Onto the muddled state I find myself in…all thoughts, comments, yeahs or nays welcome.
Thought #1: Health care. I am one of the self-employed corralled into an individual health plan and therefore subject to limits based on what I’ve been able to afford to buy into. You’ve heard me complain about the cost of my premium, but what I forgot to mention (some of you emailed that your own plans were more costly) is that I’m on what is called a 40/60 plan with no limit on the deductible and no preventive coverage, and a $40/visit co-pay. So if I go to the doctor 10 times in the year (let’s say I had been injured, or got whooping cough), that is $400 for my co-pays, plus 40% of each visit. If I were hospitalized and the bill is a mere $10k, I’m on the hook for $4k, etc. So here is where I’m a bit confounded right now. We are all aware that there is a pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic in California. I’ve received emails and voicemails from LAUSD reminding me to innoculate my daughter with the tDAP vaccine. Because the vaccine is considered preventive care, it is not covered by my plan. It will cost me $85 – $90 each for my child and I to be innoculated.
I’m on a search for the free vaccine, however most free or low cost clinics listed through LA city insist on a full medical exam for each of us prior to the exam, even though we both have regular doctors. The cost for the exams will be the same, if not more, than the cost of shot. So, it will cost me about $170 for the shots, which I plan on paying for. Money is tight for everyone…so let’s say that I didn’t get the innoculations. If I caught whooping cough, aside from potentially dying, wouldn’t the costs for my health care be a whole lot higher than $170? I’m just saying….
Thought #2: Oh my gawd! Watching the lead up to the Nov. 2nd elections is PAINFUL. Painful. Worse than listening to fingernails scratching against blackboard (those days are long gone…only whiteboards and dry erase markers now…) is watching the sound byte lies permeating the ads on both sides of the aisle. However, since the GOP is spending a bit more on their ads, they seem to be even more out there in the “let me lie, but call it marketing” campaigns.
One of my faves is the Christine O’Donnell “I am not a witch” ad. Dressed in somber colors, lit up like a ghoul against a dark blue backdrop, with a bizarrely haunting piano track, I swear I can see ghosts floating around behind her.
Another fave for sheer idiocy is the anti-Meg Pinnocchio nose-growing ad. I can’t stand Whitman, but seriously…this ad is laughable.
But my absolute favorite ad (this time for sheer brilliance) is again, a Jerry Brown sponsored anti-Meg Whitman ad, juxtaposing her sound bytes against Arnold’s bytes from his first campaign. Yup…same words. I’m sure she’s had a conversation or two with her campaign manager and speech writers about it. Enjoy.
Thought #3: Self-esteem. Have you noticed everyone is suffering a bit at the self-esteem front? Could it be because 41% (or just about) of the employable workforce is unemployed? Do you keep hearing people say “well…with 10% of America unemployed 90% are working”. False. Untrue. Bad math. There are about 300 million Americans. You have to take out the retired (forceably or otherwise) and children and other non-working family members as well as those in “institutional” roles…i.e. non general population workforce. Then there are also those who have given up looking for work (about 2 million). Then look at the numbers in the perspective of the American non-institutional workforce. You get a true employment to population ratio is 58.5%. How many of those in America who CAN work are in fact, working. Here is the report…if you head down to the bar graph at the bottom of the report it is easier to figure out. (Look for 58.5% and you’ll see how the labor metrics work.) So 14.8 million are unemployed out of a potential pool of 150M civilian laborers. That’s how it shakes out.
Research is showing that brain health is very much in our control and LifeTwo.com has 11 tips to maintain better brain health throughout life.
SoBabyBoomer tells us that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is starting to systematically search out violations of the convoluted rules governing individual retirement accounts (IRAs). There’s a lot at stake.
New research suggests that men are a bit more likely than women to notice memory loss as they age, and the deficits may be gender related. Read more about this courtesy of the Midlife Crisis Queen!
Need a few good ideas for how to update your fall wardrobe? Then check out this great style advice from The Glam Gals at Fabulous after 40.
This week Anne at It’s All About Aging starts down the Medicare maze and wonders how much smarter than a sixty-five year old you have to be to figure it out.
Over at Contemporary Retirement, Ann asks: Could retirement make you ill?
On the Gen Plus front, rather than direct you to a post, I have a few questions for you, gentle readers. It’s been a reflective period with lots of political turmoil, posturing, electioneering around every corner. It’s become so clear that the spirit of the law has not trickled down to the population that Americans are beside themselves. How do we change this polarized divide between the haves and have nots? How can the rich keep getting richer while middle America is barely surviving? How can we move ahead when the spirit of health care reform results in 20% premium increases as the insurance companies have figured out they can pass the costs along to the people rather than to seriously reform their industries?
We may be the boomers who blog at this carnival, but if you have a voice that you want heard, just add it to your comments here or at any of our blogs. We always like to hear from you and help be a mouthpiece for your sentiments.
As life would have it, I had a rush job, creating a website for someone who has been too busy in their business to ever worry about one (or social media) in the past just exactly at the same time as my summer services began in earnest. Plus, with no school for my daughter, 6 AM has morphed into 7AM (yeah…that’s me…sleeping in…LOL!), but that hour of “me” time, has virtually erased my writing time. And before I knew it, I discovered that TWO weeks have gone by without me posting on this blog. However, I did post (ONCE only) on my pet services blog and I think you’ll get a laugh at my adventures with de-skunkifying some four-legged guests.
As well, not posting means I couldn’t contribute to this past week’s Blogging Boomers Carnival (I could have sent in an old post, but that is irritating if you’ve already read it!), but John Agno, blogger at So Baby Boomer, put together a great carnival. Enjoy Blogging Boomers Carnival #168!
- Today, we are a world bathed in fear. SoBabyBoomer tells us we have a fearless choice between fear and love.
- It’s All About Aging wants to know if the conversation about family health history is a harder one than the one about money and wills?
- According to a recent survey, by the time we reach middle-age, we’re feeling so fat, unfit and unsexy that our sex lives are just about over. Find out more over at Contemporary Retirement. (And check out the follow-up post which argues that it’s boredom and stale marriages that are responsible for our diminished libido – not the fact that we’ve let ourselves go!)
- For a variety of reasons from economics to longevity to increased desires for happiness and self-expression, divorce rates for couples married 30 and 40 years are increasing — more at LifeTwo.com.
- In the spirit of being open to new adventures in midlife, Laura Lee aka the Midlife Crisis Queen tried out a little “permanent make-up” (tattooing) last week, and she loves it!
- The Baby Boomer Entrepreneur asks: Are Large Corporations Beating Small Business at Social Media?
- Skinny jeans, leggings and everything in between. What’s the difference, are they age appropriate, and what do you wear with them so you don’t look like a giant ice cream cone? Find out from the Glam Gals at Fabulous after 40.
- Take a look into a slice of Boston history with The Boomer Chronicles.
- Vaboomer plants a Garden! Come see.
As for me, I’d like to point your attention to one of the great posters that I have loved reading for quite some time, Saul Friedman. He very often reflects my own point of view, but the depth to which he researches each topic constantly amazes me. He’s given me permission to reprint some of his articles on this site. Here is one, posted at Time Goes By, and reprinted with his permission, that blew me away:
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
REFLECTIONS: My Companion, Cancer
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Saul Friedman (bio) writes the twice-monthly Reflections column for Time Goes By in which he comments on news, politics and social issues from his perspective as one of the younger members of the greatest generation. His other column, Gray Matters, formerly published in Newsday, appears each Saturday.
My wife and I were sitting in the very crowded oncologist’s office when I had this ugly thought. Everyone had come to check up on the treatment of their cancers. And I wondered – if there were a cure for cancer, the dozen doctors in the practice, their nurses, technicians, aides and receptionists would be out of work. Could it be possible that the cancer treating establishment is impeding a cure?I am not a conspiracy nut, but it would not be the first time during my reporting and writing career that I have encountered money and cynicism in the cancer-fighting business.Research to find treatments and a cure for breast cancer get twice as much money as prostate cancer, which kills as many men as breast cancer kills women. Lung cancer, the biggest killer, gets less. Why?
I’ve called the battle of the glands. The breast cancer lobby is more powerful and attractive than the prostate cancer lobby. There are too few lung cancer survivors to constitute a lobby and besides most lung cancers are blamed on the victims; they should not have been smoking.
On another occasion, when I was supervising a journalism seminar, one of my students learned that a North Carolina chapter of the American Cancer Society declined to take part in action against the tobacco industry and one of its largest companies because it was a mainstay of the local economy and had contributed to the chapter.
The American Cancer Society, one of the nation’s richest volunteer organizations, has been criticized for placing more emphasis on treatment than prevention and the possibility that the environment and chemicals are responsible for many cancers. But that begs the question, why can’t a cancer, even with a known cause, be eradicated, cured?
Having survived one cancer (esophageal) five years ago, I’m now dealing with another in my stomach as a kind of constant companion. And I find that nothing much seems to have changed. As science writer Curtis Brainard wrote in the April 12 Columbia Journalism Review,
“There’s a trope in medicine that doctors have only three ways of dealing with cancer-cutting (surgery), burning (radiation) and poisoning (chemotherapy).”
It’s true, as I’ve discovered, that surgical techniques have improved, but not everywhere; much depends on the surgeon. Radiation has its limits (I am no longer a candidate because I’ve had my full dose of radiation and doctors don’t want me to light up.) And chemo is, after all, poison that we hope will kill the cancer but not me.
In a sense, then, I feel that I’m being treated with primitive medicine in the 21st Century.
So it’s natural for a trained reporter – with or without cancer – to wonder why, 40 years after the U.S. put a man on the moon and 39 years after President Nixon called for a “war on cancer” and $200 billion spent on the war, a cure continues to elude us.
That expenditure, from government and private resources is a pittance compared to what we spend on bottomless, meaningless wars that kill but do not heal. Indeed, in too many cases and in too many places, cancer is the top killer, responsible for 7.4 million annual deaths world-wide. And 500,000 in the U.S.
To be sure, treatments have been successful in arresting the growth of cancers. Eighty percent of children stricken with leukemia used to die; now 80 percent survive. Similarly, 95 percent of testicular cancers were fatal; now the same percentage survives. Overall, the current five-year survival rate for all cancers is 65 percent compared to 50 percent 40 years ago.
That’s an important advance, but it’s not much of a leap (one percent per year). More important, the treatment may arrest cancer, but it cannot claim a cure. I survived a cancer for five years, but I wasn’t cured. We can claim survival and remission, but never a cure. A woman I know survived leukemia when she was a child, but she still has yearly checkups lest some stray cancer cells cause trouble.
How come there is no cure? Christopher Wanjek, writing last year in LiveScience explained that
“Part of the reason for having no cure is semantics. There will never be a single cancer cure because cancer refers to a family of more than 100 different diseases characterized by abnormal cell growth. These diseases arise from numerous causes, such as radiation, chemicals, or even viruses.”
But despite the knowledge, for example, that smoking causes cancer, we don’t yet know how. And even if we know the cause, we can treat, but not cure.“Most of the success,” said Wanjek, “is not from miracle cures but rather simple screening procedures such as pap smears and colonoscopies.”
But they don’t always work (my cancer was missed the first time) and at best, they find cancers at an early stage, when they can be cut, burned or poisoned but not cured.
According to the experts, there are some promising paths towards solving the mysteries of cancer: stem cell research, genetic research and even vaccines to treat and to prevent. Mark Roth, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 7, reported that commercial vaccines to treat as well as prevent cancers may be in the offing.
He cited the present use of a vaccine, Gardasil, to prevent cervical cancer which can be caused by a virus. Soon, he wrote, the FDA is expected to approve a vaccine, Provenge, to treat prostate cancer that has spread.
And Roth quotes researchers as saying cancer vaccines may be on the verge of wider use. Columbia Journalism Review’s Brainard trashed Roth’s optimism, partly because Roth is not a science writer, but Brainard did little to report on possible advances toward a cure, including vaccines.
The literature I’ve read and the doctors I’ve talked to during my five years of dealing with cancer tells me this: Despite the presence of and substantial funding support for the National Cancer Institute, in Washington’s suburbs, there is no central coordination of effort to find a cure for cancer, or even learn if a cure or cures are possible.
The moon landing, accomplished in eight years, the Manhattan Project, successful in less than ten years, the eradication of malaria in the U.S., cures for tuberculosis and polio, were American accomplishments in the 20th century. I see no such effort focused on the most vicious killer, cancer.
You might say I have a vested interest in this. That would be wrong. Unless someone comes up with a magic bullet tomorrow, I will have to live with my constant companion and take my chemo and hope. But too many people, and some of whom you know, are suffering and dying around us.
I remember what it was like before and after Salk. I’d like my kids to experience that feeling, when the fear of a disease is lifted.