travis were for her to be at our table), Travis was here along with his friend Jared, and so was Penny's father (who is now 80 and is not well). We had a fantastic meal (courtesy of many others at Fox Valley Church and Grafton Township) with Penny spending HOURS cooking up a delicious meal, and we gave thanks for all of the blessings we have, for the financial cushion we have for January through March when my unemployment ends, and we then watched "Christmas Vacation" to continue a long tradition at our household. It is appropriate that my mother's urn (and her ashes) are still at our house and we all felt the vibe... as my mother only "tolerated" that movie because it always made the rest of us laugh (so we had a great time speaking of her and telling "Mom stories" all around). And my favorite man in the world who my mother just adored (our son Travis), helped me lift a shot glass of aquavit to her memory at the end of the evening). It is now the only time I permit myself liquor. And... speaking of my mother.......

Anita Fletre Andersen (12/7/1940 - 11/29/2009).

It has now been four years since my mother passed away. She spent the last 4 years of her life living with us more often than not due to her deteriorating condition, and it is this time of year where we really miss her terribly (as this was her favorite time of year.... when family came together). Yes, she would be disappointed in me for my establishment of boundaries with my sister and brother (as she would have made sure we all got together no matter how bad things got between us)...... but she remains in our heart.

May she be resting in peace.


 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

An incredible uplifting weekend =)

The Corvette Raffle:


We held the Corvette Raffle on Friday and our lives have been so incredibly blessed since. First off, our Pastor (Pastor Adam Miller) went up and beyond to make the raffle possible by donating his time, his credibility, and the church facilities to do the drawing.

The previous blog post announcing the 2 winners resulted in 67 unique page views (and over 150 pages views of the main blog page).....  so that was a huge surprise to us. We were able to raise almost $2,000.00 with the raffle, so we have enough raised to make it through the end of the year.

However, the winners of the raffle (the Jasker family) proceeded to just blow us away the following day when we were making arrangements to deliver their prize. We were told by email to...... "Hold on, hang in. God is going to turn all things around for each of us His way.  We will call you this weekend, so don't put that car anywhere. ....". When we talked on the phone later, we were told of their plan to help us try to achieve our original $ goal and they asked us to keep the car and try to sell it in order to attain enough funds to help us over the next few months (considering our unemployment ends next month). When we got off the phone, both Penny and I were crying just having been blown away by the Jasker's giving heart.

The ebay listing for the Corvette is at: http://www.ebay.com/itm/141123761082 On that listing, we give full credit to their giving hearts by explaining what sacrifice they made by allowing us to sell the car.

In reference to the laptop, we are sending that laptop to the winner (we'll get it in the mail by Tuesday). I just need to make sure it is packed in such a way that the logistics company doesn't do damage to it during transit.

==================================

We also received a Thanksgiving Basket from our church on Saturday (we were one of twenty five families picked for this). Our friend (Deb Wolf) stopped by and delivered the incredible feast of food. What an incredible selfless gift by many at our church. We truly don't know what to say other than how blessed we are by God (and how incredible our church is). We have so much to pay forward, and we will.

Medical

We received in the mail, my new bi-focal glasses from the VA. It's the first time I have paid for the lack of postage in 20 years (they didn't have enough stamps on the package), but I now can see clearly (completely) for the first time in 2 years...... and I am very pleased with the results. The glasses were free from the VA (I just had to pay 57 cents for the postage shortfall).... still a great deal and a great blessing. However, I am noticing the lower part of the bi-focal doesn't help with anything between a foot in front of me to two feet (where my laptop or any computer monitor resides... so I have to ask the VA what my options are for that aspect of my vision. 
I will be going to the North Chicago location tomorrow morning to continue the MST Cognitive Behavioral Training sessions and to see the Podiatrist plus Neurologist. My gout attack calmed down yesterday and this morning, but got worse this afternoon so I am hopeful I can get some answers when I get there tomorrow. I am concerned though about the Handicap Van (as it is running rough on Cylinder 5 and 8 per the trouble codes). I am hopeful I don't do more damage to it by driving it before I can get it repaired. =(




Friday, November 22, 2013

The winner of the Corvette Raffle is:

Please see the below video taken at 4:15 pm this afternoon. Our church Pastor (Pastor Adam Miller) graciously made his time available to pull the winning tickets for the Corvette Raffle. We used a rotating drum and all participants names were written on the back of Business Cards (see below picture):



Here is the proceeding (see below uploaded video):



The winner of the Dell Laptop is:

Kevin Sheehan

The winner of the 1984 Chevy Corvette is:
 
Phil Jasker

Congratulations to the two of you. =)

We will be contacting both Winners tonight to make arrangements for the delivery of the prizes. Both Penny and I appreciate everyone who bought a ticket (and we wish we could have given a prize to everyone.....), we wish everyone a very special Holiday season...... and God Bless you all.

We also thank Pastor Adam Miller from our church (Fox Valley Church - Pingree Grove) for taking on the role of picking the winners.

Steinar and Penny Andersen

Medical

The "Hematuria" issue appears to be resolved (no more bleeding from the bladder). The pain has reduced and my bladder control has definitely improved to the point I no longer have to wear medical "pads".

I spent this morning at the VA clinic. My counselor worked with me again (I should have a Primary Care Physician by this coming Monday). I will be going to the North Chicago location on Monday to continue the MST Cognitive Behavioral Training sessions and to see the Podiatrist plus Neurologist.

Good thing too, as I am starting to have another gout attack in my left foot (I can barely walk). I am using the new medication, so this has me concerned. I'll be doing some praying tonight for sure.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The corvette raffle is getting towards the finish...... and other incidentals.

http://corvetteraffle.com


Our break even point for the Corvette Raffle is $4,500.00. We were offered $2,700.00 for it 6 weeks ago, but we thought that the Raffle would generate more interest (and give us the opportunity to raise more funds for when my unemployment ended... plus give people the opportunity to take a chance in getting a muscle car with favorable odds).

So far, we are at $1,923.15 on the fundraiser with 3 days left. Any and all help in letting others know of the raffle will be appreciated.

Medical

The "Hematuria" issue appears to be resolved (no more bleeding from the bladder). The pain has reduced and my bladder control has improved.

I spent Friday at the VA clinic (apparently, my appointments were cancelled beyond last Friday so I spent an hour getting that straightened out). My counselor worked with me to determine that my Primary Care Physician was not acting proactively nor was he engaged in managing my care.... so I requested to be changed to another physician. I will be going back to the clinic on Monday to continue the MST Cognitive Behavioral Training sessions that had been skipped due to my hospitalization. After that, I am hopeful that the counselor will have straightened out my future care needs.

Also, I can't take advantage of the North Chicago medical center when it comes to fitness training due to the distance, but the VA doesn't allow for remote locations for me to go to. So, I am looking for organizations that have pool facilities that are inexpensive (given my limited funds).

Veterans Issues

Last Tuesday evening, I went to a meeting regarding Veterans & Family Services in McHenry (there was a concern that the Veterans Food Pantry project was in jeopardy). There were over 75 vets there and we all were pretty angry regarding the reason why (organizations that receive federal funding cannot engage in the activity of the food pantry..... the people running it HAVE to volunteer and do it on their own time.... the thing is, they already volunteer so much of their time due to funding shortfalls).

Today's storms

Well, the RV awning took a hit regarding these storms...... along with the gazebo and the deck umbrella.  The deck umbrella is in pieces  and our porch gazebo ("Shangri-La") is a twisted mess, we've lost power 3 times this afternoon and I now have to also replace the RV awning.... but the bright side is that the house survived the storms so far (a helacious wind came with the storms but the new siding and roof are none the worse for wear).

We consider ourselves blessed (and we are praying for those people in Washington, IL. and Peoria, IL. who lost homes and property).

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A blip in time (a scare and relief).......

Medical

"Hematuria"? Really???? What the heck is that, and why am I going through this?

Well, last Tuesday morning I had a scare. I went to the restroom and left blood in the toilet bowl. I'd seen this before, but it was usually miniscule amounts. This time, there was a lot of blood (and the blood was dark also). However, the bleeding stopped..... and I went on with my day. I had been looked at by the VA Urologist 2 weeks before... and he had indicated there was no evidence of bleeding (or a identifiable source). I took a picture of the evidence so I'd have something to show the Urologist the next time I saw him (sorry about the graphic picture, but it is the only way to convey what I was dealing with). 


On Wednesday morning, I was bleeding after going to the restroom first thing in the morning, and this time... the bleeding wouldn't stop. I used a rag to contain the bleeding, hobbled into the bedroom, and asked Penny to take me to the ER. The blood on my legs and on my socks apparently were the convincer. As Sherman Hospital in Elgin was the closest ER, we went there. When we got there, I was immediately put into a room (a first for me). Within an hour, I received a cat-scan with contrast.... and the results were negative for any obstruction around my kidneys/intestines. As I was still bleeding (and it wasn't stopping), I was transferred to a room and admitted onto the 5th floor (and they put a catheter in me to clear out my bladder of the multiple clots that were in there). They ran more tests and I had a cystoscopy the following morning (by Penny's former urologist.... of all people). Apparently, the bladder had an injury and the urologist cauterized the tears (and he noted injuries in the urethra also). I have no clue how I could have been injured there. So they kept the catheter in me and I dealt with spasms once or twice an hour (pain so strong, I was tearing / barely containing my guttural scream afterward). Luckily, my room was a private room and I was by myself. By Friday afternoon, the pain was such that they felt they needed to get the catheter out given the unrelenting spasms (and the bleeding was minimal). The spasms then stopped and I was released from the hospital (I even was able to take a shower so I could go home without being funky.

During this time at the hospital... Deb Wolf stopped by Wednesday evening bringing Travis with  to visit, Jeff Madsen (from my FVC life group) visited Wednesday nite & Thursday nite, Pastor Adam (Pastor for FVC Pingree Grove) stopped by on Thursday, and others came by... (along with several calls to my room) bolstering my spirits. We all prayed at our various times, and I went over John 10 with Pastor Adam (and he and I discussed multiple things). =)  Jeff Madsen (despite being a Packers fan) I firmly believe will be a lifelong close friend of ours (and I look forward to growing in my faith anywhere close to Jeff and his wife's faith).

I am at home now re-learning how to manage my bladder as it is very weak (using pads to catch leakage)... a very humbling experience. During all of this, Penny has been my foundational rock, keeping our household going and taking care of me as best she can (I am a truly blessed man). I know this much, Penny and I are much closer now than at any time in our marriage and I firmly believe there is nothing that the other would do for the other. And our belief in Jesus and in God is growing daily......

http://corvetteraffle.com
 
 
 
We just sold a 15th ticket (out of 100 available). We are still working out a way to get the word of mouth out there (if anyone has any ideas, we are all ears.... please comment in the comment section and I will get the message directly). We are down to 11 days left, but with God's help..... we shall be successful in our endeavors.
 
Overall

I heard from my former boss that a good friend of ours has taken a turn for the worse health wise and now has full blown leukemia. This man stuck with me through thick and thin and we had the other's back when dealing with adversity at multiple companies. He is the kind of guy who will give you the shirt off his back in a snowstorm, and I feel just awful he is facing this battle. It seems that many of us who work ourselves so hard don't think of keeping our own health and pay a price for that over time. My predecessor (John Fugazy) retired at 57 and passed away from ALS at the age of 61. Kevin Koerner is now around that age and is looking at chemo and a bone marrow transplant. It would seem that people who work hard all of their lives are the ones who don't get to enjoy retirement..... and who face adversity when they are deserving of so much more out of life. I will be saying an extra prayer for my friend tonight.......