Sunday, May 29, 2016

Moving ... Cincinnati Bell ... Prayers

Hello!  When I last posted, John & I were once again embarking on a search for a rental home. Good news here ... we found one!!!  Whereas we had initially thought that the last one was good, God has blessed us with one that is even better! It is exceptionally clean & well cared for.  When we went to view it, I opened every cabinet, every drawer, every cupboard, checked out every appliance, examined every window & door, etc. The carpets were cleaned, the walls repainted (even in the garage!), & the bushes & trees had been trimmed.  It definitely passed the Shirlee test : )   It's in a nice little residential area.  The deck in back has a view of a bunch of trees, & I believe that beyond them lies a farm.  The street is a cul de sac, & at the end of it is a big hill where lots of cows graze   : )   While we were waiting to meet our agent to view the home, a young man from across the street came over to introduce himself & ask if we were moving there.  We told him we were thinking of renting this house.  He then went on to tell us what a nice place it is to live & how nice the neighbors are.  Told us a bit about himself & his wife, then said that if we needed help with anything we shouldn't hesitate to ask him.  I was quite impressed   : )   Oh!  I almost forgot to mention that this house is cheaper than the other one as well!  Cheaper, cleaner, nicer, quieter, bigger, has a deck & a fireplace, & the landlord is nicer as well!  We had to sign a two year lease, then it will switch over to a month-to-month lease. This suits us very well   : )   We have until the end of June to move out of our current rental, so we need to get busy!  This house is about an hour north of here.  We will be moving most things ourselves but will need to get movers to take the furniture & washer/dryer.  One month from today we should be busy settling into our new abode. We will both miss the area where we currently live, but I think we will come to enjoy the new area as well   : )

I now have a question for any of my readers who might have telephone & internet service with Cincinnati Bell.  How do you like it?  Would you recommend it to others?  It seems to have a lot of negative reviews online, but then our current provider & the one we had at our previous home also had negative reviews & they aren't/weren't too bad.  If you could email me with your thoughts, I'd really appreciate it   : )

Amidst all the drama of house hunting, three other serious issues have occurred.  The first was the death of one of my very best & closest friends, Mary. Although she had been quite ill for quite a long time, her death was very sudden & it hit me very hard.  I will do a blog post about her once we are settled.

The second was having to take John to the ER recently.  He was having a strange visual disturbance & his doctor told him to go immediately to the ER because he might be experiencing a retinal detachment.  This of course occurred late on a Friday afternoon when it was pouring rain, & we had to drive to his hospital in Louisville, which is an hour away, during rush hour. Not fun.  We arrived at the ER a little after 5 o'clock & didn't get home until after midnight.  They did a CT scan as they wanted to rule out a stroke or other brain issue.  Thankfully that was normal.  Then we sat in the waiting room for three hours until the young doctor dude arrived at the hospital.  He gave John a very thorough exam & said it was difficult for him to see the retina because cataracts were blocking it.  This was a surprise to John ... he had never been told that he had cataracts.  His last eye exam was just a year ago!  The young doctor dude told him that he would refer him to the retina specialist.  John saw the specialist this past Tuesday.  He doesn't think there is anything serious going on, nor does he think the cataracts are causing this sudden visual disturbance, but he told John what to watch out for (the warning signs of something serious happening) & then told him to return for a followup visit in a month.  The visual disturbance is still there.  The odd thing about this is that you would naturally think that maybe the cataracts were causing the visual disturbance.  In fact, a Ravelry friend of mine had this same kind of visual disturbance recently & her doctor blamed her cataracts, but both the young doctor dude & the specialist told John that the cataracts had nothing to do with his problem.  

Lastly, I was diagnosed with a rare pituitary condition about eight years ago.  My doctor at that time, based on the symptoms I described, only suspected that I had have some deficiencies. My blood tests showed that I did.  She did not say why I had these deficiencies but did say they weren't good.  She said I needed to take daily injections for the rest of my life in order to keep from, well, to have a decent quality of life.  The injections come in pens which are very expensive. When I began taking this medication, the pens were $425 each & I used one pen each month.  She told me insurance would not cover the cost of the medication, so I had to pay this money out of pocket which was, as I'm sure you can imagine, rather difficult.  As time went on, the dosage needed to be increased.  After being told that I was going to need to pay for three pens each month, I began looking for another doctor. This is a long story but one doctor was of no help at all. The next one said there must be a reason for these deficiencies & she ordered some brain scans.  This was when the rare pituitary condition was discovered.  She would not, however, help me get the medication I needed!  I went to another doctor who was unable to help me, but she referred me to someone who could.  He has been a God-send.  When I first saw him, he shared an office with another doctor & he was connected with a very good hospital.  He told me not to worry, my testing results proved I needed the medication & he would work with my insurance company to have them cover it ... & he did!  And they did!  When I saw him for my second appointment, he had moved to another office & was connected with another hospital.  He is still a very compassionate doctor, but this new office seems to place great importance on the number of patients you should see in a day ... so instead of spending a lot of time with me like he did at my first appointment, my appointments at this new place have been rather rushed.  This really isn't too bad as I only see him for maintenance purposes.  However, his nurse is not very smart ... or maybe she's just lazy ... or maybe it's both. When it comes time to renew my prescription, she always makes a mess of things ... sends it to the wrong pharmacy, leaves out important details like the dosage amount, etc.  It's always been a struggle for me to get my refills when it's time to renew them.  Three months ago I received a letter from my insurance company telling me they were no longer going to pay for this brand of medication, but my doctor could prescribe a different brand & they gave me the name of it.  I immediately made an appointment with my doctor who said not to worry, it was the same medication, just another manufacturer.  I received that medication & it seems to be causing me some side effects.  I was going to talk about them with my doctor at my next appointment which is in August.  In the meantime, I've been thinking that I should be getting a phone call any day now from the pharmacy telling me it's time for my next refill. However, what I received instead ... when I have two weeks of medication left ... is a letter from the insurance company telling me they are no longer going to pay for this medication!  They said I am welcome to pay for it myself.  The cost of this medication has risen & now costs over $10,000 for a three month supply.  You read that right ... $10,000.  My co-pay is $425.  I can't be without this medication or I will began to relapse & it won't be good   : (   I immediately called my doctor's office & asked for an emergency appointment.  I was told "no can do" ... that the doctor & both of his PAs were booked through September!  I was beside myself & explained my situation to the receptionist.  She sympathized with me & sent an electronic message back to the nurse to have her call me.  She wrote the message while I was still on the phone with her & read it to me as she was writing it.  I thanked her profusely. The nurse has never called.  Trying to talk with this nurse is like trying to talk with a sack of potatoes.  The doctor seems oblivious to this.  I contacted my secondary insurance company who told me they could provide the medication to me for free, but I would have to drop my primary coverage.  This sounded good to me.  I called the primary coverage but they told me that I had to drop all the coverage, not just the pharmacy coverage as it was all in one.  This still sounded good to me. However, because of all my medical problems, John is worried that the secondary won't pay for all the hospital or doctor coverage.  We need to ask about that.  There is also a possible problem in that we might not be able to drop me from the coverage now ... we might have to wait for "open season" which is in mid-November & won't go into effect until January.  This means I would be without the medication for six months.  We will pursue things further this coming week.  

If you would please pray for Mary's family, for John's eye, & for this medication situation, I would very much appreciate it.  

Oh!  Remember the furniture problems I was having?  They are still ongoing.  

And another Oh!  I most likely had two heart attacks back in April.  I described the symptoms to my doctor who was more than annoyed with me.  She said that if this happens again I need to go immediately to the hospital.  Even if the pain stops by the time I get there, there are some kind of tests that can be done to confirm if I had a heart attack or not.  From what I described to her, however, she is relatively sure they were heart attacks.  

I'm sorry that this post turned out to be so lengthy.  If you've made it this far, thank you for reading.  And thank you in advance for your prayers.    

Friday, May 13, 2016

In the Words of Rosanne Rosannadanna, It's Always Somethin'

In my post last week ... just last week ... I told you how on May 1st we signed the lease to rent a little house 20 minutes north of here.  Within a few days we rented a van, emptied our two storage units which were crammed & piled to the hilt, & took all that stuff up to the house along with about 90% of what was in my craft room & maybe 20% of other things.  No furniture yet though ... the movers would be moving that.  On Monday of this week I decided that I had better clean the kitchen so I could start moving my kitchen things up there. John planned to take up one load of things in the car, drop them off along with me, then head back & forth another time or two while I stayed behind to work in the kitchen.

As I stated in my last posting, the outside of the house was power washed, the walls were all repainted, Stanley Steamer cleaned the carpets, the homeowner took down all the light fixtures & cleaned them along with the ceiling fans, & cleaners came to give the kitchen & bathrooms "a good cleaning."  When we did the last walk though the house before signing the lease, everything appeared to be lovely.  I only opened one or two of the bottom kitchen cabinets & saw that the cleaners hadn't removed the random contact paper as I had requested.  The homeowner simply told me I could go ahead & remove it myself.    

So on Monday I gathered together a few rolls of paper towels, some Lysol disinfectant cleaner, & some Dawn antibacterial dish liquid.  Even though the kitchen had been cleaned, I still wanted to give the cabinets & drawers a wipe with disinfectant after I pulled off the random contact paper.  As I moved from cabinet to cabinet, I couldn't believe it.  When I finished wiping just one cabinet with the Lysol spray & a handful of paper towels, this is what the paper towels looked like.  Every cabinet & drawer I wiped out resulted in the paper towels looking like this.
In one of the cabinets, at the top front corner, there was a large cocoon or spider egg nest or some such thing which I had to remove.
The tops of the cabinet doors were greasy.  There were crumbs inside several of the cabinets & drawers.  When I got up on the counter to check the tops of the cabinets, they were full of grease, dust & debris.  

I spent four hours cleaning those cabinets & drawers ... just the insides & the doors ... with Lysol spray & paper towels.  I knew I would have to go over them one more time with soapy water to get them totally clean.  I had not expected to have to do all that work.  I was crying.  John was upset.  

That night I contacted the homeowner to let her know that the cleaners had not cleaned the cabinets & drawers.  I began my email very nicely, telling her how much John & I appreciated all the work she, her husband, & others had done to prepare the home for our arrival.  I then told her that I was, however, quite dismayed with the condition of the kitchen cabinets & drawers.  I described the condition & included half a dozen photos, telling her that I had spent four hours cleaning them & would need to spend a couple more hours to finish.  I told her that I hadn't looked inside the bathroom cabinets & drawers but I was guessing that if the cleaners hadn't cleaned the kitchen cabinets & drawers, they probably hadn't cleaned the bathroom ones either.  

Honestly ... if you hired cleaners to clean for you & they totally ignored the cabinets & drawers in the kitchen ... most likely in the bathrooms as well ... wouldn't you want to be made aware of it so that you could bring this to their attention?  I would!  And if I were renting a home to someone & they told me that they had found the kitchen cabinets & drawers looking this way ... & even sent me photographs as proof ... I would be so embarrassed!  I would apologize profusely to that person ... even offering them some money off their next month's rent as a way to make it up to them for having to spend all that time cleaning!  And I would thank them for letting me know this so that I could take it up with the cleaners!  But that is not how the homeowners responded to my email. Here is the email I received ... word for word.

Shirlee and John,

Howard and I have discussed your lengthy, in depth e-mail regarding the sub-standard condition of our rental home.  We realize that what we have done in the past nor what we will do in the future will satisfy your strict standards.  It is obvious this tenant/landlord relationship will not work out, so please send your Lexington mailing address and we will return your deposit, first month's rent along with a voided lease agreement.

Please move your items out as soon as possible and leave the keys and garage door opener on the counter.

To say that I was in shock is an understatement! Talk about overreacting!  Talk about exaggeration! I reread the email I had sent to her, which, by the way, was far from lengthy.  I had not been nasty or accusatory or anything of the sort.  John agreed.  He suggested I respond to say that we were merely letting her know that the cleaners had not done the job she paid them to do so that she would be aware of this before hiring them again, to tell her again how much we appreciated all the work that had been done, & to ask if they were sure they wanted to void the lease.  Her response was a description of the "couple thousand dollars" they had spent getting the house cleaned & in good repair, listing everything the money was spent on including "cabinets cleaned!"  I was told that what they consider to be "rental ready," we consider "not good enough" ... therefore, they were voiding the lease & wanted our things out of the home as soon as possible.

Hello???  Did they not look at the photos I sent??? They might have paid for the cabinets to be cleaned, but they weren't cleaned. 

So this coming Sunday, John & I will be renting another truck & killing ourselves making three or four trips back & forth in one day to bring 3 rooms full of boxes & an entire garage packed full of things back here to pile in our garage, dining area, & living room since we no longer have the storage units.  I have spent today & will spend tomorrow shuffling things about to make room for this mass of stuff.  

I have also once again started searching the online rental sites looking for rental homes. Pickings are slim at this late date.  I have no idea where we will end up living or what we will end up living in. 

Stay tuned for the next installment of
"Shirlee's Life!" 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Yes, Really ... A Blog Post from Me!

My life, as I'm sure you know if you've read any of my recent blog posts, has been very difficult for the past couple of months.  Mentally, physically, emotionally, situationally ... I have sometimes felt as if I am wearing a sign that reads "Hurt me, stress me, try to drive me crazy!"  But that's life sometimes, isn't it?  Times of bad, times of good.  I am weathering the storm.

One of my stressors has been trying to find another place to live.  I found the following image while looking for moving images & thought it kind of applied to me & John   : )

I sat down & figured it out one day.  This is our 40th year together.  In these 40 years we have moved 21 times.  This move will be our 22nd.  On average that's one move a little less than every two years.  And we've lived in 11 different states.  I sometimes tell John that I envy people who purchased a home when they got married & have stayed there all their lives.  John;s response is always "Yes, but look at all the adventures we have had!!!"  I'm getting kind of tired of adventures ... lol!

So back to finding a place to live.  I think that if I wrote a book, people would read it & not believe what I was telling them.  For those of you who are one of those "bought a home when they got married & stayed there" people ... & for those of you who have had an easy time finding another home when you need one ... you can't imagine that this would be a difficult process, but believe me, it is!  

I started contacting realtors & monitoring the online rental sites in late February.  John & I had no idea where we wanted to move, but I knew I didn't want to be too far from the doctors who have been caring for me.  We concentrated our search for a new home here in Kentucky, in Tennessee, & in Wisconsin.  Early on I found an absolutely gorgeous lake home in our price range in Tennessee.  It was clean, in perfect condition, & very roomy with a state of the art kitchen.  It had two decks ... one on the lower level, & another on the main level which actually wrapped around one side & most of the back of the home.  The entire back of the home consisted almost totally of windows which looked out onto wooded areas & the lake.  There was a little stream that flowed along the side of the property, making its way down to the lake.  There were geese & ducks & loons & various small birds.  It was gorgeous.  We told the realtor we wanted to rent it.  She contacted the owners who said "two year lease." We said a two year lease was fine with us.  Then a week went by, then two weeks, & to make a long story short, the owners decided to sell the house instead.  John & I were devastated.  Our search continued.  

Nothing we found compared to that lake house. Nothing could!  But all we really wanted was a clean home in good repair in a safe neighborhood. Not too much to ask, is it?

You will find this hard to believe ... I experienced it & I have trouble believing it ... but I responded to so many ads for rental homes, dozens of them, & the majority of people advertising the homes never responded!  Even when I contacted them a second, & in some cases a third time ... no response.  Yet their homes continued to be listed for rent!

When I would make contact with someone renting a home, I would explain to them that John & I were looking to rent an exceptionally clean, well cared for home in a safe, quiet neighborhood. They would then tell me how their home was immaculate & I would make an appointment for us to view it.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess.  Most of these homes were in terrible shape!  One had been rented by a family with an adult son who had anger problems.  He had punched holes in doors, thrown things at walls ... the damage was unbelievable.  The owner of the home told us that they were going to have the home professionally cleaned & replace three of the doors.  He needed to do a lot more than that to get that home back in decent shape!

Another home we viewed was not far from here. I was assured that it was in beautiful condition.  It definitely looked like the definition of perfection when you looked at the photos in the rental ad.  It wasn't.  The yard was overgrown, mold was growing on the side of the house, paint was peeling ... & inside the kitchen was a mess.  I opened the cabinet underneath the sink & it had no bottom!  There was just bare floor!  I pointed this out to the property manager who acted like that was normal!  The walls were filthy, & all the carpeting was stained.  In one room upstairs it looked like someone had dumped a pot of spaghetti sauce on the rug, then took a wooden spoon & slung it around on the walls.  When we showed this to him, he said the carpeting would be cleaned & the walls would be touched up with paint.  The carpeting needed replaced & the entire house needed repainted!

I reached out to some people, asking them to watch for rentals in their area.  That went nowhere.  I started looking at homes in other states.  That went nowhere as well.  

About three weeks ago I found a home about 20 minutes north of where we live now.  It looked like a nice home.  Small, but nice.  I contacted the owner who responded almost immediately, giving me her phone number.  We talked.  She said that John & I sounded like the type of renters she & her husband were looking for.  She said the home was being repainted (repainted!!!) but if I didn't mind the painter being there she would be happy to show us the home that afternoon.  The home is in a nice little residential area.  Everyone seems to take good care of their homes & property.  We walked into the house & sure enough, there was the painter busy at his work.  She explained to us that the carpeting was going to be cleaned, people would be coming to give the kitchen & bathrooms "a good cleaning," & the outside of the house would be power washed.  There appeared to be room for all our stuff.  No more renting storage units ... hooray!  There was no damage anywhere ... not on the walls, not on the woodwork, not in the bathrooms, not in the kitchen ... nothing!  We told her we were definitely interested in renting the home.  She had us fill out a rental application while we were there, then said she'd be doing a credit check but she wouldn't get the results of that until the following Monday.  She said she'd be in touch after that.

After we got home, I thought uh-oh, will the bedroom furniture ... another continuing source of stress which I hope will be gone in the near future ... fit in the master bedroom?  And the bonus room ... was there a door on that?  I contacted her to ask if she could possibly meet us at the house again so I could take some measurements.  She said she would be happy to meet us there on Sunday.  On Sunday I once again marveled at how good the home looked.  She said the painter would be finished painting by Friday, the cleaners would come to do their "good cleaning" that day, & the carpet cleaner would come on Saturday.  When I walked into the kitchen, I couldn't believe it!  All the switch plates & socket plates had been removed from the walls & were piled in the sink, waiting to be washed!  After all the horrors we had been seeing in all but one of the other homes we viewed, ... that one home being the lake house in Tennessee ... seeing all those switch/socket plates in that sink waiting to be washed, I just can't explain the feeling!  The owner asked us if we were seriously interested in renting the home.  We said yes.  She then said that as far as she was concerned, the home was ours.  She said she was going to stop showing the home & taking applications.  She said her word is good.  We shook hands & went back home.  

On Tuesday she contacted me to say our credit check was excellent (naturally) & we made an appointment to walk through the home & sign the lease the following Sunday.  

Although the home was in exceptional condition & the owner was almost as OCD as I am regarding things being as perfect as they can be, I continued to search for other rental homes.  I found a couple of interest, but either the people renting them didn't respond to my inquiries or there was some kind of glitch that made it impossible for us to rent them.  I thought to myself "God must really be trying to tell me that He wants us to rent this small home!"  

This past Sunday we walked through the house once again.  The owner brought her husband along ... also very nice ... & we all got along very well.  The house looked amazing!  The kitchen & bathrooms nearly gleamed.  The walls had all been painted, & the switch/socket plates were replaced.  She pointed out that they had replaced all the screws for the plates!  The carpeting was spotless.  She took me into one of the bathrooms & told me how sorry she was ... that the cleaners told her they had scrubbed & scrubbed & scrubbed but they couldn't get the stain off the side of the toilet.  I honestly almost had my face in the bowl & I couldn't see these stain she was talking about!  She then told me how they had taken down every light fixture in the house ... every light fixture ... & cleaned them!  And they had either washed or replaced all the blinds!  Even the garage was clean!

We signed a year's lease which will automatically turn into a month-to-month lease after that.  How perfect is that!  We are hoping to stay in this home for at least two years, but you never know what the future may bring. When we decide to move again, we will just have to give 30 days notice.  And did I mention that the monthly rent for this home is less than what we had thought we'd be paying for another rental?  Much less!

It will, in effect, be an easy move.  We will just be 20 miles up the road.  I won't have to painstakingly wrap & pad all my dishes & kitchen items or anything else really!  Still, packing is packing, & we have a lot of stuff, & this is how I'm feeling right now ...
We are actually double renting right now so we can take our time moving.  Last year we were so rushed!  We don't ever want to go through that again!  We will hire movers to move the small bit of furniture we have.  It is just too heavy for John & I to move it ourselves. 

So ... one stressor is gone, that of finding a new rental home.  Hopefully the others will follow. Thank you for your continued prayers   : )