The Trust Fund Disease


As many Americans head towards retirement, and the sandwich generation are taking care of kids, as well as their parents, we learn more about Trusts in all forms.  Estate trusts leave yearly income to relatives lucky enough to inherit it.  There are some things in life that are necessary, costly and expensive but they shouldn’t require a trust fund to pay for them.  Of what am I speaking?

March is Endometriosis awareness month.  1 in 10 women, or 10% have endo and about $10 million in research is done each year, 10% of the population has diabetes and $10 Billion is set aside for that research every year. Of course, diabetes affects men as well as women. There’s the rub.  As a woman who has had endometriosis since I was 17 I’ve gone through 30 something doctors specifically for this disease.  I’ve traveled over states, and hundreds of miles to find the right answer, the right treatment, the right understanding.  There is no cure. There are many treatments, but one in particular is shrouded in false information from its maker and can cause several nasty side effects although many gynos push it as they get paid from the maker to do so – Lupron. Good skilled surgeons, doctors who know how to treat this disease are few, and far between.

The so called “specialists” who treat the disease with excision surgery are a handlful in this country. There are several in New York City but most do not take health insurance. The costs for such a surgery average $20K and up.  There are many women who pay of pocket for such surgeries.  It’s normal with this disease to have several surgeries over the course of your lifetime.  Sometimes you can get your insurer to cover out of network costs but it’s appeal and lots of work to get there.  Nothing is certain but in network care most of the time. Private practice practitioners who will work out of a few different hospitals say that this is the case  because they take longer in surgery, do more, than those who do take health insurance and most insurers will not cover that.  Sadly, no doctor is perfect and those private docs make mistakes from time to time, and repeat surgeries become necessary.  That’s right – you pay out of pocket yet again.  No problem for the trust funders, but a problem for everyone else.  When you find the rare specialist who does take insurance and is known for excision as well as robotic surgery, which is now the preferred surgery method,  there are still out of pocket expenses.  Insurance doesn’t cover every medical charge, co-insurance can be as high as 25% so even after coverage, the patient is left with a five figure bill to pay on top of monthly premiums and deductibles.  This has got to change. Women’s health has long been the long lost cousin of medical research dollars.

If endometriosis were somehow a man’s disease, there would be 100 men on the floor of Congress waving bills for research funding to find a cure.  I find myself facing another, 6th, surgery at the end of this month, one I expect to be my last!  Doubling over randomly in the past year due to sudden groin pain while walking, standing, sitting and sometimes even at doctor appointments has led me to this decision.  Women’s health deserves as much attention as men’s health.  Spread the awareness.

Fireworks 7217


Every Step I Take…

(Hiking the Akinase Ridge in the Mohave Desert in Utah, I huffed and puffed as I climbed 1200 feet up into the ridge but Nothing happened to my knees or joints. Oh, yeah, I did get some big blisters.  Blah!)01a3f2a534a25b7925ea667eb0b3c3ef31dfe113fc

August 30, 2016 I went to the ocean to enjoy the last weekend of August at one of the best beaches I know.  I’ve done it dozens and dozens and dozens of times over my life.  I’ve cut my feet on shells, razor clams and the like to no big concern.  This time while exiting the rough water, there were five feet waves and rip tides due to the Tropical Storm down south, I was feeling hesitant.  No one really swims at the ocean, you body surf or bob up and down in the waves just off shore.  I’ve walked, jogged and ran over sand many times over my life with no consequence.  This time however, I was left stupefied by the Popping sound heard coming from my left knee.  Was that my knee I said out loud?  What was that?  Like a champagne cork but no bubbly to be seen.  I stood staring at my knee and turned left just to get walloped by an incoming wave.  That wave knocked me over!


A woman nearby came running over to me and asked if I was okay?  No, I said.  I heard my knee pop and was afraid to move.  Her daughter was bobbing up and down in the waves happily and carefree. She said ice it when I get home. I did get out of the water and another beach goer said to me, “I saw what happened are you okay?”  No, I heard my left knee pop but I can walk on it and there’s no pain.  “Use ice a lot,” said the stranger.  It felt weird but I could walk on it.  Took all my beach gear and went back across the wide sand to my car.  No, happy hour and last band of the summer for me!

The next day my knee was blown up swollen and couldn’t walk on it or bend it.  Ugh!! What followed was even worse. I couldn’t find a doctor, Orthopedist who took my New York Health Market insurance plan.  Or, the doctor did but was on vacation or booked.  I ended up at the ER the next day.  With an x-ray it confirmed moderate swelling.Really?  I had no bones broken and the ER doctor pulled my calf and bent my leg and pulled on it.  He thought my ligaments were strong. However, I told him of the Wiggly feeling I had and screamed when I felt my knee going sideways.  I left with gifts!  Crutches and the Immobilizer!  So, I left in a wheelchair with crutches and a brace that will  not let my knee bend!knee-sprain

Hence immobilizer.  They said the POP was most likely a Meniscus tear and several internet searches yielded the same conclusion.  Just got an MRI today and I have a visit with Orthopedist this Friday so will find out the results then. Until then, every step I take, is planned, short and careful.  Do you know how many steps it is back and forth in your bedroom to get ready in the morning for the day?  Seriously, more than I ever gave a thought to.






It’s three months into the new year. How we doing?  Ed Koch had that quintessential phrase follow him around for years.  He had the nerve to ask people and they told him.  Since January I’ve been overwhelmed with the antagonistic nature of the new health insurance that is mandated.  My old insurance which I had for five years was a PPO.  Not great but covered everything I needed it to and though there were glitches in time where a doctor or two didn’t accept it, in time all the doctors I needed to see did.  That’s not the case with this new insurance regime.

First of all: New York State created their own health marketplace instead of opting to use the Federal health channel.  Citizens of New York be heard “You cannot have a PPO as an individual member.”  Options are gone. Although there are different insurance agencies that offer coverage – all benefits are the same – all are HMO’s for individuals and no more sole proprietor status.  Sole proprietors are now lumped into individual category which were always those who didn’t work, or couldn’t work, and had a higher premium attached to it than a sole proprietor.  Promised last fall by the insurers that if a doctor of hosptial took their current HMO then they would take the new one through the healthmarketplace.  However, not so. Come January 2014 this health debacle unfurled a nastly reality. All is not the same.  Doctors were being told “they could not participate”, or they were in fear of even lower reimbursement rates than medicare participants so they opted not to take it at all.  It was three weeks before I ever got my ID number and that was after calling three different times and waiting an hour and fifteen minutes each time to speak to a BCBS representative.

If it wasn’t for my tenacity and persistence I would have been like thousands who just never got the ID card or number for the month of January. One thing I will say they are up on is sending out the monthly premium bill.  In fact I got two for the month of January!

Why isn’t this mess on the evening news a few days out of the week? This is something I don’t understand.  New York State screwed its citizens with or without the Cuomo administration knowing what was going on.  According to the New York State Attorney General’s office there are thousands a week filing complaints regarding lack of coverage or misleading information that led people to believe they had one coverage then the insurance companies turned it around and changed provider networks. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the largest  health insurance carrier in New York state and has had the most complaints. All Blue Cross Blue Shield across the country is now under Wellpoint a public company that seems to care more about its stock price then the care hundreds of thousands who signed up for coverage with them expect.  Changes are a coming. How we doing?  Not well.

Summertime and the Feet

OK it has been a while since a new original post of mine has come your way.  I’ve been preoccupied with summer, family, and the feet.  That is right the feet.  I had a blow out in a Flip-Flop in early June.  I didn’t take it too seriously after all, things can and do happen.  After a third episode of pain on the bottom of the foot and a trip into NYC that required a lot of walking it was time.  I told a friend of mine who is a nurse and they said – “it sounds like plantar fasciitis.”  What to do?

Sneakers, some foot therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications are the treatment.  All of us regardless of our circumstances could use that combination at many times throughout the year. 

So, it is with due authority I show you the culprit. 

Flip Flop circle

If you start in Flip-Flops, then flats, you will end up in sneakers.  People beware! 

A Flip-Flop blowout can happen to you too. 

Lesson: Take care of the feet or they will take care of you.

Happy Holidays! You have more cancer… (Original post 11/10)

  Not really the greeting anyone wants to hear.  Anytime of the year bad news hurts.  It concerns, it worries, it makes people breathe less, bite their nails, become silent, sleep less, exercise more or less and overall stresses.  When it comes to holiday time and by that I do mean between Thanksgiving and Christmas time of year it stings all the more.  Why?  Well, it is Holiday time!  You know, the joyful time of year that is made  of eating, cooking, family and joy on abundance.  No one has the perfect plan, the perfect meal or the perfect family in retrospect but at Holiday time we are all supposed to.  That is stressful enough in and of itself but when you get a bad diagnosis, it brings you down to the ground all that much faster.

Recently my dad got this bad news.  Why now?  Why this time of year which seems to emphasize the emotional side of it all so much more?  It isn’t my calendar or my wishes and the lack of control over such things is part of the difficulty in dealing with it.  If I were to plan such things, this would happen just after his birthday in April, spring time.  Why?  The weather would be warming up, the landscape a little more enjoyable to view and take in.  What is that saying, ” Now is the winter of our discontent”, a famous literary phrase.  Seems apropos in this instance.  What comes next?  Some more tests, diagnosis, and perhaps a treatment.  Everyone must face their ending at sometime on this earth.  How to deal effectively, positively and with faith is the challenge.  All one can do is prepare as much upfront as possible before the final diagnosis is given.  You want to leave a strong foundation and reputation if you care at all about your legacy. 82 years is nothing to sneeze at, in fact it is something to be glad of.  You should be proactive about your own health care and if you don’t get answers or the right care from any physician, move on, find one you can easily talk to and most importantly trust with your life.  Trust should be earned and not given freely.  If you find an untrustworthy physician and you feel you are being taken advantage of – speak up, complain, and let those who are in authority over them know what has transpired.

Happy Holidays!  Not really. But, we can still take in the joy and peace of the present, before the future arrives.  There is peace in the present and memories still to be made and enjoyed and that in itself can be a Holiday.

(My dad passed away three weeks after I wrote this two years ago.  He had Hospice care.  We never knew how long  he had but I certainly didn’t expect 3 weeks.  They are some of the most amazing people you will ever meet those in Hospice care.  For anyone going through serious illnesses at Christmas or Holiday time, I can relate and hope that this post resonates empathy with you.)

Rules of Engagement

Return on Engagement or ROE is getting more attention in the social media space.  Where as ROI, or return on investment has been the norm in analytical settings more companies are looking to engagement as the best outcome.  Social media doesn’t guarantee  hits, or viewers as traditional advertising does.  But, it can reach thousands in niche spaces that a company, product or service, so desires.  It  can also reach to employees within a company to communicate fitness, positive behavior, social corporate responsibility and more.

At a recent #BDI (business development institute) event focusing on social media and internal communications the focus and take away from most of the presentations were around engagement.  One company used social media for their healthcare program.  Their health insurer #AETNA partnered with a company called #Shape-Up who asks employees to keep a page on their site and post health tips, tune-ups and various information.  This is measured and even when someone has left the company you can see on their page how much influence they had with other employees.  Influence measured by re-posts, comments, and likes.

Can you directly measure in dollar amounts the value of social media?  The simple answer has been no.  What you can measure is engagement, involvement to a certain degree.  On Twitter you have followers and you can see how many you have. The same case on Facebook but they are called – friends or likes for pages.

 Engaging Software: #Salesforce’s Chatter  has been making a buzz around the internal communications pool.  Lauded for it’s easy layout, and companies worried about regulations such as banking, finance like #Newsgator by Jive software for their control mechanisms.

Software can measure engagement, influence.

Employee reviews now can take into account employee influence.

Start Internally

Many companies mentioned that starting internally is a lot safer than immediately going to Twitter or Yelp.  Choose employees to Tweet on behalf of the overall company is a great tool especially when you have  a limited staff  Xylem and Wells Fargo said they utilized this practice.  Wells Fargo also gave an example of having a Twitter Chat while one of their executives was live on CNBC which netted them additional interviews with  The Wall Street Journal and others.

The focus on getting engagement from their employees has paid off.  At Xylem which makes solar water pumps they reward their employees with trips where their product is in use – primarily third world countries.  While not everyone wants to go those that do get to take pictures, tweet about it and when they come back tell their story on the company Blog.  CSR is taken very seriously at this company and the rewards are welcomed by the employees.

5 Take Aways for Social Media Engagement inside a Company

1) Empowering employees to make positive changes in their lives whether it’s weight loss or fitness.

2) Building morale, community and teamwork amongst employees.

3) Increase in employee engagement for the company and a feeling of increased value for the employee.

4) Effecting positive behavior changes in employees from unengaged to engaged.

5) Cost effective across the entire company.

Number five is probably what most people feel will sell it to the company.  It really takes very little to manage and the effects can be far-reaching.  So from what was the intranet to social media for internal communication the bridge has been crossed.  More software is being developed to gain chatter and measure influence.

Clear the Clutter

Happy New Year Everyone! Isn’t that what you are supposed to say. Out with the old in with the new but what is really new so far, other than the year? Keeping up in the new year should follow keeping up with all that is important in your life.

Resolutions maybe passe but what is true is if you don’t take care of the basics in your life, much chaos can occur.  So here is a list of important things to remember to take care of as the new year progresses.  You can add some of your own if I missed any.

1) Health – keep up with your check-ups, body, mind, teeth so that your body can keep up with all you need and want to do in this new year.  Lots of medical tests (blood tests) look for hidden factors that may affect you down the line.  Keep up with your internist and other specialists so you aren’t sitting on the side lines when you want to be participating.

2) Car -Transportation – keep your car well cared for or you will not have any transportation.  Keeping up with scheduled maintanence checks means cutting big costs for repairs down the road.  Believe me, you don’t want to face costly repairs at any time.

3) Relationships. Whether personal or professional, it’s tough to mend broken  bridges so keep up the communication between you.  If you disagree, say so and work it out.  Keeping true to what’s important in life between the two of you is key in resolving disagreements and moving on.

4) Work.  Whether you work for yourself or someone else, stay on top of the trends in your industry. Knowing what is going on around you makes you better informed and more valuable than someone who doesn’t keep up with trends.

5) Take advantage of opportunities to grow!  Personally, professionally.  This is the year you should (if you haven’t already) look into broadening your horizons – hobby groups, seminars, Webinars, a continuing  ed class or even back to school for new training.  If you aren’t happy where you are, doing what you are doing, look around for new opportunities.

Forewarned is forearmed!  Now that  you are informed you have no where to go but ahead.   Staying positive and correcting your course when need to are also good rules to follow so you don’t get stuck on the side of life’s road while your friends and others pass you by.  Here’s to a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year for sure!