Wednesday, 22 August 2007

And now I'm back

From outerspace. That's how I feel. It's 2:30 a.m. and I'm jetlagged and suffering from sinusitis. And I'm sad to be back, though that will change. I can't believe I went three weeks without blogging. Must be a record.
Lots happened while I was away:

1. I had a long talk with my mother about what her needs were. She doesn't want to move in with my sister after the stress of looking after my niece's three little girls (my niece apparently had Harry Potteritis before getting gastroenteritis). So I asked her what were the things she didn't want to/couldn't do. She doesn't want to cook, can't clean that easily, doesn't want to be cooped up looking after my stepfather all the time. I spent about 10 minutes going through the yellow pages till I found the appropriate agency that will supply home help. I handed my mother the phone and sat next to her while she made the phone call. The woman came out that day, said they offer cleaning at $10/hour (a bargain), respite care, personal alarms in case people fall (which my stepfather does a lot), and monthly meetings for carers. I suggested Meals on Wheels, but my mother said she'd prefer going to the Seniors Center for lunch as that would give her a bit of a social life. So, when I left she seemed much happier.

2. We went to Montana to visit Little Bighorn (Custer's last stand) and Pompey's Pillar (where William Clark carved his name). Along the way I saw heaven on earth -- the Bighorn Canyon Park. My husband, being the historian he is, always likes to visit these kind of places, and I'm so glad he does. I'll have more to say about this later.

3. On the way back we travelled over the Absaroke Mountains and were literally driving through the clouds at over 10,000 feet. My daughter and I sang all the songs from "Sound of Music" to take my husband's mind off the hairpin turns and to keep my mother from looking down.

4. Then we went through Yellowstone Park. In all the times I've been to Yellowstone I've never seen a bear, except when I was 6 and they used to come up to the cars. But we saw one this time. Yep, a black bear. We stayed in the car, unlike the idiots with their cameras. We saw lots of wildlife: yellow-bellied marmots, elk, antelope, deer, eagles, snakes, buffalo. I think it's because we came through a different entrance this time. Lots of Yellowstone is still somewhat barren from all the fires a few years back.

5. Then we went to Florida, which is always a different experience. Florida is my home state and so I have lots of family to visit. My kids love Florida, not only because of the theme parks but also because of the family. Lots of kids, though we saw none of my sister's kids and grandkids (I think we're a bit on the outs because of what happened at my mother's). I met up with some of my former classmates at the beach. That's what I love about Florida -- the beach. I grew up going to the beach most weekends, and I have the skin to prove it. What I find increasingly disturbing is my dad and stepmother's involvement in their extremely rightwing, conservative church. It's beginning to sound like a cult. The girls and women all wear long skirts and shirts with sleeves so they won't tempt men. When they go swimming, they wear baggy shorts and T-shirts. I met their pastor last year. I happened to be wearing (Bermuda) shorts at the time. The man would not look me in the eye and gave me the wimpiest handshake. Creepy! Normally, my kids like to go to church with my dad and stepmother because it means seeing their stepcousins (my stepbrother's kids), but we forgot the long skirt for my daughter and my stepmother made it clear she didn't approve of the way my daughter dressed (and my daughter tries so hard to fit in).

6. We did our annual Busch Gardens trip, but I was suffering from sinusitis by then so wimped out of Sea World. I did manage to go on most of the rides at BG, twice in some cases. And I got my free beer. My husband and the kids loved Sea World, had a great time, etc. We went to a water park one day. Never again. It was filthy and disgusting and probably the reason I'm not well yet.

7. I got to compare the U.S. and U.K. health care systems. I was suffering so badly I had to go to one of those Walk-In Clinics. The dr. and nurses there were very professional, but the first thing they wanted to know was how I was going to pay for the ($98) treatment. Then I went to a pharmacy to fill the prescription for antibiotics. $99!!!!! America, you are being ripped off bigtime by the drug companies. A prescription in the U.K. is £6 something or about $12-$13. A lot of people in the U.K. like to knock the NHS, but it does have its advantages. Compared to the U.K., the U.S. has cheap gas and expensive health care. What does that say?

I must try to sleep now. I'll have more to post later. My fingers are itchy to move around the keyboard some more.


Queeny said...

Welcome back, and thanks for staying up late to fill us in. Wow! Talk about burning the midnightish oil.

I'm glad you had such a great time, and especially glad that your mother is happier.

My hubs is a native Floridian, too, so we make a yearly trek to Jacksonville. This year we did Disney, too. And we looooove the beaches!!!

Pixie said...

Welcome back I've missed you.
the trip sounds fantastic and difficult in equal parts.
Glad your mum seems to be getting more settled, that must be a weight of your mind.
And as for seeing a bear wow!
I'm coming to Liverpool Friday 7th Sept, if your free antime that day. I'm likely to stay over.
If you want to contact me, try; so we hopefully fix something up.

Kelly said...

Welcome back WUATC- glad some things got sorted out, even if you came back knackered, ill and sufferig blog-drawal. I was getting tired of looking at the last entry!!!!

Annie said...

Welcome back.

You're a brave woman coming to Florida this time of year - it's so stinkin' hot we barely spend time outside at all.

You've inspired me to go see more of the States - I keep telling my husband I'd love to hire an RV and take off - one for the opportunity to see more of this vast country and two to have the "RV Experience"

I hear you on the healthcare! Having experienced both systems, I have to say my wallet does not take kindly to all the expenses we have here - copays in addition to steep insurance premiums every month. What I will say though is that I have access to medical services faster here. And, we are facing issues with my son's hearing that involve visits with specialists. If we were at home I have to wonder if these issues would have even been detected, and if they had would we be waiting months to see the ENT specialist about it?

What makes me so, so sad here are the number of people who have no access to medical care because they can't afford it. In the richest country in the world this is a disgrace.

Okay - I guess I should have made my own blog post about this eh?

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Queeny: Do you ever go to St. Augustine while in Jacksonville? I keep telling my kids we must go there. And the beaches around there are some of the best.

Pixie: I'll be emailing you about the 7th.

Kelly: Yeah, I'm tired of the last entry too. Especially now that it has been withdrawn.

Annie; We have no choice about coming to Florida this time of year unfortunately. The U.S./UK healthcare debate will continue, no doubt.

DJ Kirkby said...

So glad to have you back! Hope your sinusitus goes soon. The perscription charges are mad arent they? Not much better in Canada, i had forgotten all about them!

laurie said...

good job on working things out with your mother! sounds like an excellent solution. let's hope she sticks with it.

the rest of your trip sounds very .... interesting. let's just say i don't envy you the hairpin mountain turns, the sinusitis, the creepy cultish church, or the water park (ick).

but free beer! now you're talking my language, coffee.

welcome back! it's so great to have you back again.

oh, and our health care is only a ripoff if you pay cash, as you did. if you have insurance it's not so bad. i pay $10 for prescriptions and $20 for a dr visit. insurance pays the rest.

Anonymous said...

Good to see you back safe and sound. I visited Florida in 1991 and did all the usual Disney parks and Seaword etc. Amy is itching to go so I could well be going back in the next couple of years.

I do hope everything works out with your mum. Keep up posted on that.

I know they're vicious beggars, but aren't bears so majestic looking! I'd love to stroke one. Preferably that's asleep.

Anyway, welcome back to blogland.

Crystal xx

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

DJ: I'm sort of emerging from the jetlad, sinusitis fog. I thought Canada had socialized medicine.

Laurie: When I had US health insurance, I still had to pay at least $100 deductible and some prescriptions weren't covered.

CJ: You can stroke the bear and I'll watch, from way over here.

Christine said...

New here...must pop into the health care discussion.

One thing I think it's important to remember is that health care provided by a government isn't "free" pay for it out of your taxes. We pay copays for our health care, you pay taxes for your health care.

We do get ripped off here regarding prescription drugs...the cost of research and development is primarily folded into the cost of our prescriptions in the US. That's why people cross the border into Canada or Mexico and can buy the exact same drug for significantly less.