Thursday, June 19, 2008
Visit with Carol
I had a lovely time with Carol, and the drives both there and back went very smoothly (although gas in Lee Vining is $5.09 a gallon: ack!). This is a picture I took of Carol on our evening walk. We had a great time talking about writing, trading rattlesnake stories (we've both had close encounters) and sharing our love of the West.
Mind you, Carol's eighty-six and in better shape than I am. This is the hill we climbed: my good knee gave out before Carol even got tired! She told me that she did her last "real" hike when she was eighty-two, when she was annoyed that she could only manage an hour and a half out and back. She complained about this to some doctors she met. The doctors were very amused (although, I'm afraid, not very helpful to Carol).
The hill's also the view in back of Carol's house, by the way. Bishop is a beautiful and dramatic place!
This is the view from Carol's front yard. She lives half the year in New York City and spends summers in Bishop: quite a contrast! She's invited me and Gary to come down for a visit so he can hike, and I think I may have talked him into it. He'd love the steep slopes!
This is what we saw on our walk, looking across Owens Valley. To get the full effect, you really have to click to enlarge . . . and believe me, it's much more awe-inspiring in person!
Carol's been wondering about this very large round boulder. She says there are no other rocks like it in the area, and she wants to know what shaped it like that. I had a vague memory that glaciers can do that; Carol asked a geologist, who didn't know. Does anyone here have theories?
Here's another interesting rock formation we saw on our walk. Even though my knee gave out in short order, it felt really good to get some exercise after spending over four hours in the car.
So, as I said, great visit. Carol had to be at the airport by noon today, and just to be safe, we decided to leave at 7:00. She set an alarm for five and said she'd wake me at 5:30 if I hadn't gotten up yet. But, lo and behold, I was awakened at 4:50 by the whining, wheezing sound of my CPAP motor dying.
We were on the road shortly after six, and I dropped Carol off at the Reno airport shortly after ten. Then I went home, unpacked, and tackled the CPAP problem, which was somewhat pressing, since I'm leaving for Chicago on Saturday and need a working machine.
I started by calling my Durable Medical Equipment (DME) company, who shall remain nameless but have, in the past, generally been the least helpful people on earth (at least in Reno; I had a good experience in the Bay Area when my motor died there two years ago). They ran true to form today. I was told a) that I'd need a prescription to get a new machine, b) that my insurance wouldn't pay for it because I've only had this one two years, not five, and c) that CPAPs cost "thousands of dollars," a claim I promptly disproved by logging onto CPAP.com, where I'd still need a prescription but where the machines only cost hundreds of dollars for units smaller and lighter than mine.
"If the DME's charging thousands of dollars, my copay will be hundreds of dollars," I told Gary.
"Just buy one online," he said. Nice hubby!
But in the meantime, the DME people had -- somewhat helpfully, hallelujah -- given me the name of a CPAP repair shop in town. I took the machine over there, where the nice repair folks (all two of them, and it's a local, family-owned business, too), confirmed my diagnosis of a dying motor. Yes, they could fix it, but they'd have to wait for the part, which would cost hundreds of dollars (are we sensing a theme here?). I vented my frustration about the DME place; they rolled their eyes and said, "You wouldn't believe how often we hear that." I told them I was seriously thinking of just buying a machine online. They nodded vigorously and said, "That's what you should do. That's what we'd do."
In the meantime, they rented me a working model of my current machine for $45/month. They accepted my word for my pressure setting, and didn't require a prescription. Is this logical, I ask you? (And they can't sell me a machine because of complicated regulations.)
So I went home with the working machine and set about figuring out how to get a prescription. I don't remember the name of the pulmonologist who wrote the script back in . . . 2001? 2002? Long time ago! The sleep lab where I was tested appears not to exist any more, and has probably been bought out by a bigger place.
So I e-mailed my family doc to see if he can write the script or if he has the name of my pulmonologist in his records. If not, I guess I'll have to be sleep-tested again. What a drag!
Oh, and: the people at the CPAP repair place warned me against the lightest, smallest, least expensive machine, the one I was going to buy, which evidently breaks constantly. They recommended another machine they said was smaller than my current one. But online reviews say it's not that small or light, and if I'm not going to get a much more portable machine, I'd just as soon hassle with the insurance company to replace my current one.
Aaaaaarghhhhh. Well, I'll deal with all of this when I'm back from Chicago.