Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Memory Improvement and Doctor Visit

I went down to my local Pier Street Computers store and bought 1GB of used memory for my Linux computer. John dug it out of his junk drawer (actually a box) and tested it in my machine. He charged me $20 and I was on my way out the door with 1.5 GB of memory showing.

I got home and tried to run Linux Mint 15 on it but no luck! It was the same as when I tried it with 512MG of RAM - no start button, blank screen and running in "Fallback" mode. I assume I still do not have enough RAM but I will make do with the Mint 14 which is running.

My friend Gary came down for a look at my computer as he is doing the same thing.  He was suitably impressed so I gave him some discs to start testing. He found he did not have enough memory and went down to Pier Street Computers as well. Gary is a bigger spender than me and is using a slightly more modern computer so he was able to walk away with 4 GB of memory. He is running Ubuntu and is going to try Mint 15 now that he has all that new chrome plated memory. We shall see how it works for him.

I am going to leave my Linux machine alone until I get that switch that allows me to share the same monitor without changing cables. It is too hard getting back there and it is only a matter of time before I bend some pins.

My main reason for going downtown today was to make my semi annual trip to my doctor. I went in for my standing order of lab tests the other day and then got a call from the doctor's office telling me to come in right away. I always hate it when they do this as they make it sound like I am going to die if I don't drop everything and run. As it turns out, there is nothing wrong with me. My blood sugar is still in the "safe" range but has been going up about 1/10 of a point every visit. I am taking Metformin to control this and in April he suggested I increase my dose. I am supposed to take 1 pill in the morning and 1 at night. I have been taking a shortcut by taking both of them at night. I was told this is not good as the pill only lasts 8 - 10 hours so taking both pills at once does no good.

My regular doctor is away so I saw a "Locum", a young woman who lives here in Campbell River and has a brand new medical degree. She was very personable, competent and not bad on the eyes. The downside is, she is only 16. Or at least looks like it. Oh well, she makes an old man feel alive. I promised her that I would behave myself with the Metformin doses.

For my American friends, the total charge for the lab work and doctor's visit was zero, nada, nothing.


  1. I'm afraid it's unlikely that your memory is the problem with running Mint 15. I believe it's more likely the old video card/chipset in the computer. Go see your buddy and ask if he's got a bit newer video card that you could plug in. Not sure but I suspect it's an AGP? It could also be PCI in which case you could get a much newer video card for probably $20 and it should do Mint 15 fine then.

    1. Thanks Don, you are probably correct. I think I will stop throwing money at this machine and leave well enough alone. It runs Mint 14 just fine. My friend at the computer shop pointed out all the oil filled capacitors on my motherboard and told me they are prone to leak and fail and not to expect much more life from this dated machine.

    2. That's the best idea. Mint 14 is plenty new enough to do everything you want to do.

    3. Just test my boundaries Don. ;)

  2. My sister-in-law, the doctor, calls Metformin a miracle drug, the stuff has multiple uses and few side effects. I take mine after breakfast and supper and my Type 2 stays tolerable. One side use for the drug is to help the ladies conceive...

  3. Careful reading led me to learn that your blog title about memory improvement and a Dr. visit were not related. Good thing for that eh???? LOL

    Getting your medical tune up likely means you two are gearing up for heading south soon?

  4. Croft, your medical expenses are not really zero. Rather, you prepaid for them via your taxes.

    Come to think of it, when I visited Canada, I also contributed some small amount to the Canadian economy too, with its higher cost of living than in the US. Last year, I had puncture holes in my toad's tire patched at a Canadian Tire store in Calgary, and it cost me $34! It was outrageous to me, as my Costco store in the US would do it for me as their member for free, even if they recognized that a flat tire brought in was not sold by them.

    1. No question, some things are more expensive in Canada but it is a choice we make to get the benefits. In Canada you will not lose your house to a hospital after an illness you are not covered for or if you have reached your limits.

    2. I was amazed that Les Schwab Tire in the US repairs flats for no charge and like you say, even on tires they did not sell.

  5. When I reach the age of 65 for Medicare eligibility, my medical expenses would go way down too, as I have "prepaid" for it via Medicare taxes all my working life.

    As it is now, I have to pay for private insurance, and there is no risk of me losing my home due to illnesses. Of course, there are poor Americans who cannot afford insurance, and Obamacare has forced insurers to offer policies to more people. That itself is good, but it's gonna be expensive.

    Foreigners may not know that routine health care in the US is not all that expensive (meaning regular doctor visit, blood tests, etc...) compared to the health taxes that citizens of other countries pay. It is only the hospitalization costs (for surgeries) that are truly outrageous. Sadly, Obamacare does not address the latter at all!

    Here are some examples. A simple blood cell count (CBC) test costs less than $20, requires a wait of less than 15 min compared to the 2-hr wait endured by the poor Londonian cancer patient I described in a comment a day earlier. A more complete blood test typically ordered for an annual exam, coupled with a urine test, costs less than $60. No appointment necessary, as I just walk into a clinic to hand over the doctor's order, and walk out after 15 min. It is painless and cheaper than the tire patch done at Canadian Tire. The test results are transmitted to my doctor's office within 24 to 48 hours. I know these prices, because I have to pay out-of-pocket due to my high insurance deductible.

    A relative had a spinal surgery that required perhaps 1 hour of surgeon's time, and a 3-day stay in the hospital. The surgeon was paid a bit more than $1000 (this also covered his post-op follow-up visits in and out of the hospital), while the hospital charge was near $10,000.

    American doctors are not paid outrageously like people would think. Charge nurses are paid $50K to $70K, while certified nurse assistants are paid perhaps $35K. My friend's doctor retired early because he said he had too many Medicare patients, and the US government does not pay him enough. I also learned of another doctor with his own practice who only cleared $80K after all expenses. Many professions make much more than that.

    Most of the hospitalization costs are administrative and overhead. Obamacare does nothing about that!

    If it weren't for outrageous hospitalization costs, I could self-insure for much less than what I have been paying my insurance company, AND the government Medicare tax all my life too.

    1. A fellow I worked with got laid off for a length of time from his job in Canada and went to the US to work (legally) for a power line contractor in Denver. He did not have health insurance and while he and his family were there his son got sick and after spending a couple of months in a Denver hospital, died.

      He came back to Canada but was hounded by the Denver hospital for a bill that was in the hundreds of thousands and which he had no hope of paying. He mailed them a cheque every month but that did not even cover the interest. He always said that when he died the hospital would take his house and, if he was lucky, forget about the balance.

      More recently my wife fell and broke her hip in Tucson, AZ. We had travel medical insurance but got to see the bills. The ambulance ride to the hospital was almost $1000. Our insurance company decided it would be cheaper to send a Lear Jet air ambulance with two doctors down to pick us up so she could be treated in Canada. They then flew us back to Tucson two months later and paid the expenses to bring the motorhome back home. This was cheaper than having the same work done in Tucson. Crazy!

      Many years ago I contracted a kidney disease. I went into the hospital for three weeks while they did many tests and finally got it under control. I was released to out patient care and even now, 25 years later, still have twice a year kidney function tests that will continue until I die. I never paid a cent for any of this because, like your medicare, we pay for this coverage through our taxes. That is the way it should be. Single payer, full coverage for everyone, no deductible, no limits.

    2. The episode with my friend and his son was back in the 80's.

      I should also add that the air ambulance landed at around 6 PM and Norma was on the operating table by 9 PM.

    3. Americans realize that our healthcare system needs reform, but not all think that a single-payer system is the way to go. France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan are examples of universal health cares that are not single-payer.

      Additionally, many feel that the US government has already messed up enough with the past system (too long a story to tell here), so do not trust it to "help" even more. We are still evolving our system, and hopefully something good will come out of it.

      I do not know about the system in BC, Canada, but observe that many single-payer systems still have supplemental private insurance for people who want more than the basic care, alternative medicine, expensive and yet unproven experimental treatments, elective surgeries, top-notch hospitals and surgeons, etc... This allows for individual choices, as there's no way any national health care system can afford every expensive treatment for everybody.

      Some people want to put more money into their house or cars, and some may just want to prolong their life by a few more days, cost be damned. They should be allowed to.