Friday, May 30, 2008

The epic struggle between good and evil...

This time taking the form of our most recent battle with the HR dept. I swear, it's like some form of torture to get information out of them. Forget about anything useful being tossed our way. We spent last week trying to work out with them: when our insurance would be reinstated, whether A was on LTD yet, whether we need to apply for COBRA coverage in the meantime. Phone calls go to voicemail, so it's hard to actually get in contact with a REAL LIVE PERSON. Luckily I'm resourceful and managed to get ahold of an email for someone to get the ball rolling. They have assured us that A is now on LTD and our insurance coverage will be made retroactive so that there will have been no lapse in insurance. Although several days AFTER they said that, I went to get an RX and we were still listed as having been dropped at the end of April. Try getting ahold of someone useful at 4pm Friday on the eve of a 3 day weekend! So, we wait. We have received absolutely nothing from the LTD company to give us some clue about benefits. For the love of all that is good and holy, we are trying to deal with cancer here, perhaps we could be given a break and just be given some useful information instead of having to fight tooth and nail for somewhat helpful scraps!

On another note, branching off my observation last week that life would be different now that A was back to flight instructing, I found a post on another blog that I happened across (how? I can't remember) talking about the psychology of pilots (see May 26, 2008 post). I'm pleased to find some validation in my thinking that pilots are a distinct bunch.

Here in FL, we are just wrapping things up. Spring is almost gone bringing the oppresive summer heat and humidity. Schools almost out for Kidzilla. We (I) are (am) preparing (mentally) to pack Kidzilla off to CA for a block of time soon. It will be his 3rd summer away. I miss my constant sidekick like crazy when he's gone, but I can't deny that it's nice to have a taste of that non-parent freedom for a few weeks as well. We ended up postphoning the relocation to the IAH area and instead are moving to a townhouse here this summer and I'm still working out angles on a more fulfilling job as well. Our time in flux just seems to continue on and on.

OHHH, and I've added some new stuff to the sidebar as well- reader map, new blog link and updated aviation books. Enjoy

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Coming full circle

A is now re-employed with his former flight school. We got the nod from the LTD company about what type of side employment is permissable while on leave and here we are. He'll be working with the new hire instructors and running sims for the time being, no medical needed. It's a great break for us, both financially and to get him out of the house. Although it was a funny feeling yesterday when I whipped out my phone to call and let him know I was on my way home and he wasn't available to talk.

I guess the lesson here is- never burn your bridges because you don't know when you will need to cross them again. A lot of instructors never bothered to return once they got hired by an airline. A did, and finished out the people he was training. He also worked hard when he had students, instead of slacking off like some. That made a good enough impression on the right people that they called him up when they needed work done.

I think there is going to be a slight shift in the dynamics of our home again. I noticed this previously when he was instructing and I'm curious to see if it will happen again. When one is instructing and in the bosses seat, it's sometimes hard to turn it off outside the airplane. So he comes home and forgets that we aren't students and don't need to be "taught a lesson" or generally seconded guessed in our decisions. With me being as headstrong as I am, this usually doesn't fly well in our house and gets nipped in the bud thankfully. We had an incident last night involving a vomiting kid, a towel full of ickyness and some yelling about "teaching a lesson". But we'll get this adjustment worked out too, just like we always have.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On a trampoline

Things just go up and down with us. As soon as one problem is resolved and we are feeling up, another one crops up and we are down again. I guess the most important part is that we are able to keep bouncing back eventually.

For the movie buffs, another movie with an aviation inaccuracy- Catch Me If You Can. When Leonardo DiCaprio looks out the window of an airplane and says "oh, runway 44". There is no runway 44, there can't be when there are only 360 degrees in a circle.

I can't believe we are STILL waiting to find out what is going on with the Long Term Disability. I can't imagine that A will be denied, there is no question that he has cancer, but it would be nice to have some communication on that front. The good news we received though, was that A can work at another job and receive income without jeopardizing his LTD status. So that means that we won't be completely broke- just mostly.

We also found out, without anyone telling us, that A had been switched to Medical Leave retroactively. He's been active with the company, just dropping all of his trips for the last few months. Then one day, he showed up as on leave. The problem with this is that unless you are on FMLA (which we had never applied for, since dropping trips seemed to do the trick) medical insurance is not covered beyond the month in which the leave is started. In essence, we found out in mid May that our insurance should have run out at the end of April due to the status change. Of course, there's always COBRA or FMLA options to get medical insurance up and running again, but mid treatment, at $1300/day for radiation, is not the time to find out that our insurance is up. It's not like we can just cover the costs until the insurance is worked out. Especially if we are billed retroactively. Some quick calling and pleading and A is now approved for FMLA starting mid-May. We are praying that the insurance will continue uninterrupted. There are so many complications and considerations of having a major illness that no one ever sees. Incidentally, a few days ago, we happened to watch Michael Moore's film Sicko and reflected how much easier OUR lives would be to not have to worry about health insurance.

I think the biggest concern facing us soon is the potential buyout of the company. Offers have been made, meetings have been attended, theories and opinions have been posted online... It's hard to follow everything and separate fact from fiction at this point. I figure we'll just have to take it one day at a time and deal with it when it comes up. Right now, word is that there will be a furlough or loss of 700 pilots, which would include A. We don't know yet what that means for us- would his LTD be discontinued, will he be out on his ass with nothing? It's one thing to be facing this with the option of going to another airline, but facing it when you have low time and no medical for a while makes it even worse. By the time A is cleared to fly again, he may not have the total time needed to get on with an airline. And he may lose the ALPA benefit of having the aeromedical committee's help of getting his medical back. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. And luckily, A is still well regarded at his previous flight school.

Another bit of good news did come our way. We received paperwork from the ALPA aeromedical office for A to share with his doctor. The paperwork reiterated that if the tumor had metastasized then he would have to wait for a year after the conclusion of treatment to reapply for a medical. The doctor said that the tumor HAD NOT metastasized beyond the original site (I guess it was just stretching out it's tentacles) and that meant that A should qualify to fly again in just 6 months after treatment. Good news! But it makes me kind of sad because even though I bitch and moan about him being around the house all day, I also love it and will miss having him there.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The perils of living with a pilot- Episode 23

While watching a movie the other day-

A- "hey, wait, they showed a 767 on the outside view, but thats totally a 747 first class cabin. And I don't even know what the back is; I don't think any plane has any short cabin configuration like that."

S- "Babe, it's The Wedding Singer, I don't think the accuracy of the plane layout is pivotal to the plot."

A- "But still, you'd think they could get it right"

In other news- it's been 2 weeks tomorrow of radiation treatment. It's kicking A's ass. It's so hard to watch this happening and knowing it's going to get worse before it gets better. Sometimes I feel like my heart is breaking for him.