Never miss a post! Subscribe to Busy Since Birth by entering your email address below.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Transportation Benefits: Not So Much



It's time for a rare political rant here on The Life of LilMisBusy. I'm not an expert on the issue, but something about this struck me as odd.

When I received my firm's Open Enrollment package a week ago, I noticed that the benefit on transit passes was being reduced while the benefit for parking was increasing. I've done a bit of digging to discover that these are called "Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits" and the limits were set at $230/month for both transit passes and parking during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed by President Obama in 2009. However, the benefit on transit passes was apparently temporary, and is being cut back to $125/month in January. Meanwhile, the benefit for parking is getting a cost of living adjustment (COLA) and increasing to $240/month.

Now, as annoying as my Green Line train can be, I'm VERY lucky that my transit pass is only $59/month, and I won't be affected by the limit decrease. At least, it seems that way from the outset. But maybe some of my neighbors in Needham, wanting to avoid that extra bit of taxation, will switch and start taking the Green Line too, since their monthly commuter rail pass is $151/month. Or maybe some friends in Framingham will start driving to Riverside to escape their $210/month pass. Hey, let's throw in some extra passengers from Fitchburg or Worcester too, with their $250/month fee. Suddenly my already over-capacity train is feeling even more crowded. (Oh, and the MBTA is planning to, and should, increase its rates this summer, right?)

But parking, which typically serves just one person, which is more harmful to the environment, which if you're able to spend that much cash on means you're probably doing pretty well, that gets the COLA?

I'm not against raising taxes in general, but this plan? This is completely backwards. And I haven't heard anyone talking about it.

Sources:
https://www.payflex.com/mypayflex/
http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=205664,00.html
http://adminproadvantage.com/index.php/news/73-irs-releases-2012-transportation-fringe-benefits-limits.html
http://mbta.com/ (including image of the commuter rail map)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From Montreal to Cleveland and Back Again

The last three weeks have flown by. Here's what we've been up to:

- Marc and I took a much anticipated long weekend away from the kids and went to Montreal. I was really looking forward to going there for the first time, and Marc hadn't been in a very long time. Marc and I really enjoy road trips, so driving there was part of the fun for us. We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel, which was lovely, and enjoyed just walking around the city and eating a lot. I think our favorite stop was for dessert at a place called Rockaberry, which had fabulous pie. I used my Rachael Ray-patented trick from her old show "$40 a Day" where she'd ask the locals where to go, and a friendly waiter at Schwartz's gave us that yummy suggestion. Thanks to Fillis and John for baby-sitting!



- While still wearing her cast, Hannah visited the eye doctor for the first time, and is now the proud wearer of glasses. She mostly needs to wear them at school, since her prescription is relatively minor, but she immediately noticed a difference. Everyone remarks about what they can see for the first time once they'd gotten their glasses, and for Hannah it was individual pebbles on the ground, and small lines making up the printing on a sign. She picked out a very stylish pair, too. Hannah has one more big update: she'll be spending two weeks at Camp Yavneh (overnight camp) this summer! She is very excited about that.



- Max's latest major obsession is letters. Writing them, reading them, playing games with them, it doesn't matter, he's all about it. He's a big fan of making us guess something by saying "It's starts with a..." and then making the sound. At school, he enjoys playing a game where they say two-word combinations and then take one off ("Say firetruck. Now don't say fire. Truck!"). He can identify many letters and is starting to accurately write them too. It's such a fun process to watch.



- Of course, no update would be complete without the latest Temple Emanuel news. Marc spent a Sunday morning as greeter at the Java Gate Cafe while I attended Hannah's religious school conference and we both tried to keep Max entertained. Later that afternoon, I met with Julie to learn the Share a Shabbat process (we'll miss you, Chivo family!), as I'll be in charge of that endeavor this year. And finally, we are contemplating joining our synagogue for a Family Mission to Israel this summer. All fun and exciting!

- Finally, we spent a really wonderful Thanksgiving weekend in Cleveland with my Mom, Dad, Ryan and Allison. We ate lots of great food, enjoyed wandering through Legacy Village without wearing our coats, and saw the new Muppets movie together. Plus there was lots of time in my parents new house, which accommodated all eight of us very well. The kids had a ball playing with the racetrack Grandma bought for them, and we spent a lot of time looking at Ryan and Allison's gorgeous wedding photos up on the big screen TV. Plus, Marc and I had fun catching up with Betsy and Bill over coffee. Thanks Mom and Dad for having us - please come to Boston soon!



So now we're back home and a crazy December is about to begin. Hannah should be getting her cast off in the morning. We're looking ahead to many parties in the coming month, plus the kids birthdays in January. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you've got a fun month planned too!

Continuous Glucose Monitoring: One Month In

So for those of you keeping track at home, it's been just over a month since I started using my CGM. And no, I haven't been sailing yet.



I just wish that box has contained the keys to my yacht and not an insulin pump, but alas.

You might remember that I was fairly nervous about all this, but it has gone remarkably well. I spent an hour and a half getting trained on how to use everything, and how to change my sensor location every three days. It was a lot to take in, and I was very grateful for my more visual and technical husband when it came time to insert the sensor on my own for the first time. I've got the details of that (thankfully, pain-free) process down now, but it doesn't always go smoothly. Since I'm not using the insulin pump, I'm not physically tethered to anything, but if I'm apart from the pump for about 30 minutes, an alarm will go off. So the pump is always on my person, usually in my pants pocket. (Side note: am now on a quest for more pants with pockets.)

There's also a lot of STUFF required with all this. I am constantly restocking my needles and testing supplies, since I'm still required to test at least three times a day, plus five insulin shots a day. I'm fortunate to have access to three month prescriptions, but that means boxes and boxes of needles, lancets, test strips, sensors, surgical tape, alcohol wipes, and of course, insulin. I haven't figured out where to store it all yet.

BUT. The information. It is so, so much information. At times, it's completely overwhelming to know what my glucose level is 24/7. It's infuriating to see high numbers when I think I've been eating well or exercising. And yet, it's totally amazing that this little thing is figuring me out all the time too. I finally can see the times my blood sugar is rising all on it's own, and figure out how to cut off those highs. My AMAZING doctor is totally convinced we will solve the puzzle of my body and how best to treat it. We've been tweaking my insulin a lot over the last few weeks, adding shots at different times and reducing other ones. It's ever-changing and variable, but I know CGM will be an excellent tool in decoding just what's going on. It's also a great safety net, sounding alarms when I get too low, which is a frequent issue for me at night.

Finally, thinking so much about diabetes has made me look for other resources to compare experiences, and of course I found those on Twitter. I've found some great people to follow and it's been really helpful for feeling a bit less frustrated with this journey. When I see other people posting crazy results or combating lows, I know I'm not the only one dealing with it.

So that's why I'm posting all this - in the hopes that some newbie out there will find it some day and get a more detailed account from a real person of what CGM is all about, at least so far for me. If you have a question on any of it, feel free to ask me in the comments.

And yea, no sailing, but maybe this guy is more my speed anyway.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Triage

During my freshman year of college, I took a 110 hour training course to become the most basic level of a licensed Emergency Medical Technician (hi, old BEMCO friends!). When I signed up, I'd been pre-med, but so was 2/3 of the Brandeis Class of 2000, and by the time the class started, I'd moved on to economics. But I followed through with the class and licensing anyway, and used my training in a very limited way while on campus.

I knew, however, that I wasn't going to hack it as a "real" EMT when I discovered the concept of triage. Our book said the concept originated with the French, and the translation of the word was "to sort." I was horrified by the idea that I'd be responding to some major disaster and have to determine who would get help and who would have to wait, and really, who was beyond help and would have to be passed over. The idea has stuck with me, and while I'm not responding as an EMT, my life often feels like a constant triage.

Yesterday afternoon I got a call at work that Hannah had fallen and hurt her wrist badly. I quickly called Marc and the pediatrician, told my boss I was leaving and made it home on the T in record time. Marc and I took Hannah to one hospital for x-rays, then went to the pediatrician, and eventually ended up at Children's Hospital to get 3/4 of her arm casted in a bright green hue. Hannah was such a trooper - she didn't cry much after I arrived, and complied with all that was asked of her. It was a very late night, but she still got up and went to school on time today and in a good mood. She's even given Marc and me her blessing to continue on to our planned trip to Montreal this weekend.

The triage yesterday was totally obvious - Hannah gets highest priority (while still taking care of Max, of course). Work emails could wait until I got home at 10 pm. I stayed home from work today, and scheduled the follow up appointment, as well as a first visit to the eye doctor after the pediatrician confirmed yesterday that was needed yesterday (yes, I do think this is all related). And now I'm going through all of the rest of what needs to be done today, making all of the millions of little decisions that add up to a life lived.

If you ask me (and it's my blog anyway), I think I stayed remarkably calm through all of this. I think I'm pretty reliable in a crisis, even if it means my adrenaline shoots through the roof and keeps me awake for hours afterward, replaying the entire episode. I never imagined I'd think back on the triage concept as often as I do, but maybe I would have made a good EMT after all. Or maybe it was the best training I could have gotten for the life I'm living anyway.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On a Lighter Note

Here are some of the fun things making me happy recently:

- Hannah went to a play date with four other kids from her class where they filmed a "movie." The mom in charge is still editing it, but I'm told one of the kids was a dog for most of the filming, and that there was a "dance club scene." I'm really looking forward to seeing that.
- Sunday night we went to the Hanover Theater in Worcester to see Cathy Rigby is "Peter Pan." The kids have watched this version of the show many, many times on Netflix On Demand, and I couldn't resist getting tickets to see it in person. Cathy Rigby was amazing, and it's just such a fun performance. It was Max's first big show, and he behaved really well. Which means I'll want to get him tickets to see Mary Poppins the next time that's in town.
- Halloween went really well this year, especially compared to last year's double fever edition, when neither kid got to go out for trick-or-treating. Hannah was a "rock n' roll witch" and Max was the lead character from the PBS Kid's show "Super Why." Both of them really liked their costumes, which always helps. We went to the Bowen Elementary School Halloween party on Friday night, and then last night I left work early to take them to the village and around our street. The kids also painted their pumpkins this year.
- On a totally silly note, my Mom bought me a pair of Uggs for my birthday, and I'm just breaking them in today. I have wanted a pair for a really long time, thinking they must be worth all the fuss or they would have stopped selling them years ago. They really are super warm and comfortable.
- I'm really enjoying the new Coldplay album. Jennifer Weiner has a new short story out that I'm planning to read soon. And Mindy Kaling's new book is high on my list to start too. And there's a new episode of Glee tonight featuring my favorite guy from The Glee Project.

What's been making you happy?