Saturday, September 20, 2014

Two and a Half Amens

As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.
1 Samuel 12:23

If someone asks me to pray for them or someone else, I do it. I say a prayer right there and then. The duty for the children of God to pray for each other is a frequently mentioned topic in the Bible. Failing to pray for others is a sin if we believe Samuel. But, if I understand correctly, the verse does not refer to a single prayer, but the same kind of constant prayer that Paul exhorts us to when he says "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
If this is the case, and I believe that it is, then I sin without ceasing. Certainly I say a prayer when someone asks me, but that’s usually where it ends. A prayer or maybe two and a half amens is about it for me in most cases. I don’t claim to be a "prayer warrior," but I fear I’m misleading folks when I say "I’m praying for you." Yeah, I’m praying for them at that moment, but tomorrow morning I will have most likely forgotten about it. To be honest, I often forget to pray for even myself. I suspect that many of us are like that, but I must confess that it is embarrassing to admit. This is an area of my spiritual life that I realize needs to be worked on.
I have a few non-Christian friends who are absolutely honest with me when I ask for prayer and tell me that they can’t or won't do that. They might say that they "wish me well" or are sending "good thoughts" my way, but won’t commit to prayer. In contrast, I have a few believing friends who say they will pray for me but fail to do it. Which is worse, the unbeliever who tells me the truth, or the believer who fails to pray? In my opinion it would be the believer who fails to pray. A non-believer has not subjected himself to the authority of Christ and is not bound to any requirement to pray. I don’t begrudge their refusal to do so and actually appreciate their honesty. I’m not saying that their refusal to acknowledge God is anything good, but at least they are honest about it. There are those who feel that God doesn’t listen to the prayers of non-believers anyway, based on John 9:31, "We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will." There are other references to prayers by unbelievers that show otherwise. In particular, Cornelius, the Roman centurion in Acts 10 was a gentile yet prayed regularly and the apostle Peter was sent to him in response. God is almighty and is not restricted to answering the prayers of only those who believe in Him. Yes, there are instances in which God does not answer the prayers of an unbeliever. At the same time, in His grace and mercy, God is perfectly capable of responding to the prayers of unbelievers as he chooses. My point with all of this is that unbelievers have no responsibility to pray.
As Christians we do not have the same freedom to ignore prayer or to pray however and whenever we feel like it. We are told to pray and to do so without ceasing. A failure to pray, particularly when we specifically say that we will, is dishonest and ultimately sinful.
Forgive me, Lord, for failing to pray. Strengthen my desire to talk with you at all times.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Not So Free After All

After my "free" medicine arrived, I discovered an invoice for $67 in the bottom of the box. So it's been $10,400, $100, free, and now $67. I called to verify and, at least for now, it's going to be $67 a month. Better than $100 I suppose.

I'm a little depressed today. I had another visit with the oncologist yesterday and found out that my creatinine serum level is too high. For those of us who don't speak doctor, that means my kidney isn't functioning as well as it used to. It's doubled in the last two months. Some adjustments to my medicine have been made, hopefully that will bring it back down. I only have one kidney left so, if it goes wonky, I'll be looking at dialysis. Not an encouraging prospect, let's all pray that's not happening any time soon.

I googled "foods that lower creatinine levels" and discovered that I should avoid red meat, bread, caffein, coffee, tea, milk, butter, chocolate, tomatoes, potatoes, salt, and pretty much anything that tastes good.  The "good" food list includes lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, nuts...salad. I need to eat more salad...Ick.

I applied for Social Security Disability benefits earlier this week. In typical governmental fashion, I get to wait four to six months to find out if I've been approved. The nice lady who helped me with the application was kind enough to call my wife the next day to let her know that she qualified for early benefits if she wanted to apply...and took her application over the phone. Not everyone in the federal government are bureaucrats interested in generating red tape.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Free at last, free at last! Thank God almighty...

Here's the good news I mentioned in my last post...

As you know if you've been following my blog, I started taking a new cancer medicine in August that retails for around $10,400.00 a month. Under my medical insurance's prescription coverage, I had a $100 co-pay for my first bottle from Walgreen's. I called them on September 2nd and requested a refill. When I didn't receive it by Friday the 5th (and my bank account hadn't been charged), I called back to check on it. The pharmacy technician checked on the order and told me that my insurance company contacted them and had the prescription transferred to Accredo, their preferred provider for that medication, and gave me their phone number. I called Accredo and, sure enough, they had my prescription in their system. I requested a refill and was told it would ship on September 10th. When they didn't ask for my credit card information, I asked about the co-pay. "There is no co-pay," I was told. No co-pay? Shaken a bit, I asked "Am I responsible for the entire $10,400?" No, the insurance company is paying the entire amount.

I had checked the insurance website previously, and it clearly stated there was a $100 copay on the medication from retail pharmacies. It also said, in a confusing way, that there was no copay for prescriptions through Accredo. The way it was stated, I misunderstood the information to say the medication was not available through Accredo.

So the good news is that, apart from the insurance premiums I've been paying all along, my cancer medication is free, as long as I get it through Accredo.

I can live with that.

Now if I could just get them to do the same thing with all the MRI's, CT scans, blood draws, office visits, etc. it would be fantastic!  I wonder if they'd cover my gasoline too...

Sunday, September 07, 2014

More Good News

I got some more good news on Wednesday but I want to call someone to verify facts on Monday before I go reporting stuff that might not be completely true.  Check back in a couple of days and I'll post the details.

My PT/INR readings (how thin my blood is) have gone haywire since I started taking the cancer medicine. It thins the blood and I was on warfarin already, which thins the blood also. The combination of drugs dropped my stats past the bottom limit pretty quickly. I used to get my blood checked every four weeks, but it's now up to every week until they can get the dosage adjusted. It doesn't help that I'm having oral surgery on Tuesday and have had to go off of both medications for a few days so I won't bleed to death when they pull the tooth.

The appointment with Social Security to apply for disability is coming up soon. They're really hot for me to do it online even though I've told them repeatedly that their website won't let me past the first screen. I've had no less than two phone calls and four letters telling me how simple it is since I made the appointment.

I've mentioned the problems my wife has with her eyes. Being a former reading teacher, one of the things that frustrates her the most is not being able to sit down and enjoy a good book. Even the large print editions aren't large enough. She's been reduced to audio books on an MP3 player, which she has adjusted to to some extent, but there are a couple of problems.

First, MP3 players are tiny...with even tinier screens. She can't begin to navigate the menus so I have to get things started for her. I just purchased a new one for her last week that remembers the file position of what she is listening to and just takes a single push of a button to turn it on or off. I still have to find a starting place for new books, but otherwise it's a big improvement over the other one.

The other thing is...the audio versions of most non-public domain books cost as much as a hardback book. There's something about paying over $20 to download an intangible digital file when I can get a new paperback copy for around $10 that just sticks in my craw. It's even less if I take the time to stop at Half-Price Books.

Finally...where do two (almost three) year-olds get all of that energy? We need to pursue developing technology similar to that used in the movie "Monsters, Inc." We could shut down half of the power plants in the U.S. if we could harness it somehow.