You don’t have to thank me. You have to pay me.

“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”Jim Rohn
There was a recent article that I came across on Facebook, via Freelancers Union, that quoted a Huffington Post editor as saying that he doesn’t pay his writers because:

“When somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real, we know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.”

I call bullshit. While it’s very noble to volunteer your writing skills, when it becomes your primary source of income then getting paid is an essentially part of your craft. As some of the comments pointed out, does this editor get paid for his services? Most likely, which brands him a hypocrite. It’s hard enough for freelance writers to et paid for their services at at reasonable rate, and on time, without having editors like this making it even tougher on us.

Yes, when I first started writing, I did a lot of it for free, in order to establish a portfolio of work. However, once I made the decision to make a go as a freelancer for a career, that changed. I may not have gotten paid a lot sometimes, but at least I did get paid. Now that I’m planning on resuming freelancing again once I’m recuperated fully, you can bet that I’ll be demanding pay for what I write. I don’t want to stay on SSD forever, as much as it has helped tremendously.
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin
Here’s to the restart of my writing career, and here’s the link to the article in question

Dear Dad…

Twenty eight years gone today. Always a bittersweet Valentine’s Day. Happpy that I’m alive to celebrate it with my Patti, but still hurting that my dad isn’t there to see that I have survived. So much left unsaid. You never saw me act, never met your granddaughter (my niece), never saw Philip promoted to Lt. at FDNY-EMS. You went int to the hospital to have an operation to save your life, which it did, but also gave you HIV via a transfusion. This is not irony, it’s tragedy of the first order. If it had only been six months later, this would not have happened.

Closure? No, I hate that term. I’ve never experienced it when it comes to this. I’ve come to terms with it, but I’ll never close the door regarding my feelings on this.

Love you, Dad. Myself, Philip and mom miss you…

Dad - Navy boot camp 1943

A valentine….

What is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing.” – author unknown

I’m very lucky.

Six years ago, I made a major life decision that was needed, but wound up causing immense pain to the woman I was married to for 21 years. Our relationship had been deteriorating for some time, and we both knew it. One of us had to do something, as we were both suffering. That task fell to me, and I made the decision to leave the marriage, initially separating, but later on she initiated the divorce. I guess it was her way of maintaining some control over things.

Shortly before the divorce went through, I became reconnected with a college friend that I had not seen in a few years. Patti and I met my first night in the dorms at the University at Buffalo back in 1981. We became friends quickly, hanging around with the same crew of people on the floor. Now, when I say friends, I mean just that. Friends. Not “friends with benefits,” just friends.

After my graduation in 1985 (Patti graduated the year beforehand), we stayed in touch, and she even attended my wedding in 1989. We lost touch for a long period of time, and as I found out many years later, was living in NYC for three years, working as a speech language pathologist in a school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We would reconnect after my move to Rochester in 1999, but again, lost touch.

Flash forward to 2010: A mutual friend gets in touch with me, and I asked her if Patti was still living in Syracuse. She was, and said friend gave me her contact information. I gave her a call, and we began talking. That’s how it began, small talk that grew into my bouncing opinions off of her. It turns out she had been through something similar with her ex-partner some years prior. Patti can be brutally honest, which is what I needed at the time. I was wracked with guilt over the separation, Having a woman’s point of view helped to clarify ertain feelings I was having, in addition to the help from an excellent therapist.

I drove out to Syracuse from Rochester to have lunch with her one day, and discovered that our lives had taken somewhat parallel courses. She taught in one of the toughest areas of NYC, and now was teaching in the toughest area of the Syracuse school district. She dealt with some of the same things that I dealt with while working as a paramedic in Brooklyn. We reminisced, and something just clicked.

I found myself running out to Syracuse more often for lunch with her. Then just before my divorce was finalized, our friendship took a turn to something more. We’ve been together ever since, something I hardly expected. The last thing I was looking for was another relationship so soon. It found me instead, and throughout all the turmoil of my illness, I could not have wished for a better person to go through my life with.

She has endured my illness, which was a hellish time as she never had to deal with something like this before. Now, she helps me through my post transplant rehabilitation, and we look forward to the day when I’m completely independent again. I could not have made it through the recurrence of my illness and transplant without her. Yes, she is a caregiver, in the traditional sense of the word, but she’s more than that.

I love her with all my heart.

The ACA, or How I learned to stop worrying and love Obamacare

“I’m going to regret this.” – C3PO

I’ve deliberately avoided getting into the fray regarding the Affordable Care Act, i.e. Obamacare, as it has a tendency to arouse arguments of a political nature. I deliberately avoided posting my thoughts on Facebook to avoid a flame war between both my conservative and liberal friends, the former seeing the ACA as an intrusion of government, and the the latter as something whose time has come. I can only relate my experience with it, as I am on SSDI and needed health insurance in a big way.

First, having previously been in the healthcare field for 23 years, I had an insight as to both sides of the coin as both a patient and a professional. The insurance industry leaves much to be desired, and certainly reforms were needed. There were – and still are – too many uninsured people here in the U.S., which is the only major country that does not guarantee healthcare as a right. Whether it is specificall a “right” is usually a sticking point. Personally, I think at least basic healthcare coverage should be a right, at least for all citizens.

I was extremely skeptical of the ACA when it was first proposed. There were things about it that I did like (no denial of coverage because of a previous condition), and things I didn’t (penalties for not having coverage, either fines or taxes), but decided to wait and see how things shook out. As it turned out, I wouldn’t have to wait long, as in 2012 I lost my job of seven years and was forced to go on COBRA. Now mind you, I was happy that I had COBRA coverage for three years, but unhappy at the high cost of the premium that went along with it.

COBRA covered all of my medical expenses nicely, via the same local BC/BS entity that my former employer used. As the three year mark approached, I had to start looking at other options, and fortunately that same entity was participating in the NY State of Health exchange. I decided to forego the web application in part, and speak with a human being at BC/BS. This lovely representative found a plan for me that was equal to what I was covered via COBRA, plus a few extra perks. Because my SSDI income was below a certain level, I was able to get a tax credit that wound up lowering my monthly premium by about $400.

“Wow,” I thought, “This really works!” Well come the new year this year, and the tax credit went bye-bye, and while I would  still be paying less for it as compared to COBRA, it was a little disheartening. Fortunately however, BC/BS came up with another plan that was even cheaper ($20 monthly premium), had the same coverage as the previous plan but with a few less perks. I would now need referrals for certain specialists, and the portability factor was not there. Small sacrifices at the end of the day, as I was now saving a ton of money both in premiums, and co-pays.

In short, for me the ACA has been a blessing. It fits in with  my needs perfectly, and while I still have reservations about certain aspects of it, on balance, it is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. I’m not sure what will happen next year as far as this premium is concerned, or if I will need to switch plans again, but for now it’s a good thing. Those who are vilifying the ACA need to take a step back and realize that while it might not be something they would want for themselves, there are many others in my situation for whom it works well.

Bumpitybump…

One of the things that a transplant patient needs to get used to are the bumps in the road on the way to recovery after surgery. Sometimes they’re speed bumps, sometimes potholes. The body has undergone a tremendous shock, adjusting to life with a foreign organ, massive amounts of medication initially, and a host of other things that need getting used  to. Such was the case with me last week.

I go every Thursday (for now) to the transplant clinic at Strong Hospital in Rochester, where I had my surgery. So while there last week, the unexpected happened. Apparently I was a bit dehydrated, and combined with the large amount of immunosuppression I’m on caused a strain on my kidneys. My main anti-rejection medication, Tacrolimus (Prograf), is known to have an effect on the kidneys. Combine that with the two other anti-rejection meds, and things need to be monitored closely, and adjusted down when needed. It was enough however to put me in the hospital for two days to “tweak,” – as my surgeon says – my kidney function.

The last thing that I wanted was to be back in the hospital after making progress at home. I was pretty upset, but I really didn’t have a choice. They didn’t want things to progress to the point where I would have been even worse. the problem was there were no beds on the transplant floor, so I had to spend the night in the ED until one opened up at about 3am. Oh joy. So multiple liters of IV fluid over two days, and a medication change later, I was sent home with orders to drink as much water as I could stand to avoid dehydration.

On the good news front, my appetite, which had been stalled for some time, has come roaring back. I seem to be hungry all the time, which is a good thing since I’m still almost 50 lbs underwweight. It does feel good to have my appetite back to where I was used to it.

So, life goes on, and hopefully, no more bumps.