Friday, December 19, 2008

Great news… a breath of fresh air!

After much badgering, Pacific Blue Cross has finally approved the portable oxygen concentrator. And even better news is that they are covering more of the cost on the Inogen One Portable Oxygen Concentrator than they were going to for the original concentrator we wanted.

After hearing the news, my next thought was, how soon can we get it? The local oxygen supplier was very short-staffed as snow prevented people getting to work today, but I talked to one of the technicians who was very helpful. He called back a couple hours later to say he’d tracked down the estimate and the approval fax from Blue Cross and had contacted the manufacturer and placed the order. They will be shipping it tomorrow and they estimate it should arrive in 3-4 business days. With a little luck we will have the concentrator before Christmas and our mini shopping trip to Seattle on the 28th.

It also means the bill will be submitted to Blue Cross before the end of December which was very important. January is the start of the new benefits year and each year I have to spend over $1,000 before the coverage changes from 80% to 100% of the eligible amount. And as we’ve spent well over $1,000 (try over $30,000) this year, that means we’re saving approximately 20% by submitting this month.

The difference between the cost of the concentrator and the amount Blue Cross is picking up has been collected through all your donations. So I owe all of you who donated a huge Thank You. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Update on the wishlist

A big thank you to those of you who have let us know you’ve purchased things off the amazon wishlist. I’m really looking forward to receiving the items. I can assure you they will all be put to good use.

Someone mentioned that you can add products from non-Amazon sellers to the Amazon wishlist. And as Beth has had emails from people saying they want to help with the Postcard Project but don’t know what types of cards or stickers to send, Beth spent several hours surfing through Amazon and other sites to find postcards and stickers for the Postcard Project to add to the Amazon wishlist. Beth also included items from (UK) and (Germany). The German site has these fantastic Australian postcards she’s just about run out of – but for other countries as well.
You don’t have to live in Europe to purchase off these sites either. So for anyone who wants to contribute to the postcard project here’s another way to do so.

My challenge was to figure out how to add the wishlist to my sidebar - which I was able to do with only minor frustration.

I’m learning not to panic when Beth puts out blogs asking people to spread the word about the Postcard Project. I have visions of hundreds of people asking for cards and me trying to figure out how we’re going to afford them all. But I’ve come to realize that, to use a religious phrase, the lord will provide. And most times that provision comes via recipients of the postcards. I am amazed by the box of miscellaneous postcards someone sent, a big envelope of various stickers sent by another recipient and the constant flow of smaller amounts of envelopes, stickers and postage stamps coming from so many. Even some of the people Beth buys anime products from are eager to help when Beth tells them about the project. They’ll throw in a few extra stickers or a couple postcards and even some binsen Beth likes giving to people.

So yeah, I need to chill. With everyone’s help we’ve had to spend less on the project. And when I put stickers on cards I often remember who contributed them and think about what they might be doing right then or wonder if they would be surprised to know which country their stickers or postcards were going to. It makes me feel connected and a part of something big. Thanks for being part of it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hope, Fears and Sheer Determination

Hi everyone. Cheryl here actually speaking up… Beth gives me a hard time regularly because I don’t talk. I think it comes from lots of time in solitude as a ranger.

Over the last several weeks I was at Beth and Linda’s place for more than my usual weekend treks. With Linda’s current medical and work-life issues she was becoming rapidly overwhelmed. Beth was, of course, making every effort to help Linda at the cost of her own health. So, I came over to help shoulder the load and get them both to a more stable place. Spending lots more time with Beth and Linda is great because they are both lovely, caring, generous people.

There’s only one thing… being there for extended periods forces one to accept some hard realities. Beth is getting rapidly weaker over all and no longer has any reserves. Yes, there are days where she is strong and it is easy to fall into the trap of hope. Hope whispers in your mind, “Gee, Beth is doing great today. Maybe we will hit a remission so we can get her reserves built back up.” Then the next day Beth is paying for the strong day with extreme pain, fever, seizures, weakness, passing out and stopping breathing. (Laura –thank you so much for the ambubag!)

That is when it becomes impossible to ignore the truth. Beth is dying and sooner than any of us are prepared for. No, I don’t have a prognosis for how long it will be. I just know I can’t deny that death will come. That brings us to the fear. In a very short time Beth has become family in every unconditionally loving sense of the word. She is a large and important part of my life. I am afraid of losing her. I am afraid I won’t be strong enough to (1) say good-bye to Beth and (2) be there for Linda through it all. I am scared and feeling helpless. Feeling helpless also scares me. I have strong medical skills, I am capable in an emergency but this isn’t anything I can fix.

So I am holding on to a few hopes like they are a security blanket. I am well aware of what a formidable will Beth has. Now that she has said she wants to be here in May I am hoping her strong will and sheer determination will carry her through to that point in time. If there is anyone who can put off death through determination and will power it is definitely Beth. I tease her that the salmon must be her spirit animal since it is supposed to represent determination.

I am also hoping that the doctors in Seattle give us some help. Any improvement in quality of life would be a blessing. The possibility of slowing this disease would be a gift beyond price. Of course, we have to get to Seattle with the least amount of stress for Linda and Beth. That means fundraisers.

You are all probably aware of the rubber wristbands used to raise money and awareness for various causes. We have wristbands for Beth. They are colored to look like a cloud streaked sky and they say, “Gotta Fly”.
Now you can help raise money and show your support for Beth. Get your wristband(s) today. We are asking for a $2 donation for a bracelet. Feel free to give more. If you want more than one bracelet let us know with a message through paypal. If you are not receiving mail through the postcard project you will need to supply an address.

Thank you all for caring and helping!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pedicures, rubber stamps and wishlists

I had my first pedicure today. Someone had given me a gift certificate to a spa at one of fancy hotels and it was set to expire at the end of the week. I’m glad I remembered to use it in time. I used the pedicure as my reward for getting some ugly paperwork done. Still lots more to go, but at least I’m making progress.

I had heard pedicures were very indulgent and I thought they might be overrated until I had the paraffin wax applied. Very nice. I walked out feeling that my feet didn’t below to me. Feeling more normal now.

Shortly after I came home Beth and I spent some time looking for more rubber stamps. We have about six of our own and another 20-30 Cheryl lent us. But we’ve used them so many times we were wanting a few new ones. We use rubbers stamps but the companies that are the best are Stamp Oasis, Stamp Francisco, Hanko, and Komodo brands. They are the best becuase they are well made with deep grooves for clarity. A well made stamp is a stamp we can use many times before it goes mushy, plus it has vivid detail. Stamp Oasis has the best. Here's a Stamp Oasis stamp we bought today. It's just like the torii we saw on Miyajima Island.
Some sites we want to explore more later are: Stampin Treasures , and Addicted to Rubber Stamps. If you want to contribute to the Postcard Project, but want to send something other than postcards you can take a look at our favourite brands on these sites, purchase one and send it to our US address:
Elizabeth McClung
P.O. Box 2560
Port Angeles, WA

I am always amazed at the generosity and thoughtfulness of Beth’s readers. Each week there is usually at least one gift in Cheryl’s bag of goodies she brings over from our US post office box. We really appreciate that people have taken the time and thought about what Beth might like – whether it be kitty-related, things with wings, postcards and stickers and so many other items.

For those of you who have asked how they can help and want to give something but don’t know what, I have some gift certificate ideas for you…

1. We’ve created an Amazon wishlist. My Wish List At the moment there are mostly practical items as I started the list and I’m a practical sort of person. There are also entertainment items (books, MP3 player, headphones, etc.) which are good for the soul. As time goes by, we will keep adding to the list and probably create one on our account, too. We’ve added comments beside each item which will tell you who they are for.

2. Food - For those of you concerned about us not getting enough food to eat, rather than sending us perishable goods in the mail how about gift cards? The two grocery stores I use the most in Victoria are Safeway and Thrifty’s. I contacted Thrifty’s and to order a gift card you need to call (250) 544-1234 or (800) 667-8280 and purchase the card over the phone. They will give you a fax number for you to fax over some ID confirming you are the credit card holder. The grocery card is called a Smile Card and can be in any denomination you choose. They will ask which Thrifty’s to send the card to – I shop at the Fairfield Plaza Thrifty’s and the store will call me to let me know there is a card waiting for me. If you want to purchase a Thrify’s gift card, contact me and I’ll give you our phone number.

3. Clothing – When we go to Seattle we’re going to stop at Victoria’s Secret and buy Beth some more underwear and maybe some new PINK label clothing. We’ll also go to HotTopic and Tall Girl in the Westlake Centre. Hot Topic is where Beth gets all her cool shirts and corsets. With the exception of the green corset pictured in her blog the other day, she hasn’t bought shirts since last winter. At Tall Girl we hope to get Beth some new jeans. I bought her 2 pair when we first got back from Japan and that’s all she’s got for bottoms (not including 1 pair of sweats). And they’re loose now. There’s also a Tall Girl in Victoria and we’ll be checking it out. Going by past history, the US and Canadian stores have the same price on the tags – so buying in Canada means we save 20-30% so I think we’ll try there first.

That’s me done for tonight. I promise my next blog will be about non-financial things. I’ve been wanting to write a blog sharing some things from my perspective – maybe that will be the next one.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Update on Zed

Thanks everyone for your interest in Beth's novel, Zed.

We have sold all the copies I have here at home, but fear not, the publisher has more that we can purchase at a discount. So, if you would like to buy a copy and haven't yet done so, please let me know as soon as possible. I'm going to place the order in the next couple of days and would like a better idea of how many to get. Even if you can't pay for it right away, please let me know so that I can reserve a copy for you.

I'll be sending emails to everyone who has already bought one to find out whether you need the book before Christmas. In our experience selling online over the years, we've found that more packages go missing in December than any other month. And we really don't want Zed to go missing so if you are not in a rush we will post in early January.



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Autographed Copies of Zed

Here we go - our first fund-raising activity...

Beth has 12 copies of her novel, Zed, which she is willing to part with. And, she's also happy to put in an inscription as long as it's not pages long! She has to save her writing hand for her postcards after all!

And, contrary to what Beth mentioned in one of her previous blogs, we will not be offering deluxe inscriptions written in blood. No blood of any kind - you hear that Beth! Just step away from the knives...

Reviews of the novel are at the bottom of this blog entry.

If you were wanting a copy of your very own or to give a Christmas present for someone who doesn't mind having nightmares, here's how you can get it...

Make a donation using the Paypal button on this page. In the notes section, let us know it's for Zed and what inscription you'd like.

We're selling the books for $15US plus shipping.

Shipping rates are as follows:

US - $2.50 1st Class
Canada - $3.75 Air or $9.95 Priority Mail
Europe & Australia - $8.65 Air or $11.95 Priority Mail

For those of you who haven't heard about Zed, here's the blurb of the novel for you...

Zed is having a bad day. She's 12 and there's someone around who's killing kids, which she doesn't have time for. Already today, she's knifed a rapist, traded with half the drunks and addicts in town, talked to the dead, bargained with a sociopath, and extracted crucial information from a mental patient, and she hasn't even left the building. Welcome to The Tower, an urban development project no city wants to lay claim to; a place to steer clear of if at all possible, but if you can't, you'll fit right in. This vivid, claustrophobic novel is about madness, survival, and crumbling institutions, in the spirit of J.G. Ballard's High Rise or Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory.

Also some reviews...

Zed is a tale to be pondered by all those who wield power over the vulnerable. McClung's plot twists and images wrestle the emotions before the intellect can pin them down, but when her message at last emerges from the blood and bedlam the effect is devasting: Terror begins at home. Then it grows.—The Globe and Mail (Globe & Mail )

One of the best books of 2006: a piercent lament for all kids who are ill-used by their keepers. One of the top 100 books of 2006.—The Globe and Mail (Globe and Mail )

The combination of near future dystopia and murder mystery means that one is drawn relentlessly along toward a conclusion which, even if it doesn't seem completely justified, is fitting for such a vivid and explosive book.—Monday Magazine (Monday Magazine )

A humorous, but disturbing read.—The Vancouver Sun (The Vancouver Sun )

A masterfully written first novel.... Zed, both the book and protagonist, is truly original ... the definition of provocative, if you can handle it.—Zoe Whittall, NOW Magazine (Zoe Whittall Now Magazine )

A hellishly engaging novel ... Zed not only merits cinematic interpretation, it demands it.—Rain Taxi (Rod Smith Rain Taxi review of )

Her debut novel Zed doesn’t seem to be classified as a "horror" but holy crow, this book sufficiently filled my horrific quota. A NOW review tweaked my interest on this one and I wasn’t disappointed. Despite being written from the point of view of a 12 year old girl, Zed, this book is most definitely not for kids. Heck, this book is not for most adults. Murder, rape, addiction, sociopaths ... all that and more, navigated by young Zed within the confines of an inner city project. Zed is appalling yet believable. I can't wait for Ms. McClung's next book! —CBC Radio (CBC Radio )

McClung's dark, wicked sense of humor shows through as she chronicles Zed's profoundly disturbing exploits. Shocking and complete with alarming psychological insights, Zedis like nothing you've read before. —Pages magazine (Pages magazine )

Zed is the kind of work about which the adjective 'disturbing' usually applies. That's really an understatement.... It is a riveting, sometimes scary work.... Zed is laced with the kind of wit that could take the rust off your handlebars. —University of Toronto Quarterly (University of Toronto Quarterly )