Friday, October 28, 2011


Ever heard of Kefir?  Me either.  Until a few weeks ago.  It is a cultured milk product heavy in the "pro-biotics" for good gut health.  The only reason I heard about it is because my husband was doing research online to discover how people survived C-Diff infections.  He had this infection following a round of anti-biotics for an upper respiratory infection.  The result of using that antibiotic to get rid of his upper respiratory infection killed off all the "friendly" microbes in his alimentary tract and the bad stuff, C-Diff, got out of hand.  (Apparently C-Diff resides in most if not all people on this planet, but usually stays under control by the other resident "good" bacteria there.)

We came by some interesting information when we visited the heart specialist (for husband's yearly heart/pacemaker/defibrillator check-up).  Husaband was currently on a regimen of a different antibiotic to subdue the "bad" bacteria--when heart Dr. explained the problem with C-Diff is that the toxin C-Diff bacteria produces is next in line only to botulism in deadliness!  Can you imagine our astonishment? 

So my spouse researched and found that several people turned to drinking, eating, partaking of Kefir to re-introduce good, friendly, C-Diff controlling bacteria back into their system with better results than relying on treatment by yet another antibiotic.  By this time, husband had lost about 30 pounds!!  He's usually about 220 lbs, and at 6'3", it's seems just right.  He got down to 189.  I've known him for 42 years and even when he was very lean and in the military,  I have NEVER seen him this thin.

Oh, and yeah.  I forgot to mention that the ONLY antibiotic that USUALLY halts C-Diff proliferation is Vancomycin.  And it costs over $2000 for a two week course.  Yes.  You read it correctly, two thousand dollars.  Fortunately our insurance covered about half of that cost.  But Vancomycin is not always successful in knocking C-Diff  down and keeping it down and under control. Can you again imagine how encouraging that was?

That's where Kefir comes in.  Since we basically live in the country (with the closest city of any size about 80 or 90 miles away) I found no access to any retailers who carry Kefir products--even in the cities 80 or 90 miles away.  So I began looking online to find some.  What I found was Kefir starter retailers.  One supplier I found has a multitude of other cultures for sale--for you to make your own foods.  I had no idea about there being at least 11 different varieties of yogurts, for instance.  I didn't know that Greek yogurt was actually a different strain (or strains) of good bacteria--excuse me--probiotics from the yogurts I used to purchase and consume.  Now I know.  Apparently, Kefir--the kind of Kefir "grains" (more like granules than "grain" that grows in fields) I purchased to turn regular milk into Kefir--include over 50 different varieties of probiotics including a variety of yeasts as well. Who knew?

I purchased one little packet, watched the videos the company has online, and began the process of creating Kefir--to get my husband healthy again.  In the process--which apparently happens in my house (kitchen) Kefir is produced much quicker than in other people's houses (kitchens) because it is so warm here in Louisiana. 

The fun part of this whole thing is that as I've been producing Kefired milk, I've made some really tasty smoothies.  Our favorite so far includes a quart of cold Kefir, 6 ounces of frozen pineapple juice concentrate, 1 frozen banana, 1 cup of coconut milk and a pinch of salt all blended together.  An additional interesting thing is that I don't crave sweets quite as much as before Kefiring--making and drinking the stuff.  (Wish I could say I LOST weight, but I'd be lying.)

Husband did test negative for C-Diff a week or so ago.  We are so grateful!!!  I may try to make yogurt again.  It has been years.........and years.......even though making Kefir is so much easier than making yogurt!!!  Who would have known?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beating My Head Against the Wall

Since husband's retirement, I'm still trying to readjust my bill paying to match with the "new" schedule of income coming in.  My husband, a retired accountant, helped me set up a spread sheet with my "weird" parameters so that I could work the cash flow to more closely match the income with the outgo.

I'm no accountant, for sure, but the system I've been using for 20 years, including all my own spreadsheets for budgeting, tracking, and the like just don't work now that our incoming income dates are spread out so differently.  Trying to match up the out-going payments with due dates and actual money in the bank at the same time just isn't working out to suit me. (My lack of accounting training/understanding weird way of setting up my budget spreadsheets makes absolutely NO sense to him.  But then, in all fairness, he worked with millions of dollars and millions of other factors that had to . . . well . . . be accounted for!  And I'm not running a business!  Besides the old program worked just fine for me . . . until everything changed.  And my brain didn't work quite as quickly, or anything as it once did.  And stuff like that.)

I now have health insurance for me that we pay a bunch more for than when he was working.  And the literature explaining the date the payment is due doesn't mesh with when I have to pay actually them.  The monthly premiums are due on the first of each month, for that month:  i.e., January's payment is due on January first.  However, there are several switch backs up and down that mountain that I had no idea existed.  For instance:  Most bills I pay that are due on the first of the month, I pay so that there's about a week's grace period for the mail to get the check there and for their accounting folks to post it as paid before it is due and days before it becomes delinquent.  Right.  Easy-peasy.  Wrong!

I sent a check out on the 16th of the September, okay?  I figure it's got two, count them--one, two--full weeks to get credited to my account before the due date.  Welllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll I found out that doesn't work.  First of all, since I go through my banks "they'll-crank-out-the-checks-for-me" route, this is the time line my payment followed I learned just yesterday.
  • Check was generated by my bank on 9/16
  • Amount of check was debited from my bank account on 9/19
  • The check is sent to a "Lock Box" at the designated bank for the company administering the insurance (husband's former employer))
  • My bank generated check cleared the Lock Box bank account on 9/22
  • Lock box bank notified the insurance administrator on 9/26 that my payment was received
  • 9/26 is 6, yes, six days before 10/1 when the payment is due
  • 10/1 is a Saturday, a weekend day, not a business day
  • Notification of payment is required to be made by 9/23 for insurance coverage to keep insurance in active status.
  • I learned all this because I couldn't access my account information on 10/1-10/3 (haven't tried to access it today) because my insurance was not "active" though they had my payment long before the day it was due.
It is my contention that if a bill/insurance premium needs to be paid a full month in advance of the actual due date for that premium to be efficacious, why don't they just come out and say so in plain English?  And also, WHY, if my check has cleared their facility and they have my cash (so to speak) in their hands, WHY is that not legally binding on the administrators of my insurance policy/benefits until a week or two later, which would save us all a lot of paper work and headaches and loopholes, etc.?  Do you know that every month they generate a letter of about 2 or 3 typed pages and send it to me to let me know that my health insurance is current?  And when notification of the payments were getting there later than required, they would generate a new insurance card and send it to me each month?  I'm sure that cost nothing in time or money!

I asked the question of one of the people in the HR department who deals with this problem, not only for me, but others as well.  She was very kind and helpful and wonders about the convoluted payment process, too.  I said, "I guess it's a good thing that I didn't have to go to the ER this past weekend needing a pacemaker like I had to last year about this time while I had NO insurance coverage--even though I had paid my premium two weeks ago.  (My one year anniversary of my pacemaker installation (hee,hee) will be this Friday.  Yea!!!)

I also mentioned to this conscientious individual that the whole process is frighteningly close to the multi-layers of  excessively inefficient government bureaucracy.

So . . . I'm still working to fix my spreadsheets to fit my bill-paying needs to our cash flow.  Seems like cash flows out the door much faster than it flows in!  I know I'm not unlike jillions of others who work hard to keep their noses above water.  With so many things becoming more and more expensive, we're trying to pare back and stay afloat.  "Just keep on swimming; keep on swimming . . ."  (name that movie and whose line it was!)  And try not to bang my head too many more times against the wall.  I WILL get this mountain conquered!

One thing that was kind of fun in getting my husband/accountant to help me with the spreadsheet thing was I learned some cool stuff that Excel can do.  He mentioned that as much as he used Excel, and other spreadsheet software, Excel is really an amazing program with almost endless things it can do.