Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Satan is spelled PHP

My rant against PHP.

You're REALLY going to want to read this, especially after what I have to say.

So, In July of 2010 I decide to FINALLY lose weight, call them up and ask about the program. They tell me (almost word for word from the brochure) what it entails, and send me a paper to have my doctor sign me up for. This was almost TWO YEARS ago, mind you. You get two payments: $500 after you lose 10% of your current weight and $1000 if you keep it off for a year. Max of $1500 per lifetime. Sounds good to me- what do I have to lose (pun intended)!

So I go to my first doctor's appointment weighing in at a whopping 256 lbs. If I had been thinking I would have started at my highest weight of 275, but I digress. I hand it over to my doctor who signs and faxes it in.

Move forward 8 months. March of 2011. I find out that I qualify for gastric bypass. I spend months researching, going to several different clinics to listen to their presentations, CALLING UP MY INSURANCE COMPANY TO ASK ABOUT BENEFITS (this will definitely come in to play later), and coming to a conclusion: I'm tired of being tired and huge. I'm only marginally making headway on my weight walking for an hour every morning and cutting my portions waaaaay (or should it be weigh) down. I talk it over with Scott (okay, maybe it was more like: “So, ummmmm, I've decided to get gastric bypass. You okay with that? 'Cause I might die, you know. It has happened. I want you to remarry, if I do. Just make sure she sings stupid songs at inopportune times, like me; it'll confuse the kids less. So...we're good?” So with his grunt and nod of approval (should I have talked to him while he was reading the newspaper?), I sign up. I spend about 10 more phone conversations WITH PHP DISCUSSING THE SURGERY. NO mention of the “inches away” plan, btw, and about a trillion with the Bariatric Clinic itself.

I find out that PHP will only pay $2500 towards the over $10000 cost of the procedure. “Well, that just about settles it. No surgery for me.” Then a miracle. The Bariatric Clinic calls and tells me that they will accept PHP's payment as full payment (I later find out this is ONLY for the clinic. They hit ALL OF US patients up a full month after our surgery with over $3000 in additional bills stating they are from the hospital and anesthesia and they weren't included in THEIR costs). So, the surgery is BACK ON!

The Clinic requires many weeks of classes, and PHP requires 6 months of doctor supervised weight loss before I can be eligible for the surgery. I make it. On August 13, 2011 I weigh in at 229 lbs. Officially at least 10% weight loss. Money, come to Momma. At the time they sent me my $500 check, I was scheduled for surgery for the first week of November. There's NO WAY PHP could say they didn't know about it.

November 7 was D-day. Scared to death of....well, death, I went into surgery sobbing like a baby and woke up screaming like a banchee. Apparently, they didn't believe me when I told them I take high-dose pain killers on a regular basis and they need to start me off at a high point. I crawled off the ceiling about an hour and a half later. Even Scott was yelling at the doctor to give me more drugs, and if you know Scott, yelling doesn't come naturally (when the kids aren't around, that is). So, several months of pure torture I won't go into right now. Not only physical, but mental as well. Then, of course, comes the additional $3000 in medical bills along with a letter saying PHP won't cover the mental exam that's required before the surgery (conveniently given to me AFTER the fact). So, financially, we're more than broke; Physically- I'm shedding weight like I'm Kate Moss prepping for a runway show. Not a joke. I don't think I stayed in one size for an entire week. Would I do it again, even with the $3k and other crap? In a heartbeat.

Fast-forward to August 20, 2012. One year after my $500 and I've certainly kept the weight off. Down to 144 to be exact. We have a basement that's crying to be finished and I'm checking the mailbox every 20 minutes for my $1000 bonus check. Nothing. Days pass. Nothing. Finally, on September 12 I finally call. “PHP How can I help you?” Asks a chipper voice that can only be fueled by several cups of caffeine. “Uh. Yes. I'm on the inches away program, and I've been waiting several weeks for my check, but it still hasn't come.” And let see, I'm using about $200 for lumber/screws/nails, a couple hundred for drywall, a few hundred more for carpeting. I was originally going to get Scott and I a new mattress set and some bedroom furniture, but decided we needed something for the whole family. “Okay. Let me check for you!” Paula Peppy replies. After about 3 ½ years she comes back. “Yep. It looks like you're ineligible because you had bariatric surgery.” She says with a smile I feel like smacking through the phone. “What. Are. You. Talking. About.” “Uh. Hold on, okay?” No. SOOOO not okay. Another day passes and Pukey Paula is back on. “Yeah. That's the deal. You're not eligible because you had surgery, and well, that makes you ineligible.” Still smiling through the phone says the obvious Harvard grad. “There was NOTHING on ANY papers I signed that said ANYTHING ABOUT THIS!! YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! THIS IS A LOAD OF CRAP!” I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say I went on at length. Here's the clincher: She said they don't inform the PHP members, necessarily, but “the doctor's should know about it and they should have told you”. Oh, REALLY? You don't feel this falls under, perhaps, YOU'RE JURISDICTION?

I actually received the rejection letter the same day (of course). It states that “We will provide you, free of charge, the internal rule, guideline or policy used in making this determination.” Okay, is it just me, or is an internal rule a little like a three-year old making up the game as he goes along. Is this rule invisable or kept under lock-and-key? Does ANYONE have access to that information, or were we supposed to hire a Psychic to find out all our health benefits? Stop me when I reach the correct one.

Well, I told them I would contact every Newspaper, radio station and TV network I could find as well as the Indiana Insurance Commissioner and an Attorney (any pro-bono takers out there?)! But, of course, first I have to blog about it.

So, I foresee my next few months battling with the insurance company (because the IRS just isn't fun enough) in what will probably be a total loss. In case you haven't heard, our family doesn't do very well in court cases.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Taste Testing: Grace Island Baked Cheese Crisps

Okay, if you don't know by now, I'm a sucker for just about anything free. So, when a friend asked if I would sample some Baked Cheese Crisps from Grace Island Foods ( ) I was TOTALLY going for it. Free is one thing, Free FOOD is even better!! As it turns out, the snacks were delivered to us on a Sunday that we had to stay after church for a while, so by the time we were in the van we were FAMISHED and tore into these crackers like there would be no tomorrow. So, in all actuality, I'm not only going to give you my honest (they did say an HONEST opinion), but I'm going to let my kids and husband give you theirs as well.

When I was first told about these, I was pretty excited. I'm quite restricted as to what foods I can eat now, and these snacks fit right in with what is allowed. Even the ingredient list is READABLE (cheese, egg white, sesame seed, garlic, onion, salt, spices). That's almost unheard of in a grocery store nowadays! So, here is a rundown of the different cheese crisps we tried and what we thought of them:

Baby Swiss: Tanya: I'm a swiss cheese LOVER so I was excited to try these. When you look at them, they look just like what happens when some cheese leaks out of a burrito onto your cookie sheet and gets cooked there. The crisps were definately....well, crispy! It had just a hint of swissy taste to it, and was pretty....okay.  Not remarkable, but not bad. I was hoping for a little more swiss flavor, but I thought it was decent. Katye: The swiss was really, really good. It was one of my favorites.  (Considering Kayte is our semi-vegetarian and world class picky eater, this is rarely heard from her describing ANY food) Aidan: GOOD! I really liked ALL of them. 
Bottom line: So, while it was only okay for me, the fact that my pickiest eater and other kids liked it, and the fact that it's super healthy would leave me to purchase these for a snack...well, depending on the price I guess.

Asiago: Kayte: This was the BEST one. It was a lot like the swiss, but with a lot more flavor. Tanya: I have to agree with Kayte on part of that, it definately had more flavor than the swiss; but I enjoyed the more subtle swiss. I thought this was a little too sesame seedy for my taste. Aidan: This was kinda yummy. Scott: Not very cheesy tasting, just salty enough. Okay tasting.
Bottom line: I would probably buy this if Kayte chipped in some money, but she was the only one who really loved this kind.

Parmesan & Italian Herb: Tanya: I was really disappointed in this one. I was expecting to get a really good burst of Italian flavor, but it was really sub-par. None of the kids really liked this one either. I think with a little recipe tweaking this could be quite yummy, but, as is, it's not. Amelia: This one was my favorite! Kayte: This one wasn't my favorite but it was good.
Bottom Line: For some reason, Scott didn't get one of these, but everyone's basic opinion Except for Mimi who chose these as her favorites. SO, if she wanted to chip in some moolah to buy some, I might go for it.

Romano & Black Pepper: Tanya: Okay, I've saved this one for last. Our entire family has one opinion, while Aidan is on the opposite side. My very first reaction is that...uh....yuck would be an understatement. I honestly thought it tasted like bile. I didn't even make it past a nibble. In fact I BARELY made it past the smell. I don't know that a single person in our family took more than a nibble off a corner...except Aidan. He INHALED them!! He would patiently wait while someone tried one, then  (drooling) jump up and attack the crisp as if he had never had a meal in his life. In fact, just TALKING about the crisps makes him want some more. Ava: This doesn't taste very good, but it's a little crunchy. Hope (Ava's friend): I thought it was good, but at the end it wasn't very good at all.
Bottom Line: If I were you, I would DEFINATELY try a sample of this before buying a large bag. It will not be on our family's grocery list.

So, there you have it. Take it or leave it, it's our very humble family's (and Hope's) opinion.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baby #6 at Our House

A good friend of ours has been in the hospital the last few days, so we are able to bless our home with Baby #6 for a few days! To be honest, I was kind of hoping for a screaming, demanding, high-maintenance baby. I've had the 'baby itch' for the last couple of years; SCOTT, on the other hand, has taken plenty of anti-itch medication (also known as the common teenager). Maybe it's BECAUSE we have teenagers that I have this urgency to have something cute and cuddly that responds GRATEFULLY to every small offering. A little being who offers a smile whether you offered one or not. Someone who loves unconditionally, without wanting the car keys in return.

As I was saying, I was (kind of) hoping for a reminder of how demanding a baby can be, but ended up with what I can only determine is the world's happiest baby. Because his Mom had to go into the hospital urgently, Baby Boy came with very few directions. Luckily, I have at least 5 children I haven't managed to damage beyond repair, so I figured we could wing it. This little cutie has been SO accommodating, that he just rolls with the punches. Speaking of roll, he's also JUST starting to get up on all fours and rocking back in forth and managing to scoot himself forward with each try. He's perfectly content to lay on his tummy on a blanket and aim himself towards his favorite toy (or our dog/cat) and work on reaching his goal. Very inspiring.

Of course, the other kids are all having a field day with him as well. Aidan looks like a proud papa every time he holds him. He always brings him around to whoever is around and shows off how smiley he is and how much he loves to be in Aidan's arms. Kate (who is fairly certain she's allergic to infants) is even smitten with him. As long as he doesn't need a diaper change, that is. And Baby Boy seems to be quite smitten with Kate. She better get used to boys drooling over her. Ava FINALLY has someone to take care of, and she does her very best to tend to his every whimper. She has finally found an outlet and a listening ear for all of her singing. Enoch has discovered that babies don't like the scary version of Peek-A-Boo, and that his deep voice can really disarm a crying baby. Amelia, of course, is in Mommy heaven. Even the poopiest of diapers hasn't turned her off.

And Scott and I? Well, Scott is keeping a smiley distance. He thinks the baby is cute and SUPER easy going, but he's not about to get too close for fear of catching the dreaded 'baby wanting disease'. Myself? Heavenly Father has wisely given me a seriously painful kidney stone as a reminder that, even though the baby may be easy-going, that doesn't necessarily mean that the lives AROUND the baby will be as easy.

All in all- we are LOVING every precious moment we have with this little guy, while praying that his beautiful and loving Mommy will get better soon. I'm certain she's desperate to get back to the world's best baby.

Back on the Wagon

To say I "fell off the wagon" is quite an understatement. More like "fell off the face of the earth"! Well, I will make no promises again, apparently they scare me off; so, I'll just do the best that I can!

I'd try and go back and re-hash everything that has happened since the beginning of the year.....but that would take two months to record, and I promised myself that I didn't have to if I would at least blog SOMETHING!! So......

I just finished reading a book titled We Need to Talk About Kevin. I go through 2-4 books each week, but this book took me a week to finish by itself. It took so long because I would have to read a 'normal, happyish' book in between chapters. Sometimes I wouldn't even make it to the end of a chapter. If you haven't heard the premise (it's also being made into a move- of course- anything this disturbing and unpleasant is BOUND to be a blockbuster), it's about a teenager who goes on a school shooting rampage, and the book is a series of letters written from his Mother to his Father. She basically 'fesses up' to the fact that she NEVER loved her son, was ALWAYS scared of him, and it was bound to happen. She tries to take the blame, but in a desperate "this is what I'm supposed to do" type way. It is a pathetic book, to say the least, and yet I found myself coming back to it again and again. I imagine much in the same way that people can't help but look at a car wreck to see if they can see anything. It puts motherhood on the same level as some pathetic job you HAVE to do, just because someone tells you you should. At the end, there's a hint of emotional connection between the mother and the son, and by that point you're SO DESPERATE for any type of bonding between the two, your brain tells you that the piddly amount that is shown is magnified into a real 'breakthrough'. This book/movie is another very obvious attempt from Satan to convince the world that the very nature of motherhood is pathetic, and when our children exercise their free agency, there is still some blame to be put on those who raised them. I'll step off my soap box now.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy 2012!!


You know you're so totally over the hill when you go to bed at 11:45 on New Year's Eve. You also know your KIDS know you're too old, when they don't even BOTHER to come in 15 minutes later to wish you a Happy New Year. Nope, not even the 6 year old (although she might have fallen asleep- I came out at 2am and she's sprawled half off of the couch).

So, at 2:15am I am now wide awake (ill) and wishing it were 11:45 so I could just go to sleep, but alas. It isn't meant to be. SOOOO I decided to blog.  About nothing. Well, not about NOTHING just what I just told you......(and cue the lights...fade out......hopefully)

So Watch Out 2012!  Here come the Hepworths!!