Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Friday, December 08, 2006

The oldies radio station here has been playing nothing but Christmas carols since the end of November. It’s enough to make an almost sane person cross the line.  Since I barely register as almost sane, I’m the person in the car next to you who is screaming at her radio.  You don’t even want to know what I’m saying.  Suffice to say that it’s not exactly in the Christmas spirit...whatever that might be.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:13 AM •
Thursday, December 07, 2006

My brother and two male cousins, friends for almost sixty years, are putting up a shelf in my sister’s closet.  As these three New Jersey Italian males stand there in the closet, each with his own idea of who should be holding what at what angle, one says, “Can anyone find a stud in here?” I have to run up the stairs to keep my head from exploding.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:53 AM •
Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I recently got sick while visiting the East Coast. I was in Center City Philadelphia and could find no walk in clinic so I ended up at the emergency room of the Jefferson Hospital.  Since my cousin Joe has a large portrait of himself in their lobby because of his pioneering work as a doc in their ER, I figured I was golden.  I’d drop his name a few times and get the red carpet treatment.

Well, I dropped his name as loudly and as frequently as I could and it got me nowhere. One nurse did admit that she’d been there long enough to remember him but no one else was the slightest bit impressed. In the end, dropping his name got me a cot in the hallway after waiting five hours to be treated.
As I sat there thinking I’d surely die of whatever bug had gotten hold of me on my plane flight East, I became vaguely aware of the people and problems around me.  It didn’t take long to figure out that for many people there, this was their health care system.  They had no other.  Seeing the same health care provider twice for their problem was just a distant dream. Being seen in an office not even that.
We talk a lot about health care in this country. For those of us lucky enough to have coverage, the conversation is just that - conversation.  We may groan and complain about how long we have to wait to get an appointment or how long we have to sit once we get to the doctor’s office, but the bottom line is that we have access to that office and a means of paying for it.  Too many people in this country are not so lucky.
So I sat there on that bed in a hallway and wondered how much I would access care if this was the only care I could reach.  How often would I bother to hang around for five hours to be seen by someone for whom I was just the next set of symptom amidst a crowded field of people with symptoms? Most likely I’d wait until it was a crisis and I had no choice.
That decision is costly not only to the person who makes it but to the society that ultimately bears the price of treating a condition that has been left too long untreated. As a diabetic, I know that it is easier to treat my diabetes now than it would be to treat the complications that can arise if I don’t. Insulin is cheaper both for society and me than amputations or blindness.
So the question is why this country is having such a difficult time figuring out how to make sure that no one in our society falls through the cracks of the health care system. Poor people have Medicaid. It may not be much, but it’s something.  Older Americans have Medicare. Again, not the ideal but at least a safety net of sorts. Some workers are lucky enough to have employers who provide health care in some form or another. 
But there is a whole world of people in America who make too much to quality for government programs but too little to be able to afford health insurance and their employers offer them no options for coverage either.  For them, the world is a harsh place if they even so much as have a toothache.
The sign in the Jefferson ER made it clear that they would treat you if you needed help regardless of your ability to pay.  Which is a fine and noble sentiment except that in the end, someone has to pay. And that someone is all of us. We pay with higher premiums for our health insurance. We pay every time the hospital charges us $225 for the plastic bedpan they provide.  We pay because the working poor end up not working when they get so ill they need to go to the ER for care and, voila, they are then eligible for Medicaid. 
We pay because people who have to wait until they are so sick they can no longer function, end up becoming dependent on society to care for them.  If they had been able to afford care from the beginning, they might have been able to remain contributing members of the workforce.
I don’t know what the answer is but I do know that what I saw at the ER that long afternoon was not the way a country as rich as America should be handling the health care of its citizens.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:04 AM •
Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Are you aware that there is something called the Bedazzler being sold on TV that puts sequins on your clothes?  There’s a whole world out there that I simply don’t understand.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:49 AM •
Monday, December 04, 2006

To all subscribers to my website mailing list. I don’t have a clue what to use it for but you’ll be the first to know if I figure it out.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:47 AM •
Sunday, December 03, 2006

Here’s the way it goes with me and my sister. She came upstairs wearing a pair of pants and asked me if I thought they looked too big. I told her they looked like something I would wear and she would argue with me about.  I didn’t have to say anything else. They’re at the tailor’s.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:45 AM •
Saturday, December 02, 2006

Time spent in airports is time lost forever from your life. It can never be recouped and it only subtracts from the quality of your life.  Reading ameliorates this condition only to the extent that you can still focus on the text after sitting for eight hours waiting for a delayed flight after you’ve already been traveling for 10 hours. We can send people to the moon in more comfort than we can travel in airports.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:42 AM •
Friday, December 01, 2006

Any MacDonald’s product eaten in an airport while waiting for a flight that has been delayed more than one hour has no calories or ability to clog your artieries.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:40 AM •
Thursday, November 30, 2006

If a politician can’t go on the Daily Show and “get it”, they don’t deserve my vote.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:38 AM •
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mr. T came home a few days ago. He joins Morris the bird on my little table. It’s good to have him back. Now I can say goodnight to him again like I did for the past 16 years.  To all those wonderful people who called and sent cards, let me say thank you.  It’s nice to know this state is filled with people who can love pets so much and be so kind. I think that bodes well for our future.

Meanwhile, I went to Friends of Pets and found two wonderful new friends who are helping to fill the gap left by Mr. T.  It’s a large gap but I think these two are up for it. 
They are an odd couple, to say the least.  Blue is a lot of blue heeler with a little bit of something else.  She worries a lot.  After all, she’s come to a home with quite a large and diverse herd and it’s not easy to keep us all together so she can finally get a good night’s sleep. 
For starts, she can’t figure out how to get the downstairs and upstairs birdcages herded together so she can keep an eye on all of them at once. And I’m infamous for being restless and going up and down the stairs a million times a day. Sometimes I see a look of resignation in her face as she heaves herself up after finally having five minutes of peace to follow me up the stairs again.  I realized quickly that there would be no convincing her that she could just wait for me at the bottom of the stairs.
But how could I resist the allure of an older dog with diabetes that needed insulin every day. It’s like we were made for each other. Now I have someone right in my home to compare blood sugars with and to gloat over when mine are better than hers.  It’s a match made in heaven.
Her gal pal Blondie is the polar opposite. Blondie has a little of a lot of breeds in her and the result is a dog who is basically very happy she’s a dog.  Everything is utterly fascinating and amusing to her. A leaf that blows by, a snowflake that falls on her face, a drop of rain that hits her head - all are greeted with wonder and joy.  She’s one of those dogs who, if she could talk, would probably spend a lot of time saying, “I’m a dog!  I’m a dog!  Life is great!  I got to sniff things today.  I got to chew something unrecognizable from the street today.  I got my belly rubbed.  I’m a dog. Ain’t’ life grand?”
We have had a few moments in the adjustment period where I thought I might actually be in control of my animals this time. Luckily that moment passed and I am back to the happy acceptance that I’m just one vote among many when it comes to issues affecting my little household. For instance, I thought that since I earned the money that bought the kibbles that keeps everyone happy and well fed, I should get a majority of the room on my bed.  I was obviously wrong.  There are three of us who need to be accommodated and two of the three of us apparently need to stretch their legs out as far as possible in marking their portion of the bed. But I don’t mind clinging to that last three inches they leave me in exchange for the warm bodies that snuggle next to me on cold nights.
Getting used to walking two dogs at once took a little more adjusting.  Here’s what I’ve definitely learned from the experience. You can’t tie the bag you’ve scooped the poop with when you have a dog leash in each hand. You have to carry it home untied until you put them in the house and have a free hand to dispose of the bag.  And when you are carrying an untied bag of scooped material, you should not swing that hand over your hand while twirling around to untwist the dogs’ leashes.  Let’s just say it can cause some things to become fast traveling projectiles that should probably stay in the bag.
My African Gray parrot Abdul used to call Mr. T every morning when it was time for him to wake up and go out.  He hasn’t said T’s name since the day Mr. T crossed the Rainbow Bridge. But he still yells, “Go out” the minute I get up in the morning. And the dogs respond with alacrity to his command.
My world is complete again. Mr. T is home. Abdul is in charge of everything. Blue covers our rear. Blondie reminds us all about the simple pleasures of life. And the other birds are once again on the phone to their attorneys asking if I can really bring not one, but two new dogs into their home.
Now if I could just get Blue and Blondie to share the blanket....

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:34 AM •
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

For years when I was preparing for a trip East I’d say I was going home to visit. I don’t know when that changed.  But one day I heard myself saying “I’m going East for a visit” and using the phrase “I’m going home” when I returned to Alaska.  Today I come home.  I miss my birds. I miss my dogs.  I miss my bed and my refrigerator and my computer with the big keyboard instead of the little keyboard on the laptop that makes my fingers feel like they are big fat salamis. I’m coming home.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:58 AM •
Monday, November 27, 2006

Everyone who votes must wear a blue armband. Everyone who is of age to vote and didn’t must wear a red armband.  If a red armband is ever heard complaining about politics or government or taxes, the blue armbands may pull out foam bats and beat the red armbands till they shut up.  Just an idea.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:54 AM •
Sunday, November 26, 2006

If Thanksgiving is turkey day, today is officially the day when you can admit that you don’t want to see or taste another piece of turkey for at least a year...unless, of course, someone makes you a great sandwich with turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce on crunchy bread with mayo and lettuce and the tiniest smattering of roasted pine nuts.  Yum. Yum.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:46 AM •
Saturday, November 25, 2006

Never get between any seemingly kind and gentle old man or lady and their penny slot machine, even if they are using four machines at once and can barely reach them all. It is not a wise move.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:42 AM •
Friday, November 24, 2006

I might have had the calories don’t count on Thanksgiving Day thing that I posted yesterday wrong.  Calories may actually count that are taken in at the holiday table.  Sometimes god just isn’t fair.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:35 AM •

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