Black Coffee: Some People Have a Lot of Gall (and Some Don’t Have Any)

It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe

Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of what’s been going on in the world of money and personal finance.

Oy! What a week. On Wednesday the Honeybee woke up at 2 a.m. with mild stomach pain that she thought was a recurrence of an old ulcer. But by 6 a.m., she was not keeping anything down and the pain had become absolutely unbearable for her. Since she is tougher than a bag of nails when it comes to tolerating discomfort and pain, I knew something had to be seriously wrong.

To make a long story short, I raced her to the hospital and, after the doctors drugged her up and stabilized her, they took some X-rays and conducted an ultrasound test that revealed a massive gall stone. Unfortunately for the Honeybee, that meant she had to go under the knife so they could remove her gall bladder.

It was a very long day, but I’m happy to say the surgery went well. The Honeybee is back home now and recovering, but it looks like her days of eating spicy foods may be over. We’ll see. For the next week she’s on a low-fat diet — and she can’t have any fried foods over the next 30 days.

Of course, that means I’ll be on the same diet, so maybe I’ll lose a few pounds this month.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how that missing gall bladder will affect what she can and cannot eat over the coming months.

I hope it’s not too restrictive; I don’t know how long I could go without French fries.

The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed

From September 2011:

100 Words On: A Really Sneaky Way to Reduce Your Bar Tab – I don’t drink much any more — but when I was in my twenties, well … different story. In fact, I really wish I had known about this money hack at the time. It would have saved me lots of cash back when my preferred cocktail was a martini (gin — not vodka — with two olives and a whisper of vermouth).

And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …

Couple Money - 5 Debt Lessons from the Titanic

Northern Cheapskate - What Is Your Clutter Costing You?

The Centsible Life – Men Save $850,000 More than Women — and What You Can Do About It

Budgets are Sexy – Girl Selling Virginity for Millions of Dollars

JoeTaxpayer – Feed the People!

Credits and Debits

Debit: The number of Americans no longer in the labor force topped a record 90 million people at the end of March. The labor participation rate is now just 63.3%; that’s the lowest level since 1979.

Credit: The “good” news is, despite only 88,000 new jobs being created last month, the official unemployment rate dropped to 7.6%. The bad news is the drop is due to the mostly-involuntary exodus of workers leaving the labor force.

Credit: Of course, that’s typical government accounting for you: Using their logic, if everybody eventually drops out of the labor force, then we’ll have full employment. Forward!

Debit: I bet Susan Muranishi is busy working at her government job as an administrator for Alameda County, California. At least she better be; it pays $423,664 annually. For the rest of her life.

Debit: In case you’re wondering, yes, Ms. Muranishi also gets a car allowance of $8,292. Obviously, to help make ends meet. Hey, $423,664 doesn’t go as far as it used to. Besides, despite the recent price drop, gasoline ain’t cheap, folks.

Debit: Elsewhere in California, a federal judge paved the way for the city of Stockton to enter bankruptcy. How did they get in such dire financial straits, you ask? Well, the city of 300,000 people ran up nearly $1 billion in bills on civic improvements and pension contributions.

Debit: Even more outrageous, the city government also handed out ridiculously generous health care benefits to its municipal employees: lifetime coverage for all retirees plus a dependent, regardless of how long they worked. I know.

Debit: But wait … it gets better. According to Cal Watchdog, those health care benefits included no co-pays, no generic requirements, no HMOs, no premiums, and zero restrictions on the choice of doctors, hospitals or drugs. You know, just like Obamacare. Right.

Credit: For what it’s worth, Stockton isn’t very far from Alameda County. I’m sure that’s probably a coincidence. At least I’m pretty sure.

Debit: Speaking of health care … Despite promising otherwise, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is finally admitting what everybody with an ounce of common sense knew would happen all along: Obamacare is raising health insurance costs. Tell me about it; my annual premiums have doubled and the copays have tripled since it passed.

Debit: Americans’ quality of medical service will begin its inevitable decline when previously uninsured Obamacare patients begin swamping the system in 2014 — which is why medical providers are now pushing group medical appointments that bring together multiple patients with the same conditions. Isn’t socialism terrific?

Debit:  And you thought seeing the doctor now was unpleasant. Just wait a few more years. An official for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services already lowered Obamacare expectations last week when he said, “Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience.” That’s not the rhetoric we heard when they were pushing for passage of this debacle.

Debit: By the way, as America continues transforming itself into (your favorite socialist country), perfect strangers aren’t just sharing doctor’s appointments with increasing frequency — communes are back too. In fact, the number of individuals and multiple families living in cooperative households has increased 17% since 2007.

Credit: Then again, maybe that’s because the housing market is on the rebound. The latest home price data shows that the housing market saw its biggest year-over-year price gain since June 2006.

Debit: For the most part, those rising prices are being attributed to declining inventory. However, there’s plenty of evidence that the lower inventory is a sham, driven by banks that are sitting on homes because they refuse to foreclose on their delinquent mortgages.

Debit: Concerns about the veracity of the housing recovery are also backed up by data that shows new single family home sales are at their lowest level in 30 years — despite today’s record-low mortgage rates and tens of millions additional people in the market.

Debit: Let’s face it, the economy stinks. In fact, it’s so bad that a college degree isn’t the job magnet it used to be — at least for securing a high-salaried position. As proof, a McDonald’s in Winchendon, Massachusetts is now requiring applicants to have a bachelor’s degree for a job behind the counter.

Credit: No, I’m not sure if a liberal arts degree would qualify. But if I was a betting man

By the Numbers

The gall bladder takes bile from the liver, stores it, and delivers it to the intestine as required. Here are some more gall bladder facts, and numbers regarding our recent trip to the hospital:

14 Hours spent at the hospital, from patient admittance to discharge.

20 Minutes it took to drive from my house to the emergency room.

39,849 Minutes it seemed like it took to get to the emergency room.

35 Minutes to perform the surgery. Thankfully, they were able to use a scope, which avoided the need for a large incision.

4 Number of small surgical incisions that were required to remove the gall bladder.

40 Age at which gall stones become increasingly likely to form; more often in women and the obese.

15 Percentage of people who will develop gall stones in their lifetime.

1 Percentage of people with gall stones who will eventually develop severe complications.

Contributing Source: Encyclopedia.com

The Question of the Week

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Other Useless News

Programming note: Unlike most blogs, I’m always open for the weekend here at Len Penzo dot Com. There’s a fresh new article waiting for you every Saturday afternoon. At least there should be. If not, somebody call 9-1-1.

Hey! If you happen to enjoy what you’re reading — or not — please don’t forget to:

1. Click on that “Like” button in the sidebar to your right and become a fan of Len Penzo dot Com on Facebook!

2. Make sure you follow me on Twitter!

And last, but not least…

3. Don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! Thank you. :-)

Top 25 Referrers for March

It’s the first weekend of the month, which means it’s time once again to thank the top 25 referring websites to Len Penzo dot Com.

1. MSN: Smart Spending
2. The Simple Dollar
3. Kiplinger
4. Money Talks News
5. Business Insider
6. Budgets Are Sexy
7. Wisebread
8. Monevator
9. Survivalist Boards
10. The Quest for $85,000
11. Thousandaire
12. Control Your Cash
13. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
14. The Oblivious Investor
15. Wealth Pilgrim
16. Afford Anything
17. Money Crashers
18. JoeTaxpayer
19. Wealthy Turtle
20. Financial Uproar
21. Money Funk
22. Sweating the Big Stuff
23. (tie) Free from Broke
23. (tie) So Over This
25. First Gen American

Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol’ blog! It’s much appreciated.

Letters, I Get Letters

Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment — assuming I get one, that is. And folks who are lucky enough to have the only question in the mailbag get their letter highlighted here whether it’s interesting or not! You can reach out to me at: Len@LenPenzo.com

From Janice:

I had no idea you were a prepper!  

That’s funny. I didn’t know I was a prepper either.

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    So here in Canada it would have cost me $17.00 to park at the local hospital and the cost of my pain meds but the ER visit, surgery and follow up appointments at my GP all would have been free.

    How much did the trip to the hospital cost you?

    • 2

      Len Penzo says

      Jane, the trip to the hospital probably cost me $4 (for the gasoline). The post-op pain meds were $7.50. The co-pay was $30 (before Obamacare it was $10). That doesn’t include my annual premiums, which have doubled over the past couple of years after only minor increases for a decade before that.

      On top of that, I am now paying additional money (indirectly) to the government via, I reckon, at least a few of almost two dozen new Obamacare taxes that took effect this year.

      Thankfully, although the operating rooms were booked solid from the morning until 5 pm, the hospital was able to fit the Honeybee in at the end of the day. In the coming years, I assume the delays will get much longer.

  2. 5

    Jess says

    My gallbladder was removed about two years ago. After a few months, I could eat whatever I wanted without worry. (Although to be fair I have always had a pretty healthy diet with limited amounts of fried foods.) Here’s hoping the Honeybee has the same level of success! Tell her not to be discouraged at first; it just takes time for the body to heal and adjust.

  3. 6

    says

    Please send the Honeybee my best wishes for a speedy recovery! I think the cost of healthcare will continue to go up until only the political elite and the very rich will be able to afford it. The rest of us will probably have a gov provided healthcare option, which is probably what they are shooting for anyway.

  4. 8

    michelle frasher says

    defective/deceased gall bladders have run in our family with both my mom and dad having theirs removed by the time they were forty and all three of my sisters and myself in our fifties. and since the removal of mine i have been able to eat a whole lot more kinds of food than before; i haven’t missed my gall bladder at all.

  5. 9

    Olivia says

    Hope your sweetie feels better soon.

    You could try oven fries. Cut your potatoes up the thickness you like. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Lay the potatoes on it, spray them. Sprinkle with salt, garlic or onion powder, and a little paprika, then bake at 350 until fork tender. We do steak fries that way, and the boys love them.

  6. 10

    DCrunnergal says

    Hm. I had my gallbladder removed in 2008 and wasn’t given any dietary restrictions. Although, I had no appetite for about 2 months after the surgery, so I probably was eating low-fat foods because all I could force myself to eat was soup and jello.

  7. 11

    David C says

    I wish the Honeybee a speedy recovery. I had my gallbladder removed the old school way back in 1987. That was no fun.
    I laid low on the diet for quite a while, slowly incorporating fried and spicy foods back into my life.
    I still have issues from time to time, but it does get better.

  8. 12

    Lola says

    Speedy recovery to the Honeybee!

    I had my gall bladder removed 6 years ago due to stones causing pancreatitis. I was in San Francisco on vacation when it happened, and had complications which lead to me being in that SF hospital for 10 days. After I’d been home for a while, I developed an abcess – further complication, ugh. It took me a full 2 months to recover, and I lost about 20 lbs in the process. Eventually, I was able to gradually incorporate “normal” foods back into my diet. Occassionally I have an issue if I eat something to rich or fatty, but not often.

    Long story short, I don’t think french fries are out of your life forever Len. :)

    But be aware that gall stones can still form in your ducts even when you don’t have a gall bladder. I was informed of this when I had another attack of pancreatitis about 4 years after they yanked my gall bladder. Yikes.

    • 13

      Len Penzo says

      I know someone who had a bout of pancreatitis a few years ago. Let me tell you, from how he described it, that isn’t something I’d ever wish on my worst enemy either.

      As for the French fries, I’m glad to know there’s still hope for me, er, I mean “us.” ;-)

  9. 14

    Betsy22 says

    Wow – I’ve been living in a commune all of these years and never knew it. What an odd way for that article to describe having housemates! Regardless, I save thousands of dollars through having housemates, so I certainly wouldn’t list that on the debit category.

    Wishing the honeybee a speedy recovery.

    • 15

      Len Penzo says

      If you are saving thousands and enjoy having housemates, then I’d list it as a “credit” too, Betsy. :-)

  10. 16

    Len Penzo says

    Thank you, everyone, for sharing your best wishes, recipe ideas and personal experiences! The Honeybee and I both really appreciate it! :-)

  11. 17

    Melinda says

    Len, I had my gallbladder removed 2 weeks after giving birth to my daughter. This was 21 years ago. I thought I was having a heart attack the pain was so bad. Since having it out though, I have had absolutely no problems with eating anything. I should eat less though! lol

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