Tag Archives: help

Call Me, Maybe…..for Quality Assurance

My Publisher  Extraordinaire campaigns for everyone to just ‘Be Nice.’ I would like to take her advice and suggest we start with our Veterans and their families.

Last week the Veteran’s Administration hung up on me. Granted, I wasn’t giving the guy what he wanted….but he HUNG UP ON ME….AT THE VETERAN’S ADMINISTRATION.

Those of you kind readers who follow my blog, know that I have been in a kerfuffle with the VA since January when they unceremoniously stopped my 87-year-old mother’s health insurance. They discovered a mistake they made 15 years ago, by putting her on the wrong insurance. So they just cancelled her policy. They didn’t bother to fix their mistake. They didn’t  bother to put her on the correct insurance. They didn’t even bother to tell her that they cancelled her insurance.

So, as I told you in the past, my Congressman Representative Ryan Costello (R-PA) (well actually his amazing administrator, Lisa Reynolds) helped me quickly and efficiently fix the problem. If you’re having problems with the VA or any other governmental agency, I

Your current Congress might be more helpful.
Your current Congress might be more helpful.

highly recommend you ask your Congress person to help you. Really. Don’t waste too much time trying to fix it yourself. You will be quite surprised and, hopefully, happy that  your Representative or Senator has staff who are there to help you. Try it. That’s what we pay them for, to work for us.

All that being said…..please VA don’t hang up on us. Even if you don’t like what we are saying, don’t engage in the rudest form of behavior.

I wasn’t yelling, complaining or even causing trouble. I just wanted to refrain from filing additional paperwork with the VA, if they didn’t need it, thereby making everyone’s life easier.

This is what went down:

“Hello, this is Bob from the VA, we are returning your call as requested.”

“Hi, Bob, I was calling for my Mom who has a complicated case that goes back 15 years.”

“Well,” said Bob. ” what do you want me to do? Look at 15 years of claims?”

“No, Bob,” I replied, “I just want to look at one provider, if you can search by that to see if you have already processed that claim,  I won’t resubmit it.”

“Okay,” replied Bob with a bit of exasperation, “What’s your address?”

“Do you mean my Mom’s address? Because she is the insured.”

“No,” replied Bob, getting a bit testy, “I want your address.”

“Well see Bob, that has caused problems before, because my Mom and I don’t live together and………….”

He said: “When you’re ready to give me your address, you can call back.”  And he hung up the phone.

I tried to call back, but there was a 13 minute wait time which is standard procedure when you call the VA.  Which is why Bob was returning my call in the first place, three days later.

Then I just thought, okay. I tried to help. I’m just gonna’ file this and make you do the work twice. And I may begin to implement my new practice where everyone I call for this kind of business I say before the representative can help me:

“This call is being recorded for quality assurance.”

I’ve tried it a few times. It brings silence and confusion. But no one has been rude or hung up on me since then. I say we all try it…….you know, for Veteran’s sake!

“You just have to Laugh…….”

©Cathy Sikorski 2016

Fairy Tales Can Come True……………..

Last Wednesday I got the phone call every girl dreams of. Yes, George Clooney invited me to his lake house on the Amalfi Coast!

No, it was better than that. My Congressman, Ryan Costello of the 6th District of Pennsylvania, through  his amazing assistant, Lisa Reynolds called me to say my mother’s problems with the Veterans Administration are well on their way to being solved.

As a caregiver, we list this in the miracle column.

If you have followed my past few blogs about this journey wherein I am trying to get the VA to correct their mistake from 15 years ago and get my Mom back on to her proper medical insurance, you know it has been nothing less than a”clusterf#$%k.”   That quote, by the way, directly from a VA customer service rep who thought he had put me on hold, and that moment was ever so much better than any Muzak.

Since January 9, I have already spent countless hours on the phone and faxing, scanning, emailing and snail-mailing documents to various demons of the Veteran’s Administration and Department of Defense hoping against hope that I could stave off a medical insurance disaster before it happened.

In the interim, my husband suggested I call our Congressman. I was thinking about that very thing. Since my  husband gets Congressman Costello’s newsletter, he noticed that he has a position on the Veterans Administration Committee. So, what the heck! Ain’t that what we pay these guys for?

I spoke with the ever-so-kind Lisa Reynolds. I faxed her all the documentation that I was constantly sending out to the Federalis. And for some odd reason, I just let her do her thing and waited to hear from her, probably because I continued to inundate myself with phone calls and wild goose chases to the VA.

On Wednesday, Lisa called to say that the Congressman has gotten my  mother registered with the correct medical insurance back to 2002!! Hooray. Happiness, Joy, Exaltation.

Not so fast………………..

“That’s the good news,” she said. Uh oh.

“The only glitch is, your mother has to submit all those incorrectly paid bills, for the last 15 years, to the new insurance with in 180 days or it will not be covered and she will be responsible for those medical bills,”

Oh gee whiz, that sounds so easy, like , I don’t know, gathering all the pine cones in the forest for the last 15 years and then shoving them up their ………… sorry, I got distracted looking for a metaphor.

“But we have until August,” Lisa exclaimed.


Yet, she most assuredly told me that she would assist me in getting all that information from the old insurance company to send to the new one. Mind you, these are both arms of  Veterans Administration insurance. It’s not like it’s Aetna and United Healthcare. They are both Veterans medical insurance.

But they are not allowed to talk to each other. Only we can talk to them and then transfer information back and forth. I found that out in my 10,000 phone calls between all these quasi-agencies.

But I can live with this. I can do it!

RYAN COSTELLOSo I want to right here, right now, give a formal thank you to my Congressman, Ryan Costello, who I did not vote for, but who has restored my faith just a bit in the system. He worked for his constituents, regardless of their party affiliation to solve a real problem in his District. I am grateful for his attention to this problem and for his associate, Lisa Reynolds for tackling this crazy issue in record time.

See, people it can be done. People who don’t agree on everything can help one another and get things done. Wow, what a concept.

And it never hurts to laugh while helping….And dream of George Clooney’s House on the Amalfi Coast….

“You Just have to Laugh………….”

©Cathy Sikorski 2016


Oh, if Only I could find the right Foundation…..

So my eldest daughter is getting married in a few weeks. Yikes! Even saying that sends me in to labored breathing, a cold sweat and a mini panic attack. It’s the real deal wedding, and there’s a billion things to do.

Every day my ‘team’ of bridesmaids and whoever else I have managed to wrangle into this process, works on some crazy task that has to be completed by W-Day!

Over the weekend, my youngest daughter came home from the big city to get her maid of honor dress altered and help me find the proper foundation for my dress.

Yes, I don’t care what kind of dress you buy as the mother-of-the-bride, it requires the proper foundation. You can make sure every sin of your past 50 years is covered, ruched, sleeved,or enlaced, and you will still need to tuck, smooth, pucker and lift to get the fit that will be photographed from every possible non-flattering angle that any videographer, photographer, selfie freak and snapchat bitch twerking around you on the dance floor can catch at just the wrong moment.

Unless you have already done this, you have no idea how MANY choices of foundations there are on the internet, the department store and the black market for super secret coverage. But this is the thing, you either have to buy all these non-returnable undergarments, or cart this gown with  you to every dressing room in the tri-state area to take off all your clothes, put on a gown that goes over your head, weighs 10 pounds itself and then push and tuck and rearrange all the floppy, sloppy parts that you are trying to camouflage for just one day.

Eureka!  I find the magic solution to the problem areas I continue to encounter with each new failed undergarment. It’s a bra with clear sticky sides but no actual hook in the back. This foundation will not show through any lace, conflict with a low back or cause the proverbial ‘nip slip’ that a young Janet Jackson made so famous and would be cause for intense psychotherapy for all our wedding guests as something they could never ‘unsee.’

I get the bra adjusted, with my daughter’s help, I get her to zip up the side zipper on the gown. I see a bit of a look of horror on my daughter’s face, thinking: “She can’t believe how good I look in this dress!”

Then I look in the mirror.

I now have four boobs.

Two  that I’m pretty sure I own, and two that come in the lining of the dress. Since the dress has a side zipper, I can’t reach down the neckline of the dress to pull up the bra and settle it in behind the lining of the dress. My daughter pulls down the zipper and tries to reach in from the side, as I try and do the same. But with four boobs and two hands we just can’t get enough leverage to lift and separate like the happy old days of yore and Playtex.

Besides, four boobs is comical. Not like Wonder Woman, more like crazy Lucy and Ethel in a dressing room comical. And were are laughing so hard the tears are rolling down our faces…but I do not want tears of tragedy or comedy on this dress. So I get it off as quickly as I can.

I won’t lie. I tried the dress without a foundation. The only thing that did was show me that life is not worth living without a good foundation.

The dress and I are hitting the road, no not for a comedy show, to hopefully make it work baby, just in time for W-day! Wish me luck and keep laughing, kids!

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©2016 Cathy Sikorski

O the places you’ll go……

Dignity is defined as : bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation. You can be assured that once you become a caregiver, you pretty much lose any appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.

Aunt J has returned to stay with us for a couple of weeks. I adore her. Her Aussie accent, her amazing stories from New York City in the ’50’s and ’60’s, her willingness to be snarky with me when I just want to gossip and bitch….it’s all good. But, of course, she’s 90 years old. She doesn’t come to the table with what we would call “clean hands” in the legal world. Not that her hands are dirty, but that she has baggage like every other 90 year-old, and the whole reason she kind of needs a caregiver.

I need to watch her meds, her showering (yes, I sneak up to the door and watch to make sure she doesn’t fall down or out of the shower) and make her eat because she’s barely 90 lbs. and will forget, or say she’s not hungry.

I also help her get dressed, so that I can put her pain cream on her before she gets her 47 layers of clothing on. So today we accomplished everything….showering without falling, meds without overdose, pain cream in all the right spots, and choosing an adorable outfit for the day.

We are up and atem’ and I say:

“Hey Aunt J, where are your necklaces?”

She wears several beautiful gold bracelets, necklaces and beautiful gold earrings every day. Honestly, she is one of the hottest chick 90 year olds you’d ever want to meet!

“O dear, I don’t know.  I think I left them on, I don’t remember taking them off last night.”

“Well did you bring your gold charms?”

“No, that’s broken. but I’m going to get that fixed and I still wear my other two gold chains.”

“Here are your bracelets,” I say as I hand them to her.

She jangles around looking for the necklaces, but to no avail.

So I look under the collar of her blouses, and lo and behold, I find a chain. But I can’t pull it out. It’s stuck on something.

“Wait, wait,” I tell her, “I’m trying to pull out the chains.” So I try as gently as I can, but those gold chains will not budge.

“Okay,” I tell her, ” I’m goin’ in……”. So I stick my hand down her shirt, around her neck, into her bra and around her boobs. Yep, I said it….around her boobs.  I set the chains free, and we are on our merry way.


You just have to laugh……

Cathy Sikorski