Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cantina Laredo Review

I have now been to Cantina Laredo three times. Of course, we have been to Los Vallarta somewhere nearing 100 times I think. Those are the only two mexican restuarants we have nearby (unless you could fast food mexican).

Cantina Laredo has a nicer environment, but they don't see to be very good at table management. Los Vallarta will get you in and out much faster.
Advantage: Tie

Los Vallarta has the best margaritas by far. They kick Cantina's butt without even trying. Plus, you can get a margarita the size of Mexico and enjoy the evening a lot more!
Advantage: Los Vallarta

Cantina Laredo kicks Los Vallarta butt with moderate effort here. However, Cantina Laredo gives these really small bowls of chips and is very stingy about refilling them. For example, we had one bowl of chips today for 5 people (each bowl holds maybe 15 chips). Los Vallarta has good chips and salsa, but the rest of the food is so so.
Advantage: Cantina Laredo

Los Vallarta looks like Bern's steak house compared to Cantina Laredo. The first waiter we had was good. The second waitress was so very bad that I wanted to walk out and never come back. The third waitress was so much better than the 2nd, but she was very slow on drinks and again was very stingy with chips.
Advantage: Los Vallarta

Cantina Laredo is in a much nicer location, and it is next to the Brass Tap for after dinner drinks. Los Vallarta is in a strip mall.
Advantage: Cantina Laredo

Winner – I think it is a tie. If you want to get a good buzz more than you want good food, then Los Vallartas is your place. If you want better food than margarita, then Cantina Laredo is your place. If you want good service more than all other criteria, Los Vallarta is for you. If you want other things nearby, Cantina Laredo is your best bet. Go with your mood but bring patience with you if you go to Cantina Laredo!

Healthcare Reform

Today, I responded to a request for information on healthcare issues. So, I decided that I would cheat and use some of them for my blog post of the day.

Briefly, from your own experience, what do you perceive is the biggest problem in the health system?
This question is too general. Most of the issues are symptoms of a larger problem. I think the biggest problem is that the consumer, the patient, feels like he is entitled to health care in a way that is very different than housing, electricity, water, and other basic necessities. The health savings accounts where the patient is responsible for paying out of pocket up to a certain amount (as long as that amount isn't too high) but gains access to preventive services at no cost and has a maximum out of pocket for ALL medical serivices including medications puts some of the responsibility back on the patient. Providers feel that they need to order too many tests to cover their liability, and the patient doesn't care a lot of the time if they have extra tests because they aren't usually paying for each individual item. Also, there is no penalty to the patient for causing some of the issues by lack of proper preventive care and for lack of nutrition and exercise. All of this together causes costs to skyrocket from every angle. On top of this, ancient processes and systems are used in healthcare to generate and maintain paper records where electronic records will dramatically increase efficiency, improve patient care, and reduce cost.

How do you choose a doctor or hospital? What are your sources of information? How should public policy promote quality health care providers?
I chose my primary care doctor because of his schedule (open 8 - 8 Monday through Friday and 8 - 6 on Saturday and 8 - 3 on Sunday. I chose my urologist (kidney stones) based on a recommendation of a friend and then stayed because I liked him and the way he treated me. I think patient satisfaction ratings in combination with measuring quality measures for chronic disease conditions and penalties to those who do not achieve (lower rates of pay or fines for sloppy quality) are the best ways public policy can help. As an employee, I must meet certain performance objectives to get salary increases, to keep a job, and to have a potential for bonuses. Not meeting those requirements cost me increases, bonuses, and possibly my job. Why should medicine be different?

Have you or your family members ever experienced difficulty paying medical bills? What do you think policy makers can do to address this problem? Yes, we have. With kidney stones, I have to have a lot of CT scans and then lithotripsy or uteroscopy to get them out. The medical bills have been staggering at times - even after insurance. Additionally, MANY medical bills are denied or partially paid, and it takes a HUGE amount of work to stay on top of those issues, to talk to the insurnace company about them, and to make sure the corrections are made. Policy makers should make the charges and payments part of healthcare MUCH simpler and easier to follow from a provider, patient, and payor view. It is much too complicated and has way too many risks.

In addition to employer-based coverage, would you like the option to purchase a private plan through an insurance-exchange or a public plan like Medicare?
I think people should have access to plans regardless of their employer. I think employers can contribute to this as a benefit, but the plans should be available to the patient. Part of the problems in health care are the solutions available to smaller companies and available to certain jobs are much more expensive to get coverage AND to get care when the patient goes to get care.

Do you know how much you or your employer pays for health insurance? What should an employer’s role
be in a reformed health care system? See above question

Below are examples of the types of preventive services Americans should receive. Have you gotten the prevention you should have? If not, how can public policy help? Yes, I have gotten the prevention I should. I think discounts on coverage/care or a deduction on taxes would help patients be more active in prevention. Also, you might have to pay a higher cost when you get a disease you didn't have preventive care to receive.

Just thinking about this and thinking about the big picture is pretty outrageous. Hopefully, some meaningful reform will happen sometime soon.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Back to Work and Pre-Op

Today was the first day back to work after Christmas. It is always a bit shocking (or change of state-ish as Travis says) to return after a few days off. I had a very productive day, and I also got my pre-op visit done. I have to say that the medical world as a patient is a very messy world. I never cease to be shocked by all that goes on.

Today, I had the job of having my information put into the hospital application. Since it didn't go so well, I am thankful it wasn't the software I work on. She went through and asked me all of these questions, and then she saved. I watched as I was curious of the interface. It was very thorough, but it was cumbersome. She couldn't go through the list as a typical nurse would ask questions. She was forced through some odd items. However, since this is what I do, I was entertained. However, she then was kicked out of the application. She could not log back in. She tried and she tried and she tried and she tried. No luck. Of course, the Anesthesiologist then comes in and can't access ANY of the info that was just put into the application. So, she starts ALL over again on paper. They never could get my information back, so the nurse had to put it all in again. Of course, this is my fourth time having surgery at this hospital for kidney stones, so it is pretty embarrassing that they can't just pull up my info from last time. They did have some cool new handprint gadget for accessing your records. And they did have a signature capture device for the consents. However, all bonus points for those was evaporated by the rest. The nurse said that every afternoon the application goes down. The anesthesiologist said that every afternoon the application goes down. Hmmm...I am sensing a pattern. This software happened to be by a company that starts with a C. I did laugh that the nurse said that she heard that it was the cheapest software available and that is why they have it. I have a feeling that most users have no idea the expense in software, training, maintenance, etc that it takes to get an enterprise system going and to get it working properly. I guess it is all a matter of perpective, but it was interesting to be on the end user side. My urologist uses the software that I work on, and it is always interesting to see them use it. It makes me think that I should go on a road show as a patient at several practices that use our software to see what happens!

Of course, getting this lithotripsy scheduled has been a bear, and even today they said that they would call me on Friday to let me know the time!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chris Driving, Titans Losing, We will miss Grams and Papa

Today, we relaxed around the house with Wii, PS3, keyboard playing, and showers. We left for Buffalo Wild Wings around noon to watch the Titans with Grams, Papa, and Uncle Mark.

View from the back of the van (Chris is driving!)

Apparently, we didn’t leave early enough as there weren’t seats for us. L There was a Grill 54 restaurant, so we went there. The service was pretty slow, but the food was good (most of us had burgers and they were HUGE!). The Titans apparently forgot that they were supposed to PLAY today, and they were stomped. I guess it is hard to get motivated when you already know you are in the playoffs, have a bye week, and have home field advantage. So, we cut them some slack. Morgan said it best as we were leaving, “Why do Grams and Papa have to go home? Why can’t they just get a part time house here?” We have loved having them here and will miss them.
Chris did a lot of driving (especially after Katie forgot her book at the restaurant and we had to go back to get it!). Mike and I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to get our new elliptical machine today. It was quite the effort to get it upstairs (it is HEAVY) and to get it put together. The man at the store said it would take 30 minutes or so. I think it took us 2 hours (and Mike is good at these kinds of things!). Whew…I am so excited to have it though! I will need it too because we opened the basket that Deborah sent the kids and had ice cream with all kinds of toppings!!! YUM…

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Movie Day

Today, we took it pretty easy at home (slept late, late breakfast/brunch), and then we went to see Marley and Me at the new theater by our house. We bought the tickets online, so we just picked them up at the kiosk. LOVE that. Of course, Mark was late with Grams and Papa, and he thought it was funny to pretend that he thought the movie was 2 hours later when I called to check on them. What a comedian! The concessions at the new theater is a bit different. It is like going through a cafeteria line. You get popcorn, self-serve your drinks, pick up candy, etc and then pay on the way out of the line. It works pretty well, but it was different. From my theater working days, I like the idea of trying different things. I am not sure it is much more efficient, but it is new. :)

The theater has a dining area where only adults can go. Since we had the kids, we had to sit in the “regular” theater seating. Even though we got there early, the theater was full, and we had to sit in the third row. Man it was close! The seats were nice and rocked. The movie was fantastic. It definitely ranks in the top 5 movies I have seen this year. It even made the entire family cry. Been a long time since a movie got everyone! I thought it was pretty typical of relationships and it was great with the people/pet relationships. It was just a great movie. After the movie, Chris drove us to the new mall for Morgan to get the book Twilight. Katie has been reading it and is now on the second book, so Morgan is now wanting to join in. She seems to love it so far. Chris is getting better at driving. It is fun to watch him learn.

After that, we went home and relaxed for a bit. Mike and I ended up falling asleep on the couch. Awww...

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After Christmas

Gift cards were burning holes in the kids' pockets, so we went shopping today. Michael wasn't feeling well, but he was a trooper anyway. We went to Best Buy where he picked out his electric keyboard, and the girls got Sims expansion packs. Amy looked at elliptical machines again.

I have been getting requests to join Facebook, so I finally made the plunge today. I am still figuring it out, but I couldn't believe that I let Mike and Mark both beat me to a social networking event! :) So, now that I am there, come on and comment on my wall! :)

We went to Travis' for a party in the evening, and the new margarita machine got a workout! I think it was a huge hit. Mike must have made 20 pitchers of margaritas, and the kids had virgin strawberry daiquiris. The Bond boys were hysterical, and Heather C finally arrived late with Aidan and Sean. Sam even remembered his bathing suit this time! Abhijeet was wanting the chicken wings from Publix so much that he went to pick them up! The sushi was a huge hit and was demolished pretty quickly. Kim had her new baby there, and she is adorable. Jennifer proved that she is fantastic with babies (we think we might have to ask her to babysit!). Mark McCune even showed for a while! It was lots of fun and it was great to unwind after the hectic holiday schedule.

The Bond Boys hamming it up.

Morgan and the Bond Boys

Camden and the adorable oven mitt

Jennifer holding Kims' Beautiful Baby

Camden Scolding Uncle Mark

Riley (the previously shy one) singing Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (Morgan's FAVORITE when she was younger)

Hysterical Moment when the hot tub drained and the jets were pelting the kids (listen for "turn off the jets, turn off the jets")

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Group Photos and Evil Mike

Waiting for Mike's report on the MyVu glasses...(Amy is so jealous!)

McFalls and Gleasons (And Abhijeet!)

Raided these from Morgan's Camera today

Merry Christmas!

I am back from my blog holiday, and I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I needed a little break, and it has been pretty stressful with work, holidays, and kidney stones (I am getting them blasted by lithotripsy on Jan 5). I was in Atlanta last week, and my family arrived Monday/Tuesday for Christmas. Cleaning, shopping, working, etc was pretty hectic, but thankfully we made it to Christmas and have now survived the holiday!

Grams and Papa came in on Monday (they drove down), and Mike came in on Tuesday. I worked on Tuesday and part of the day on Wednesday, and I am off until Monday. :) Grams and Papa braved the traffic to get Mike during rush hour, and then we all went to the new mall for dinner. Cantina Laredo, which was very good the first time we went, was very bad this time in the service department. The food was good, but the service was horrific. In fact, it was so bad that I asked for a manager and NEVER had one even bother to come to the table. They did rescue us by sending a different server - thankfully. My mom didn't care for the margaritas (I like them though), and she said her food was so so. I had the fajitas and they were great. Morgan asked for some plain cheese dip early on, but they didn't bring it for over 45 min). Also, we asked for water and margaritas several times with no luck. She was dreadful. Thankfully, the new waiter was much better and turned the service around.

Mike and Mark stayed at our house, and it was really nice to have the family all together. It was too bad that the kids weren't here though. They didn't come until today as they were in Atlanta with Dana's family.

I took Morgan to the doctor on Christmas Eve as she was still hacking away after 5 days of the antibiotic and 12 days of coughing. He gave her an inhaler (which took a while to convince her that inhalers were not only for kids who have asthma) and some prednisone. Hopefully she will be better soon.

We had fantastic paella for dinner (Papa makes the best paella/jamballaya),and it was just fantastic to be around each other. Mike and I did some last minute shopping to try to work around Mark's apparant dislike for the presents that we got him. It was hysterical. Mike and I were cracking up). It was almost as if he knew what we had gotten and was messing with our heads.

We hung out Christmas Eve and even sang some Christmas songs. Morgan woke up the earliest she has in years for Christmas morning, and we got up around 7:45. Santa was very good to us, and we had a great time today. I got a new watch that looks nice for business, a Margaritaville margarita machine, a Tennessee serving tray, earrings (4 pair!), a beautiful Mom bracelet, a wine club membership, some euros for our trip, gift cards, money, and more! The family even got a blue ray player from the cats! :) The kids arrived around 2, and Alice, Marion, and Matthew arrived a little before 2. Abhijeet came over for dinner too! We had a fantastic time and a fabulous dinner!

I hope everyone had a fantastic day!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Morgan's Christmas Concerts

On Thursday, Morgan's chorus at her school had a concert. It was in the cafeteria and was very nice. There are three music teachers at her school, and Mr. G was my favorite. He was hysterical and entertained the parents.

On Friday, the same chorus performed the same concert but at the new Wiregrass mall here. The new mall is HOT as it is outside and very nice. This area has been very starved for a mall, and the new one is very popular. Right now, they are doing a Christmas lights show as you can see below (a very quick samples).

Here is a sample of my favorite of her chorus songs. It is called Pinata!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Scary Pharmacy Incident

So, I have to go back for another visit next week for lithotripsy. There is some new machine that will supposedly work better for my remaining stones, so I will get them all blasted next week too.

I got a new prescription for Urocit K (Potassium Citrate) which is supposed to get the pH of the urine to a level that kidney stones won't form. So far, I have been taking 1 tablet twice a day. So, today, the doc upped my dose to 2 tablets twice a day. Well, the Walgreens pharmacist misread the script and filled it as THREE times a day. I was looking at it and thinking, "Didn't he say twice a day??" So, I call the pharmacy and ask him to verify it. He says, "that b and t look an awful lot alike" and then he says, "oh, it must be twice a day as he wrote for 120 tablets and 4 tablets a day times 30 days would be 120 tablets." HOLY SHIT. This is a perfect example of why we need electronic prescriptions and e-prescribing. My doctor wrote the script at the bedside on a pad, but if he had done it on the computer it would have been legible, accurate, and would have been waiting for me when I got to the pharmacy. When we were in Hilton Head for Thanksgiving, the doctor faxed Morgan's script (not e-Rx but better than handwritten or printing). When we got to the pharmacy, it was all ready to go. LOVE to see what I do apply to ME for a change. I wish it had been the same today. Postassium is not exactly something to mess around with either.

Regardless, I am home, safe, and on pain meds trying to feel better before I go in again for the "new and improved" lithotripsy."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving in Hilton Head

Even feeling badly, it was great to be with family for Thanksgiving. Once again, Mom and Dad had quite the spread every single day, and we enjoyed being together. Unfortunately, Morgan and Mike started feeling badly on Wednesday night, and they both got progressively worse.

The Vols won, and the Titans won. The rest of the family had a rough weekend.

It was not fun on the way back. It took us 9 hours to get home, and it rained the entire way. Traffic was awful, and Morgan and Katie were both feeling badly. Katie now has the sore throat that Morgan and Mike have. Lovely. Mark and I want to spray ourselves with Lysol every day.

By today, both of them had fevers. YUCK...

I am ready to get these stones out. Will be a happy day.