A Rant About Healthcare

True story

On Thursday late afternoon our son who attends college in Vincennes, Indiana, texted to tell me he was out of one of the three drugs he uses to control his seizures. He must take his drugs or he will have a seizure. He told me he had enough to last to Saturday. I called the pharmacy that told me-“Nope-not up for refill for 8 more days. Call your doctor.”

Of course one can’t call the doctor until business opens the next day, so Friday at 8:00am I called his neurologist. Meanwhile, I have my son hunting high and low for apparently 8 days worth of missing pills.

The outgoing message at the neurologist’s office asks you to choose an option: press one for appointments, press two for prescriptions, press three for a nurse and so on. I pressed three for the nurse and got voice mail and left an extensive message detailing our problem. Her outgoing message tells me I will wait up to 48 hours for a reply. Also, ironically, the outgoing message says that if I have a problem with a scrip to call the pharmacy. There is almost always a black hole of bureaucracy between these two entities. I can’t tell you the number of times the pharmacy has told me to call the doctor and the doctor has told me to call the pharmacy.

I wait 20 minutes and call again, this time pressing the buttons to get me to a live human who reassures me that the nurse is there and working her way through the voice mail, and she should get to it at any minute.

At 11:30,  I had not heard from her, so I called again, pressing buttons to get me to a human and this time the nurse herself answers the phone. She tells me that she will talk to the doctor and can handle it immediately, and I also ask her to send the scrip to Walgreens in Vincennes. Walgreens is the pharmacy closest to campus.

BTW—she acknowledged that it was the doctor’s office who called in the wrong scrip initially. Our son didn’t lose his pills, he simply was not given enough. “Oops, I’ll send in the correct scrip this time.” The nurse apologized and we told our son to stop hunting for the missing pills.

Now,  I pass the task  to my husband Geoff. It is his job to call Walgreens and give them our insurance and make arrangements to pay for the drugs that our son needs. He calls me shortly after to tell me its all set. Walgreens helped him set up a special payment account and took our insurance information. “No problem.” he said.

But wait, an hour later he notes on this special payment site that, Walgreens has posted that our insurance will not work with Walgreens and they will charge us $1200 for the 30-day supply. For those of you who do math that is $20 per pill twice a day for 30 days.

So he calls back to the Doctor’s office. Now it is about 2:00pm on Friday. Geoff talks to the nurse again, and she says that she will talk to the doctor again and send in a new scrip to CVS in Vincennes. We wait for confirmation. Nothing comes. Geoff drives to the doctor’s office at 4:30.  The nurse is still there, but the doctor is gone for the weekend, and she apparently never asked him to resend the scrip to CVS in Vincennes. She tells Geoff, “He’s driving to Louisville for the weekend. I’ll try to get ahold of him and have him call it in.”

Well nothing comes through. It is 8:00pm. No doctor response at all. The outgoing message on the doctors voicemail says simply to hang up and call 911. We think perhaps we need to go back to Walgreens and pay for 4 pills ($80) to get him through till Monday and then try again on Monday for CVS to fill the full scrip. Perhaps we can get the doctor to call next week?

I call CVS one more time, and after much discussion of the situation, (We have been on the phone with them three times now. They know us well.) the nice lady at CVS reveals that in fact they can call Walgreens and get the scrip from Walgreens. Who knew! At 8:45pm the pharmacist from CVS calls to tell me that not only does he have the scrip ready and waiting for my son to pick up, but there are coupons that can get us a 14 day supply for free and money off on the rest. Who knew!!

The moral of the story. CVS in Vincennes really helped us. I am switching all my scrips there even if they charge more. They came through for me. The pharm tech and the pharmacist were the heroes.

The second moral: The system is really messed up. It took two adults a whole day of head scratching, texting, phone calling and waiting to get doctors, pharmacists and insurance companies to come together to get two weeks worth of little white pills, SO MY SON DOESN’T HAVE A SEIZURE.  What happens when a parent who doesn’t have a decent employer who lets her make calls while at work needs to fix something like this?  What happens to people who don’t have insurance and  need to get meds to stop seizures?  What happens to someone who just can’t figure out how to make it work tries to get medicine? It should not be this hard.

Ask me sometime how often stuff like this happens.

Please please someone out there. FIX the HEALTHCARE SYSTEM!!!!

The Stars Decide to Rearrange Themselves


Old Orion got tired of his reputation
For hunting innocent animals
All for food
So he became a vegetarian
And turned his bow into a plant pot
Where he would grown herbs to
Flavor the salads he now favored.
The twins learned that there were now
Operations that could safely separate them
After all of the millennia of being
Bound to one another
So they underwent the scalpel
And  finally free
Went their separate ways..
Virgo was really tired of being virtuous
And saw one the freed Gemini
Looking for a new mate
She hooked up with him
(poor twin with such a short-lived freedom)
And a nova was born..
Meanwhile, Aquarius tired of his watery burden
And smashed the pot
Leaving his hands free to hold the moon..
Pisces fell out of Aquarius’ water pot
And landed on Mars
Where he grew legs and developed into  a land animal.
Leo chased Pisces, thinking of his next meal
But found Mars too hot and so decided to chase his own tail
The twirling turning him into a fire-breathing dragon.
Cancer wanted to lighten up a bit
And so left his shell and became
A happy octopus floating in the night sky
Looking for Taurus
Who had tired of his own beastly nature
And become a reef in the night sky
Perfect for the Cancer octopus
To befriend.
The Large Dipper was weary of being so easily spotted
By the amateurs below
And so changed its handle into a ladder to the sun
Where it would be lost to the sight-seers
By the glare of fire ball.
All in all,
It was a busy night,
They all agreed.
Happy in their new selves
Looking for some adventure
Out there in the universe.

Bev Hartford  For the Poplar Grove Muse

It’s NaPoWriMo Day #3—a poem that plays with voice

Some of us live, deep inside, for NaPoWriMo, or, now, Na/GloPoWriMo, formerly know as National Poetry Writing Month, now National/Global Poetry Writing Month

We at WWf(a)C have a “secret” Facebook page (I personally figure the more anyone hacks and knows about poetry writing, the better!), and anyone who wants to join at any point in the month is welcome to join us.

We write to a daily prompt provided at   http://www.napowrimo.net/
each day at midnight EDT, or to our individual muses, post our writings on the page, and share responses to our writings (mostly in the affirmative “readback lines” style Women Writing generally uses). Consider yourself invited to join the fun, at any point in the month, as an appreciator or a participant.  Watch out, this writing practice can be addictive, causing serious withdrawal symptoms in May, and anticipatory tremors in February and March….

Here is today’s rough response from me:

The Voices

Hey, how are you? (I miss you every day, wish you well every day, You are my child, my heart.)

I’m doing well.  (Not sure I can let you in. Or if I even want to. At least today.)

So, what’s going on? (Trying so hard to be light, to make space for you to be, to share. DO NOT ask for information. Accept what is offered. Gratefully. Be cool.)

Oh, not much. (Everything. You couldn’t possibly understand. Could you?)

We’re plodding along here.  No big changes. (Not since the seismic departure of essential you.)

That’s good.  (Whew, don’t have to worry about you guys. Grateful you are grownups.)

How are classes going? (I mean, how is your stress level, NOT how are you performing?)

Okay, my prof really liked my paper for the last senior seminar. (Can we not do this?)

That’s great. (I think you are fabulous. I love you. Everything you do is wonderful. Can we not do this?)

Well, it sounds like this might not be the best time to talk. (Please do not let this blow up now.)

Yeah, well, I’ve got lots to do, and laundry, and a meeting in an hour. (Please don’t blow this up.)

Okay. Don’t want to keep you. We love you so much. (Whew. Didn’t blow it up.)

Love you so much Mom.  (I do. Why is this so hard?  Whew.)

Love you so much.  (SO, so much.  You have NO IDEA. And that’s okay. That’s as it should be.)


Old Growth

Recently, I attended a local conservation club meeting at our public library.  The topic was old growth forest.  I ‘ve been curious about our native forests ever since reading John Muir’s account of his arrival in Indianapolis in 1866.  Muir writes of his decision to arrive in Indianapolis in his autobiography,

Looking over the map I saw that Indianapolis was an important railroad center, and probably had manufactories of different sorts in which I could find employment, with the advantage of being in the heart of one of the very richest forests of deciduous hard wood trees on the continent.

He felt some peace of mind to settle in Indianapolis, for the forests…for the flowers.  In a letter he wrote to his sister in 1866,

The forest here, is almost in full leaf I have found wild flowers for more than a month now. I gathered a handful about a mile and a half from town this morning before breakfast. When I first entered the woods and stood among the beautiful flowers and trees of God’s own garden, so pure and chaste and lovely, I could not help shedding tears of joy.

I grew up south of Indianapolis.   From my bedroom window, I could see the red and white coal tower puffing out smoke.   In elementary school, we were taught that our capital was built on a swamp.  That all the building in downtown Indianapolis were sinking because of the soft ground.   Until these last few years, I had no clue about the dense forests that once stood in the middle of our state.

I live in the southern portion of our state now, in the hills.  This is just beyond where the Illinois Glacier stopped and receded.  Every time I drive from Indianapolis to where I live, I traverse barren flatland, and wait eagerly to see the first rolling, tree lined hill.  This is the entryway into miles and miles of green rolling forests.

From the talk, I also learned that huge rock deposits were left when the glacier receded leaving some patches of uniquely shaped rock deposits and boulder drop-offs.  Part of what I love about the southerly part of  this state is the feeling of the place, and the land.   Yet, there is still a part of me formed by and longing the broad star skies and everyday sunsets from the more north flatlands.

I would not say I grew up in a forest, or even near a forest.  By the time I was born all of our forests had been cleared.  The drive from where I grew up to the southern part of the state where I live now was frequent.  Our family, a quiet nucleus, mostly kept to our own explorations and traveled around the lesser known pockets small towns and back country roads.  We spent time visiting old cemetaries, paying respects to dead relatives, collecting grave rubbings, or visiting park areas.  I grew up on the country roads between quiet fields and small thatches of young trees.

My mother’s family farm extended largely across several flat acres south of Indianapolis.  On the land sat a two story white home, a red barn, porch swing, hogs, cattle, corn, a tractor and one single shade tree a mile out in the middle of the forever rows of corn.  I spent time fossil hunting, tractor riding, drinking bitter sun tea, and searching for farm cats in the barn. Finding a way to make sense of the countryside, the heritage of the Midwest farmer born into this place with forever vistas and slow suns, fueled my young impresions.

When I read John Muir’s vision of Indianapolis when he was 30, as a worker in a saw mill, I put a few things together, that the operation of clear cutting and logging in the area has had a long history.  And, those endless vistas where I watched the clouds change with the sun, evening upon evenings, inspiring my  mystical love of the natural world were made possible by the destruction of acres of forest.

My private roof top stargazing, refuge from the daytime world was possible through this removal.  It is no less beautiful for me now than it was then, even knowing that my first great love came from conscious destruction.

So, while I was sitting in our conservation club meeting, a native to this area, hearing about the forest that once were, I was held in poignancy.  How sometimes, serendipity happens, beauty and magic pop up in mysterious ways, things are not as they seem when they happen.

Old Growth.

I wonder what mystical experience I would have had as a child if the trees were left alone, if I would have climbed to the rooftop at night and looked into the canopy of trees, if I would have tried to make it to the top of the branches just to get a taste of the open sky.

I miss the big sky of my youth.  Which is one of the only reservations I harbor about choosing to consciously remain planted in the rolling hills of our southern forest.

Allison for the PGM

Winter Transformations

We walk on water like land.

It could be a field

except we slide across the surface

and see below it the frozen form of algae

the perfect white circle of a bubble

caught and preserved.


The sun sets over the wooded hill

its dim light turns the snow blue.

I watch two men, the only ones out today,

walk slowly out to the middle of the lake.


I feel myself walking these months on slippery ground,

a foundation not a foot deep

wondering if I tread safely

or if I will step and be submerged.


If I think about the brilliance of the sun

and look up to the pink of the clouds

and down to the pale blue of the snow

then I can keep putting one foot in front of the next.

Why have we left the safety of the shore?

What is out here for us?

— Laura Lasuertmer for the Poplar Grove Muse

Stories We Tell

Stories we tell,

layers of history, beliefs,

built by stories

handed down from one to another.

Pebbles in the path, precisely placed,

inform the direction the path will take,

causing some to turn,

some to turn about,

clearing along the way.

Some follow the path, never deviating

except to climb the occasional boulder,

while some prefer to walk around,

learning different lessons.

For each, the other road becomes

the story

in the story.

Choice creates the landscape,

the background, the narrative

of both paths.

Taken and not.

Stories we tell get passed on

to those who sit greedily at

the feet of the storyteller,

wanting to know about the paths, the choices,

while imagining a path of their own and the stories

they will someday tell.

Sherri Walker for the Poplar Grove Muse

March 12, 2018

gratitudes and attitudes


we have shared heart and soul
photo albums bursting at the seams
tender moments
harsh reminders
relationships, religion, reality
content and discontent
gratitudes, attitudes
and just plain old pretty words

are we writing for a change
or are we change itself
personified in ink of many colors
drying on each page
filling notebooks
lined and unlined
wide open to our used-to-be
our here-and-now

we have lugged heavy baggage
unbuckled straps
dumped more than
we remember packing
good, bad, and butt ugly
struggled not to toss
the baby with the bath
dragged out musty clothing
too long in closet corners
sorted it
shaken it down
hung it out to give its wrinkles
to the wind

we try to be impervious
to critical voices
past and present
drown them mercilessly
in bottled–up tears
punch down perfectionism
let it rise as something new
something edible
smother it with
butter and strawberry jam
and share each warm slice
with all who offer
an outstretched hand

—May 8, 2006           Glenda Breeden for The Poplar Grove Muse




The Dangerous Old Woman

We are each born with two forces that give us every lens we need to see who we really are: the wild and ever-young force of imagination that contains intuition and instinct, and the wise elder force of knowledge that holds boundaries and carries the heart of the visionary.  ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés



After hearing Mary Ann Macklin’s recent deeply touching message based on Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ audiobook “The Dangerous Old Woman”, I had the realization that I was born a Dangerous Old Woman. And that is why I scared the shit out of my mother. In her own psychic way, I think she sensed early on that I was never going to morph into the being she wanted me to be. I looked and acted so much like my dad, that I think she could see nothing of herself in me. This created what turned out to be (in her mind) an irreparable rift between us.

She wanted me to be a little lady, a life-size version of a baby doll, with no opinions, no sense of style, or dreams of her own. I had absolutely no interest in that kind of life’s path, but was born with a job and that job was to make my mother look good. I was not an openly rebellious daughter. I was a good student, rarely got into trouble at school, but I tried to break out of her mold whenever possible. I was a tomboy with little interest in dolls or girly things. I didn’t play house with my girl cousins. We played office. We managed things. We were in charge. And we liked it that way. I played ball, rode my bike, swam, ran, and jumped all over creation on my pogo stick.

If you are not free to be who you are, you are not free.  ~Clarissa Pinkola Estés

I resonate strongly with this quote. The freedom to feel different has always been important to me. My mother saw my personal freedom as a real threat to her, a criticism of how she led her life, which was never straight forward, but through passive aggressive manipulation. She was an excellent role model for that behavior and it took me a long time and a lot of professional help to operate in a different way in the world, a way of healthy boundaries, to stop people pleasing, to say no without explaining, to say no without fearing the consequences. To live an honest life in which I trusted myself, that my instincts were good.

At a very young age I realized that I had strong psychic abilities, that I knew things without really knowing how I knew them. The veil was always very thin for me. The other side is always there for me. I feel it. Hear it. Sense it. This has always been a comfort to me. Even when I’m alone I feel supported, held. I’m sure that has helped me to follow my own path and stay true to my heart’s desires.

Rebekah Spivey

January 2018


Artwork by Wendy Andrew

Dogyote Jabberwocky





Coyodelers  in the early evening
Yipflapping at each other
“Oh solome, Oh aloneme,
I am so furlone !”
The dogousins reply
Answering in longing dogsobs
“We heare, come set us free
So we can fleeway
From our manasters
Who pentie us to their houlses
And call us their ‘best friends’.”
Caninetimes I hear them
And am tempted to
Shed my own humafur
And run
With them.

Bev Hartford

Breaking Trail

During our recent double-snow-ice weekend extravaganza, my husband was away, and I spent many hours out in the aftereffects, shoveling and walking the dog.  It was a wonderful opportunity for embracing cold and silence, and for observing the snow-covered wonderland.

  1. Silent Night

It snowed all night, and into the next day,
Snow falling, silence falling, deep and deeper.
Alone for some days, myself and the dog,
Ventured out into the muffled dark.

The quiet, overwhelming, enfolded us.
The world was ours, this whiteness ours alone.
My pup, a black blur, hurdling soft heaps,
Twirling and arcing, ecstatic in the drifts.

It stills the mind, this blanketed world,
Cars disappeared under new-mounded lids ,
Paths gone, my track made new, and difficult,
But in a simple way, a way that pleases.

Frost and Stevens with their minds of winter,
Heard darkness, deepness, in their empty woods,
Wind in bare trees, or death, or nothing.

I hear my own footsteps, breaking  trail,
The muted celebrations of a dog in fresh snow,
Our footprints weaving together and apart,
My thoughts, loud in my head and heart,
All the world a silent new beginning.

  1. Snow Sparkle

The following brilliant day, this scene ablaze,
We break our trail again, now barely there,
Obscured—no soul has braved this glittering path.

My dark companion, bolder in the light,
Is everywhere, inhaling, marking  scent
For fellow travelers who’ll widen our way.

The dazzle blinds me, penetrates my core
With light and lightness, burns my senses clean,
Displaces thought with glistening crystal glare.

I stoop to parse the mystery, this diamond field,
The luminous, shifting sparkle spread out wide,
A million mirrors answering the sky.

Mary Peckham for The Poplar Grove Muse