A friend asked me to show her how to automate posts to a group on Facebook. So, this is a step-by-step guide, for signing up with Hootsuite, connecting Facebook, and setting up a future post in a group. Keep in mind that this process is subject to change over time.

Sign Up For Hootsuite

This part is for anyone who wants help signing up for Hootsuite. If you just go there and follow the prompts, you probably don’t need all this detail, but just in case, I’m including it, here. If you don’t need it, skip down to “Configuring Hootsuite”.

First, go to Hootsuite.com*, and click “Sign Up”. You’ll want to start with the Free plan, but they may offer you advanced features for a while, hoping you’ll upgrade. Enter your email address, first and last name, select a password, and then select a time zone. The time zone is probably already correct, based on your IP address, so you probably won’t need to change it from the default.


Pardon me, while I get on my soapbox, for a moment

A note, here. You’re going to be giving Hootsuite permission to post to Facebook for you. You may even decide to let it Tweet, or handle other accounts. Be smart about your password! In fact, start using a password manager, such as LastPass**. That’s a topic for another day. But, make sure that you use a password that you aren’t using for anything else, and that it contains special characters and numbers, at the very least. Hootsuite has a requirement that your password is at least 8 characters long, and uses both upper and lower case letters.

Hootsuite - Connect your social networksOnce you’ve created your account, you’ll immediately be asked to connect your social networks. Click the Facebook link, and you’ll probably see a page that asks you to log into Facebook. Next, Facebok will ask you to give Hoosuite permission to post on your behalf. After you’ve approved this, you’ll be back at Hootsuite, and will be shown a list that includes your Facebook profile, any Facebook Pages that you have created, and then Facebook Groups that you are a member of. You’ll want to select which items that Hootsuite can post to. Hootsuite - Add Facebook Pages and GroupsYou can change this later, but if you think that you’ll want to automate posts for any of these, go ahead and select them now.When you select a group, you’ll see a green checkmark next to it. And when you then unselect a group, you’ll see a red minus symbol for just a moment. As of now, it’s a little wonky in Chrome, so just roll with it, and make sure you have the Green Check next to any items you want to include. Since this post will include setting up a post to be made in the future to a group, go ahead and select the group you want this to be posted to.

Click “Finished Importing”, and you’ll be returned to the step where you can add more social networks. Keep in mind that if you’re using Hootsuite to promote yourself or your business, don’t automate spammy posts to groups where you’ll annoy people. This can backfire on you, and make people dislike you, and your business! And you’ll probably get kicked out of the group.

Go ahead and click “Continue”, and then in the next step, click the “Done adding social networks” button.

Configuring Hootsuite

This is where things might get confusing. The Hootsuite interface can be overwhelming. That’s why they have popover messages everywhere, trying to offer help figuring things out. Clippy, anyone?

Feel free to dismiss these, if you don’t want to view them, right now. You can always get back to the tutorials.Hootsuite - Overwhelmingly Helpful

Hootsuite will go ahead and guide you into setting up Streams. Streams are basically a way of grouping things. I’ll let you learn about that from Owly, as he walks you through this. Be sure to select the group that you’ll want your post to go to, and then use the “Newsfeed” button. Owly pretty much forces you to create 3 streams, so you can do what you’d like, I’d recommend creating one stream for your profile page with “Newsfeed”, and one for the group with “Scheduled”, as well.

Owly will now walk you through creating tabs, and composing messages. You probably want to click the button that says “Don’t send. Skip this step”, when he asks you to send a post.

You may also see a request to add a browser extension. If you think this will be useful, go for it. Keep in mind that it will embed Hootsuite into Facebook and other connected sites, which will change the way those function, just a bit. So, only do this if you’re ready for that. You can always uninstall it, though.

Using Hootsuite – Scheduling a Post

Now you’ve got this chaotic screen going, but at least you don’t have an Owl trying to tell you what to do! Each tab is basically a feed showing whatever you set up there, maybe your own newsfeed, or the list of posts to a group. You can reply to posts from this screen, just like you would in Facebook. Now, we get to the useful stuff… scheduling!

At the top, you’ll see a couple of text boxes that look like this:
Hootsuite - Scheduling Post Box

When you click inside the left box, it expands, and you’ll be able to set up a scheduled post.
Hootsuite - Scheduling a Post Options


Select the group that you want to post to in the left column. Then click inside the right textbox, and put your message there. Hootsuite - IconsAll of those icons have different uses, such as adding a link to another web page, attaching an image, or setting privacy options. Hover your mouse over them, and you’ll see a description of what they do. We want the calendar icon, the second one in that row, which says “Scheduling” when you hover your mouse. When you click on the Scheduling icon, you’ll be able to select the date and time that you want the post to go live.

Also of note, if you move your mouse out of this popup window, it will disappear on you. Have no fear! You haven’t lost anything. Just move your mouse back over the box, and it will return, just as you have left it.

Hootsuite Set Date and Time for Scheduled Post

I would suggest that you decide on something that you would have posted to the group anyway, and use that for the message. If you look at Facebook icon with the number (2000) which is in the grey area, to the left of the “Send Now” button, that number tells you how many characters you have left in your message. Use this as a guide, so you don’t have to rewrite your message, if it’s too long. Then set the date to today, and the time to about 10 minutes from now. I would really suggest that you don’t use the “Email me when message is sent” option, because you’ll just be overwhelmed with email. But, do what you feel is right for you, there. When you’re satisfied, go ahead and click the “Schedule” button. Don’t be afraid. You can always delete the post from Facebook, and you can even edit a scheduled post that hasn’t happened, yet.

While you’re waiting for this new magic to happen, I’ll show you a couple of things. First, when you selected the group that the post should go to, you know that it’s going there because the group has a grey background. If you wanted to, you could select multiple items, and they’d all be grey. So, if you are posting something to a private group, be sure not to select your own profile, too!

Hootsuite Posting Selection IconsIf you click the Gold Star, which says “Move to Top” when you hover over it,  that adds the group, page, or profile to your Favorites. If you have added a lot of groups and pages to Hootsuite, this will help you stay organized.

The pushpin icon, which says “Always Select” when you hover over it, will make it so that anytime you post, that group, page, or profile is always selected. If you use Hootsuite for just one thing, you probably want to go ahead and use this.

Hootsuite – Template Posts

Hootsuite Save Message As A Template ButtonIf you have something that you want to post multiple times, say a weekly posting of group rules, you can save a post as a template. When you have the Schedule box showing, in the earlier steps, instead of clicking “Send Now”, you can click the “Save” icon, to “Save message as a template”. When you click the save button, the post will be saved as a draft, and the title will match the beginning of the message, just as you have entered it. And each time you click that Save button, a new draft will be saved. Feel free to delete old ones, by clicking the Trash Bin icon. You can view existing drafts, by clicking the down arrow, next to Save, that says “View templates”, when you hover.

If you click on a draft, it will then open, and you can schedule it for whenever you want. If  you want a monthly post, just set up 12 posts, and schedule them for whatever day of the month you want, for the next 12 months.

This has just barely scratched the surface of how to use Hootsuite, there are many, many more features. I probably won’t post about them, unless I find something that blows my mind. If it would post to Google +, I’d probably use it as my main social media app, but since it doesn’t, I have stopped using it for anything beyond auto posting, for a group I help with.



*Hootsuite doesn’t have a “Refer a friend” type program, so this is not an affiliate link.
**This is a referral code for LastPass. I have paid for my subscription every year, for 3 years, now, but I can get an extra month of Premium for free, when someone uses my link to sign up. You don’t need Premium for LastPass to be useful, though. The free version is a great tool!

I just returned from seeing a new neurosurgeon, for a second opinion about my Chiari Malformation. I’m a bit upset still, as I write this, but I feel like I need to do this while it’s still fresh in my head. I don’t want to name this new doctor, so we’ll just call him Dr. Smith.

The reason for getting a second opinion is because the surgery doesn’t seem to have been successful, and because I desperately want to find a solution to the pain and fatigue. I don’t want to live the rest of my life (or even years more until someone figures out what’s wrong) reliant on pain pills to be able to function. I want to be able to live a more normal life, and do all of the fun stuff with my boys, and not constantly have to check myself to make sure that I am not being grumpy and rude to those around me.

In mid-May, my 90 days since surgery were up. This meant that I switched from short term disability, to long term disability (LTD). Thankfully, my employer had good coverage for both. Unfortunately, when I switched over to LTD, the insurance company put me through a medical review, which took a lot of time, meaning that I have been without income since mid-May. After about a month, I finally got a phone call from them, saying that my LTD claim had been denied. I was floored! I still haven’t seen the denial letter (because it was sent to my sister’s house, and I haven’t been able to get it, yet), but the insurance guy told me that the denial was based on Dr. Reichmann’s statement to them that he had released me to go back to work on April 5th, when I had my post-op visit.

February 14 was the date I had surgery. April 5 was 7 weeks after surgery. That week was the first time that I was able to drive, and looking back at my diary, I slept for 24 hours after because I was so exhausted. In fact, here is what I wrote about that first trip out:

I first drove to the book store, here in Sugar House. That went well, so I went ahead and trekked out to the ‘burbs to see Kim. It all went really well. I remember thinking that maybe I shouldn’t drive every day, yet. For the life of me, I don’t remember why, though. Looking back over my FB posts, it looks like I slept through the next day, over 24 hours, so maybe that’s where it came from. I guess it exhausted me. I’m not certain at this point that it was the visiting, or the driving, or if there was another cause. I still have a lot of Chairi brain-fog, I guess. I feel like I don’t have it often, but to have to look back at FB to figure out 2 days of my life, I guess I do have to admit to it.

The appointment lasted all of about 30 seconds. He asked me 2 questions. I don’t remember what they were, but I remember discussing the appointment after I left, and I was flabbergasted by how brushed off I felt, and that he didn’t even really check with me to see how I was. He didn’t even ask how I was doing, or what things I was able to do.

And so Dr. Reichmann told the insurance company that he’d released me back to work that day. He didn’t tell me that at the time, and he didn’t give me a doctor’s note saying that he had. But, he totally screwed me over when he said that to the insurance company. There was NO WAY I could have gone back to work then, just absolutely no way!

One more flashback, before I get on to what happened today. Prior to surgery, I saw another doctor in my main doctor’s office, for a med refill (and my doc was unavailable), I think. Anyway, he warned me that he’s had experiences recently, where surgeons don’t give patients the correct amount of pain pills when they’re in the hospital. He said that if I wasn’t given at least the same amount while I was in the hospital, that I’d wind up having withdrawals. He also said that I should probably be on double the amount for the first few days, and then I should work back down to whatever it was that I needed to stay out of pain, without being loopy from it. Here’s the kicker – he said that sometimes the surgeons get stubborn about it, and that if that happened to me, that I should ask for a pain specialist.

Can you imagine having brain surgery, and part of your neck removed, and not only be in extra pain, but have withdrawals on top of it? I can. Because that’s exactly what happened. I talked to the nurse, and she said I had to talk to Dr. Reichmann. I tried to talk to him twice, and my sister tried another time. He refused. And then he refused to allow me to have a pain specialist. Flat out told me I couldn’t.

So, I already didn’t like the guy, and I feel totally screwed over with the disability insurance incident.

Prior to finding out about the LTD insurance stuff, my main doctor had already advised me to find another neurosurgeon and get a second opinion. I had put it off, because there aren’t a lot of them around here, and I didn’t want to go to one in the same practice as Dr. Reichmann. When I found out about the LTD insurance denial, I went ahead and made the appointment with “Dr. Smith”.

I went in today to see Dr. Smith, prepared to have a long discussion about symptoms, and probably a followup MRI. I’m not feeling like surgery has done much, and I was really hoping that he would have some other information that could help me get out of pain and back to living life as it’s meant to be. Man, was I way off track!

I brought my friend Brenda with me, at least partially so that I’d have someone with me that would remember the details, and maybe ask questions that I forgot to ask. I have no idea what I’d have done without her!

Dr. Smith walks in and stands, towering over us, in the door way, and announces that he’s not going to take the case. I was more than a bit shocked, by both the news and the presentation. He ended up coming in the room to discuss things a bit more. Now, I’m going to be paraphrasing things a lot, because by the end of the conversation, I may have shed a tear, or two. And when I get emotional, like that, I tend to remember things more in terms of what message I got from what was said.

One of the first things he told me was that he’d have never operated on me, and that he thought that Dr. R was wrong to have done it. He repeated that idea a few times further into the discussion. He also said that there was no way he was going to take my case, and try to sort out what Dr. R had done, or why.

After I had the Chairi Malformation diagnosed, last October, I did a lot of research. What I discovered was that it is impossible to determine whether a Chiari Malformation (CM) is causing problems by looking at an MRI. Many people with large CMs experience no symptoms from it, whatsoever. And some people with smaller ones have a lot of symptoms. There are also a lot of stories from people with lots of symptoms that go years trying to find out what is wrong, and then have doctors and neurosurgeons tell them that there is no way that the CM is the problem, yet later find a doctor willing to do the surgery – and then have a very successful surgery. You know, success, as in it takes away the symptoms.

So, if I had seen Dr. Smith at the beginning of the year, I’d probably have not put any stock into his words. He pulled up my MRI and told me that he saw no reason to think that my CM was causing my symptoms. At one point, he even said that he didn’t think I even had a CM, though he backed off of that shortly thereafter and went back to saying it was just a small CM.

When he first came into the room, Dr. Smith was very abrupt and rude, so I was a bit angry with him at first. In fact, I think I said at one point something to effect of, ‘if you’re not going to help me, I should just go ahead and leave’. I think he realized how rude he had been, and then was trying to explain why he felt that way. He also said that he’d previously worked with Dr. R, and (I’m summarizing here) that he didn’t agree with the way he handled a lot of cases. I think he was being nice and didn’t say everything he wanted to, but I was surprised to hear him disagree so sharply. He kept saying that if I had come to him first, that he’d have never considered surgery for me, and that I’m now in the post-op stages, and so he wasn’t going to take the case, because all he would be doing was trying to figure out what Dr. R had done, and why. Since he’s a neurosurgeon, he wasn’t going to be doing any surgery, there was no point (from his perspective) to see me. He said my best bet was to go back to Dr. R, and try to have him sort out the disability stuff, and that I should probably start over and go see a neurologist (instead of a neurosurgeon) to try to figure out what is causing the symptoms. Again, he was very emphatic that he didn’t believe for a moment that my pain, fatigue, etc. were caused by the CM.

About halfway through the conversation, after he found some of his bedside manners, I went from being angry to feeling hopeless. All I really want is for the pain to go away, and to be able to stop relying on pain pills. And I guess from an emotional perspective, I felt like he was taking away any hope I have of that happening. Of all the things that I’ve discussed with doctors about what could possibly be causing my symptoms, the only one that made any sense was the CM. And as long as it’s the CM, I feel like there’s hope for a fix. If it’s not CM, then the most likely scenario is that my symptoms can’t be fixed. That feels like being stranded on a deserted island with no hope of a rescue.

I don’t know that I’m convinced by Dr. Smith’s opinion that it’s not the CM causing my headaches and pain (and nausea and vertigo and “brain fog” and so on). I have to accept that it’s a possibility that he’s right.  And there’s a little doubt in the back of my head that wonders if Dr. Smith’s opinion of Dr. R skewed his opinion about my CM. Just a little one, but it’s there. But, at this point, I’m stuck between the doctor that put me into withdrawals, screwed me on disability, and doesn’t seem to care how I’m doing, and the doctor that’s taking away my hope for a normal life.

To put it simply, I feel like hope for feeling any better than I do today is just a bunch of bullshit, and a waste of time trying to pursue.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that there are pain pills that enable me to get out of bed in the morning, take care of my kids,  enjoy visiting with friends, and hopefully be a success when I go back to work next week. But, I want more than to just be able to survive life. I’d like to be able to enjoy it – go hiking, take my dog for a walk, go to Lagoon with my kids, start dating again, and all the sorts of things that I used to be able to do.

I feel like there should be a cure for this pain and fatigue. I just don’t think I have hope that there is one. C’est la vie.

I am endorsing Billie Gay Larson for National Committeewoman. She’s running against Patrice Arent, who I think is a great representative here in Utah.

Before I get into why I’m (again) supporting Billie Gay, I would like to mention a recent interaction with Patrice Arent. In the Educator’s Caucus at the SL County convention last weekend, I asked Patrice to give a specific example of how she’s ‘brought funding back to Utah’ (which she had just said she did, when addressing the caucus). I felt like I was given a non-answer. She basically restated that she’d done lots of work to bring the funding home, and was unable to give me a specific example. Of course, things were rushed, and I don’t really dislike Patrice, I just like Billie Gay more, and think she would bring new life to the position. Let me tell you why.

When I first met Billie Gay, it was during the 2008 election season, when I was working hard for Barack Obama. She struck me as a very outspoken person, and I think the first thing she ever said to me might have been that I was wearing a shirt that was too low cut to be representing Barack Obama at whatever formal event we were attending. She cracks me up, and I’m happy to always know where I stand with her.

Back then, she was chair of the Women’s Caucus (now she’s chair of the Women’s Democratic Club of Utah), and was always after me for not attending the various events and luncheons, so that I could promote Obama. She always congratulated me on the successes that our Utah for Obama group had, while pushing me harder to accomplish our goals, and providing advice.

Although she’s had so much experience in politics, she’s not one of those “smoky back room political insiders” that make me fume. I’m sure she’s been in a few, given her history of working in politics, but she’s an honest and up front person, and she cares about Utah politics for the sake of making Utah a better place. I’m fully positive that not only would Billie Gay Larson bring back funding for Utah politics, she would actually let us know what’s going on in the DNC. That was one of the campaign promises she made when she ran previously. I certainly have no idea what it is that Patrice Arent was doing with the DNC, but perhaps I’m missing out on that information, and it is available. If so, I’d love to know how to find it.

I know that Billie Gay is very proud of her history in politics, as you can see in the email I’ve posted below.

I really hope to see Billie Gay Larson become Utah’s next National Committeewoman, and I hope that anyone who is on the fence about who to vote for will take the opportunity to give her a call at 801.949.9321 or email her at bglarson@comcast.net and ask her about her history in politics, and why she’s the better candidate.

In the US Senate race, for the Democratic Nominee, I knew from the start that I was supporting Pete Ashdown. For starters, I was one of the ones rooting for him to enter the race again.

I met Pete during his campaign for the 2006 Senate seat against Orrin Hatch. I had never been involved in politics before. My not very well kept secret is that I actually had never registered to vote at that point. But, I read in a national technology magazine that Pete was running, and I knew instantly that I had to do something to help. In fact, that Wired article that changed my life forever, getting me involved in politics, is still up and available.

Among the many reasons that I despise Orrin Hatch are his stances on current technology issues. As I said, I wasn’t up on politics. Oh, I hated GW Bush with the best of them, but really didn’t feel I had it in my power to do a damn thing about it. But, here comes Pete, whom I knew as the owner of XMission, a company I was familiar with and adored, standing up to Hatch, and I was hooked!

Myself and my sons, Drake and Preston, marching in a parade with Pete Ashdown in 2006, holding the sign up front - don't I have amazingly adorable sons?

Having been raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, the last thing I ever want to do is knock on doors and ask someone to think or believe the way I do. However, I didn’t bat an eye when the campaign asked us to meet in Magna to knock on doors. I’d never volunteered for a campaign, and I sure as hell didn’t know what I was doing, but I loaded up my sons (then about 5 and 7?) and met the campaign in Magna, and went out for the first time. It honestly didn’t occur to me at the time to draw comparisons to this and my childhood – I just knew I needed to let people know that Pete was running, and I just knew they’d flock to vote for him.

I also have memories of volunteering at a convention – I’m sure now that it was the state convention – at the Salt Palace. I was so green that I didn’t even know that Pete was the only person these people were going to vote for. I showed up, asked what to do, and was handed a stack of literature, and asked to go pass it out. There were long registration lines, so I worked ’em, telling people how great Pete was and asking them to vote for him, along with passing this literature out. I remember someone asking me whether this was a statewide race, or just applicable to certain areas, and I was so very embarrassed that I didn’t know!

I certainly know a lot more now about how the whole campaign thing works. But, I’m as set as ever in my support of Pete Ashdown for Senate. I dream of having someone in there who has an intelligent response to these technology bills that come through, whether they are related to the RIAA, or to electronic spying, or just tech in nature. Someone who can speak with true knowledge on the subject, not just condemning the RIAA’s motives, but who can explain the impact.

There are numerous issues I agree with Pete Ashdown on – he’s my kind of Democrat. But, his familiarity with technology, as the founder of the first ISP in Utah, goes a long way with me.

I met his opponent for the Democratic nomination, Scott Howell, last week at the Politisauce dinner. I let Scott know I was a Pete supporter, and we didn’t really talk much more. However, last night I received a phone call from Scott. I’d seen the number calling me many times before, but always ignored it because I didn’t know who it was, and they never left a voicemail. Because it was so late at night (10 pm) I answered the call this time. I had a pleasant talk with Scott. I was impressed that he’d done his research and knew a little about me. However, he tried to portray himself as a tech candidate because he spent the last 20 (?) years working for IBM. But, working in sales is a far cry from understanding how the internet gets wired to your house, or exactly what would be required for your ISP to monitor all of your internet traffic and be responsible for any intellectual property laws that you might break. In addition, Scott Howell told me that (and I’m summarizing here) he knew that when you had friendships that you have to stick by them, so he understood my support of Pete, but that he hoped to have my support if he came out the winner at convention.

That last little bit offended me just a little. I’ve not based my voted on friendships, and I’m very frustrated at the “party insiders” who do vote that way. I vote for the best candidate for the job. I’ve noticed that the endorsement emails for Scott that I’ve received are from those deeply entrenched into insider politics (where the chosen candidate generally is the money candidate). I’d heard Scott Howell’s name in the past, but not enough that I could have even told you why I knew it. I’ve certainly not met him over the past 6 years of my deep political involvement. I’m sure that his previous service as a Utah Democrat was great, and I respect that he’s held office. However, I honestly didn’t even know Pete had any competition from the Democratic side until very recently (excluding Christopher Stout who is no longer running for the Senate seat, and while I consider him a friend, also, he knew I was supporting Pete). I don’t think he’s done enough to “deserve” the seat from the meaning of that word as used in insider politics, at least not in recent years. I’m not saying he’s not been there, but he hasn’t been very visible about it. A friend of mine decided to flip and support Scott recently, even saying how thrilled he was that Scott called every single delegate.

Well, how about Pete going to nearly every County Convention in Utah, in both this race and the last one, only being hampered by conventions held at the same time and/or day, making attendance at both impossible. I don’t know how many people Pete has personally called, so I can’t compare that.

But, what I’m saying is that Scott Howell’s calls aren’t enough to impress me, and his prior technology history, while it could be sort of useful, really does nothing to match Pete Ashdown’s knowledge of technology.

Scott told me (again, paraphrasing) that there wasn’t much difference between him and Pete, except that Pete had no political experience, while Scott had served in office before. Well, that just doesn’t do it for me, either. Remember how they said Barack Obama didn’t have enough political experience? Yeah, that line doesn’t work on me.

For many of the same reasons that I originally supported Pete Ashdown, I’m supporting him again today. In addition to finding him the best candidate on the issues, I’ve seen Pete at every major (and many minor) political events since his 2006 run. If you check out Pete’s campaign site, you’ll find a lot of information about where he stands on issues, along with where he comes from, and plenty of other things. If you check out Scott Howell’s campaign site, you’ll find a brief 1-page blurb about his “outstanding achievements”. I see nothing promising transparency in office, nor lists of where he stands on issues (Pete Ashdown’s Issues List is quite extensive). On that alone, Pete is, by far, the better candidate in my mind.

So, while I’d like to consider Pete Ashdown my friend, he has my vote because he’s a strong candidate, who speaks plainly to the issues, and I believe that he’ll kick some ass and take names this fall in the general election, and he’s the man I want for my next Senator.

Thanks for running, Pete. And thanks for getting me involved in politics in the first place!

This was above and beyond what I expected. The play, “8”, is not only from the transcripts of the actual closing arguments of the trial, but it manages to be entertaining, funny, accurate, serious, and heart-wrenching. I wasn’t able to watch it live, and when I did watch it, I had to break it up into at least 3 different sessions, because I’m still not quite able to concentrate for very long. And this play deserves every bit of your concentration – you won’t want to miss a moment of it. I also think that every person cast in this play was so very perfect for their part, and they did an amazing job.

The people I most want to share “8” with are the friends and acquaintances who sometimes express doubt about whether all of the activism and fighting for our rights is getting us anywhere; the people who feel so beaten down by the way things have been that they don’t see the bright, shiny light at the end of the tunnel. Seeing this piece of our history reenacted will bring you hope, and will help you see that the tide has turned, and equal rights, including marriage, is going to happen. This is our future.

No matter who you are, I beg of you that you watch just the first 10 minutes of the play, and see how you feel about it then.

The actual play starts at 29:30 (if you use the “skip ahead” button, you’ll miss a tiny bit). I would suggest that you also watch the highlight and news clips that begin at 17:50. It will remind you, not only of the story as it was presented to the public as the trial happened, but of who the real people involved were. You can watch the video directly on YouTube, or just click play below.

Insurance Issues

I have SelectMed insurance, and you’d think they would work together with IHC pretty easily, since they’re affiliated. That doesn’t seem to be the case, or perhaps this is just another one of those things where an insurance company doesn’t care about the insured. But, hey – let’s regulate them less, right?

Anyway, I have a high-deductible ($5,400) insurance plan through SelectMed. This is paired with a Health Savings Account (HSA), which has $5,400 put in it every year, between my contributions and my employer’s.

My Chiari Decompression surgery was on February 14. Prior to that, on the 9th, a woman from IHC’s registration called me to get insurance stuff settled prior to surgery. One of the things she wanted was to get the remainder of my deductible from me, since the surgery was far more than my deductible. At that time, I had $4,705 left to meet my deductible. So, I let her take the $4,705 from my HSA.

Note that this is about Bush, not Obama

This nearly wiped out what I had left of my HSA, but I didn’t realize that was going to be a problem, until I went to get my prescriptions after surgery. I was able to get some of them, but I ran out of HSA money, and had to pay for prescriptions out of pocket (I had to borrow the out of pocket money, technically).

So, my sister, who is my caretaker and has Medical Power of Attorney, called SelectMed to try and sort everything out. It turns out that, although the hospital did submit the claim, processing was on hold because it had a “random” audit flag. This means that everyone who had anything to do with me during my hospital stay now needed to provide some sort of statement to SelectMed. I’m imagining this to be something similar to an IRS audit, only spread out over every department in the hospital.

In the mean time, lots of other claims are eating up the deductible, before IHC does. Charges have come through such as my son’s podiatrist consultation, the CT scan of his foot, my Family Practice doctor’s bills, prescriptions, etc. This means that, although I prepaid IHC the $4,705, it has turned into an overpayment. As of right now, I’ve paid $3,457.09 towards my deductible, leaving the remaining amount at $1,942.91. As of today, not counting other things that might come through, I’ve overpaid IHC $2,762.09. Meaning that if the claim were to process today, IHC would owe me a refund of $2,762.09. But, there are other things that will bill before then, so the refund will be even more.

The anesthesiologist’s bill from when I had the surgery has been processed, and wasn’t part of the audit. Anesthesiologists typically bill separately from the hospital. That claim was for $1691.25. When IHC called me to get money towards my deductible they really should have mentioned this. Because IHC is not paying the anesthesiologist. That is my responsibility, and IHC should have taken that into account when they asked me for my money, based on how much I had left on my deductible.

This would all be ok, except for one rather major thing. I need medications. My HSA is wiped out, but I haven’t met my deductible, and I won’t until the hospital bills are processed. I’ve had to pay (ahem, borrow to pay) about $350 for medications so far. As soon as the money is available in the HSA, I can file claims and get the money back (and repaid). But, I have other medications that I need, and cannot get until the HSA money is available, including my pain meds. I REALLY need them, and the new one I’m on is pricey – according to the info on SelectMed’s site, the new pain med is $216. That’s not including other medications that I need to refill because I’ve only got a few days worth left.

So, I called IHC to ask for a refund, and was told that the IHC Hospital’s Registration Department (who took the money in the first place) no longer had any control over the payment, because I’ve already had the surgery. I was told I could contact the Financial Services Department, but it was unlikely that they would do anything until after the claim is paid by SelectMed.

Of course, when I tried to contact Financial Services, Murphy’s Law was still in effect, and I was given a message that the employees were all in a meeting, supposedly to ‘help service my account better’, and that I need to call back in an hour. The hour passed, and the temporary decent service that I was getting at home from Sprint went away, and I couldn’t connect the call. When I finally did get through, the wait seemed eternal. To top it off, they played commercials including what they called “bad 80s music”, and when the commercial finished, the “bad 80s music” continued.

I was very frustrated by this time, but I managed to not take it out on the rep who finally answered. Which was good, because she was smart and understood the problem right away. She did put me on hold for a couple of minutes, but she came back and said they could refund $1,000 to me (which was what I had asked for). Of course, it’s not available yet, so I have to wait to get my meds until it is, but at least I’m almost there. She said 24 hours, but I’m not holding out hopes that it will be there before Monday. I’m very grateful to Lindsey, who helped me get the refund.

So, it’s been just over a week since surgery, 9 days if you’re counting. I sort of am. But, it’s a little like how, once you’re in your 30’s and someone asks your age, you actually have to stop and do the math. There are times where my brain feels fully functional, and the rest is just dealing with pain. Most of the time, the pain is on top of “Brain Fog”.

I’m really a social creature, so that part has been a little rough. A few of my best friends have been by multiple times, but for the most part, it’s just me. My sister, Jenee, is here, but she seems to go to bed around 9 or 10 am, when I’m waking. There’s often someone sleeping on my LoveSac that had been hanging out with her the night before, and since I like all of her close friends (the ones that she lets crash here), I do get a bit of social time in when they wake.

Normally, between Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, my social needs are adequately filled. I didn’t realize how much I depended on the socializing at work until now.

I also don’t have the attention span to really watch the things in my queue, because I can’t concentrate on them, and I really like to get into the things I watch, rather than using them as passive background noise.

So, yeah – recovery has been a bit rough. I think I mentioned that I had a blood patch in a previous post, but I don’t recall going into it. Since I’m having the same problem again, I should probably mention it.

While I was in the hospital, probably on the 3rd day, after having tried, unsuccessfully, to argue that my pain medicines in the hospital after surgery should go up from my normal dose, not down, I was in a lot of pain. I hope to come back to the topic of pain drugs in another post, but for now, I’ll just say that my neurosurgeon was not a big believer in the benefits of pain relief. So, I realized that the pain was awfully close in position and intensity to when I had meningitis.

Now, the neurosurgeon had placed a shunt in my lower back to drain the spinal fluid, as a preventative measure, so that I wouldn’t get meningitis. That shunt had been removed a few hours before (note that my perception of time could possibly be a little off….), with no seeming complications. I asked Jenee to stay in the room while it was done, because the entire process brings up my needle and especially needle in back phobia, and I couldn’t bear to be alone. She didn’t get to see anything, and my nurse was wonderful to stand there and hold my hand.

I know that holding my hand is not a required thing, and so I really appreciate her act of kindness. It helped as I felt the sensation of the tube being pulled from my spine. It was all over quickly, and then they made me lay on my back for 3 hours.

After this happened l felt about the same for a while, until my head started hurting really bad, enough to remind me of when I had meningitis. My youngest son, Preston, was just a couple of months old when I got it, and there are about 3 months in there that are just gone to me, lost. I remember the pain, but very little else. So, I asked my nurse about it, and she relayed my questions on to Dr. Reichman. The answer came back that there was no way it was meningitis. No additional information, or instructions, or even a checkup, just that meningitis wasn’t the problem.

Again, I’m lost as to the timespan for this, but my anesthesiologist, Dr. Rideout (who was awesome), came in to tell me that I needed a blood patch to fix a hole in my dura. Now, a dura is the membrane around the brain and spinal canal. Apparently, there’s not really any blood around in in the lower back. So, it’s fairly common that when it’s punctured, such as for my shunt to drain spinal fluid, it’s not able to mend itself. Something to do with it being stretchy, as well. Anyway, the fix for it is to take some blood from my arm and inject it into the site where the lumbar puncture had been. The idea being that the blood should then clot to temporarily repair the puncture, and then allow it to heal.

It did provide fairly immediate relief for some of the pain. Not as much as I’d hoped, but much like taking an Excedrin for a migraine, it did take the edge off, and I wasn’t convinced that my brain was going to pop out of the back of my head.

Because of the issues with pain medications, I really wanted to get home and go back to my regular doctor’s management of my pain. So, I got a list of what they wanted before I could go home and made it happen Saturday evening. I felt up to going home, and felt confident about the decision, and I still do.

However, I have those same headaches again. In researching the blood patch, it’s rare for a 2nd one to be needed, but not unheard of. The alternate treatment is to be confined to bedrest, until it’s gone, which is normally about 2 weeks. However, the longest “on record” is something like 14 months. I saw no mention of a 3rd blood patch, which gave me the impression that isn’t ever done, but I’m really not ready to go there yet.

Additionally, the latest adjustment to my medications isn’t working. So, I think I’m going to see my doctor tomorrow to see about a medication switch, and see whether she has advice on the blood patch. I think I’ll contact Dr. Rideout if I decide to go for it again. In the meantime, I’m forcing bedrest on myself, and doing as little getting up as possible.

I have two other important questions to ask my doc, but for the life of me, I can’t manage to remember them when I want to write them down, nor write them down when I remember them. Hope that happens before tomorrow.

So, as much as I enjoy rough roads in a Jeep, going down them on bedrest for recovery just isn’t nearly as fun. I’m really hoping that this phase of recovery ends soon, and progresses well enough that I can get some enjoyment out of the Jeep this spring. Well, that and just out of life in general.

On a brighter note, I have lost at least 12 pounds since surgery. This isn’t the most ideal way of losing weight, but considering that it’s been accompanied by a loss of appetite, I think I’ll actually be able to keep it off – when I’ve had lowered appetite before, it usually stays that way, until I have a bought of depression and eat my weight in chocolate candy. I’m planning on not doing that this time. I just need to make sure I surround myself with those that will feed my ego, so I don’t feed my mouth, right?

With all of this whining and complaining, I will reach out and ask – please pass along any happy thoughts that you encounter.