Hi all,

On the run here, as usual, so I'll pop in with some comments (and a
promise to have my new column in Liss' hands before the end of the
week, but *not* before late Wednesday). The kids and I have some
challenges this week, but they're laced with some good stuff too--as
long as we keep our guard up. Those of you who know my story
behind-the-scenes, know that we're okay and have 2 days and nights
behind us, and 2 nights, 3 days to go.

Nicole Colson wrote:

<<I sure hope you recovered well from your head injury!! They sure
do hurt!! Oh boy they took quite a bit of your hair.. I was worried they
were going to do that to me and one of the nurses commented that if
Doc. had been there instead of Rich I would have had no hair on my
head.. >>

You were blessed that they didn't need to stitch more, Nicole! Mine
was about 4 or 5 inches in length. While I can feel the scar if I run
my finger over the spot still, my hair has grown quite well and is fully
covering it again. In fact, my D-I-L just recently cut it since it was
down to my waist, so I look quite normal again, thank heaven! lol

<<I bled like a stuck pig and it sure did not want to stop either. That
was the first time I had ever had stitches (at the age of 35) and by
boys said now you know how we felt when we had to get stitches
(they both have had stitches). The numbing stuff hurts more than
I ever imagined!!>>

I had a mole (the beauty mark kind) removed from my cheek in 1983,
and that anesthetic was horrible, so I do understand. As for my head
injury, they said I was in shock, which might have accounted for my
inability to feel when they numbed the area. I only was aware when
the bleeding started again, and that they were astonished to realize
I was fully conscious and had alerted them before they'd noticed it.

<<Thank you for the information about the hospital and insurance!!
We are very blessed to have really good insurance with my DH's new
job!! It costs us quite a chunk of our paychecks, but it is good
insurance!! Thank God we have it. We did not have any years ago
and it was really hard!! I feel for people who don't have any!!!!>>

We never realize how important it is until an emergency happens,
as it did in yours and my cases, and in April's son's case. My sons
and I are among thousands of single-parent families in this untenable
position of having no health insurance. Far from consoling, it's a
nightmare, as you know from your period in which you had none,
Nicole, to think that being without insurance no longer separates one
from 90% of the people. While there are even states, including mine,
where insurance might be available through avenues other than the
welfare system, welfare's administration of these avenues makes the
situation no less comforting. There are always the cracks through
which many families will fall. I don't have the statistics, but the
number of families without health insurance is staggering--and at
the double-digit percentages. Hopefully, others who may need to
pull the information I gave from one of those back corners of their
memories someday, will indeed find it useful.

<<I got my stitches out the other day and I made sure she counted
them when she took them out, so that she did not leave any behind!!
She got them all and she even double counted. Rich put in bright
blue ones with really long tails so that they could not be missed when
they were taken out!! I sure could not hide them and I did try..>>

LOL I know what you mean. Btw, if you have light hair with this
problem with stitches, I imagine finding the stitches would be less
challenging for those removing them! lol I have dark hair, and they
had to search for the tails because the stitches blended into my
hair that was still clustered around the spot. My hair was probably
halfway down my back when the accident happened, so you can
imagine the mess.

April wrote:

<<He's doing fine now healing relatively well after about six weeks
now. Still has a long way to go hopefully will learn how to walk again
in about 6 - 7 more weeks.>>

You didn't indicate what was broken or injured, April. When I was
15, in a different kind of car accident--a freak accident, in fact (I
admit it...I'm not normal! lol), one of my upper left quadriceps was
ruptured. It's different than broken bones, but the challenge of
learning how to walk again is the same. Be supportive, of course.
He will be surprised at his realization that he's frightened to try.
It's a normal reaction. But the people in PT are geniuses--and
gentle. They will truly make the difference for him as they did for
me. I'd say he had a few angels on his shoulder, April.

<<He has no insurance - his 19th birthday was in January and he
chose not to go to school. He is working but hadn't been put on the
insurance yet. The hospital has a Financial Aid Dept. and they are
working to get him public assistance. They are still treating him
and didn't make him go elsewhere. It's tough but they do help those
who need it.>>

*If* he finds he doesn't qualify, do request information about the
Hillburton Fund, April. As for their not sending him elsewhere, I
believe that's the law now in life-threatening cases. I'm not sure
if it is otherwise, but I don't think so.

Nath wrote:
<<I'M GONNA BE A GREAT AUNT!!!!! My sister just called and my
nephew is expecting his first in Feb. 2003!!!!! I'm ONLY 39 and
I'm gonna be a GREAT AUNT!>>

Congratulations, Nath. You must be close in age to your sister
then. I'm the baby of my family and was an aunt the first time at
nine, the fourth time at 15. My kids range from 27 down to 12,
so they too will probably fall into this pattern. In fact, my oldest
great niece is now 22! lol I can tell already, there's going to be
a lot of spoiling in your family now. Congratulations again.

Rebecca wrote:
<<Here's a question for all of you. How much do you spend monthly
on Groceries. Including toilet paper, healthcare items pet food etc.>>

I'm kind of afraid to answer this, Rebecca, for fear of making some
on the list uncomfortable, and I don't mean to do that. My two
youngest sons, ages 12 and 14, and I--and the cat--have normally
been going through an average of $50 a month on all groceries
since May 2001. Some months are easier than others. In January,
I had a perk and found that we had stretched and scrimped so well
for so long that when I had $180 to spend then, that lasted nearly
three months. I'd bought some larger cuts of meat, and I do believe
my Chinese cooking has a lot to do with my being able to stretch like
I do. It's not a case of being some kind of whiz or anything else. It's
a simple case of when you have, you can do more, and when you
don't, there is no choice.

I use bones for soups (the basics of all good Chinese soups are
usually found in a stock that begins with chicken and pork bones,
so you'll usually find I have a supply of those in my freezer). But we
lack the luxury of fresh fruits a lot of the time, as we do fresh veggies.
Most months, we depend on frozen vegetables or the fresh veggies
from the Laotian store around the corner. I always have plenty of
rice in the house, however, and rice goes far.

Since fresh tomatoes are often a real commodity for us, I was
thrilled to learn recently that you can take grape tomatoes and pot
them in soil and let them bear fruit throughout the year. I intend to
do that this week. If it works, I've solved another problem! lol

and finally, KateyKC wrote about her hospital bill:

<<I am trying to figure out how to pay them, but I had to say to the
guy that was trying to strong arm me that it would be easier for me
to go to jail right now than pay him. I don't think that had been said
before, it seemed to confuse him. I am sure that he will have a new
argument today, but at least it gave me the weekend.>>

Katey, what he's doing is harassment, and he's counting on your
not knowing about a Federal law that makes this a punishable
offense. The next time he calls, you have every right to tell him--
even if you can only afford $1-5 a month, that you will pay x amount
each month, and that his harassment is against Federal laws, that
he is not to call you again sooner than 30 days from now. That's
the law.

Okay, running again. See you all soon, and sorry for my long-winded