Tuesday, July 17, 2018

First Memories

Billy Lavon Patch
Born: Oct. 8, 1959
Died:  July 10, 2018
My brother died this past week. They said it was a pulmonary embolism. That's a blood clot in the lungs. He was only 58 and so full of life. That smile you see? That was always there.  You would rarely see him frowning and if he saw you, he'd throw up his hand and give you a smile and say "Hey, how ya doing!" And now he's gone. The world has lost another bright light.

No, he wasn't famous or wealthy. He was just real.

Let me take a minute and tell you about the little brother I grew up with and what his life was like back then.

Billy was a cute, curly-haired kid and my younger brother. I'm the oldest of 7 and he was #2. We were raised by our grandparents, Mama and Daddy, a long story to be shared another time. As children, we were close but drifted apart as teenagers for a bit. When I married, he felt betrayed because our Mama had died and I left home. We became closer after that but Daddy remarried and the new wife didn't want a teenager in her life and Daddy sent him away to live with our mother. Another betrayal but he coped and grew close to our other siblings who lived with her. Eventually, Daddy was sent away too when the new wife got all she could from him. He brought Billy home and said he'd made a huge mistake and would never do that again. I think they both suffered during that period.

My first clear memory of Billy was not when he was a baby. It was when they sent for Mama to come and get him. You see, he originally lived with our mother and when she remarried a GI, she took him with her. Doctors said I should not be removed from my grandparents. You see, I became sick because of the pending separation. So, I stayed and he left.

He was 2 when they told Mama he needed to come home. He was having bowel issues. He's stopped pottying because he was whipped every time he didn't use the potty. I can tell this now because everyone is dead. Even Billy. He knew the truth anyway. We were told my stepfather whipped him but after I grew up, I believe it was our mother that caused the problem. But I digress.

I remember Mama and I boarded a train in Mobile, Alabama headed to Columbus, Georgia to pick Billy up. It was my first train trip and it was exciting. I remember sitting in seats that faced one another and I liked sitting across from an adult in my own seat. Mama faced front and I sat opposite, facing her. I was only 5. I remember the train stopping on a trestle and I looked out the window. Far below was a rocky creek flowing under us. It was so exciting and as clear in my memory as a snapshot.

When we arrived in Columbus, I still remember the apartment house. It was a two-story shaped like an L and inside, we climbed these huge dark wood stairs. On the second floor was my mother's apartment. The next few moments are like a movie in my mind. The door opened and I went in first. Billy was lying on a bed in the room, bedclothes all mussed and piled up. I can't remember that room. All I see is this tiny curly-haired boy pushing up on the bed and sitting, and a beautiful smile stretching across his face when he saw us. Today, that memory is bittersweet. He was such a lovely little boy. The redish brown curls made him look like a cherub. I remember his arms going around my neck. And the memory ends.

We brought him home.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Charges or Changes

Yesterday as I was paying bills, I reviewed some medical bills I received and when I went online to pay it I saw something confusing. They'd billed me twice for the same visit but it wasn't on the bill I held in my hand.

My insurance sends me an Explanation of Benefits that shows what they were billed and how much they paid. It also tells me the amount of my portion and a lot of other things. I always keep these in a file on my desk so I can compare them to the bills I get from the medical providers to ensure I'm not overcharged. Yes, that has happened twice. I pulled out my EOBs and found two for the charges mentioned on the website. They did, in fact, bill me twice for one visit. I lay it aside until I could call them the next morning. That'd be today.

When I called and explained my concern, the woman was very nice and happily explained that a lot of people get confused about their billing. I agreed they had a system that was very hard to follow. I get bills for Deaconess services from three different billing offices. Here's the story.

First, the reason the bill I had didn't reflect the second charge was that I hadn't been billed yet. Good to know but I don't know why they hadn't billed me at the same time since they had already billed the insurance and were paid. But moving on.

So why was I billed a second time? Well, you see, one bill is where you saw the doctor. That was $123. The other bill is a facilities charge of $177."


"I see," I said. I didn't but I'd give her a chance.

"That's for the use of the facility," she said.

 "OK." Did she say to use the facility? I didn't go to the bathroom. "Well," I said. "Thank you for your help."

After I hung up, I pondered this conundrum. I paid to see the doctor in their office. I paid to see her and I paid to use the office so I could see her. There is something wrong with this but I'm at a loss as to where exactly it is.

I am paying to use the building to see the person they HIRED to see their patients. And I'm PAYING to see the person they hired to see their patients.

I can't figure it out. One thing I do know it that I'm ready for a change. I think it is time we went back to house calls. If they can charge me a facilities charge, I figure I could do the same.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Short Tale about a Long Trip

Yes! Yes! It is I. I decided instead of dropping the news on Facebook I'd just post here and share it around. Saves time. Life on the Ledge has been precarious at times but it hasn't been fatal. I've been away from here since May, but I've got a few things I want to talk about so here I go.

I just got back from a much-needed vacation. I left on the 12 and stayed with my aunt and uncle in Atlanta two days before we all traveled on the 14th to Myrtle Beach. While I was at their home, I worked on their computers and got them back online. They'd been offline for ... well, a while, maybe a year. They had a new router and never got them set up because they used their IPads. Once I got all the tech sorted it was time to go. I still had updates to do but I could do them when we returned.

We stayed at Marina Dunes Inn on the Intercoastal Waterway. The photo above is the view from our room. It was lovely and a really beautiful condo. We did the usual shopping, eating, and they went to the beach twice. I preferred the indoor pool. No one used it and there was a nice shady patio just outside the doors that I had all to myself. I managed to read 5 books while we were there!

We returned to their home on the 19th and I spent the 18th finishing the computer project and packing up my things. I drove home on Friday. Let me tell you, it was eventful.

I started out at 8:30 and when I reached Chattanooga I hit a traffic jam. I got rerouted by Maps thru town, on Old 41. Beautiful drive over the mountain but 30 miles later, upon my reentry to the interstate, I was back in the traffic jam. Yeah, 30 miles at least. It lasted for another half hour before I got out. It began to rain a little and I decided where I'd make my next stop.

I got off at a place that I regularly stop when I take this trip, exit 114, at Manchester, TN. I figured I'd get gas and maybe grab a sandwich and get back on the road quickly. As I stood under the Raceway shelter and put the hose in my gas tank, it began to rain harder. Just as the pump started, the wind picked up and the guy at the pump ahead of me said the clerk told him there was a tornado warning. I turned around and the rain began to really lash at us. The wind picked up the garbage can and threw it at me. I turned to take turn the pump off and the power went out and suddenly it was as if everything went crazy. Someone threw a truckload of water at me and the world went white. I was blown back toward the car door. I was thankful I'd left it open because I scramble to get inside while my neighbor raced for the building, without a backward look, I might add. Everything seemed to be shaking and I just sat soaking in my clothes and watching trash cans fly by.

Whatever it was passed pretty fast because the sideways rain slacked off. I kept wondering why my wipers weren't clearing my windshield but then I realized that the water was on the inside. I pulled my attention from the storm outside and looked around. My dash, the windscreen, side windows, car doors, and my seat were wet where the rain had sprayed into the open door at the same time that load of water hit me. I thanked the God who gave me the good sense to put a roll of paper towels on the seat next to me. Really, there were right there. I remember putting them in the car and thinking I probably wouldn't need them but you never know. Not only was I soaked, my shoes were soaked, and the inside front of the car was soaked.

Eventually, my neighbor returned. He said they'd restart the pumps but soon found that impossible. My neighbor got a refund. I had used a credit card so I hoped that we were square. I managed to get a small amount of gas either way.

All power on that exit was out so I started toward Nashville and hoped for a place to stop so I could change clothes. I couldn't imagine riding the next 4 hrs wet. A Macdonald's presented itself at the next populated stop and I unpacked an outfit and shoes. After a change of clothes, I felt better and ordered a late lunch. Once that was completed, I set out, again toward Nashville. I needn't have hurried.

By the time I reached the Country Music Capital of the World, traffic was backed up and it took me another hour to get across town. I stopped at the state rest stop and walked around, pottied, and hit the road again. I didn't stop until I got to Evansville at 6:30 pm. I was tired.

The rest of the weekend I was wiped out. The vacation was wonderful and I always enjoy my family but that return trip was exhausting and it took three days to fully recover. This past week I've just spent lazing around. The house was clean because my friend Sue came in and cleaned from top to bottom.  I arranged it before I left and was glad I did because it turned into the best money I ever spent. I didn't unpack clothes for a week. God is so good to me. I've had a lot of pain in my joints the last couple of days, today is pretty severe but I have just been able to relax and take it easy.

This week, I've been busier trying to do the normal things, laundry, dishes, and taking care of bills. Thankfully, everything got paid and I can move onto other things. I had planned to finish up some construction projects and painting but the heat is so bad. I did manage to cut the grass and Mike and I both tackled the weed trimming but we had to do it in fits and starts. It is dangerously hot. I had to wash my hair 4 days in a row after doing outside work. It isn't much better inside either. The air conditioner has been almost unable to keep up with the heat. I could raise it to ease the burden on the system but once a house gets hot, it is really hard to cool it down again.

So, I've caught you up now and I'll try and stay on track. I've had so many physical issues lately that I really didn't want to bore folks with it. I've not been writing either because of it. If you follow this blog and want to keep up you can find me at all the places below.