We’re Sorry, We’re Cancelling Your Insurance


Srsly guys. A couple of weeks ago, I got a letter saying that my health insurance provider wasn’t going to cover me any more. I just about had a heart attack. I called all my providers, and they were all like, “Don’t worry about it. It’s happening to everyone.”

After I stopped shaking my head in confusion (which took me so long I thought I’d been turned into a bobble-head doll), I decided to call my insurance provider. They were like, “No probs, bro. You’re good.” And here I am, worried about getting my insurance cancelled by an insurance company unable to remember that they’re cancelling my plan.

Thursday, I had my first appointment without my old insurance card. I told them what was going on, and the lovely secretary (who is hilarious) told me that my provider had changed, but that everything was the same. Basically, my plan had been fostered out to another company. Why the hell couldn’t anyone just tell me that? Today, I got the new card, with a letter explaining everything.

Why the hell couldn’t my insurance company tell me this? Seems like a big deal. Some several hundred thousand plans changed, and the customer service line had no idea what was happening. I’m frustrated with the American health care system, which makes me, I dunno, American, I guess.

What Everyone Should Know About the ICD-10-CM

Image belongs to: woovakoova.deviantart.com

Image belongs to: woovakoova.deviantart.com

The ICD-10-CM is a coding system that healthcare providers use to identify a range of illnesses. There has been a lot of confusion and debate about the implementation of the use of this manual world-wide. I keep being told by under-informed “helpful” people that the way I get healthcare is changing, and that offices will be prevented from providing care because of this system. It’s coming up a lot because it was officially implemented on Oct. 1, 2015. Here is everything you need to know, in my opinion.

  1. The ICD-10-CM houses over 14,400 codes for doctors and clinicians to use to identify illnesses.
  2. These codes tell your insurance provider, the CDC, and the WHO what you’re being treated for.
  3. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization) don’t sell your information. They use it to track disease and facilitate treatment.
  4. Using an international coding system allows patients to receive appropriate treatments all over the world, not relying on their doctor alone to find treatments for rare or difficult diseases.
  5. There have been major delays in the US implementation of this standard. The first date set was for Oct 1, 2011. Over the last 6+ years, this standard has been pushed back and delayed because the slow healthcare system hasn’t been able to update its hundreds of pieces of software fast enough.
  6. These coding standards have been in use around the world for a while now.
  7. These codes don’t change how we diagnose a disease.
  8. These codes shouldn’t change anything about your healthcare habits.
  9. These codes should only change the way offices and hospitals store information, and deliver data to other providers.
  10. These codes do not, and will not, change how diseases are treated, discussed, or researched.

In short, keep your bra on. Unless you are in Medical Records, your life isn’t turning upside down right now. If your doctor, therapist, or other health care professionals complain about a high volume of training, or changes to their routine because of the ICD-10-CM, it’s not about how they treat you. It’s about how they create and maintain records. That’s pretty much it.

All I Want to Do Is Eat Sugar

"Raw sugar closeup" by Editor at Large - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

“Raw sugar closeup” by Editor at Large – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

Huzzah for the fall. Huzzah for cold. Boo for my growing waistline. Seriously. Rapid cycling? Always means more sugar. I’m not unstable, but I do experience more emotions in my day. Being depressed makes me want to self-soothe, in as lazy a way as possible. Being slightly manic makes me want calories to feed the energy rush. The result: eating lots and lots of sugar.

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Summer Sadness, or Autumn Apathy?

Rory Bristol

Rory Bristol

Ah, Fall. Bright colors all over the world. Except here. I live in the desert. No pretty leaves for me. Also, shorter days, colder nights, and the dread ascension of the Christmas season. To say it shortly: Autumn beats me into submission for Winter. I find myself disconnecting slightly. I don’t want to be sad, so I disengage. I’ve been doing this for years. It gets dark before I eat dinner, so I feel like I wasted my day, despite many hours left in the evening. I feel my heart shrink up in its little parka, my emotions gladly packing up their bags to sun themselves in the warm world of denial.

Not this year. Not today, not tomorrow, not next week. Not this year. Continue reading

Should I Go See ‘The Martian’?

Original Photo: NASA. Image: Rory Bristol

Original Photo: NASA. Image: Rory Bristol

Holy hot damn. I just finished what is easily my favorite sci-fi book of all time, and easily scores in my top ten. The Martian, scheduled to hit theaters tomorrow, October 2nd, is based on a fabulous book you can download for free. I just finished reading it, and I already want to read it again.

Did you catch all that? Free book. Best sci-fi book ever. Going to be a movie in theaters tomorrow. Jenny and I are breaking a life-rule together. We’re going to see it in theaters. We have literally never been to a movie together. Totally mark that up to movies being expensive as hell, crowded, inevitably boring, and a nice dose of holy-crap-I-can’t-leave-this-place-fast-enough anxiety.

But this book is worth the chance. Matt Damon as the primary character of a 141-minute film? Yes, please. No Ben Affleck? Double that yes! (Yes! Yes!) The character Mark is engaging, ballsy, totally jaded, and all kinds of hilarious. Totally up Matt Damon’s alley, and I cannot wait to see it. [we saw it, see below]

My to do list before going to this movie:

  1. Pack anxiety pills.
  2. Convince Jenny to let me buy popcorn.
  3. Give up on argument.
  4. Argue from a new standpoint.
  5. Give up argument.
  6. Eat a real meal before going.
  7. Enjoy the movie.
  8. Flee the theater, thankful that there is open sky when I get outside.
  9. Get pizza. 2 slices and a Coke. In the memory of a good man.

Now, how to bring up popcorn to Jenny… Oh, before this post runs, she’ll see my to do list. It has to start somewhere, right? [Love you, Honey!]

[Update: Spoiler alert!

We went and saw it. If you OMG love the book because science, or because of the main character, stick to the book. If you want a very similar story from a completely different angle, enjoy the show!

Mark is my hero. Science is my jam. The Martian is a book about the will to live, and the balls to make that happen. The movie is about NASA recovering a man left on Mars. Much less fun, IMO, and Jenny and I spent ages ripping it a new one afterwards.

They left out the ramp accident, and the storm, and the science behind the farm, and the bedroom, and the water reclaimer, and, and, and, and, and. Then they added in the Iron Man scene. Seriously. Just because “why the fuck not?” Ruined the ending for us. Made me very sad. Now, I have to read it again. Damn :D


Storytelling Will Save the World… Yes, Even Yours

This is a guest post written by Joshua Rivedal. Read to the end for details on his projects.
Josh Rivedal

Josh Rivedal

Captain’s log, Stardate January 2011. Where unfortunately many have gone before. I’m twenty-six years old and thinking about dying… actually I’m not being entirely truthful. I’m dangling halfway out the fourth floor window of my bedroom in New York City.

I don’t really want to die. I just want the emotional pain to stop… and I don’t know how to do that. Hell, two guys in my life—my father and grandfather—each didn’t know how to make their own terrible personal pain stop and now both were, well, dead.

My grandfather, Haakon—a Norwegian guy who served in the Royal Air Force (35th Squadron as a tail gunner) in World War II—killed himself in 1966 because of the overwhelming post traumatic stress he suffered because of the war.

My father, Douglas—an American guy who was chronically unhappy and an abusive man—killed himself in 2009, the catalyst being a divorce with my mother along with some long-term depression and other mental health issues.

How did I get to such a dismal place in my life so quickly, just a month shy of my twenty-seventh birthday? Coming out of secondary school and high on optimism, I thought by the time I reached my mid-twenties I’d have it all together. After a couple of years singing on Broadway, I would have scored a few bit parts on Law & Order, and transitioned seamlessly to being cast with Will Smith in the summer’s biggest blockbuster. After which, my getaway home in the Hamptons would be featured in Better Homes & Gardens, and my face would grace the cover of National Enquirer as Bigfoot’s not-so-secret lover. Not to mention, I’d have my perfect wife and perfect family by my side to share in my success.

But instead, “perfect” was unattainable (it always is). I only managed to perform in some of small professional theatre gigs and on one embarrassing reality television show; and over the course of the previous eighteen months my father killed himself, my mother betrayed me and sued me for my father’s inheritance, and my girlfriend of six years broke up with me.

This storm of calamity and crisis had ravaged my life… and I wasn’t talking about it to anyone. My silence led to crisis and poor decisions—to the extent that I was hanging out of a fourth story window.

Both Haakon and Douglas suffered their pain in silence because of the stigma surrounding talking about mental illness and getting help. I too felt that same stigma—like I’d be seen as “crazy” or “less of a man” if I talked about what I was going through. But I didn’t want to die and so I had to take a chance.

I started talking. I pulled myself back inside and first called my mom. She helped me through that initial crisis and we became friends again. She never called me “crazy.” I then started reaching out to the positive friends I had in my life. They hugged me and helped me with open arms. They never told me I was “less than a man.” Soon I got more help by seeing a professional counselor, and by writing down what I was going through in a journal.

But this idea of keeping silent continued to bother me. I did some research while in my recovery and found out that each year, suicide kills over one million people worldwide… and that many of those one million never speak up about their emotional pain because of stigma.

Dagnabbit (I totally just said that). I had to figure out a way to reach people like that. So, like any other actor, writer, or comedian living in New York City whose life dealt them a crappy hand, I created a one-man show… and it toured theatres and universities in the United States, Canada, England, and Australia—and people were getting help.

But I had to keep talking because this isn’t just a Rivedal problem or United States problem… it’s a world problem.

I had to get other people to tell their stories, so I started The i’Mpossible Project. Why? Because storytelling is one of our oldest traditions—yes, even older than the hokey pokey. Stories can make us laugh or cry… or both at the same time. They can teach, inspire and even ignite an entire movement.

The stories of The i’Mpossible Project are about overcoming obstacles, reengaging with life, and creating new possibilities—a son’s homicide, a transgender man finding love, and even coming back from the brink of suicide (you can read a couple of the stories HERE)… because it’s okay to be struggling, it’s okay to need help; people have your back… there’s hope.

It’s been four years since my crisis and life is definitely looking up. The acting and writing thing is going well, I have a great girlfriend; but most important I’m able to give and receive help and love, and with hard work I’m able to stay mentally well—all because I took a risk and told my story.

No matter what society says, it’s COOL (as in “okay”) to talk about your feelings. Don’t ever forget that you are important, and your story needs to be heard so we, the human race, can learn how to live and love better. #iampossible #mentalhealth

* * *

Josh Rivedal (founder, executive director of The i’Mpossible Project) is an author, actor, playwright, and international public speaker on suicide prevention, mental health, and diversity. He curated the 50-story inspirational anthology The i’Mpossible Project: Reengaging With Life Creating a New You. He wrote and developed the one-man play, Kicking My Blue Genes in The Butt (KMBB), which has toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. He writes for the Huffington Post. His memoir The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah, based on KMBB and published by Skookum Hill in 2013, is on The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s recommended reading list.

Is it Possible to Be Both Pro-life and Pro-Choice?


AbortionThe battlefields are populated. The lines are drawn in the sand, and nation-wide, politicians, churches, citizens, and healthcare professionals are all trying to win a battle they see with an “Us vs. Them” mentality. But could there be middle ground where both anti-abortion and private rights come together? The short answer is yes.

The long answer is that it’s not possible to get everyone on the same level on this one. The arguments behind anti-abortion and individual rights are strong ones, each with their own moral and legal compasses. Thankfully, there is a way to reconcile both positions: education.

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