Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our Lucy

There's never been a cat so indulged or more loved. She was our Lucy, our favorite (but don't tell the others) and we've been spoiling her for years. Yesterday, we made the wrenching decision to let her go. The inoperable tumor on her nose had grown furious and was making her miserable despite extra doses of pain medication. Today, our hearts are broken for the loss of our beautiful, bossy girl. We buried her at the base of the koa tree that angles out from the roof of the house. We might have trimmed it years ago for the leaves it sheds into the gutter. But she climbed it every day to bask in the sun on the roof, or to curl up under the eves when it rained. She climbed it before losing her sight, and after, too. It's Lucy's tree, as it is her house. We're just fortunate she liked us enough to let us live here with her. We stay on as caretakers in her absence.

Lucy is with Grandpa now, and her doggy-sister Crawford. I'm sure there's also a 24-hour all-you-can-eat tuna and fresh-roasted turkey bar nearby, for when she feels inclined to a snack.

When her eyes failed, Lucy would sit at the edge of the high grass for hours, listening to the rustle within, to the flitting and chirping overhead. Now, she can see all the lizards and all the birds. In Lucy's heaven, there is no pain. Only tuna and chicken and turkey and more tuna, with Greenies treats for dessert. There are cozy laps, office chairs, towel closets and couch-backs. Endless petties, but only when she wants them; only on her terms. Plenty of feathery, slithery things to swat across endless expanses of lawn. In Lucy's heaven, there is no rain. Only sunshine she can stretch out beneath, across driveways and rooftops, to feel the warmth and soak it into her sweet, cantankerous soul, every day.

We love you Lucy. Your spirit will live on here, in this place, and within us, forever.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Medical cost woes

My friend Kathy and I were lamenting the other day how expensive it is to exist these days, let alone stay healthy, especially as a middle-aged human, with or without medical insurance. She has been nursing an injured, worn-out shoulder, diligent with ice, stretching and rotator cuff exercises, but  knows it will need surgery to fix properly, something she can't afford. She was with me when I broke my tooth.

"Shit. There's another two grand, just like that! What's next?" I said.
"I know what you mean. It's like you're afraid to move because something might break and you can't afford to fix it," she said. I laughed, but truer words were never spoken.

I recently had minor surgery, a nether-regionectomy and gynecological spelunking as I like to call it. The medical staff at North Hawaii Community Hospital liked my description of the procedure and seemed amenable to changing its official name to exactly that, an NRGS for short. Prior to the surgery, my primary care physician had wanted to schedule me for an MRI. The ultrasound looked fuzzy, to get a clearer picture. I said no, since they were going to scope it anyway. It turned out to be a wise call. The surgery will cost me $800 dollars above what my insurance covers. An MRI would have set me back a bundle more. Medications are not covered by my plan, either. If they were, I'd be paying $600+/month premiums. As it is, they just hiked those by another $100 in January. That's about a 30% increase. The medicine itself, basic asthma maintenance, were I to buy it from my local pharmacy, would cost upwards of $350/month. (You should know that many drugs we're told do not have generic equivalents in the U.S. do everywhere else in the world. Advair is one example.) I'm all for supporting R&D at pharmaceutical companies. I realize it's expensive and without it, no new drug would be developed. But when I see the monthly price of Advair®, then learn that the generic is blocked from sale in this country and that even the brand name is half the price abroad, when I am bombarded by the plethora of expensive ads for this drug on TV, when I consider the exorbitant, multimillion dollar salaries collected by big pharma executives who have nothing to do with research and development, I get a little peeved. I'm a generally healthy person, yet staying that way is now close to prohibitive.

On a positive note, BC the black cat has become a total love junky. He's resting his chin on my arm as I type this. The other cats still hate him; he scares Harley-Dude terribly and can't resist terrorizing Mr. Sox, so I'd still love to place him with a soft-spoken, patient person who will love him as an only cat. He's needy and follows me around like a puppy, always underfoot. It's annoying, but sweet. The transition would be rough for him, but in the long run, it would be best for everyone. He's very good with the dogs, too. That said, the odds of me finding a kindly cat person in Hawaii who doesn't already have too many kitties are slim.

We've harvested a whopping forty pounds of coffee cherry from our trees this year! I'd guess we have another thirty more to ripen, too. Eighty pounds of coffee should process down to about sixteen pounds roasted. Not a ton, but not bad. Here's the bucket we took in for processing yesterday.

Time to get back to my thesis. I'm almost finished. The final minutia, getting the layout and mechanics just right, is a buggah.

A hui hou. Malama pono. Aloha!