Category Archives: Health

An early morning Aloha to my sister

My sister, Bonnie Pauahi Stevens, passed away quietly this morning at her apartment in Honolulu. It was just a few minutes after dawn. She was 73.

She had been diagnosed with an advanced cancer this summer, and decided not to pursue aggressive treatment.

Bonnie was born in Honolulu, graduated from University High School, and the graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She lived most of her adult life in Groveland, California, a small town near the northern entrance to Yosemite.

She retired a decade ago as a training officer for the City of San Francisco at Hetch Hetchy Dam, not too far from Groveland.

She returned to Hawaii after her beloved husband, Ray Stevens, passed away in 2007. She only recently steppped down as Historian for the Daughters of Hawaii.

She is survived by two children, both living on the west coast, a close friend she called her hanai daughter, seven grandchildren, and close friends who will miss her dearly.

Due to circumstances beyond my control…

Today’s Feline Friday photos will hopefully get posted later this afternoon, and I may–stress “may”–be able to complete a post or two over the weekend.

But this has turned into a very stressful time. We’re making changes in my sister’s medical care, which require setting up the finances to support them, while supporting her during a difficult time.

I’ve already taken a sabbatical from my weekly Civil Beat column in order to deal with the family stuff.

Hopefully this will all settle down soon and I’ll get back to something like normal.

In the meantime, I’ll trying to keep in touch here and via Facebook as time permits.

Not a great end for my week

It hasn’t been a real good end of the week. I got a message last night that my sister has more health issues that need addressing, although this morning it looks like perhaps not as serious as I had thought. But still worrisome and involving things I’ll have to follow-up on.

Then my quest to deal with cataracts hit a snag. I had an exam and consultation with one of Straub’s surgeons yesterday, and came away less than satisfied. I was given the impression they do not offer the full range of options in their cataract surgeries, aiming instead for the plain vanilla solutions that are mostly covered by insurance and avoiding the more specialized or premium options. That’s fine, except I really wanted to get a sense of the range of options available, so that I can then choose the one that offers the best in my particular case. Straub didn’t deliver that. So I’ve made an appointment with one of the other doctors recommended by several people in comments here, but that means another six week delay. I’m unhappy about that, but have to be patient.

I’m short of cat photos this week, so Feline Friday will be a bit delayed today.

And to top it off, the Interior Department’s announcement of the final version of its proposed rule on Native Hawaiian governance means I’ll have to wade through the fine print of the final rule to see what’s there.

In the meantime, you might want to listen to all or part of the Town Square program which aired last night on Hawaii Public Radio (“Media Coverage During Elections“). We didn’t get many calls, but our discussion raised quite a few interesting issues.

This week on Town Square, looking at how the media and reporters in particular cover political campaigns. Does local and National media coverage generally enlighten or confuse voters? Do reporters focus on things that help us make informed choices or do they just look for scandal and controversy? We’ll take up these questions with award-winning investigative reporter and columnist Ian Lind, long time Hawaii journalist Denby Fawcett, and Honolulu Civil Beat reporter Nick Grube.

On the path to cataract surgery

I’m reporting to Straub Clinic and Hospital bright and early this morning for a “consultation” with one of their surgeons in preparation for cataract surgery.

After reading more about the procedure, and talking to other people who have gone through it, I’m anxious to get this done as soon as possible.

From what I’ve read and heard, complications are infrequent (I hesitate to say “rare”) and the benefits are suddenly brighter colors and, in most cases, freedom from eye glasses. It seems very clear that the benefits exceed the risks and costs by a wide margin.

Of course, I now have to get enough relevant information to decide whether Straub is where I want to have the surgery done. People have recommended other local surgeons with fine reputations. I’ll just have to see what kind of information I can gather. Your comments and suggestions are, of course, welcome.

In the meantime, as a photographer, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what I’ve been missing in terms of colors.

Here’s a typical posts from an online photography discussion board:

Cataracts develop very slowly so you are usually not aware of the changes in your color perception. I know that I was startled after the surgery on how much my color vision had changed. Yes, the sky was a brilliant blue again. In fact all colors seemed so much more vibrant.

And another.

Recently I have had cataract surgery on both eyes and had both good and bad news. The good news is that for the first time in seventy years I don’t need glasses. The bad news is that most of the prints I have made in the last few years were poorly edited for color. The problem is that as we grow older the lenses in our eyes become yellow rather than clear. This naturally effects how we see color. Many of my pictures emerged from PhotoShop with a blue cast. This was caused by trying to “correct” the white areas of my pictures — I saw them with a yellow tinge and erroneously shifted the blue channel.

I’ll have more to report after I’m done with this appointment.

Apologies for yesterday’s absence

Yesterday was one of the infrequent days where events stacked up enough that I never managed to post at all.

I spent much of the morning helping out my sister, who is back in her Honolulul apartment after stints in Straub Hospital and, later, a Liliha nursing home (for rehab). She’s able to be at home with the assistance of a couple of good friends who have stepped up to help, at least for the next five or six weeks or so. I’m dealing with paying bills and catching up with other financial matters.

Later, I stopped in at the main Straub Medical Center on King Street to find out whether the account information for my sister’s supplemental insurance as a retired City of San Francisco employee had been recorded in her records at the hospital.

I was ready for this to be a battle with the medical establishment. Instead, Straub made it a pleasure. At the information window, it was suggested that I inquire at the Admissions office. And the receptionist there immediately took me over to speak with a customer service rep.

After I explained the situation, and produced my power of attorney, the customer service rep got on the phone to the provider, spent quite a long time working her way through an automated telephone system on the other end until she reached a real person. She was then quickly able to confirm that my sister does have the supplemental medical plan coverage, got the current account number, and updated all the online records. And then she advised that we should ignore the bill that just arrived, and wait for a revision after it’s determined how much the SF policy will cover.

I walked out after 15 or 20 minutes with the problem resolved and a high respect for the Straub system of customer service.

Then I waited around until my scheduled eye exam, also at Straub.

I walked out with a new reality: Cataracts. Both eyes. I was advised years ago that there were baby cataracts lurking in the background that “someday” would likely cause me trouble.

Someday, it seems, is today.

It’s a bit spooky, although the corrective surgery is a procedure with a very high success rate.

If you’ve been through this and have any advice, I would love to hear it!

So the next couple of months will be a bit different than I had been planning! Luckily, our insurance will go a long way to cover the costs.