Thanksgiving All Week

Monday, Nov 19

Staying home today to prepare medical records and questions for taking to annual physical in Cle Elum tomorrow for John and me both. Accomplished and packed to go.

Tuesday, Nov 20

I drove my car to Cle Elum and we filled with gas after our long doctor’s appointments. We used our credit card for $3.06 / gal, 10 cents / gal higher than the cash price, but we get a 4% return for a cash rebate once a year from Costco/Citi card, so it’s perky to use the card and it saved us more / gal than buying at the cash price ($2.96 in Cle Elum). We were there, not Yakima, where the Costco price was $2.99 (and we’d have gotten a 4% return there). The Ellensburg price was even higher.

We left (12:20) for the Annual Wellness Visit, as Medicare calls it. at. I drove and we went via I-90, with no problems. There is a little snow visible on Mt. Stuart (9,415 feet), but in the next few days we are expecting it have a whiter top to last through winter. We arrived in time for our check-in, and had to fill in a bunch of paperwork. We both weighed in and started on our questions & answers.

The Wellness Visit seems to be designed to cut Medicare’s costs by discouraging tests that were often done in a “annual physical exam.” If, during the 1st visit, something suggests a medical issue, then going back a week later for that seems to fit this description: “Preventive vs. Diagnostic .

A service is considered preventive if you have no prior symptoms of the disease. In some cases, Medicare only covers preventive care services if you have certain risk factors. On the other hand, diagnostic services tend to address symptoms or conditions that you already have. The classification of services as preventive versus diagnosis is important because it affects what you owe for them. You typically need to pay a copay, coinsurance, and/or deductible for diagnostic services.

I don’t remember the order of the things done but the basics were vitals: blood pressure, temp, pulse, and an SpO2 reading. Checking medicines, asking if refills are needed, and a list of questions that included some we already had filled in on the sheets given at the start. Most of those are about smoking, alcohol intake, last exams (eyes, dental), immunizations, and questions about your outlook on life (I interpret as seeking to find depressed folks or serious threats to society, or possibly ones with cognition / memory / behavioral problems. As usual, John and I were turned off by the form’s “marking” placement, and presentation of options.

John objects to the phrase about “using alcohol.” Reader’s Digest has a post titled “12 Ways to Use Rubbing Alcohol” and that one doesn’t mention paint removal. The other form of alcohol, the one of the medical question, is considered by many to be an acceptable “food” that one drinks or adds during food preparation.

At least they had filled in our correct address, phone numbers, insurance details, new card numbers, but missing were any data from the old system (such as year of retirement, or year of starting coverage). Those had 2018 dates.

Here is a good information source of what to expect, and it explains much of the stuff behind several of my comments above.

Screening Tools for Medicare Wellness Annual Visit

This document includes the following table, which shows the 3 words possible to give at the start of the clock routine drawing, which will need to be recalled later in the “interview” (administered by the nurse).This year my words were those in Version 2. John’s were Version 4. She gave his first, and I put my fingers in my ears, because last year, mine were spoken first, with John listening, so he remembered one of my words and only 2 of his. This year she wrote my words down on a piece of paper to show me. We both remembered all three this year. Next year, I’m going to study this table before going for my test. Last year we were both surprised by the “draw a clock with specified time”, and I goofed on mine. Not this year. (Interesting thing to me was they did not change the actual time, which is published in the screening tests above, and was exactly the same as used last year (one would think…). They may need a new test soon, because many folks rarely see this type of clock. Most are digital.

Our time with the doctor was quite useful. We discussed all the things we wanted (except for one thing). I wanted him to review my chest X-rays from Feb 20 & Mar 20, this year which were interpreted by another medical person (P.A.) in this facility, because our usual doctor was not available. He had correctly determined I had Pneumonia, but on the second follow-up X-ray, a month later, he mentioned he saw a hiatal hernia (HH). John was not with me and I was unable to see what he was seeing on the X-ray. I wanted a second interpretation from my PCP, but the X-rays were part of the “old” record computerized databank reporting system and no longer available in the new. I have experienced none of the symptoms of a HH. We’ll just start from scratch and now have a chest X-ray each annual visit, or not, as the Doctor wants.

We both had ours today, after blood draws. Next week we will get the evaluations of the X-rays displayed to us and go over the blood test results (which I have already downloaded and printed from our hospital medical records reports). If I want, I can also go to the hospital and request CDs of our X-rays. It’s a free service. I need to find mine from February & March this year, which I received before the medical records were lost in the transfer to the new medical records system. Actually, ‘lost’ isn’t the correct term. A new records provider did not want the old material transferred to their new (clean) system. The local clinic can re-enter items as desired, but not use automated digital transfers. Or something like that.

We also talked about other issues, of refills, and concerns. As well, I was scheduled for yearly mammograms (rather than every 2 years) and for another colonoscopy. My last one was in 2010. John has another year to go before his next one. Our doctor is recommending 5 yrs especially if we have had polyps, because they can be precancerous. If a person doesn’t have polyps, they can go 10 years between. I am sure that recommended time span has changed in recent years. In previous colonoscopies I have always had a couple of polyps, but my timing had been 10 years until this year. Hopefully, I will have none and can return to the every 10 years check, as my Doctor just did.

John’s concern is red blood cells (RBCs), or rather lack thereof. His RBCs stick together.

Link to Rouleaux.

[picture how the coils of a Slinky seem to be connected; pull on one coil and the ones on either side move also]. This is not a new thing; he just wants an update and more information.

Wednesday, Nov 21

I play music at Hearthstone today; need to be there by 1:20.

This morning, I saw an announcement for a free pickup bed liner base, and sent John off to get it. It is for a Ford but might fit in our old Chev ’80 PU. If not, and if we cannot think of another use, we can pass it on. The new free liner given to us today.

Today, he’s taking the trash to the Transfer station (aka dump) using the Ford PU with the canopy. He managed to get rid of more than 500 pounds of stuff and paid just under $20 to dispose of it. Snow was falling on his way back. That trip will provide some space in all our freezers.

I left at 12:45 for Hearthstone to play music. We had a good player turnout. 12 people, plus our little yodeler singer, Haley. Had a fairly good audience, of the regulars, but some were missing probably because they were already on their way to their family Thanksgiving celebrations. A few of our players had similar travel issues.

The older ladies I was going to take are not feeling up to going, but two of them came to hear the music. We started early playing December winter songs and a couple of Thanksgiving songs. Evie played the piano, I the violin, and all the others played chords. Then at 1:55 we began one more song (Mission in the Air), as the whole group has music for it, with Evie staying on the piano. Then she moved back behind the group to play violin.

The audience consisted of residents and they were served coffee and gingerbread cookies with a white frosting. Family members came along from the musician group, and sang along as well. They were there to leave directly and go to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner which followed at 3:20 at the old Armory building near the Fairgrounds. Part of the story is here: Link: costly transition from Armory to County use Don’t miss watching the video, and near the end you’ll see the big meeting room which many of us have used since it was finished.

I was surprised at how many of our group went to dinner; we sat at the same table. In addition, my new found Persian friends, were there, two tables away, whom I saw as I was leaving. I sat down and visited with them on my way out the door. The young gal you have seen in last week’s blog because she videotaped our Veterans’ Day performance on Nov. 9. At that time, I had not known of or met her husband and his mom, or they would have been invited too. However, I did invite them via email earlier this week, and they came. They converse among themselves in Farsi, but speak English well. The younger two speak without any noticeable accent. We had a nice visit and I didn’t get home until dark. John had already fed the animals. I will likely see the family next Wednesday at the Food Bank. I will know them much better having met them today and visited.

In informing the people invited today, I had sent a copy of the flyer advertising the event and knew about the free taxi rides being offered by a community member, Steve, who owns the business. When I went out the door, he was there, so I stopped and thanked him. I came home and wrote the following note to the Facebook site for Community Connect Kittitas County. It has been well received with 68 likes, 17 loves, comments, and several shares. I hope the message gets back to Steve.

A big thank you to Steve at K.C. Cabs, 509-312-9315, who provided FREE rides to/from the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, at the Armory – from 3:15 to 6:45 p.m.
On my way out the building to my own car, I saw him sitting in his taxi. I knocked on his window, he rolled it down, and I thanked him for providing the service. That is an exceptional gift. The dinner was also free to the community and put on by the City of Ellensburg and FISH, with the help of many local volunteers. Thanks to all involved.

I knew many of the people eating and the volunteers serving. The staff and volunteers of the Senior Center are part of the City of Ellensburg, so right in the middle of the activity. I even got involved with delivering “dressing” for the turkey dinner from Hearthstone whose cooks made it, to the Armory. John and I also donated 6 turkeys to the event. Commercially approved kitchens around the city cooked the food as a donation too.

We had a tiny few flakes of snow today, but friends and relatives back east had snow in inches. This collage below comes from my friend Elise in New Jersey, of autumn leaves (and even ferns) with 8” of snow covering the ground. New Jersey: fall colors on 8” snow, by Elise Schlosser


We awoke at 6:30 to our cat Czar wanting fed. He has learned to come in the swinging door (in a window, via a ramp) and sleep overnight quietly in the living room under a chair and stay away from Rascal, also an in&out neutered male.

He meows and comes from the living room when he’s ready to be fed (outside on the front porch, or a bowl of Party Mix underneath his chair in the living room). Note: He can go out on his own, but would have to go around the house to a heated water bowl.

Now it’s after 9:00 a.m.; all 4 cats have been fed and John just left to feed the horses. There was snow on the pass, early a.m., now bare and dry, but no snow here. May rain this afternoon.

John returned and made a cookie sheet of candied Carpathian walnuts to take today as our contribution. With sugar and butter added, a pound of dry walnuts becomes a pound & a half of fancy food. He used walnuts he harvested from our several trees.Candied Carpathian Walnuts

I found a nice Christmas tin to carry them in, and so our friends, Suzy and Bob West, who invited us to their family Thanksgiving dinner can have some there and take some home, we will give them a Ziploc bag of their own to be sure they get some. They were the only “family” allowed in to the ICU at Yakima Regional Hospital to see me when I was so sick starting on the day after Thanksgiving in 2009. No one else was allowed to visit besides them and John for 55 days. A couple of my students sneaked in the first day before the nurses found out I was being visited.

Family was allowed in, but none are nearby, so the hospital approved Suzy and Bob West to be “family.” Suzy worked at the close-by college and came almost every day on her lunch hour (they live west of Yakima past Wiley City). Bob is closer to my age but was my student who was graduated in 1997 from Geography. Suzy’s family I have known since the early 1990s when I first met her parents coming to dance Friday afternoons at the Senior Center, and our group played music for them. I worked my class schedule on Thursdays and Fridays around going to play my fiddle with the group at assisted living homes and at the Ellensburg Senior Center.

There were 12 kids in Suzy’s family. Bob is into music and CDs, and fixed me up (allowed by the hospital) to have a CD player and music while there. They introduced me to the Mannheim Steamroller group, especially their Christmas Album because I was there from Thanksgiving through December and into January a week.

Here is a link to one of the CDs he gave me. The group is still performing in 2018. This album below is one I have that plays for 34 minutes.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

On a related musical note, here is an amazing Thanksgiving wish from the two musical mountaineers who hike with their ‘piano’ (keyboard, weighing 45#) and violin to heights to share their music.

Here is today’s entry on Thanksgiving.Find at this link (only for people with Facebook accounts):

The Musical Mountaineers: Anastasia & Rose

It’s worth it to make an account with a fake name or in your dog or cat’s name, so you can get access if you don’t want your own name displayed there.

With this video was posted poetry to go with a beautiful violinist (Anastasia), playing for her piano player/ice skating friend (Rose) to dance across the Alpine pond.At 3:15, we are leaving our home and driving SW about 20 miles to the Orcutt family’s Thanksgiving Dinner, with many people expected to be there to greet and dine. The festivities begin at 4:00 p.m. The home is a large open style log type with internal dividers in the common area.

I failed to get a photo of Suzy and Bob West. So many folks, good conversations, and a ton of food. I did not even capture pictures of all the counters of food. Missing is stuff around the kitchen counters: stuffed mushrooms, dressing, Suzy West’s yam casserole with brown sugar & pecans, mashed white potatoes, gravy, platters of turkey, numerous baked veggies such as green bean casserole and corn. Rolls and butter. Punch, cooled bottles water, and other beverage delicacies.Matriarch Burniece, Jennifer, John, Kristy and grandson Clayton.Some of the salad bar, with a view of my plate on the right. Top center of my plate is Suzy’s awesome sweet potato casserole with pecans.Parts of the dessert table. Left is a trifle (which sadly I did not get to taste). It was all gone by the time I got there. I’ll be sure next year to take a taste as an appetizer. John’s candied Carpathian walnuts are in the can beside it. The other picture has the edge of one of several pies, gum drops, lemon bars (also I missed out on), and another type of fudge.

We got home a little before 9:00 p.m. Rained on us going but not returning. We did drive slowly in a few places through thick fog, but home safely with four cats ready to eat.

Friday, Nov 23

I went to the Kittitas Neighborhood Pantry and to take clothing to the clothing bank, but had no way to contact them, so I drove over and back 21 miles to Kittitas to read the sign on the door they were not open the day after Thanksgiving. I had a small garbage bag full of clothes to donate, which I’ll just take back next week, the last day it’s open until spring.

Saturday, Nov 24
We are invited to the Swedbergs for a late Thanksgiving dinner, which will be my third this week. Dale Swedberg, Aalin, Luken, Kathy, Erica, red Xmas dress & hat Kathy made for her granddaughter.Nancy, roasted turkey, Erica, Adam, Julie, smoked turkey, John
No photos of all of the meal but finished with desserts, chocolate pear cake, pumpkin pie, rhubarb cake, and chocolate muffins. We shared a few of our candied walnuts with the folks and gave what was left to Ken. Laura gave away as much of the two turkeys as anyone wanted. I took a good amount of the smoked one, and Ken was kind enough to carve it for me into a large Ziploc bag. I use that in my Wednesday salads, each week, or in sandwiches or salads with John. We will make good use of it.
We left in time to get home just before dark to feed the outside animals.

Sunday, Nov 25

I slept in this morning, after watching Czar spend the night on Annie’s bed (blanket and comforter on the floor in the den). I let him out the front door at daybreak and moved his hard food on his “ledge.” He and Rascal are getting along better inside the house, almost ignoring each other. Rascal will hiss as he walks toward him, but Czar just quietly moves by, on his way to the water bowl in the kitchen.

I was supposed to go over to Swedberg’s to sit with the great grandfather (Bob Swedberg), so his son, Ken, can get some recreation time in Yakima with his friend at a movie. No one in the family was available to help, so I told him I would. Meanwhile, this morning, he called to say a friend Beth up the road close to the Naneum Canyon would come for the entire time and I did not need to. I was relieved, especially after John came in to tell me that our horses found a way out of the fence on the south end and were at two of our neighbors’ places. He has retrieved them and now is on his way to fix the fence.

I’m continuing to work on things in the house, and no longer charging the battery and packing up my laptop to take to the neighbor’s where I would not have had access to the Internet. Also means I can finish inside house chores needed completed and get my brunch.

We are getting this published early today and will be able to get into bed at a decent hour for a change.

Hope your week was fine.

Nancy and John
Still on the Naneum Fan