pyesetz: (woof)

Walmart (via telephone).  They want $118 for the small bottle of ofloxacin!

CentraCare (Lake Buena Vista FL, via telephone).  They haven’t restocked on ofloxacin since yesterday.  They say that their price is not based on insurance, but on their “actual cost” as a nonprofit organization.  They give me the number of the next-closest CentraCare.

CentraCare (Orange Lake FL, via telephone).  They have the ofloxacin for $27, but they cannot sell it to me unless Kid #2 is seen by one of their own doctors; a doctor from another office of the same company is not good enough!  “We’re not a pharmacy,” they say, but I suspect the problem is that there are only extremely limited situations in which they are allowed to sell drugs without the 300% markup that is otherwise required in the US in order to support the Medical-Industrial Complex.  Pet360.com sells otic ofloxacin for $29; they get away with that by claiming it’s only for dogs+cats.

TD/Allianz (via telephone).  It’s Saturday.  The telephone number they told me to use for “claim in progress” is not staffed on weekends.

Walgreens (Orlando FL, 11:22am).  A different Walgreens, just over the city line from Lake Buena Vista, so out of Disney’s clutches.  $115.54 for ofloxacin plus some cotton balls that the doctor told us to use with it (only available in bags of 100, which is 10 times the number we actually need).  The pharmacist helpfully points out the part of the receipt that I am supposed to submit to my insurance company and tries to reassure me that the cost will definitely be reimbursed (but he didn’t ask who my insurer is, so how would he know?).

Our room.  Five drops in the kid’s ear.  They feel “weird”.  The main reason why Kid #2 needs to take this stuff is because the insurance contract says they won’t cover problems caused by failure to take prescribed medications and these drops were prescribed.

Magic Kingdom Park.  This time we take the tram and it’s only about 35 minutes from our room to the entrance booths.
      Attractions visited today: Walt Disney World Railroad, Barnstormer (not Wifey), Dumbo, Under the Sea – Little Mermaid, Be Our Guest (lunch, 2:07pm), It’s a Small World (Wifey and Kid #2), Peter Pan, a popcorn cart (snack, 4:45pm), Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (snack, 5:05pm), Mickey’s PhilharMagic (Wifey & Kid #1), Tomorrowland Speedway (not Wifey), 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (not Wifey), Mad Tea Party (not Wifey), and Emporium (just Wifey, souvenirs 5:25pm).
      While Wifey & Kid #1 do PhilharMagic again, Kid #2 and I try to go on the Mad Tea Party ride, but it closes down (possibly due to the rain) just as we arrive.  Later, Kid #1 joins us for another try and we are successful.
      It is interesting to go on Tomorrowland Speedway with my two children, both of whom now possess student-driver licenses.  Kid #1 remembers the last time we were here, when she was 11 and was told she could not drive because she was too short.  So this time, Kid #1 and Kid #2 each drive their own cars while I act as passenger for Kid #2, who has not begun his driver-training yet so this is his first time “behind the wheel” as it were.  Unfortunately, the car has almost no steering control (perhaps due to rain?) and is very frustrating to operate.  After the ride, Kid #1 reassures her brother that real cars are much easier to steer.
      At the “popcorn” cart, we get Mickey Mouse ice cream bars (only 3 of them because Kid #2 is not feeling well).  They are Nestlé-branded but the chocolate is quite dark and unlike Nestlé’s usual crap.  It’s great that we can finally try these things without worrying about whether they’re actually worth $4.25 each, because they’re considered “snacks” and are covered by our dining plan.
      At Cosmic Ray’s, where we sit to eat the ice cream, I buy some bottled water for Wifey using an additional snack credit — because we have so many of them!
      At the Emporium, Wifey buys a Minnie Mouse tote bag ($26.58) for her college roommate/bridesmaid, who will be visiting us tomorrow.  She also buys Mickey Mouse earrings ($8.47) for herself.

The Knife (Lake Buena Vista FL, 9:10pm).  Argentinian steakhouse buffet.  They try to be impressive, but I think Golden Corral is better.  $160.37 for dinner, which seems overpriced.
      We had planned to eat here because we had heard of the rivalry between Argentina and Brazil, each of which sends large quantities of teenagers to Disneyworld at certain times of the year (supposedly they taunt each other in the parks).  I guess I was expecting something more “authentic” that would appeal to actual Argentinians on vacation in Florida.  But this restaurant entices with odor what it fails to deliver on taste.
      The restaurant claims to be in Orlando FL, but Google suggests they are actualy just inside the city limits of Lake Buena Vista (hence paying rent to Disney).  When presenting the bill, the waiter asks me to show him my Disney employee ID so I can get the corporate discount.  I am wearing a Disney “Guest of Honor” nametag from 15 years ago; this product is no longer sold and many Disney cast members have asked me about it on this trip.  My badge is red (as is Kid #2’s); this meant “male” back in the day — Wifey and Kid #1 have blue badges.  One cast member told me that Disney corporate bigwigs wear red badges now.  Oddly enough, no one ever asks about my 20+ year old Goofy hat; the same design is still sold today and mine doesn’t look that old because I haven’t used it much.

Our room.  Five more drops in the kid’s ear.

pyesetz: (woof)

TD/Allianz Insurance (via telephone; 10:15am - 10:45am).  Kid #2 still can’t hear much with his right ear, so I call the insurance company to find out which clinic around here will work with them.  They call Lake Buena Vista CentraCare, confirm that it is willing to direct-bill them, and then fax over a pre-authorization form for us.  The insurance company says that the clinic is expecting us and we should proceed there immediately.

CentraCare (Lake Buena Vista FL, 11:00am - 2:30pm).  They received the fax and are expecting us, but still there are hours of waiting during which people who arrive after us are seen first; later I learn that you are supposed to go to their website and make an “appointment” (even though it is an urgent-care clinic) in order to obtain a “significantly” reduced wait-time.
      Of course, the first thing to do is fill out medical-history forms.  The most bizarrely-American item on the forms is the requirement that the patient must identify his “race” and whether he is “hispanic”.  Kid #2 has no idea what his race is (the concept is not much used in Canada).  I tell him that I generally say my race is either “White” or “Other” (because “Jewish” used to be a separate race, but was combined with “White” in the 1930s for political reasons; when I hear “White race” I think of what Sarah Palin calls “real Americans”, who are not my people and have no common ancestry with me in the last 1,000 years); Kid #2 writes ”White” on the form.  There is another Canadian seeking medical care at the clinic, who loudly complains about the absurdity of the race question.  “Everyone’s the same in Canada,” she says.  I elect not to mention to her the situation of the Québécois (or the Aboriginals, for that matter — Canada gives them special ID cards which exempt them from sales tax, but that really doesn’t compensate them for the crap they put up with).
      A person’s declared race is of little medical value.  For example, about 10% of black people have G6PD deficiency which causes certain drugs to be unsuitable for them, but most Blacks don’t have this problem and some Whites do (especially Jews and other Mediterranean people).  Anyway, there is absolutely no medical reason to ask for the race of the guarantor who will be paying for the service!  But yes, the form wants to know my race, too.  I think this is because of US government regulations requiring medical practitioners to collect such data and which obligate them, for patients who refuse to participate in this inanity, to use their own prejudices to guess which race the person providing the money seems to be a member of.
      Another bizarrely-American feature of this medical clinic is the inspirational quote that is painted on the wall over the restroom doors.  It says something like, “Faith in Christ improves wellness of mind, body, and spirit”.  Later I learn that CentraCare is part of Florida Hospital, which is owned by Adventist Health System, which is an arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
      The city of Lake Buena Vista is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Walt Disney Corporation, so Florida Hospital must be paying them rent in order to run a business here.  While we were waiting, someone came in claiming to be a Disney employee; he was refused treatment and was told that he must go to DisneyCorp’s own medical facilities.  Lake Buena Vista is basically the implementation of Walt’s EPCOT concept for the corporatist ”city of tomorrow“, where your citizenship class determines which medical facilities you may use.  (In Ontario, anyone can be treated anywhere, although you’ll usually get quicker service in a clinic than at an emergency room and more personalized service if you set up a continuing relationship with a physician’s private practice.)
      * * * * *
      Eventually a doctor examines Kid #2 for (just about) two minutes.  Based on her bedside manner, I think she is a pediatrician.  Kid #2 is 17 years old, which now makes him an ”adult” as far as Canadian healthcare is concerned, but in the American system he is still a “child” and must be seen by a kid-doctor rather than an ear-doctor.  She says his earwax is impacted, prescribes an irrigation of both ear canals using diluted H₂O₂, announces that the clinic will provide this service, then leaves.  After some more waiting, a nurse(?) comes in and performs the procedure, which is effective in restoring Kid #2’s hearing.  Then more waiting.  Then the doctor returns for another few minutes to examine the cleaned ear canals.  The right one is red, so she prescribes ofloxacin drops twice a day for five days.  More waiting.  An orderly(?) announces that the clinic will sell us this medication for $27.  I agree to pay.  More waiting.  The orderly comes back to say that this particular CentraCare clinic is out of stock on that medication; he gives me an scrip and suggests I drive down the street to Walgreens to get the drug.
      And then, a wondrous thing happens: we are let out of the building without having to pay anything!  Thank you, TD Canada Trust bank, for selling us this foreign-travel health insurance that ACTUALLY WORKS!  The insurance cost $80 for two weeks’ coverage of four people; Allianz said on the phone that the estimated cost of an exam for “ear infection” is about $250.

Landscape of Flavors (1:50pm).  Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Wifey and Kid #1 eat lunch in the cafeteria.

Walgreens pharmacy (Lake Buena Vista FL, 2:35pm - 2:45pm).  The pharmacist says that the drug costs $113!  I don’t know why the price is so different, nor whether Allianz would reimburse me so much.  The antibiotic treatment doesn’t seem so important now that the canal is clean, so I decide to put this problem off until tomorrow.

Art of Animation parking lot (2:55pm).  Our first FastPass™ of the day is scheduled for 3:55pm (already rejiggered from 2:50pm because there’s no way we can make that), so the plan is for Wifey and Kid #1 to take the bus to Epcot if we don’t get back to the hotel by 2:55pm.  The bus shows up at the same time we do, so the womenfolk skip the bus and hitch a ride in our rental car to the amusement park.

Epcot®.  The Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow, brought to you by various corporate sponsors who control which facts each ride may present.  Attractions visited today: Electric Umbrella (lunch, 3:34pm; snack, 4:11pm), Spaceship Earth, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Mission: SPACE (except Wifey), Test Track (except Wifey), The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Sunshine Seasons (dinner, 7:56pm), Soarin (Kid #1 & I), and The Circle of Life (Wifey & Kid #2).
      Kid #2 and I catch up on lunch at the Electric Umbrella, since we didn’t have time after the medical stuff.  I get a bottle of water for Wifey to use up another snack credit.
      Spaceship Earth is now sponsored by Siemens instead of AT&T; the dioramas have been completely redone to emphasize “communication technology” instead of “connecting people across the world”.
      Ellen’s Energy Adventure has not been redone in 20 years (perhaps because Exxon stopped sponsoring it in 2004); it is now quite dated.  Bill Nye has aged considerably since this presentation was recorded.  He is the co-star with Ms. DeGeneres and his career is currently doing very well (with multiple honorary doctorates received in recent years), so why doesn’t he get billing?  The emphasis on compact fluorescent lightbulbs and wind power as “the future” now seems ridiculous.
      The Seas is a new ride.  It is similar to It’s a Small World, except with an undersea theme rather than toys/Christmas, and is sponsored by Disney’s Finding Nemo rather than Mattel.
      Of the restaurants on our dining plan, Sunshine Seasons seems to have the best selection so far.  My dinner is tuna salad on a croissant, strawberry shortcake, and orange juice (my throat is scratchy).
      Soarin is new.  It is a motion-simulator ride in front of an iMAX-type giant movie screen, where you pretend to be flying with the birds.  On our way out of this ride, I remark to Kid #1 that there was a dirt-spot on the screen that was visible when a pale color was displayed there; some random other park guest walking by says, “Oh, you noticed that, too?”
      The park is open an extra two hours tonight, for Disney resort guests only, but we are too tired to utilize this feature and go back to our hotel at the regular closing time.  Six hours of amusement is enough!  Wifey’s schedule had called for us to visit Club Cool, Journey Into Imagination, Turtle Talk, and Innoventions, but we decide to put those off until our next visit to Epcot later in this vacation.

pyesetz: (woof)

[My HOTTEST DAY *EVER* at Disney World!  97°F *before* factoring in humidity!  Ontario, Ohio, Florida — doesn’t make a difference, it’s been over 90 every day of this trip.  And Hollywood Studios is the hottest of the parks because its many tall buildings and excessive quantities of asphalt create an “urban canyon” effect.]

Ink and Paint (inside Art of Animation Resort, 9:55am).  $12.40 for Imodium and Benadryl at the gift shop, for Wifey and Kid #1.  The cashier expresses her condolances.

Our room.  My family is out of shape and yesterday involved much more walking than our usual, and in very high temperatures.  So we start our day late and end early, which once again requires rejiggering all our FastPass™ appointment times.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Attractions visited today: The Great Movie Ride, Star Tours, Muppet★Vision 3D, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, ABC Commissary (lunch, 2:56pm), Toy Story Midway Mania, and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (only Kid #2 and I).
      Midway Mania is new.  Unlike most Disney rides, it has no storyline; you just shoot at virtual targets while wearing 3D glasses and sitting in a rotating vehicle that’s moving along a serpentine track.  Kid #2 gets the most points in our vehicle.
      Our children are too old to enjoy the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, so Wifey takes a photo of them standing on either side of a giant ant.  Some other kid decided to sit on top of the ant during the photo, so I guess we’ll have to try out our PhotoShop skills when we get home.  I take a photo of Kid #1 going down a giant leaf-slide because we have a photo of her doing that back in 2001.
      Kid #1 used to like Tower of Terror, but she decided to skip it for this trip.  Kid #2 has never been on it, so I take him.  He doesn’t like being yanked violently downward in total darkness with nothing to hold on to but a seatbelt, so we ride only once even though the standby line is short.
      At the ABC Commissary, they are showing America’s Funniest Home Videos from 1994, so the children having pratfalls in the videos are now all grown up.  ABC had required video submitters to relinquish all rights without any compensation except for each show’s winner, so when Disney bought ABC in 1996 they gained the legal right to display these videos for the amusement of park guests, even if the people in the videos hate Disney and would never have agreed to having their pratfalls (some of them painful) commoditized like this.  As Billy Joel sang, “I’ll get put in the back, in the discount rack, like another can of beans”.
      Wifey has never seen the “Fantasmic” fireworks/laser show.  But it doesn’t start until 30 minutes after the park closes, and it’s very hot and we just want to get out of here.  So she still hasn’t seen it, and this is our only scheduled day at Hollywood Studios.

Landscape of Flavors (8:17pm).  Dinner at our resort.  Kid #2 announces that his pizza is not sitting well in his stomach, so I tell him he can just go back to our room.  Wifey then quickly finishes up her dinner and walks after him to check whether her 17-year-old son made it back to our building or is retching in the bushes someplace (actually his stomach settled down after he left the cafeteria).  Kid #1 and I finish our dinners and then rejoin the others in our room.

Our room.  Kid #2’s right ear still doesn’t hear well.  I give him a pseudoephedrine tablet, but it doesn’t help.  We decide that we are trying too hard on this vacation and need to take the day off tomorrow, which is forecast to be (surprise!) yet another scorcher.

pyesetz: (Default)
My father had glaucoma for many years.  At my last eye exam, the intraocular pressure was a little high, so I went for a retest today.  Pressure reading is 22 mmHg which is slightly elevated, but the corneal thickness is 680µm.  Since "typical" thickness is only 550µm, this gives a corrected pressure of only 15 mmHg which is within normal range.

Apparently very few folks have corneas that are thicker than 600µm.
pyesetz: (mr_peabody)
Here.  The hairless ape female being operated on in these pictures is not me; I had the right side done today (upper and lower) rather than upper-left as shown.
Notes on differences from my surgery )

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