Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy snow-olleen!

WOW - they really weren't kidding when they predicted widespread power outages! We got about 12 inches of heavy wet snow. The branches in the first photo aren't usually that low - they were weighed down by the snow. (Everything below the word Trick  would normally not be there!)

Note the tree that's lying down on the left in the photo above - here it is again a few hours later:
We got off pretty lightly. The power was only out for 49 hours - there are thousands of homes that still don't have their power back yet - and the temperature in the house only dipped to 52˚F. We have city water rather than a well, so we did not lose our water too. We have a camping stove so we had hot food and drink. We have a chainsaw, so we did not have to wait for the city to come and remove the trees that had fallen and blocked the end of our road. About the only thing we don't have that would have been nice is smartphones. The reporting on the radio was useless in terms of letting us know what the situation was in the wider world and some internet access would have been nice!

I spent most of Sunday hand sewing DS's Halloween costume that I had been planning on finishing on the sewing machine. Then tonight we found out that trick-or-treating is postponed until next Saturday! In many neighborhoods it would not have been safe to go out trick-or-treating tonight because there are still downed powerlines. Even where there aren't, there are tree branches down all over the place. Most people seem to have cleared their driveways, but not necessarily the sidewalk.

It certainly has been a memorable Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Snow-tober

Never mind a White Christmas - we're having a White Halloween this year! We're used to snow in the northeastern USA, but not this much this early!

With so many leaves still on the trees, this heavy wet snow is going to bring a lot of trees and therefore power lines down. At least it's the weekend, so we don't have to use a school 'snow day' so early in the year!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Score one for the US medical system

UK expats often have a lot to say about the differences between the National Health Service and the lack of a national health service here in the US. Although there are many criticisms to make of the NHS, at least you know you won't go bankrupt in the UK because you need medical treatment. I'm lucky in that my husband's employers are Europeans and they have made it a priority to make sure their employees have decent health insurance.

I discovered recently that the American system has a small advantage over the NHS, that I have never heard anyone mention before. It is the idea that a patient's medical records belong to the patient and that the patient is entitled to copies of them. I've had a couple of MRIs done recently (actually four) and the staff at the MRI center are quite happy to give me a copy of the MRI CD as soon as the notes regarding the findings have been transcribed - so I can actually know what was found (or not) BEFORE my appointment with my doctor to discuss the results. My sister commented in a recent email to me "in the UK doctors are really secretive about results of tests - they seem to think that a little knowledge can be very dangerous."

I recently asked for a referral to a specialist, and he asked for copies of my records from the other doctors I had already seen, including my opthalmologist, to be faxed or fedexed to him before he would even make an appointment with me. I assumed the other doctors would send the notes directly to the specialist, but in almost every case their office staff told me I could pick the records up myself. One of the doctors I've seen recently said that he always writes his patient notes with the expectation that at some point the patient will see them. One specialist sent me a copy of the report that he sent to my primary care physician/GP without me even asking for it. Another dictated the notes before I left the room "so you'll know what I'm telling your primary care doc. and you have a chance to correct me if I make a mistake."

It was interesting to see what gets included in the reports.There were entertaining comments such as:
"Denies recent illness. Denies sore throat, cough or nasal congestion."
"well developed and nourished; appropriately groomed; in no apparent distress."
"Communicates appropriately for age"  
Then there's all the detail about my health of course, most of it understandable, but I did have to look some words up: apparently I have no diploplia, dysdiadochokinesia, ataxia or dysmetria - and that's a good thing! If it sounds like I've had a lot of doctor's appointments recently, yes, I have and there are more to come. Despite the way it may sound, I do not have a life-threatening condition and am not even feeling ill. I do have an immense gratitude to my husband's employer for not going with a high deductible health insurance plan, and I have a cool new photo I can use for my Facebook profile for Halloween!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Mixed Britannia

I had never heard of this before - British subjects, living in Britain, required to give up their nationality simply because they married a foreigner. Nor did I know that in the 1940s, the children born to white women and black GIs stationed in Britain were described as "war casualties" in the UK and, in America, one congressman called them "the offspring of the scum of the British Isles". There's a series about Britain's mixed-race communities going to be broadcast on BBC2 starting on Thursday 6 October that I'd watch if I could, but iPlayer won't work here in the US :-(  There's a clip from it here and an article from the presenter of the series here.
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