Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2006 The Montage

I was looking around for a video and found this in my One True Media account. 2006 was such a fun year. =) It's so bittersweet to watch. I miss my girl so much.

**Pause the playlist at the bottom of the page before playing** =)

Today's Soap Box...

My 2 cents are added below the quote.

Chapter# 9/Page# 173 & 174
The Department of Defense (DoD) provides health care
benefits to family members of active-duty personnel
through a collection of health plans known as TRICARE.
There are currently three TRICARE plans from which
such beneficiaries may choose—Prime, Standard, or
Extra—and those beneficiaries pay no premiums or
enrollment fees for their coverage. TRICARE Prime is
operated much like a civilian health maintenance organi-
zation (HMO), with a military or civilian primary care
manager providing referrals to network providers. Family
members of active-duty personnel enrolled in TRICARE
Prime generally face no copayments at the point of ser-
vice, whether they receive care from a military or civilian
provider.1 In part because of the low out-of-pocket costs,
those beneficiaries have rates of utilization of services that
are substantially higher than those of a comparison group
in a civilian HMO.2 Family members who choose not to
enroll in Prime are covered by TRICARE Standard (the
program’s fee-for-service plan) or Extra (the program’s
preferred provider plan). Beneficiaries in those two
planshave a greater choice of providers but face deduct-
ibles and coinsurance rates that vary depending on the
type of service and whether the provider participates in a
TRICARE network.
Under this option, DoD would provide active-duty per-
sonnel who have dependents with a special $500 cash
allowance for health expenses while at the same time
increasing out-of-pocket costs for care received through
TRICARE Prime. The allowance would be nontaxable
(like the current housing allowance) and could be used in
one of two ways. Under the first alternative, family mem-
bers could use the allowance to help offset the out-of-
pocket costs of any of the current TRICARE plans
(Prime, Standard, or Extra). However, cost sharing under
TRICARE Prime would be altered to incorporate copay-
ments that would cover, on average, about 10 percent of
the cost of health care services obtained either at military
facilities or from civilian providers. Each TRICARE plan
would include an annual cap on out-of-pocket expendi-
tures to control the financial consequences of cata-
strophic illness. Under the second alternative, military
family members could show proof of insurance and apply
the $500 allowance toward their share of the premiums,
copayments, and deductibles of another health insurance
Currently, military treatment facilities (MTFs) do not
charge eligible individuals copayments for medical ser-
vices or pharmaceuticals. In order to reduce beneficiaries’
incentive to switch to MTFs and avoid the minimum
out-of-pocket requirements, DoD would need to estab-
lish procedures for collecting payments from TRICARE
beneficiaries seeking care from MTFs.
If implemented, this option would save about $3billion
in discretionary outlays over the next five years and
roughly $7 billion from 2010 to 2019. That estimate
incorporates the cost of the cash allowances and accounts
for the decreased demand for medical care among enroll-
ees that would result under the new plan. (The higher
out-of-pocket expenses would be expected to encourage
restraint in health care purchases.) The estimate also
accounts for the increased cost of the benefit for a small
number of eligible family members of active-duty person-
nel who do not use TRICARE but instead rely on an
employment-based health plan. Those beneficiaries cur-
rently cost the system nothing but would still receive the
cash allowance.
This option would also result in a small increase in man-
datory outlays resulting from some military dependents’
increased use of Medicaid services. In addition, federal
tax revenues would decrease somewhat as more depen-
dents of active-duty service members enrolled in private
insurance plans, which would yield a shift in compensa-
tion from taxable wages to nontaxable fringe benefits.
The degree of those two effects would depend on the spe-
cifics of any enacting legislation.
This option would offer several advantages. First, enroll-
ees in TRICARE Prime would have a stronger incentive
to use medical services prudently because they would be
responsible for a share of the cost. Second, the ability to
use the allowance to pay the premiums of another health
insurance plan would induce some spouses to enroll in
their employer’s plan rather than in TRICARE. That fea-
ture of the option would mean that some health care
costs would be shifted to the civilian employers of mili-
tary spouses, thus reducing DoD’s spending. Finally,
because family members would commit annually to
enrolling in a health insurance plan, total utilization of
services would be easier to predict than it is under the
current system, which allows users to join or leave at any
time. Thus, this option would improve resource planning
within the military health care system and allow DoD to
negotiate firmer contracts for pharmaceuticals and civil-
ian medical services. That advantage would exist even if
most beneficiaries chose to remain in one of the three tra-
ditional TRICARE plans.
This option would also have potential disadvantages.
Enrollees in TRICARE Prime would assume additional
risks and might face financial difficulties, despite the
plan’s cap on families’ annual out-of-pocket expenditures.
Moreover, families that obtained health insurance
through a spouse’s employer might have their coverage
disrupted if the active-duty service member relocated to a
new post. DoD would have to develop methods to pro-
rate cash allowances and deductibles for beneficiaries who
were forced to change from a private health care plan to
TRICARE coverage (or vice versa) midyear.

1. One exception is for pharmaceuticals. Beneficiaries who have
prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies or through mail order face
copayments of $3, $9, and $22, respectively, for generic, brand-
name formulary, and brand-name nonformulary medications.
Prescriptions filled at out-of-network retail pharmacies are
reimbursed at 50 percent of the cost. Prescriptions filled at
military treatment facilities are free.
2. DoD estimates that among TRICARE Prime enrollees, inpatient
utilization is 58 percent higher and outpatient utilization is
39percent higher than a civilian HMO comparison group. These
results were adjusted to reflect differences in age and sex among
the populations being compared. See Department of Defense,
Evaluation of the TRICARE Program: FY2008 Report to Congress
(February 29, 2008).

Obviously my family is not 'typical' when it comes to our healthcare experiences. I will admit that we consider ourselves very lucky to have had military health insurance. Hadley's medical bills, over the course of 4 years, were/are astronomical. Hospital and doctor bills reached a million dollars in her first 6 months of care for her brain tumor. Her Hospice care (4 1/2 months) was just over $25,000. Hadley's average number of hospital and doctor visits each month was anywhere from 1-10+ a month. That is just outpatient visits. She had an MRI, on average, every other month for 4 1/2 years. She required anesthesia for each so the bill was usually around $8-10 thousand each. I tell you all of this to illustrate just how much the changes in military health insurance would effect a family like ours.

I realize that most people out there who are fortunate enough to have health insurance at all have deductibles and cost share etc. I would like to point out a few differences though between civilian and military lifestyles. My husband is in the Coast Guard. He has not seen combat. He has not come back from war wounded or disabled. He has not been gone for 18 months at a time. However, my husband has been gone for months at a time, sacrificing time with our children and myself and putting his own safety on the line. We have sacrificed plenty so that my husband could do a job he loves and serve our country in the process. One of the biggest benefits of this job is the healthcare. Yes, it is free. Yes, it does cost the government a lot of money. I understand that. But, please don't try and balance out the overspending of our government by taking away the military and veterans biggest perk. The pay is bad enough (my husband is an E-5 with 9 1/2 years in. His base pay is $2670.90/month) as it is. If you make us pay for our healthcare we'll all 'tank' for sure. Especially those who do have family members with special health concerns. You won't be discouraging us from 'overusing' our benefit. You'll be bankrupting us. What scares me the most is that there is mention of a catastrophic cap but, there's no mention of how high it is. Our annual pay raises don't even keep up with the cost on inflation every year(I believe it was 3.5% this year), now they want to add to our expenses? *sigh*

I am thankful that this proposed plan wasn't released until after Hadley passed away. I probably would have been a wreck. I suppose I'll just have to hope and pray that Brandon and the boys and I stay healthy. We wouldn't want to cost the government too much. After all, my husband's $32,050.80/year salary (base pay) is probably a huge burden as it is. *eye roll*

Before I close I would like to add that back when the kids were babies we had a co-pay. If I remember correctly it was $3. Any appointment with your provider or a doctor your primary care doc referred you to. That wasn't a big deal, obviously. But throw deductibles or a 20% co pay etc on that and WOW. Scary. So then we'll either be even more broke or sick without access to healthcare. It seems to me that's just not a good situation. Especially since our husbands/wives/etc can be deployed at a moments notice.

I'm done...for now. Thank you for your time.

If you'd like to contact your congressman follow this link:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Valentine's Day Parties

Here are a few pics from Liam's Valentines Party and one of Keegan's. I was a little busier in Keegan's class and didn't take many pictures. (oops)

Keegan's Birthday Party...

Now that it's mid, almost late, February I figured I'd post Keegan's birthday pictures. =)

Here are a few from school:

Here are a few from Papa's Pizza:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Ugly Truth...

Because so many people have claimed to admire my strength and perseverance, I feel a need to share some 'weaknesses'.

1. My Hadley left this earth more than 2 months ago. Her room remains as it was the day the hospital came to pick up her specialty furniture. I haven't done ANYTHING with it. Her medications are all still where they sat the night she died. The night gown she wore to the funeral home is folded and sitting in her recliner. Her favorite books are sitting where the foot of the bed was. The sheets that were on her bed are draped on her chair. I can't bring myself to touch it, nor do I want to. I know I'll be ready eventually. Not yet.

2. I actually have days where I try not to think about the fact that she is gone. I would never go so far as to say that I lie to myself or try to convince myself she's NOT gone. I just try not to think about it.

3. I can't imagine getting old with my husband anymore. I am, by no means, ready to die...but, I can't imagine living without my girl for another 50+ years. It is just too much.

4. I blame Brandon's work schedule for keeping us out of therapy/counseling. The truth of the matter is I'm not ready to rip the band aid off yet. It hurts so much just to think about my girl...I can't imagine devoting time to sit with a stranger and analyze and share. Unbearable.

5. I am finally, two months later, getting to the point where I am letting myself actually feel some of the emotions that are running through me. I was talking with a nurse in my family doctor's office the other day. She was telling me how happy they always were to see Hadley and how she always just brightened up the whole office. I started tearing up and I was SO shocked and embarrassed. As I drove home I thought about how ludicrous it was that I would find crying so crazy. Ugh.

6. I have been home while the boys are at school and Brandon is at work for 2 months now. My house is a disaster area. Nothing is organized the way I'd like it to be, the painting that got dropped when Hadley declined hasn't been picked back up again, the garage is total chaos, and stuff that got shoved in my laundry area awaiting permanent 'homes' is still sitting there. What have I been doing? Oh, yes, keeping myself busy and trying to avoid my house. *sigh*

7. I've all but given up on handling 'business' type calls. I get frustrated, people are cranky and/or rude, I have to listen to sappy music that makes me cry...and I wind up in tears or irrationally upset over the stupidest things.

8. I sometimes think Hadley's cat, Baby Hope, is channelling her. Don't laugh. This cat is nuts. She sleeps and plays in the bathtub. Yeah.

You see, I am a mess like every other person out there. I just thought you should know. *snort* Now, maybe I'll feel more obligated to get some stuff done.

Monday, February 9, 2009


This is who I felt like this afternoon. Now, let me start at the beginning. Brandon FINALLY got a day off so, after hitting the gym, we went to Chang's Mongolian Grill for lunch. Then we headed downtown to Powell's Books. After a while my stomach was really hurting and I thought I ate too much. Within minutes the palms of my hands were painfully itchy and turning BRIGHT red. It spread quickly to my face, trunk and arms. I told Brandon we needed to go and by the time we'd walked to the car I was so swollen and red and itchy. Before we reached the freeway my tongue was swelling and I was having a hard time swallowing. I told Brandon he needed to hurry to the hospital. We were exiting the freeway and about a block away when I really started having a hard time breathing and pretty much panicked. For almost 2 months now all I've thought about is seeing and holding my sweet Hadley again. In those scary moments all I could think of was Brandon and the boys. This couldn't be happening to them. It just couldn't. I wasn't afraid for myself, I was afraid for them. So, so afraid. I was able to walk in to the ER and as soon as they saw me and I tried to speak they plopped me in a wheelchair and ran me back to a room. Before I could try to blink the room was full of docs and nurses and Brandon was still at the desk getting me checked in. They were hooking me up trying to get an IV started, and drawing meds up. All I could think of was Brandon and the boys and how I HAD to stay here with them. I couldn't be the cause of more pain for them. We were there for about 2 hours. Thankfully the epinephrine, benadryl and prendisone cocktail worked. The swelling and hives stopped and eventually started receeding. My vitals got back to normal etc. and I was released. I get to carry around an epi kit with me everywhere I go now. I have no idea what I ate that would have caused this. The assumed high rate of cross contamination at a place like Chang's makes it even harder to really pin point. So, I'm following up with my regular doctor tomorrow to see about some testing. Until I figure it out I think I'm going to be a bit paranoid.

I am still pretty puffy and itchy but, overall feeling much better. I'm really tired from all the IV benadryl and a bit anxious from the epi and prendisone. I have a few days of benadryl and prendisone to take then I should be as good as new. Anaphylaxis is SO fun. *oy* By the way, Brandon says I looked more like this than Sloth. =) He's such a sweetie. =)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Snowflake...

I've finally figured out what my next tattoo will be. A snowflake. When Hadley died the weather got crazy. Insane. The day of her funeral Portland started getting hit with snow. The highways shut down, flights were cancelled, it was utter chaos and we all had to smile about it. Everyone knew it was our girl. We could all hear her beautiful laughter. She brought beauty into our lives even while we were in the depths of our grief. Most of the children who knew Hadley now thank her for the snow. We all think that God asked her what she wanted to be in charge of...and I can totally hear her saying "I like snow!". =)

There are several legends surrounding snowflakes but, I thought this one was especially beautiful (and fitting).

JANUARY (second flower)

Birth Month Flowers
- symbolizes hope and the return to life after the long winter months.
- one legend tells about an angel who breathed on a snowflake in his hand to release it as the first snowdrop flower to comfort Eve after being banished from Eden. It was the angel who showed how Hope was born

- another tells of the snowdrop being the first flower to bloom when spring comes around; it was the only flower that agreed when asked by God, to give some of it's color to snow (German origin)

- they are delicate, faintly honey-scented flowers from the lily family. They have tough, grey-green leaves that extend after flowering. These have a tough sheath protecting the growing tip from damage as it chisels its way up through cold-hardened ground. 'Snow piercer' is one name given to snowdrops

So, what I'd like to ask you all for help designing/finding a snowflake for this tattoo. I'm thinking of putting it on the back of my neck or maybe behind an ear. Please help me out. I am SO incapable of designing/drawing this on my own. Thanks all. =)

When I grow up...

I came across this video on a friend's MySpace page. I LOVE finding random bits of my girl unexpectedly. It just puts a huge smile on my face. I know I've shared this before but, it's just too cute not to share again. =)

We miss you sweet girl.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Relay For Life.

My friend, Shauna, is participating in Relay for Life in San Diego. She is relaying in memory of Hadley. If you can, please support her.

Thank You!

Monday, February 2, 2009


Today I have no picture,cute story, funny joke or tasty recipe. My heart just hurts. I miss my girl. I miss every last bit of her. I feel wrong and out of place without her. I am really and truly trying to keep going. Most of the time I succeed. The rest of the time is ugly. I really never knew a person's heart could ache like this...

Baby bug, mommy misses you so, so much. I hope and pray every day that heaven is everything you dreamt of and more. I pray that you aren't missing us like we're missing you. I pray there are babies everywhere and lots of chicken 'meat nuggets'. Have you met Gramma Fox yet? I'll be you two are having fun eating cookies and getting to know each other. I'm sure she was pleased to finally get to hug on you. =) Have you and Honey been playing baker lady and snuggling babies together? Is Papa still trying to scare little kids with spooky faces and being grumpy when Honey spoils you? How are Gramma Bubbles, Papa and Mama's daddy? Are you and Stevie having lots of fun? You wanted to be a teenager so bad. Do you get to be a teenager and hang out with Stevie? Do you two giggle about boys and act silly? Have you gotten to hold baby Hannah Joy yet? How about Dave, have you seen him? Did you tell him how much his family misses him and give him a big hug?

My heart is broken baby girl. I miss you leaning your face inclose to mine and tilting your cheek towards my lips and waiting for me to kiss it. I miss your crooked smile. I miss shopping for clothes for you. I miss your silly little jokes and how you thought they were the funniest thing EVER. I miss everywhere we went seeing people's faces light up when they saw you. You made so many people smile sweet girl. You brought a lot of love into our lives. We miss you so much. So, so much.