How to Pay Your Medicare Premium Online and How to Set Up Medicare Autopay

How to Pay Your Medicare Premium Online and How to Set Up Medicare Autopay

Do you know where to make your Medicare premium payment? If you are wondering how to view your Medicare bill online, how to pay your Medicare bill online, or how to set up autopay (which is called ‘Medicare Easy Pay’) for your Medicare bill, here’s how. (First, wondering “why is my first medicare bill so high?” It’s because they often bill the first two months together.)

Now this is specifically how to pay your premiums for Medicare Part A and Part B. Of course, it’s quite possible (even likely) that you won’t have a premium for Medicare part A, but you are likely to have a premium for Medicare part B (because having read this you know better than to sign up for Medicare Advantage rather than Part B). So when you first sign up for Medicare you will get a premium bill of some sort, and here is how to pay it online, and how to set it up for autopay.

[For more information on Medicare see my articles Medicare Explained in Plain English & How and Where to Sign Up for Medicare, as well as How and Where to Find Your Medicare Number When You Don’t Have Your Card]

Once again, the Federal government has not made it particular intuitive in terms of how and where to pay your Medicare bill online, or how to set up autopay for which, of course, the Feds have created a whole new, non-intuitive term, “Medicare Easy Pay”. Fortunately once you know where to look, you will find all of your payment options in one place, so at least there’s that.

Now if you like to go paperless – or at least to attempt to go paperless by signing up for electronic payment and then just for the most part ignoring paper bills – you’ll be happy to know that Medicare not only makes it relatively easy, but that there’s an added incentive: their bills come with payment coupons! Holy 1970s, Batman! When was the last time that you had to deal with that??

How to Pay Your Medicare Premium Bill

As they explain it on the Medicare site, once you find it (link below), there are basically four ways that you can pay your Medicare premium bill. You can:

  1. Pay online
  2. Sign up for Medicare Easy Pay (their autopay option)
  3. Pay by direct bank withdrawal (also known as ACH, which stands for ‘Automated Clearing House’, which is the financial network that processes electronic payments)
  4. Send a credit card, check, or money order via USPS

Here’s how they explain it:

1. Pay online through your secure Medicare account (fastest way to pay).

Log into (or create) your secure Medicare account to use this free service to pay by credit card, debit card, or from your checking or savings account.

2. Sign up for Medicare Easy Pay.

With this free service, we’ll automatically deduct your premium payments from your savings or checking account each month.

3. Pay directly from your savings or checking account through your bank’s online bill payment service

Some banks charge a service fee.

4. Mail your payment to Medicare.

Pay by check, money order, credit card, or debit card. Fill out the payment coupon at the bottom of your bill, and include it with your payment.

If you’re paying by credit or debit card, be sure to complete and sign the coupon. If you don’t sign the coupon, we can’t process your payment and it will be returned to you.

Where to Pay Your Medicare Premium Bill or Set Up Medicare Easy Pay (Autopay)

How and Where to Pay Your Medicare Premium Online

It all starts with logging in to your Medicare account, which you can do at

Paying a single Medicare premium bill:

Once you are logged in you can go directly to the premium payment link here:

The above link will give you payment options using credit and debit cards (including HSA cards), and direct withdrawal from your bank account (ACH).

Signing up for Medicare Easy Pay (autopayments):

To sign up for Medicare autopay, which Medicare calls ‘Medicare Easy Pay’, go here:

Pay by U.S. Mail

If you want to send a check, money order, or credit or debit card information by the USPS, you must have received your payment coupon book from Medicare in the mail, and you must include the payment coupon. Then mail your payment, along with the filled out coupon, to:

Medicare Premium Collection Center
PO Box 790355
St. Louis, MO 63179-0355

How to Pay Your Medicare Premium Online and How to Set Up Medicare Autopay

How and When to Sign Up for Social Security Demystified and What if You Keep Working? a Plain English Explanation

How and When to Sign Up for Social Security Benefits Demystified: a Plain English Explanation

How does continuing to work while collecting Social Security benefits affect how much Social Security you will receive? And what is the difference between “normal Social Security retirement age” and “full Social Security retirement age” and “delayed Social Security retirement age”? And why does the Federal government have to make senior benefits like Medicare and Social Security seem so freaking complicated when it’s actually pretty straight-forward?

Well, much like I have done with my Medicare explained in plain English and my Medicaid for the elderly explained in plain English, I’m going to explain in plain English how still working and earning while collecting Social Security impacts your Social Security benefits and how much you receive, as well as how your choice of when you start collecting your Social Security benefits impacts how much you receive.

NOTE: This articles deals only with regular monthly Social Security payments to the original wage earner, not spouse or survivor benefits. In other words only to your collecting your Social Security benefits based on your earnings that you earned yourself over the course of your life. Also, this article has simplified some things which may actually be a little more complex, such as how the Social Security Administration calculates paying back withheld benefits. However, it does explain in plain English enough to get you to a place where you understand your options, which is my goal in writing it.

How Your Age When You Start Getting Social Security Affects the Amount You Will Receive

We’re starting with the age part of the equation because it’s the most straight-forward (although how continuing to work affects how much Social Security you will collect is really only slightly less straight-forward).

The reason it seems so complicated is that there are three different age events which impact how much you will receive and which, in fact, will lock in how much you receive for the rest of your life. The bottom line here is that the longer that you delay collecting Social Security the higher will be your benefits once you do start collecting them.

Age Event #1: Turning 62

You are entitled to start collecting Social Security payments when you turn 62. However this will lock in the very lowest monthly payment, forever.

Age Event #2: Reaching “Normal or Full Retirement Age”

This is where the Federal government starts the torturing of senior citizens by confusingly using two different terms for the exact same thing! And then adding acronyms to boot. So let’s get this straight right now:

For the purposes of collecting Social Security “full retirement age” (also referred to as ‘FRA’) and “normal retirement age” (also referred to as ‘NRA’) are the exact same thing. They are just 4 – count ’em, 4 – different terms which all mean “the age at which you are entitled to collect your full Social Security benefits”. (Except it really isn’t, at least not for the regular definition of “full”, as you can still collect even more, which we’ll get to in a minute, and that’s why for the rest of this article we will use the term “normal retirement age” for age event #2).

Most people think of normal retirement age as being 65, but for purposes of Social Security normal retirement age is 66, plus a certain number of months (how many months depends on when you were born), unless you were born in 1960 or later, in which case your normal retirement age is 67. At least it’s 67 as of the time of this writing (this is being written in April of 2023).

Here’s how it breaks down:

If you were born in or before 1954, your normal retirement age is 66.
If you were born in 1955 your normal retirement age is 66 plus 2 months.
If you were born in 1956 your normal retirement age is 66 plus 4 months.
If you were born in 1957 your normal retirement age is 66 plus 6 months.
If you were born in 1958 your normal retirement age is 66 plus 8 months.
If you were born in 1959 your normal retirement age is 66 plus 10 months.
If you were born in 1960 or after your normal retirement age is 67.

If you elect to start collecting Social Security when you reach your normal retirement age you will lock in the ‘normal retirement age’ amount for the rest of your life.

Age Event #3: Turning 70 also known as “Delayed Retirement”

If you choose not to start collecting Social Security when you reach your ‘normal retirement age’ of 66+, and put it off completely until you turn 70, you will collect an amount greater (sometimes far greater) than the ‘normal retirement’ amount. Turning 70 is the last age event that impacts how much you will receive every month for your Social Security benefits, and is known as “delayed retirement”. Turning 70 locks in the highest amount possible.

As an example, in the chart below, taken from someone’s actual Social Security account, if this person started collecting Social Security at their ‘normal retirement age’ of 66 and 8 months, they would collect $2929 per month. However, if they wait another 3 years and 4 months, when they will turn 70, they will collect $3710 per month. While we can’t see what they would have collected at age 62, we can see that at age 65 they would collect $2603 per month.

How and When to Sign Up for Social Security Benefits Demystified: a Plain English Explanation

So at What Age Should You Start Collecting Social Security Benefits?

While simply waiting until age 70, if you can, may seem like a no-brainer, it’s not quite that simple. You have to make an educated guess as to how long you plan to be around. If you think that you will live well past 70, and if you can afford to wait, it may make sense for you to wait until you are 70 to start collecting Social Security. On the other hand, if you really need the money sooner, or if your life expectancy is limited, it may make more sense to collect sooner.

And that’s even before we get to whether you want to or need to continue working and earning income while you are collecting Social Security.

How Continuing to Work Affects How Much Social Security You’ll Get

The second thing that the Federal government makes oh-so-confusing is how your Social Security benefits (i.e. the amount you’ll receive) are affected if you continue to work (in other words continue to earn an income) while receiving Social Security. In fact, they make it crazy confusing, explaining it in many different ways, sometimes even on the same page.

They Say “Deduction”, We Say “Penalty”

How much you will be penalized (and let’s face it, no matter that the Social Security Administration calls it a “deduction” from your Social Security benefits, it’s actually a penalty for those who choose to or need to keep on working) depends on how much you earn and also on whether or not you have reached your ‘normal retirement age’ (aren’t you glad we explained normal retirement age first?) This is true regardless of whether the income is paid to you by someone else (i.e. wages) or through self-employment.

Now, while we call it a penalty, it isn’t a true penalty in as much as eventually you get it back. So maybe we should really call it “the Federal government ‘borrowing’ money from you which they will pay back eventually. Without interest.” As the AARP explains, “What Social Security does instead is increase your benefit when you reach full retirement age to account for the previous withholding.”

Call it a ‘withholding’, call it a ‘deduction’, call it a ‘penalty’, whatever you call it, it’s money that is yours which you aren’t receiving, nor getting interest on when you get it back, even though you could be earning interest on it if it weren’t being made unavailable to you.

The Good News

Here’s the good news: once you reach your normal retirement age (i.e. 66 plus some number of months unless you were born before 1954 (then it’s 66) or in 1960 or after (then it’s 67)) then you can work as much as you want, and earn as much as you want, and it will not impact your Social Security payments at all; you will still get the full amount of Social Security. So the deductions that penalize you for working while collecting Social Security are only for those who continue to work or otherwise earn an income and who are below age 66.

The Bad News

The bad news is that if you are also working and otherwise earning additional income, there is a good chance that you will have to pay income tax on a portion (up to 85%) of your Social Security along with your other income. Yes, the Feds giveth and the Feds taketh away.

The Annual Earnings Test

The first thing that you need to know about the ‘Annual Earnings Test’ (or “AET”, because they have to acronymize everything) is that it’s not really a test. It’s a calculation, and is used to calculate how much of your Social Security you are not going to receive if you have not yet attained ‘normal retirement age’ (i.e. are under age 66ish), and you continue to work while receiving regular Social Security.

The second thing that you need to know is that even though you get monthly payments from the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) actually does almost everything (such as calculations, withholdings, etc.) based on annual amounts. So, for example, if you are getting monthly Social Security payments of $1000 a month, the Social Security Administration actually considers and calls that “$12,000 a year” – they just send it to you in nice monthly chunks.

The third thing that you need to know is that there is a difference between collecting Social Security while also working during years in which you will be below your ‘normal retirement age’ for the entire year, and collecting Social Security while also working during the year in which you will attain your ‘normal retirement age’. This is because once you attain your ‘normal retirement age’ you will no longer be penalized.

How the Annual Earnings Test Works

If You Will Not Reach Your ‘Normal Retirement Age’ During the Year

If you have not yet reached your ‘normal retirement age’, and will not reach your ‘normal retirement age’ during the current year, and you choose to start receiving Social Security benefits and you are still earning an income, you are allowed to earn (in 2023) $21,240 from your job before you start getting penalized. For every $2 you earn above $21,240 you will be penalized $1 out of your annual Social Security amount. This is based on what you earn annually, which you will report to the Social Security Administration.

Example: You earn $22,240 in 2023, which is $1000 above the “won’t get penalized” earnings limit. For every $2 you have earned that is above the limit your annual Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1, so in other words in this example you will have $500 ($1 for every $2 that you earned over the limit) deducted from your total annual Social Security payments.

Important: They don’t amortize it across your monthly payments; they stop sending you payments at all until the withholding of $1 for every $2 that you earned over the limit is satisfied.

If You Will Reach Your ‘Normal Retirement Age’ During the Current Year

If you are going to reach your ‘normal retirement age’ during the current year, then two things change:

1. The amount you are allowed to earn before you penalized with money being deducted from your Social Security payments goes up substantially (to $56,520 for 2023; that’s quite a jump from $21,240); and

2. Instead of you being penalized $1 for every $2 you earn over the limit, you are penalized $1 for every $3 you earn over the limit.

In addition, as soon as you reach your ‘normal retirement age’ the penalty ceases and you start getting the full amount of Social Security, plus a repayment added to your monthly benefit to account for the money they took because you were earning over the limit while you were below the ‘normal retirement age’.


As a reminder, this article has simplified some things which may actually be a little more complex, such as how the Social Security Administration calculates paying back withheld benefits. However, it does explain in plain English enough to get you to a place where you understand your options, which is my goal in writing it.

To check on what your benefits are or will be, and to sign up for Social Security to start accessing your benefits, go to

How and Where to Find Your Medicare Number When You Don’t Have Your Card

where how to find medicare number featured image

If you are newly signed up for Medicare you may be wondering how and where to find your Medicare number, especially if you don’t have your Medicare card yet. You know that you must have a Medicare number, because you were accepted into the Medicare plan and even received an email saying you are now enrolled in Medicare and that your card is on its way to you. The thing is, you need your Medicare number in order to enroll in either a Medicare supplemental plan, or a Medicare Advantage plan, and you also need your Medicare number to enroll in Part D (‘D is for Drugs’, just like on Sesame Street).

(If you are not yet super-familiar with Medicare parts versus Medicare plans, supplemental Medicare plans, Medicare Advantage, and all the rest, you need to be, and that’s exactly why I put together this plain English explanation of Medicare and how to sign up for Medicare. Of course if you’re trying to figure out how to find your Medicare number, you’re probably already through with all of that, and have already signed up for Medicare, and been approved.)

The way that you know that you were accepted for Medicare is that you got a note from the Social Security Administration saying something like “Your Submission Status Has Been Updated. You can check the status of your submission online with your personal my Social Security account.”

This may confuse you because you applied for Medicare, not social security, and the link in the notice doesn’t even go to, it goes to, which is the Social Security Administration website. Medicare has its own website, so why would information about your Medicare application be on a different website?

See, this is your first mistake. Trying to make sense out of any of it. You’ll drive yourself crazy.

Here’s how to find your Medicare number once you are accepted into Medicare but before you receive your card.

How to Find Your Medicare Number

1. Log into your SSA account here.

2. Once logged in look for something that looks like this part-way down the page, and find the link to “Your Benefit Verification Letter”.

where how to find medicare number

3. This will take you, not to your benefits verification letter as you might have thought, but to a new page with another link to “Your Benefit Verification Letter”. This time the link is to the PDF of the actual letter, which should also have been mailed to your home.

4. Click on the link to the PDF, and voila!

The letter will say something like:

You asked us for information from your record. The information that you requested is shown below. If you want anyone else to have this information, you may send them this letter.

Medicare Information

You are entitled to hospital insurance under Medicare beginning {Date it begins}.
You are entitled to medical insurance under Medicare beginning {Date it begins}.
Your Medicare number is 1234567890. You may use this number to get medical
services while waiting for your Medicare card.

And that’s how you find your Medicare number.

Medicaid for the Elderly Explained in Plain English: When Medicare Won’t Cover Long Term Elder Care

Medicaid for the elderly explained in plain English

Did you know that if you have an elder parent who needs to get into a nursing home it is very likely that Medicare will not cover it? That means that you may very well need to get them onto Medicaid unless you are essentially independently wealthy, or they set up a long-term care insurance policy, or they have a huge retirement nest egg, as nursing homes cost several thousand dollars a month, as does home health care.

Of course, in order to qualify for Medicaid your elderly parent has to be essentially destitute. The vast majority of our elder parents (and we ourselves) are neither independently wealthy, nor completely destitute and so won’t qualify for Medicaid. This is why trying to get adequate care and placement for our elderly causes us to take out second mortgages, sell off the family home, and go deeply into debt.

After I published my post explaining Medicare in plain English, and how and where to sign up for Medicare, I was contacted by a good friend, whom I trust implicitly, with the following description, shared with their permission, of their experience trying to get an elderly parent into a nursing home when they are on Medicare, and the nightmare that is the Kafkaesque process of trying to get them onto Medicaid (which, again, you’ll need to do because while many nursing homes aren’t covered by Medicare, at least some accept Medicaid).

According to my friend, make no mistake about it: unless someone has and is prepared to pay many thousands of dollars a month, each and every month, for a nursing home, or for home health care, you will need to get them onto Medicaid before they can get into a nursing home. According to MoneyGeek my friend is exactly right, the average cost per year for a nursing home is about $90,000, 24/7 in-home care a whopping $175,000. And if your elderly parent is having memory problems then caring for them at home without the assistance of home health care can be very daunting and even dangerous, especially as the months pass and they decline.

Here is what my friend said, verbatim, other than to remove identifying information.

Your write up in Medicare was excellent. If you thought that was a mind bender consider Medicaid. This is important because nursing home care is not covered by Medicare. This comes up because with people living longer there are more people with dementia and also significantly debilitating non-neurological disorders. A nursing home can run on the order of $10K – $15K per month. There is talk about in-home care being less expensive. It is not. It can be more expensive for the same level of care. In addition, with the shortage of healthcare workers, in home care may not be available. Care for an elder who has dementia is not just about drugs, taking temperatures, and routine medical functions it’s also about feeding, bathing, and the other biological functions. This requires 24×7 level of help that is beyond most family members’ ability to provide without becoming highly self-destructive of the family member caregiver.

If your elder had a good long term care policy or they have sufficient wealth to cover years in a nursing home then they are very lucky. If they were poor from birth and never had any wealth (in the general sense like “savings”) then getting Medicaid is straight forward. But if your elder is in between those extremes then one has to “qualify” for Medicaid via an application and review process. We enlisted the help of an elder law attorney to assist us in the process which is paper work intensive (imagine trying to track down one’s father’s army discharge papers, or one’s mother’s birth certificate and naturalization papers, and financial details for the last five years, etc.). We have reached the point where all our paper work has been submitted and we are awaiting the outcome of the review process. But that glosses over aspects of Medicaid financial planning.

On top of all this we have a heath care system that is not prepared to deal with large numbers of boomers soon to have many needs. My mother is pre-boomer and 90 years old, and finding her a spot in a nursing home was a harrowing experience. At one point my mother was #10 on a wait list to get into a home. But what that really meant was that 10 people had to die to free up space. I should qualify the above by saying that we needed a home that would accept Medicaid and would not have my sister run home crying and emotionally distraught from the horrors she witnessed.

Keep in mind that “independent living”, “assisted living”, “memory care”, and nursing homes are not the same. My mother started at “independent living”. When her condition accelerated we moved her into memory care and when she started breaking bones and such she was in a hospital until a qualified care facility was available. And my mother’s Medicare Advantage plan tried to deny her coverage. But luckily the hospital’s interests and my mother’s were aligned so the hospital attorneys negotiated with United Healthcare and made what would have been a more that $170k bill be about $2k. {Editor’s note: None of the foregoing were nursing home care, which is why Medicare covered it.}

So getting back to Medicaid I would expect that many people will eventually need it. But the question is are they are prepared with the knowledge to successfully get through the application process?

My main advice to people is to consult with an elder law attorney that specializes in Medicaid planning and the Medicaid application process. If they have older parents, work with an elder law estate attorney on Medicare, Medicaid, estate, power of attorney, and health care directives and such. Advanced planning will make an emotional and broken process survivable.

BTW we are not yet approved for Medicaid. There is a very small but non-zero chance we can be denied coverage.

The fall back is where people try to take care of the elders themselves. For healthy elders this is not an issue. But for elders with dementia it’s almost impossible for non-wealthy people to provide a level of care that does not look like elder abuse. And one consequence is the monthly posts on Nextdoor of the latest elder that got out of the house and is missing. The last few elders in our area that went missing didn’t survive it.

An elder with no support system would be out on the street in many parts of the country. Some of this is state and city specific.

My sister is not in a condition to take my mother in. So I would have to do that. Not sure how I would juggle that and work and life. It would be crushing for the estimated 4-5 years of my mother’s estimated remaining life. BTW that’s a figure that becomes part of the Medicaid process.

Medicaid for the elderly explained in plain English

Frustrated by a Vibrating Noise and Vibration in Your RO Filter? This May Be It

Frustrated by a Vibrating Noise and Vibration in Your RO Filter? This May Be It

We just spent days and days trying to troubleshoot a fairly horrific vibration noise and vibrating, kind of like a chattering, in our under-sink reverse osmosis filter. We changed all the filters. We changed the auto shutoff valve, twice. We spent hours under the sink tracing the lines. Why did it vibrate so much more in the line to the overflow? And why, oh why, is there only one line to the tank when you both send water to and draw water from the tank? These were the questions in our minds, some of which are still unsolved mysteries. But the mystery of the vibration was cleared up, and it was a shockingly easy fix, especially considering all the time that we had spent trying to figure it out.

As you have probably guessed, it was only by a thorough (and I do mean thorough) process of elimination that we narrowed it down to the only other thing that it could be (other than, you know, replacing the entire system): the check valve.

How to Get Rid of the Vibration Noise and Vibration Coming from Your RO System

The check valve is one of the two elbow-shaped valves that are on one end of the housing that houses your membrane filter. According to, “The function of the check valve is to isolate the membrane from back pressure from the storage tank and to provide a solid wall for the shutoff valve to push against.”

reverse osmosis check valve

Put a slightly different way, (yeah, we don’t quite get the name either) explains that the check valve “is a one-way valve. It allows water to flow toward the drain pipe but prevents it from flowing backward toward the ro membrane. Its function is to prevent backflow into the RO unit in the event of a blocked drain pipe.”

Anyways, once we had, by the days-long, back-aching process of elimination, narrowed it down to the noise having to be caused either by the check valve or Zuul living in the RO system, we took a really good look at that check valve so that we could order the exact same one. Unlike the other various valves in the system, the check valve had a tiny stainless steel disk with a hole in the center of the disk at one end of the elbow.

Frustrated by a Vibrating Noise and Vibration in Your RO Filter? This May Be It

Now, that noise was driving me crazy(er), so I wanted to replace it (while uttering prayers, smudging, and sacrificing a rubber chicken – anything in the hope this would GET RID OF THAT EFFING NOISE!) as soon as possible. Well, the only place that we could find that had a check valve that looked exactly like the one in the picture, meaning with the stainless steel disk in the end, was this one place that would take several days to get it to me. On the other hand, Amazon had a complete membrane replacement kit, including the housing and the three valves that go on the membrane housing, and even an extra wrench, for just $14.99 and they could get it to me the next day. But while it included a check valve, there was no picture of the bottom (top?) of it to see if it had the stainless steel disk with the hole in the middle. Still, people with the same RO system as mine were saying that it worked although some reviews made it sound like it wasn’t exactly the same check valve, and did I mention that Amazon could get it to me the next day? So I did what any (in)sane person would do. I ordered the one that I knew was the right one. And then I ordered the kit from Amazon so that I could hopefully have some peace and quiet while waiting for the really, really right one to arrive. Because yes, by now I was willing to buy an entire extra kit to get that damned check valve, which I knew at least would fit and be a right one, even if it wasn’t the right one, because it was for a 4-state RO filter system just like mine.

Well, guess what. That check valve that came with that kit from Amazon has the stainless steel disk with the hole in the middle! Guess what else. It FIXED THE NOISE! Guess what else? When that other “right” check valve came, they had sent the wrong one, with no stainless steel disk!

Here is the link to the reverse osmosis membrane with check valve kit that I got from Amazon.

By the way, it’s super easy to change out that check valve. You just turn off the water to the system, and open your tap and drain it (so that water doesn’t spray everywhere when you change the valve). Then you pull the tube out of the old check valve, remove the old check valve by turning it counter-clockwise (it’s threaded – righty tighty, lefty loosey), and replace it with the new check valve. Don’t forget to put a bit of teflon tape on the threads!

Searches that led to this article: https://www mangemerde com/frustrated-by-a-vibrating-noise-and-vibration-in-your-ro-filter-this-may-be-it/,  

How I Cured My Toenail Fungus: A Toenail Fungus Treatment that Works!

There is an actual toenail fungus treatment system that works, and I know, because I’ve used it (actually I kinda invented it). Back at the beginning of 2020 I got hit with a double whammy: I was diagnosed with a very rare disorder (fortunately not life-threatening) and coincident, toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, decided to take up residence in my left big toe. I’m pretty sure that the fact that my immune system was being messed, what with the onset of the rare condition, allowed that opportunistic little fungus to take hold.

Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not a nurse, I am not a nurse practitioner. I am not a medical professional. I use the term “treatment” in the general sense of the word, not the medical sense.

Now, I was super lucky because I caught the little sucker early, when it was just a bright white smear across my toenail. I guess in that way I was fortunate that I had this new immune condition, because it meant I was at the doctor’s a lot, so we saw it, and he told me what it was. Then he told me to soak my foot in bleach water every night, and that it could take up to 2 years to go away. (WTF?)

If you have toenail fungus right now I’m sure that you, like me, have done a ton of research about different treatments, and none of them are guaranteed to work, and certainly none of them are fast. So you search and search, and try different things. Man that onychomycosis is a tenacious little beast. So, after about a week of schlepping the water, pouring in some bleach, making sure that the enbleached water didn’t splash on anything, sitting with my foot in the water – what a hassle – I got one of those Clorox bleach pens; you know the kind that you use on laundry (works great on shower grout too, but don’t leave it on too long, I don’t know if it might break the grout down – hey, I’m a lawyer, not a building contractor).

Of course I was also using the over-the-counter toe nail fungus preparations, namely Kerasal (bet you’ve already tried that, eh? But hang on to it, because it actually is part of the treatment course). My GP (the above-referenced doctor was my specialist for the other condition) confirmed that while this may work, it will take years and the fungus may still come back, but that Kerasal was about the best out there, despite it not being 100% effective 100% of the time, because hey, again, tenacious little sucker. (My GP also told me there is one prescription treatment which he described as a sort of shellac, but that it’s very expensive, and insurance doesn’t cover it. By very expensive, last time I looked, it was about $700. No, that’s not a typo.)

Speaking of my doctors, this treatment system is based on information that I have received from each of them, as well as things that I found in research. Then I put all of that together, and voila! (Hey, look at that, another French word!)

So at this point I’m just going to cut to the chase, because you want to know what I did to cure my toenail fungus. Keep in mind that it still will take a long time. And that it will require you to do things you may not like doing (no no, no live sacrifices involved). Also, the links to products on Amazon are not affiliate links, I don’t make a dime from them; I did this in this article because I want you to understand that this actually worked for me, and I’m not trying to make money off you. (Side note: don’t you hate how you can’t really trust reviews or instructions on websites any more because they all seem to be using Amazon affiliate links, so you can’t really know whether they really love each product, or just want you to click on the links so they make .03 off you?) That said, if you found this helpful, please consider buying me a latte at the end of this post. :~)

The Toenail Fungus Treatment That Really Works

You will need:

  • Kerasal
  • And (not “or”) Ariella toenail fungus treatment
  • A dedicated pair of toenail clippers that you use only on that toenail
  • Borax
  • At least one pair of open-toed shoes that you can wear a lot
  • Socks that you don’t mind boiling in a pot (yes, really) for those times that you really, really can’t wear open-toed shoes
  • A large pot in which to boil the socks


Part of the key to this treatment is that you want to deprive your toenail fungus of any chance to grow. Whenever you put any covering (shoe, sock, etc.) over the nail which is housing the fungus you are inviting the fungus to stick around and grow. This is primarily because of the unavoidable moisture that will be trapped by your sock and shoe. On the other hand, when you leave your toe completely exposed no moisture can accumulate. I’m not gonna lie: I wore flip-flops for nearly the entire time it took to get rid of this thing, including around the house. The only time that I put closed-toe shoes on was when I was working out. As I work out at least for times a week, that leads me to point #2:

If you must put on a closed-toe shoe, be sure to use a clean pair of socks, and only wear those socks once. Then take them off and put them in that big pot, so you can’t possibly wear them again until they are disinfected. Here’s my system: I have the big ‘sock pot’ and as soon as I take my socks off, into the pot they go. Then once a week I disinfect them all; the Borax is part of that because it turns out that Borax has anti-fungal properties and is a great laundry additive.

Specific instructions for this toenail fungus treatment system

Keep your toenail clipped as short as possible, using the dedicated toenail clippers. Sterilize the toenail clippers in boiling water after each time you use them.

Use both the Kerasal and the Ariella twice a day (morning and night), making sure to cover the entire nail and to get the area up under the edge of the front of the nail.

Only wear closed-toe shoes when it is absolutely unavoidable, and for as short a period of time as possible. Remove socks as soon as possible and put them in the sock pot, do not wear them a second time before they have become disinfected!

When you are ready to do laundry, put about 1/4 cup of Borax into the sock pot, add enough hot water to cover the socks, and a tiny squirt of dish soap. Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil, and turn off. Once the socks are cool enough to handle wring them out and put them in with your regular laundry. When you do your laundry, add another 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of Borax along with the laundry soap, and wash in the hottest water that your laundry will allow.

Do this routine consistently, being sure to keep the nail cut short as the infected part grows out.

Now go eradicate that fungus!

Here’s Where to Rent a Wheelchair in the Denver Colorado Area

wheelchair rentals colorado

When I first had my hip replacement it became very clear that I was going to need a wheelchair for a while. I ended up buying my own wheelchair along with lots of other stuff, but for the first few days I didn’t realize that was what I as going to need to do, so I set about looking for wheelchair rentals in Boulder – which quickly turned into a search for renting a wheelchair just about anywhere in Colorado! It turns out that there are very few places in the Boulder / Denver / all of Colorado area where you can actually rent a wheelchair! Not in Boulder, not in Ft. Collins, and barely in Denver. Fortunately, after quite a bit of searching, I found one of the few places in Colorado that rents wheelchairs, and as fortunately, they are great! I committed that I would write this place up so that nobody else has endure hours of frustration trying to find a place to rent a freakin’ wheelchair in the greater Denver area of Colorado!

The place that I finally found, Mobility 4 America, is a one-man operation. That man is Tom Johnson, and believe me when I tell you that he has your best interest at heart. He runs the business from a home office, and when you go to pick up your wheelchair that you are renting from him, you’ll be meeting him at his house – or at one of a couple of other locations in the Denver area that he uses.

Because of this setup, he is pretty flexible in terms of when and where he can meet you. In my case, I got ahold of him on a Sunday morning (!) and by Sunday afternoon I was ensconced in my rental wheelchair (!!).

His prices are very good as well – I was pretty surprised by how little it cost to rent a wheelchair for a week!

He also rents power chairs, scooters, ramps, and lifts.

Tom’s website is, and his telephone number is 303-455-4225.

Anne’s Guide to What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Hip Replacement, How to Prepare for a Hip Replacement and How to Survive It

If you’re wondering how to prepare for a hip replacement, and what to expect from that hip replacement, let me tell you my experience. As those of you who follow me on Facebook (and if you don’t yet, I invite you to do so) know, I had a total hip replacement 19 days ago (I’m writing this on August 12, 2017). Let me tell you that it has been nothing like I expected or was lead to believe. Here is what you need to know before your hip replacement, and what you need in order to prepare for your hip replacement, including links to things that will make your life much easier. Here’s what you need, and will want, to know. Now, I had a posterior hip replacement, so if you are having an anterior hip replacement your mileage may vary, but only by a few miles per gallon. (Note: Text links are not affiliate links, because I want you to trust what I’m saying. Images are affiliate links only because that’s the way that Amazon makes it easy to embed them. So click on the text links, not the pictures (unless you feel you want to reward me for this info. :~) ))

I was surprised to discover is that hip replacement is much like childbirth inasmuch as you are told very similar lies. If you or your spouse has ever given birth, you know that one of the biggest lies out there is “Oh, you won’t even remember the pain!” BS! Childbirth hurts like h*ll, and I bloody well remember it even though the last time was nearly 20 years ago. But I digress…


Hip Replacements and Pain

The first lie is “the pain from the hip replacement is much better than the pain your hip is giving you, in fact you will get immediate relief.” It is true that you won’t feel any pain in your hip, because they have basically decapitated your femur and removed those nerves along with it.

What they don’t tell you is that the pain in the muscles that were manipulated to get the appliance in, etc., and from the incision itself, is going to be hellatious.

Fortunately, they give you great painkillers for this.

Unfortunately, those painkillers may very well cause you to become so constipated (look it up) that you may end up impacted (look that up too). So if you’re planning on taking the narcotics, plan ahead. Finding a balance between too loose (you do not want to suddenly need the bathroom urgently, because you won’t be able to make it) and too-damned-hard is tricky. Oh, you also can’t take most laxatives or in fact most over-the-counter preparations of any kind, because you’re going to be on blood thinners, which are negatively affected by just about everything (more on that later).


How Quickly You Will be Back to Your Old Self

The next lie is “I/Someone I know had a hip replacement and they were walking/running/dancing/skiing/mountaineering/paragliding the following week.”

Now, occasionally some of this is true, but what they didn’t tell you (or didn’t know) is that person’s doctor told them to barely walk on it at all for as many as six weeks. Those people who say they were up and running within days ignored their doctor’s advice. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and start doing some online research for total hip replacement recuperation guidelines. In fact, do it anyways because it will reveal to you all of the restrictions that you didn’t know you were going to be under. Some of them forever.

I hasten to add that this isn’t to say that getting a total hip replacement isn’t worth it – it totally is (see what I did there?) – but going in eyes wide open is so much better than having nasty surprises when you wake up on the other side.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, you should expect to only be allowed to “toe touch” with your operated-on leg for the first several weeks – or if your hip install went supremely well, maybe you will be allowed to put 20-to-25% of your weight on that leg (however one determines that) when you are standing still, such as in the shower or “at the sink”, as my surgical team told me (because yeah, you’re going to feel like doing dishes). Either way, you will be using a walker and/or crutches for the first few weeks. All. The. Time.

On the other hand, you may end up like I did, not being allowed to put any weight on that leg – meaning I’m not even allowed to toe touch with that leg for 6 weeks. Which means hopping around on one leg with a walker or crutches, which gets old really fast. Not to mention that it’s really painful.

So you will end up sitting a lot. Only guess what. You also are not allowed to sit upright (well, technically you are allowed to sit upright but not a smidgen more than upright – anything more acute than a 90° angle is strictly forbidden or you may dislocate your new hip.

So, if you are anything like me, and wanting to make this not-being-allowed-to-walk-on-your-operated-leg-or-sit-straight-up as non-unpleasant and workable as possible, you may want to get a wheelchair or two.

Now, before I talk more about this, I realize that buying a wheelchair, let alone two, may sound extravagant, but hear me out.

First, you do not want to dislocate that new hip!

Second, unless you plan to lay around in bed all day for weeks, you are going to want to be able to get around easily, both in your own house, and while you are out of the house.

Third, they are a legitimate medical expense which (my tax attorney promises me) you can deduct from your taxes. (Note that your medical expenses need to exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income for the year in which you want to deduct them in order to qualify. If you are having major surgery, the odds are good that your medical expenses will exceed that.) I happen to be extra “lucky” in that I broke my wrist dancing earlier this year, and my out of pocket expenses for that surgery satisfied my deductible, so my hip replacement itself was on the house (i.e. my insurance paid for it).

Fourth, and even if you can’t deduct them as a medical expense, when you are done with all of your various medical equipment you can donate it to any number of charities, and take the charitable deduction on your taxes, for which there is no minimum (just don’t try to both claim it as a medical expense and as a charitable deduction).

Ok, so, as soon as I realized that I was going to be hop-along-Annie for six weeks, I ordered this wheelchair on Amazon (remember that the text link is not an affiliate link, but the image is):

Now, the cool thing about this wheelchair is that for what you get, it’s reasonably inexpensive at $188 which includes free 2-day Prime shipping.

Also, it’s pretty lightweight, and, coolest of all, the arms flip up and out of the way (easily) so that you can belly right up to any dining table.

Wheelchair with Arms Flipped Up and Folded Back
wheelchair with foldback arms flip up

This was the first wheelchair that I got. But after a couple of days with it, and being in it for hours on end, my back started to hurt from the strain of constantly making sure I was not fully upright and risking bending at fewer than 90°. Don’t get me wrong, it is great for a couple of hours, but not for much more than that.

So, I thought to myself, “How cool would it be if there were such a thing as a reclining wheelchair??”

Then I thought “I wonder if there is such a thing as a reclining wheelchair!?”

Then I got on Amazon and discovered that there is!

Now, this wheelchair is a bit more expensive than the first one (~$300 and free shipping), but if you can only get one wheelchair, this is the one to get – but be warned that it is bigger, and heavier, and so not as portable.

This is the reclining wheelchair.

I should mention that I am sitting in this wheelchair as I type this. In fact, I’ve been in it for the last 6 hours, and I feel great. Yesterday I was in it for at least 12 hours (of course getting up and walkering to the bathroom, etc.) and felt great. This wheelchair is a gamechanger for anyone who has had a hip replacement and is under those no-weight and no-sitting-at-91°+ restrictions.

So what did I do with the first wheelchair? Remember how I mentioned that it was quite portable, and that the reclining wheelchair..isn’t?

So, the first wheelchair now lives in my car, where it is perfect for being out and about for a couple of hours, and for going out to eat (because of those nifty swing-away arms).

Of course, even with a wheelchair or two, you will need crutches or a walker, or both. I strongly recommend at least one walker, because they are a hell of a lot more stable than crutches. Actually I recommend two or more walkers (one for getting in and out of the car, for example), another as your regular in-house walker that stays in your house.

Now, your surgeon can write a prescription for a walker and crutches (and he may even write one for a wheelchair) in which case your insurance may cover it.

Here’s what you need to know: if your house, like my house, has any narrow doors, any standard walker is unlikely to fit through them full-frontal (and you do not want to be twisting around sideways to get through the door). In my case, my 1970s house has 23″ (twenty-three inch) doors on all the bathrooms. That’s narrow, folks! Take into account the door jam, and the door edge when the door is open, and that brings the navigable opening down to 21″ inches, 22″ if you’re lucky.

One of My Bathrooms – That’s One Narrow Doorway!
walker for narrow door doorway


Guess what? Walkers are almost universally 23-24″ wide at the base (you have to measure at the bottom, across the “feet” of the walker, as they are wider at the base than at the top, for stability).

I’ve done a lot of research, and there is one company (Hugo) that used to make a 20″ walker. The operative term is “used to”. Hugo’s (very well reviewed, and deservedly so) walkers are now all 23.4″ walkers. (I found what was probably the last 20″ Hugo walker on eBay; eat your heart out.)

However, there is one (and so far as I could determine after lots of research only one) walker that you can ‘hack’ to bring its widest part down to 20.5″.

It’s this walker.

20_ 20.5_ inch narrow walker

The ‘hack’ is putting the right wheel on the left leg, and vice versa. This has the effect of putting the wheels on the inside instead of the outside, bringing the widest part (the base of the legs) down to 20.5″. It’s very easy to do – almost like they expected people to do it. :~)

As you can see in this picture, this allows the walker to just barely fit through my crazy-narrow doorways. (I almost fell over trying to take this picture – don’t try this at home.)


walker for narrow doorway door doors


Back to Blood Thinners and Other Clot Prevention

As I mentioned above, you will be on blood thinners (probably Coumadin) for the first month. Not only does this mean that you can’t have just about any over-the-counter medication or preparation (Advil and other NSAIDs are out, Pepto Bismal is right out, pretty much everything is right out), but it also means that you may need to change your diet and it will mean that you have to normalize your diet so that you are eating roughly the same thing every day for that month that you are on blood thinners.

In reality, it’s not what you eat that you need to normalize, but your Vitamin K intake that you need to standardize, because Vitamin K is the coagulating factor, and of course the reason you are on blood thinners is so that you don’t get a clot. The more Vitamin K you eat, the higher the dose of blood thinner you will need, and if you don’t eat roughly the same amount of Vitamin K every day, then your doctor won’t be able to regulate how your blood is clotting. They monitor this by having you take several blood tests over the course of the month.

Now, in my case I had to radically change my diet, because I’m a strict vegetarian eating a very healthful (usually) diet, so I get a ton of Vitamin K (usually a good thing). Leafy greens are out. In fact pretty much anything green is out, including green herbs, green vegetables, etc.. Most nuts are out. Nut oils and vegetable oils are out. Onions, garlic and ginger are out. Chia seeds are out. Chamomile is out (in fact any herbal tea is out, although black tea is just fine). And on and on.

I hasten to add that these things don’t have to be out if you have someone who will make sure that you are getting roughly the same amount of Vitamin K every day. So if you want to have a big old leafy green salad, you need to have roughly that same thing every day. In my case, it is a whole lot easier to just avoid it all.

In addition to those blood thinners, your surgeon may also have you wear compression stockings. Ones that come all the way up to your thighs. 24 hours a day. For weeks. Which is just as well that it’s round the clock because you can’t bend to take them off or put them back on.

I HATED those damned compression stockings. They made it very difficult to sleep at night. I was allowed to take them off at 2 1/2 weeks and I was thrilled.

If your experience is like mine, you will wake up from surgery with those stockings already on you. And on top of that, your legs will be inside these pneumatic squeezy things that squeeze your legs every minute (they are very serious about avoiding clots, because without all of these clot avoidance measures the odds of someone who has just had hip surgery developing a blood clot is apparently very high).

I didn’t mind the leg squeezers, but I sure did hate those stockings!



Going to the bathroom when you’ve just had hip replacement surgery presents unique challenges. You’re not allowed to sit at anything more acute than 90°, let alone bend forward to wipe. Some recommendations say that you should not twist around, and in any event you won’t want to because your incision and muscles will yell at you.

Everybody is going to tell you to get a raised toilet seat; in fact your surgeon can write you a prescription for one.

This is because for people who are average height (whatever that is) or on the taller side, sitting on a normal height toilet seat necessarily pitches you into a more acute angle than 90°.

I’m 5’3. That damn raised toilet seat made me feel like Edith Ann in that big old rocking chair. It had precisely the opposite effect than intended, because my feet didn’t even reach the floor, so my hips were definitely forced into a dangerous angle. Fortunately, I’d gotten all of this equipment a few weeks before the big day, so that I could practice with it, and so I discovered this problem when I could still do something about it.

What I did about it was rip that raised toilet seat out, and upgrade my regular toilet seat to this amazing bidet toilet seat.

This seat was easy for me to install (took about 20 minutes), and in one fell swoop it dispensed with both the “how to effectively wipe” problem, and the matter of keeping me clean ‘down there’ when, as it turned out, I wasn’t going to be up to trying to take a shower for the first couple of weeks.

After a lot of research I settled on this particular bidet because a) it got wonderful reviews, and b) it actually heats the water, and c) it has several different functions (posterior, feminine area, etc… it even has a dryer!)

I don’t know what I would have done without it.

Now, all that said, even if a raised toilet seat is not for you, you will need handrails on either side of your toilet (raised toilet seats come with the handrails included).

There are two types of handrails you can get for your toilet: handrails that attach to your toilet seat’s bolts:



And toilet handrails that are free-standing:

I have no opinion on these, because I cannibalized a free-standing bedside commode that I happened to have, and used the handrails from that around my be-bidetted toilet.



While we’re in that area, let me take a moment to talk with you about underwear.

You are going to have an incision that is several inches long, starting on your hip, and running down towards your leg.

That means that the leg holes for many styles of regular panty or briefs are going to hit right across your incision. Ouch.

So, before my surgery, I started searching for various types of panty styles that would be comfortable and not binding on my incision, and with a length that would not have the elastic of the leg opening laying right on my incision.

I ordered several styles of underwear that I thought might work. I did this before my surgery, so that they would be ready when I got home. And when I did get home, and tried them on (which in and of itself was a chore, remember you can’t bend that operated-on leg less than a 90° angle, so you have to keep that leg pointed away and down, and use a reacher grabber tool (see below) to ease the panty over your foot and up your leg), I discovered that all of them were very uncomfortable on my poor incised hip…except one. Now, to be honest, as I opened all of the packages, before going in for my surgery, I was pretty sure that these ones would be comfy, it was kind of obvious right off the bat. But I still tried all of the others on anyways.

These boy short briefs not only were the only style that wasn’t uncomfortable; they are in fact extremely comfortable!



As I said in my review of them on Amazon, “The moment I put them on I felt like… well… you know that feeling when you put on your favourite pair of old, broken-in jeans? That “Aaaaaah” moment? That is how these briefs felt from the very first time that I put them on (which was the day after surgery).”

They are super soft, yet not at all clingy. And because you want to avoid having them irritate your incision, which at least on me they completely cover, so no edge is touching my incision, I strongly recommend that you order them one size up from the size that you would ordinarily order. That way, instead of them being form fitting, like in the picture, they will allow a tiny bit of room so that they don’t ride on your incision.

Men: You are probably already familiar with soft cotton boxer briefs. If you don’t wear them, now is the time to start. Get them a size larger than you normally would.



If your hip surgery goes anything like mine, you will wake up to find a pillow stuffed in your groin. Well, not in your groin, but groin-adjacent.

The reason for the pillow, or at least one of the primary reasons, is to make sure that you do not rotate your operated-on hip while you are sleeping, or bring it in closer to the midline of your body than a neutral position (which is also why you are not allowed to cross your legs).

Depending on what type of hip replacement you have (posterior or anterior, and maybe even on the type of appliance they use) your surgeon may tell you that you must sleep on your back for the first few weeks. (This was horrible for me – that combined with the d*mned compression stockings made for many nights where I got little sleep. Now, I don’t believe in taking sleep medications, but I was ready then! sleeping meds because… blood thinners. The only sleep med I could take was Benadryl, which didn’t touch it. But I digress, again.)

Eventually you will be allowed to sleep on your side, but only with a pillow between your knees and ankles, so that, again, your operated-on leg doesn’t stray across that midline, into the danger zone. At some point you may be able to do away with the pillow – I don’t actually know yet what my own surgeon’s rule is on that, I’ll be asking at my 6-week check.

Now, I ended up ordering and trying six..count ’em, 6 different pillows promising comfort for your legs, in varying shapes and sizes, and all but one of them were awful. Fortunately that other one is wonderful.

That pillow is this Sleep Yoga brand Knee Pillow.


This pillow really is ideal. First of all, it’s long enough to actually pad both your knees and your ankles (which is super important to ensure that your operated-on leg stays in a neutral position).

It’s also, at least for me, just the right thickness, while being not too firm, and not too soft. That’s very Goldilocksian, I realize, but you are going to find that it’s critical that what you have between your legs is just the right fit (yeah, I know). Otherwise you will not only be too uncomfortable to sleep, but it can also cause pain at your incision and for those poor muscles that have been ..well, you don’t want to know (I actually read my operative report… my advice is do not read the nitty gritty details about what a hip replacement surgery entails before your own surgery. And only after if you are sure you can stomach it).


Various Things That You Will Want to Make Life After Hip Replacement Surgery Easier

Here are some things that, over the weeks following my own total hip replacement surgery, I found made life much easier.


Reacher Grabber Tools

First, and foremost, is the reacher grabber tool (reacher grabber, not grabber reacher, whom I think is Jack Reacher’s cousin). Now, the ones that come in ‘hip surgery kits’ (both on Amazon, and that your surgical center may give you) SUCK. I don’t know why they are rated 4 stars out of 5 on Amazon, but if you read the negative reviews, they all say the same thing that I found to be the case. First, here’s a picture of one of those reacher grabber things:


The problem the above reacher grabber tool is that (as many reviews say), the elastic attached to the ‘jaw’ of the grabber doesn’t always retract, so that the claw stays shut. In fact, on the two that I have, the jaw sometimes twists and get stucks up on the side of the bar, so that the claw is jammed shut!

Which is why I recommend this reacher grabber tool instead. In fact, it’s so good that I bought two more (hint: you will want to have reacher grabber tools strewn about the house in several rooms).


Weirdly, at the time that I’m writing this, the listing for that reacher grabber on Amazon says that they are currently not shipping it “because customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it’s described here.” I’m guessing that by the time you read this it will be fixed, but just in case not, here are two more reacher grabbers to check out.

This reacher grabber tool is made by the same company, Vive, as the one that I like so well. The head is a bit different, in fact it looks like it might work even a bit better than the ones I have (if that’s even possible!):


And this other reacher grabber tool looks identical to the one that I like so well, other than it having blue bits, although I note that it’s made (or at least branded) by the company (RMS) that makes the reacher grabber that I dislike so much.



A Tray to Carry Stuff on Your Lap While in a Wheelchair

If you are going to get a wheelchair (and I really do recommend it), both of your hands will be full of, you know, wheel, as you move about your house. I found that this tray is the perfect size to sit right on your lap as you are wheeling around, and it has nice deep sides (2″ deep) to keep things in the tray rather than tumbling off the edge.


Of course, if your house is anything like mine, you may find that on occasion your lap is full of cat, instead.


Gripper Pad Rounds

You will also want to line your tray with a few of these round gripper pads to make sure that things that you put in your tray on your lap don’t slide around while you are wheeling through the house. You could also get a roll of the same material and cut it to fit, but these disks are so useful for all kinds of things, plus they come in a package of 12 for $6. How can you go wrong? I actually first discovered these when I broke my wrist, as they are great for keeping something from sliding around the counter when you are trying to open it.


A Tip-Proof Coffee Cup

I have had two of these HotJo brand tip-proof travel mugs for decades. They are fantastic. They are solid stoneware, a generous 18 ounces, and the recessed lid clips in. And they are truly tip-proof.

They are exactly what you want for ferrying your hot coffee or tea, in your tray, from the kitchen to your living room/dining room/desk/table/bed.


Plus, if you, like me, like sipping your beverage through a metal straw (because plastic straws leach BPA and other nasties when used with hot beverages, and some even melt), the sip hole in the lid perfectly accommodates those metal straws!

You can get 4 of these metal straws for $7, and they last forever.


A Small Crossbody Bag

A small crossbody bag will become your best friend. You will find yourself wearing and using it constantly to carry small things (your phone, a prescription bottle, your glasses, etc.), and it will be especially handy while you are using your walker or wheelchair.

I happened to already have one that looks a lot like this one:


If you don’t have one, there are tons available on Amazon (including the one like mine in above the picture). Or here is a small crossbody bag for men or women for $19.99.



A Walker ‘Saddlebag’

I was really lucky in that my Hugo walker came with not just one, but two saddlebags (one on each side). So I took one off and put it on one of my other walkers. I use these saddlebags all the time (that is when I’m using my walker, which I still have to do to get to the bathroom, or out of the bedroom to the main part of the house where the wheelchair is (the wheelchair can’t maneuver in through my bedroom door which is on the side of the end of a narrow hallway).

But if I didn’t already have saddlebags, I would totally get this one, which has great reviews and is only $12, to boot!


I hope that you have found this helpful; I know that I wish that I had had such a resource before I went in under the knife!

How the Government Knows if You Have Health Insurance

How does the government know whether you have health insurance? A lot has been made of the government mandate, under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), or “ObamaCare”, that everybody has to have health insurance, or pay a penalty. This penalty is known as the “shared responsibility penalty”. But how do they know?

I was very curious about this, and so I did some research.

As it turns out, starting next year (2015) there will be a section on your Federal tax return in which you will have to confirm that you have health insurance, or pay the penalty if you don’t.

In otherwords, it will be self-reported.

But before you think “Well, I can just say that I do when I don’t,”, bear in mind that your Social Security Number (“SSN”) is tied not only to your tax return, but also to your health insurance – it’s one of the first things that insurers (and indeed, medical providers) ask for these days. So, while you might get away with it, you might not – and especially if you are audited.

Moreover, employers are now required to report employer-provided health insurance on your W-2. Says the IRS:

The value of the health care coverage will be reported in Box 12 of the Form W-2, with Code DD to identify the amount. There is no reporting on the Form W-3 of the total of these amounts for all the employer’s employees.

In general, the amount reported should include both the portion paid by the employer and the portion paid by the employee. See the chart, below, and the questions and answers for more information.

An employer is not required to issue a Form W-2 solely to report the value of the health care coverage for retirees or other employees or former employees to whom the employer would not otherwise provide a Form W-2.

It’s not too far of a stretch to imagine that for any return that does not have a value in Box 12 of the W-2, those returns will be flagged for closer scrutiny, looking specifically at the section on health insurance.