Manuka's Place

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I own a minivan...






Well the day has come. I am now in the enemy camp. Jill and I finally realized that we needed a bigger car that is easier to put kids in and out of, so we caved and purchased a [gulp] minivan. I have always said that I would never own such a vehicle because it is a slippery slope from minivan ownership to wearing sweats and baseball cap all day looking forward to dropping the kids off a school and get home to watch The View and then settle in for a day of laundry and soap operas. Geeze, I hope General Hospital is a good as I remembered. So, I have never haggled for a car before so I bought a book on how to buy a car. It did me well and I didn't get totally screwed in the deal. I wasn't as strong as I could have been but the guys I was working with were very nice and from what I could tell very genuine. My sales associate, Greg was not your typical sleazy car salesman, he took the time to show me multiple cars and we drove three of them. He spend time with me and did not push me into a vehicle I didn't need. When all was said and done I got the van for $500 above invoice. My experience at Cabe Toyota was great and would recommend anyone go and see Greg Burgin. Tell him I sent you and he will take care of you. Well I have to go move car seats from one car to the van so I guess I will pick my manhood off the floor and get to work. Here is what my new car...um...I mean van looks like:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Gaelic Games

So way back in 1999 I was in Ireland as part of a month long European adventure. The week we were there I was exposed to a wonderful sporting event. The Gaelic Games are uniquely Irish. Two sports dominate the games, Gaelic football and hurling. Being the sports fan I am and being away from the US for a while I was very intrigued by the goings on in the Irish sports scene. These events capture the attention of the entire country as local county pride is on the line. While we were there the stage was being set for the All-Ireland final in these two sports. As I learned the sports trade off weekends with football taking one and hurling the next and vicea-versa until the finals in September. To make a long story short, I got wrapped up in following the games one weekend. I vividly remember standing in the train station in Galway watching the beginning of one match and then standing with hundreds of people in the train station in Dublin watching the end of another match. It was magical. I loved getting swept up in the excitement of a wonderful event. I was even able to let a fellow traveler know who won the earlier match. That afternoon will be etched into my mind for years to come. Since then I have been fascinated by both sports. Gaelic football is like rugby, soccer, and Australian Rules football combined into one, while hurling is sorta like lacross but much cooler. The rules are pretty basic, get the ball through the uprights and score one point in the goal is three points. And yes the rules are pretty much the same for both games. Anyway, why bring this up now? Well thanks to good old YouTube I found some footage of hurling that I would like to share with you. It is from the All-Ireland final of 2005 that pitted county Cork against county Galway. Take a break from work and watch what some call the fastest team field sport in the world. Others call it a lifestyle. Enjoy:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Medi-Cal

I know it’s been a while since I have posted but I have not had the time nor the energy to put into in the last couple of weeks. Once again thank you to all who poured your hearts out in compassion to me and my family at the passing of my mother. Your cards, your thoughts and your prayers have helped in so many ways. Things are getting back to normal around here (whatever that may be). The girls have been adjusting well and we have cleared a couple of big legal hurdles. Nothing I can talk about here (but call me and we can chat). We are still not out of the woods and still covet your prayers.

So today was the girls well-child checkup at the doctor. Now let me begin with saying that I love my country. I love my state, but we have some serious problems in our healthcare system. The girls are on Medi-Cal. For those of you out of state think of it like the federal Medicare system but with more benefits and options (not to hard to beat Medicare so don't get your hopes up). The saga that was today began weeks ago when Jill and I started looking for a medical provider that would take Medi-Cal benefits as well as new patients. Well we soon learned that this is like searching for the Holy Grail. I must have made 25 phone calls one afternoon (no joke, and I hate the phone). I ran into brick wall after brick wall. I was asked, "Do you have straight Medi-Cal?" Here’s me on the other end of the line..."Is there something else?" Tort response from the lady on the line..."Well if you don't know then it is just straight Medi-Cal and we don't take that!" What I wanted to say..."But you are in the Medi-Cal provider book, so you should take it, right? And if you don't, take your stinkin' name out of the book so us rookies don't make these mistakes!!!" What I did say..."Thank you for your time, can you direct me to an office that does take it?" Pause...pause...pause..."Um, I can't do that...(click.........hum of dial tone) Well eventually I talked to a nice lady who put me in touch with the Long Beach Children’s Clinic inside of Miller's Children’s Hospital. So I gave them a call and we got ourselves an appointment in just three short weeks!! (note hint of sarcasm) Anyway, today was the day of the appointment and after a stressful morning meeting at DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) in Glendora. The girls and I hit up the golden arches for some lunch. All went well until my oldest had to go potty. I put her off until we all finished lunch and then packed up everything and took one girl in my arms and the other by the hand and went to the men’s room. As we are going in my youngest proceeds to dottle in the doorway and gets her fingers pinched in the door. Now she is screaming bloody murder in the bathroom that has the acoustic effects of a Bose speaker and there is now blood coming out of my ears and the five men in the bathroom all looking at me, like what the [bleep] was that??? So I say I'm sorry and we head for the only stall in the small bathroom but the light is out in the back so it is dark and there is graffiti on the wall and on the toilet seat and my oldest makes a face and says, "No, no daddy, don't wanna go potty!!" O.K. so out we go right into the midst of a birthday party, screaming toddler in hand, past Ronald McDonald and sneak out the back door. We get the to car and I notice that my youngest is missing a shoe! She is still screaming and I hear my oldest say, "Daddy, she dropped it in the baffroom." Thanks for telling me now!! So back we go into the McDonalds, through the birthday party (again), my youngest, still screaming and back into the bathroom to pick up her shoe. Now it is back through the birthday party for a third time and out to the car. Now I have to strap two kids into car seats and get on the road to pick up Jill and off to the Children’s Clinic. We get to the clinic right on time, but of course we have a mound of paperwork to fill out. Now, I was ready for some of this but being a clinic that does not deny services to anyone based on their ability to pay, there is more paperwork than refinancing your mortgage. Now of course this makes perfect sense right?? Make the less fortunate (possibly less educated, and I am not making a judgment call) fill out more paperwork then they have seen since the last time they were in school all while their child is crying because they are sick. Into this milieu we plunge and Jill and I try to keep our kids from catching every childhood illness known to man that is floating around the joint. Our appointment was set for 1:15 but after paperwork and waiting, we were called in at about 2:15 or so and got the regular things done (weight, height, temp.) then off to get the anemia test. We are shuffled off to a back room and around some cardboard boxes and my girls get the first and not the last stick of the day. So now you think off to the exam room and the doctor will see you in a few minutes, but no, back to the germ infested, now trash covered waiting room. We hold up in a corner and try to distract our girls with fruit snacks and water (yeah that worked for about 10 min.) Another hour rolls by and they finally call us into an exam room. We met with the very nice resident who ran through all the questions and tests etc. She was lovely and didn't miss a thing, but it took a while. Now she is off to consult her attending and we wait some more. Finally, we visit with the attending and find out we are in for some shots, a prescription, and blood work. So now you would think it is off to see the scheduler to make a follow up appointment and to get our injections but no, back to the dungeon known as the waiting room. There are far less people now and less crying. We wait some more and finally we are called in. We head to the injection room, which I swear, must have been the supply room at some point. Not very well organized, junk everywhere and we are in there with two other families, just standing right next to them about three feet away as their kids are getting their shots. Now more forms to fill out and get back. Then my youngest gets stuck twice and she is like, "What is going on???" It is her third Band-Aid of the day. It is now 5:30!!! We had been there four and a half hours and we had an appointment!! Now we have to run up the pharmacy and get the prescriptions before they close so we hit the stairs to save time. Picture this if you will, a large overweight, mid-thirties, going grey, new father, wearing a backpack, holding two more backpacks in one hand and a not happy toddler in the other bounding up the stairs to make it to the pharmacy before it closes. I wish I could have put it on video. I could play it before meals as my new diet plan. U-G-L-Y! But I digress... We make it to the pharmacy and then off to the lab for blood work. Of course that means more paperwork and waiting and fuming, and now hunger is setting in. Both Jill and I are cranky and the girls have not had a nap all day and finally they call my youngest in to get her blood drawn. This could not go well. There I am, just barely allowed to hold my youngest again after letting her get stuck three times already and now I know what is coming but she has no idea. We sit down and she sees the needle and starts to fuss. Then the lab tech tries to find a good vein. She goes for one in the hand but after a good start it runs dry. Take that needle out and my youngest is now screaming (again). And she is no dummy as she sees the lab tech getting ready to go again and she freaks out. Luckily for us the acoustics in this small room were now where near that of the restroom of the Lakewood McDonalds. The second time is a charm by my little girl is now so worked up she is sweating all over and crying like crazy and now I am sweaty too from holding her and feeling horrible that she has been stuck five times in one day. Finally we go back out and Jill takes our oldest back, she is excited to get a special band-aid like her sister but doesn't understand the price she will pay. As I bribe my youngest with more fruit snacks, trying to get her to trust me again, I hear some more screams from the back of the lab. Only one stick is needed for her and finally we get to wipe some tears and blow some little noses and head back to the car. It is now about 6:30 and I ask Jill if she has any cash to pay for parking. She looks at me and says, nope...I say to her I have nothing either. (Boy we are good parents, Uggh). Luckily for us we find an ATM in the hospital and we take out $20 plus the $1.50 convenience fee (how convenient). We get the car out of hawk and head to Carl's Jr. for a second meal of fast food for the day (I told you we were good parents). Back in the car my youngest falls asleep but I have to take Jill back to work so she can get her stuff and shut down her room. It is now about 7:30 and I am headed home with two sleeping children. I cruise the neighborhood until Jill gets home so we can team up on the girls and get them to bed. Finally back home after almost 12 hours and off to bed. Not much crying, just exhaustion and then sleep.

So my big beef of the day is not really with the clinic, although it has its problems. It is not with the doctors or nurses who are doing their jobs and learning and serving a place that is needed in the community. It is even not with the Medi-Cal system itself. My beef is with our politicians who have created this monster. Most of them have good HMO's or other comprehensive care so when they make decisions on health care it doesn't really effect them. Now don't get me wrong, I am not in favor of universal healthcare, it may be good for some of our Canadian brothers but they have to wait forever to get things done. I just wish there would be some compassion in the political process and not the constant fixation on the bottom line or even worse, getting re-elected. I have had it up to my eyeballs with the myopic blowhards in Sacramento and in D.C. who worry too much about themselves and forget who they represent. Now I rarely talk politics with people because these discussions just divide and never solve the problem so I am not looking for a fight or even a discussion on this one. Lets just call this Seth blowing off some steam after a hard day of being a daddy. As my neighbor said to me a few weeks ago, "Parenting is the hardest job you will ever love." Ain't that the truth. I love it every day and I would not trade in these experiences for anything in the world. So, I have to put up with some governmental garbage, so be it. The rewards are amazing.

Thanks for listening and kudos to you for getting to the end of this long one. Have a great week!!!