Friday, September 16, 2022

Me and my new (not so good) health diagnosis vs. the for profit Capitalistic health care system

      I guess this is a little awkward to announce publically that I have a bad heart.  Anything announced publically on social media can be awkward though, but the point of this is more about my Health Care than it is about my personal medical issues. 

    Let's go back in time in my medical history, shall we? In 2020 I had a physical which revealed some farirly high cholesterol  numbers. My doctor said that in the next ten years I would have a 10% chance of either a heart attack or a stroke. I didn't like those numbers.  Medication was suggested, but I'm anti-medicine which might be prescribed indefinitely. So I decided to change my diet and do some other things. I even began to run---and was all in with it.  My numbers went down in 2021 and by late 2021 I advocated for a follow-up lipid panel and the numbers were still good--up a little, but still good. 

    Fast forward to 2022. What had happened since my last physical was that my insurer, Harvard Pilgrim (part of Atrius Healt) was overtaken by a for profit company. When I scheduled my physical there was only one blood test, for my PSA level, but none for my cholestrol. In fact, there were no other blood tests. When I asked for the lipid panel, I was told that it wasn't due until 2026.

    What? What? What??

    Did they not want to pay? Probably. 

    I asked how could that possibly be---cholestrol was something I was monitoring, which I was so freely being prescribed a medication  for just two years earlier---because of the 10% of something bad which could happen. I called the office, and advocated for the test and being in charge of my own health to the person at the doctor's office, who promptly hung up on me. 

    Finally, they "allowed" me to have a blood test, and the numbers were up---not alarmingly so, but up still. I had relapsed a little in my diet in the past year, mostly because of my running, I figured I could treat myself to some shit again. When the Nurse Practitioner informed me of my 2022 levels (certainly not my doctor because I saw her at the initial screening three years ago, and not since) she said that I could get a Calcium CT to see if there were blockages or plaque built up in my arteries. Totally optional, and I would have to pay out of pocket. I almost didn't, but thought, what the hell, why not go in there and have piece of mind. I was fully expecting to have a pretty clean scan, but unfortunately it wasn't. The Agatston calcium score, in order to be considered SEVERE was 100-300. Mine was 656. I was of HIGH RISK FOR HEART ATTACK. I got a call an hour after the scan, not a good sign, and immediately was prescribed Rosuvastatin, which I immediately filled. 


NEWS FLASH: If I hadn't pushed so hard for the lipid panel, then decided on the optional Calcium CT, I probably would have had a heart attack before my next physical. Self-service medicine for the win. 



But then there was a silence from my medical provider, and I had to email them the next day and ask if there was a plan to refer to a Cardiologist. As I have learned, I wasn't about to wait, so I spoke to a friend*, who recommended a Cardiologist covered by my insurer. and I did all the legwork calling Harvard Pilgrim at the Corporate Level and the office of the new Cardiologist---and I got an immediate appointment. Meanwhile while this was going on, there was no response from my GP's office. When they did respond in late afternoon they said, 

"I could refer you to Cardiology, but they would not treat you differently, so there's no need for that"

     Being denied a second treatment opinion and also the chance to talk about my medical issues with a Cardiac Specialist was extremely baffling---and angering. 

        Did they not want to pay? Probably. 

        Now all this  negarive buzz in the past 6 or so years about "Evil" Socialism and  medicine is such horse shit. I don't know anyone that would be against good treatment, scanning/testing for everything at a decent cost. But you know, GO USA, and GO Capitalism....the economic system we wave the flag at because it's good for all--it's apple pie///GO USA---Ha! 

So what about Capitalistic Medicine? Here's the secret held tight by money grubbing corporations: It leads to cost saving, and bad health care by making the patient advocate for themselves at every point along the way, so you'd better know your shit about treatments in general. In addition, we all be trained to trust the medical profession at face value, but it's really money over care of people, again and again. 

    In December I'm having a colonoscopy, so I'm thinking how the health care system is going to want me to bend over. 


*A little bit about friends and action plans. I belong to a fellowship called Alcholics Annoymous which encourages us to share our problems, which often I do. I didn't raise my hand and tell the full group, but I told one of my good and trusted friends--a person I decompress with after my Sunday meeting, nearly every week. She got it immediately and knew what I needed. My old drinking buddies would have either met me at a bar, or done something to avoid the subject, like drinking, for example. I am so lucky to have friends who understand what we need and are ready to go straight to an action plan. 


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Autumn 2022 Schedule, Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series


And as always, the best way to get information or zoom link is to
 join FACEBOOK GROUP or email me at

All held, 7 PM, Eastern Time


2 Labor |Day Weekend- OFF

9. Jon Papernick 

16. A.K. Small

 22. A Very Special Thursday Aaron Tillman

30. David Rocklin


7.  Kimberly Ann Priest

14. Sian Griffiths

21. Harris Gardner

28. Lisa Taylor 



4. Michael Keith

11. Jim Shepard

18. Zach VandeZande

25. Rusty Barnes


2. Daniel Nester

9. Annmarie O'Connell

16. Nina Shope

23 OFF for the Holidays

30 OFF for the Holidays

Friday, August 26, 2022

Replay Central---Replaying the Spring/Summer 2022 features From Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series


Watch all the readings and interviews from April, 2022 starting with the 300th running of the Dire Liteary Series, All Open, and ending in March with Marguerite Guzman Bouvard. Who is coming up this fall?  Check out the next posts, coming soon!


4.8.22 Sara Lippmann

4.22.22 Robin McLean

4.29.22 Gregory Orr

5.6.22 Rich Murphy

5.13.22 Diane Suess

05.20.22 Ron Tanner

06.03.22 Aleathea Drehmer

06.09.22 Christina Adams

06.17.22 Sharon Applegate Greenwald
LIVE from poolside, Hingham, Ma

 Lucas Scheelk

07.22.22 Joseph Milosch

07.29.22 Barbara Legere

08.12.22 Ellene Glenn Moore

08.26.22 Vincent Cellucci and Chris Shipman

Friday, August 19, 2022

My short story, "Her Hotel" is published in Fried Chicken and Coffee


       The story begins, She bought a hotel, on the ocean, because God told her to, but it's not a story about a hotel, per say, or the ocean.  It's 1,154 words, which is longer than my usual flash-fiction.

Photo by C. Gager
     Her Hotel, in todays Fried  Chicken and Coffee (click the link   to read it) is about a character finding spirtuality after a train wreck. It's about purchasing serenity, away from first an abusive situation, and second, just the plain old banality of life.  It's about being strong and starting fresh amongst large challenges.

     What's not true is you don't need 10 million dollars to do so. You can find your God in many places, but you can also find "not your God" in even more. 

Rusty Barnes of Fried Chicken and Coffee has been my friend for years and it should be noted he is an incredible writer. I was very excited to hear that submissions to FC and C were recently opened. I am very grateful to have had nine works of fiction, and two poems included in this journal, going back to 2009. 

Here's the full list:
Her Hotel, August 19, 2022
The Road Starts: 896, Newark, Delaware, April 30, 2016
Best Fiends, May 28, 2014
Pole, May 28, 2014
Loveville, June 19, 2012
reply to the grumpy cashier at the fast food restaurant, April 4, 2012
Exclamation for a Separation which happened long Ago, April 4, 2012
Home Invasion, November 14, 2011
The Old Place, December 31, 2010
Tenth Frame Spare, March 3, 2010
Wine and Cheese with Alexi and Natasha, September 14, 2009.

     Even more grateful that I basically cut my teeth into the flash fiction genre under the guidance of Rusty, Dave Bully, Sue Miller, Ken Clark, Ken Ryan, Nadine Darling, Cami Park, John Sharp, Lisa Yakomin, Tomi Shaw, Roy Scarbrough, John Ravinscroft, Kristen Tsetsi, Tom Doughty, Catherine Peskuski, Steve Frederick, J. Post, Gigi Dane, Lisa Dryer, Jerry Budinski, Mary Kelly,  Mary Powers,  Dee Troy, M'Bear, Nick Barnes, Terry Pearce, Uke Jackson, Jim Parks,Tammy Kitchen, Shelly Rich, Cindy Betsinger, Nathan Tyree and many, many, I have forgotten.

I am NOT the writer I am today without the help and influence of these fine workshop folks. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

After a short break, a book release and some are two sections of Joe the Salamander read at F-Bomb

 The Video Below: During a reading on Zoom for New York's F-Bomb series, I decided to simultaneously record myself live on Instagram. Check out the very beginning of Joe the Salamander and also I read a second section somewhere in the middle below by clicking the picture.

Some Background: Joe is my third novel, and this journey all started back in 1999 when I published my first book, an e-book of eight short stories. Back then I put book before craft, which is opposite of what I am doing now. Joe is probably my most focused work---but there were also outside issues I needed to clear first, before Joe even earned a spine. The first one was, as a person not diagnosed with neurodiversity or on the spectrum, I needed to be sure that if I was writing a character in a way to give it justice. Early versions of the manuscript were sent to some people with that diagnoses and some parents of those as well. The feedback was encouraging. It was important that throughout the book I never used the words, "autism", "neurodiversity", "spectrum", or any other label or diagnosis. 

Some Luck: One of the initial readers at Golden Antelope Publishing is, in fact, diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum. He loved the book and recommended that it be sent through to the next round of submissions of work to be potentially published by Golden Antelope. Well, it made it, but even before the book was published, I was reading from the manuscript every week at my series, Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series.  I started on page one in 2020 and in the next few weeks this will be completely finished. As always, I thank people for the support I've been given, the work of my ART team who got the book up to #1 on an Amazon Best Seller List.


Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Summer Issue of Wilderness House Literary Review---and yes, as noted, I'm on a hiatus the next couple of issues.


Yes, I'm taking some issues off, as mentioned in CEO Steve Glines column in The Wilderness House Literary Review.  Maybe it's to promote my new book, (third novel) Joe the Salamander   but maybe it's because I've taken on too much on my plate! 

I can reflect that the fiction I read is better and better, that's good! It also means that it's more difficult to get in, that's bad! More than half of what was rejected would have been automatically accepted even a few years ago. I credit the journal itself for getting itself out there and being a really great read. 

So here's what I picked. They really stood out!

Friday, July 1, 2022

Numbers: 2 Poems, 1 Flash Fiction of mine published in Tell-Tale Inklings #6 (and Joe paperback out July 4)

Mignon Ariel King's Tell-Tale Inklings #6 is out with a wonderful lineup: 

Featured Poet: CL Bledsoe

Tiel Aisha Ansari

Paul Brucker

Michael Ceraolo

Christine M. Dubois

Christine Fowler

Timothy Gager

Holly Guran

Chad Parenteau

You can buy it HERE

 Of my work included, 

Poems: 1) The Attenuation of Wide Ranges of Thoughts 

This poem is about how we live in fear of driving over bridges, sinkholes, booby-traps, cancer, and viruses. 

2) I am Alone

Watching Bad Movies during the Pandemic

after Fathers and Daughters

Ever watch a movie that the characters, what they do, and their motivations just piss you off because they are so poorly written? So I watched Fathers and Daughters a movie starring Russell Crowe and a made a poem out of the film review. 

Flash Fiction:  Hey, Benni 

This one focusses on PDA and a conversation around it, which is picked up by Siri, Alexa or any of those other spying AI thingys you want to name. 


Joe the Salamander will drop in paperback form on July 4 so I'd love for you to pick it up. Want a little push? Read the reviews already posted on Amazon I am extremely grateful and lucky. . 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

My Experience with Dar Dixon

This podcast was to promote Joe the Salamander but instead, the host, Dar Dixon and I got into all sorts of social issues, previous books and future books. To listen click this link, or watch the video.  Also, there are sign post times to move to subjects you want to hear about....for example the 10% of the podcast we do talk about Joe the Salamander happens at 32:45. (Also, the pre-release of Joe reached number one on Amazon--beating out a Kennedy)

About Dar Dixon: 

The Art of Being Dar - Hosted by Dar Dixon

Dar is a half Iranian/half American white boy...born in Tehran.

Yes, Iran.

He's moved over 80 times.

He escaped the Iranian Revolution with, literally, the clothes on his back.

He even found himself in a cult...

And through every crazy thing that's happened, against insane odds, he's been succeeding in life & in Hollywood, for almost 30 years.

People with boring lives have boring stories.

Nothing boring here.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

10 BY 10, Ten Flash Fictions by Ten Writers publishes "Beloved Do Us Part" in their Inaugural issue

    Zvi Sesling, Editor of the Muddy River Poetry Review, has jumped into flash fiction by having numerous flash pieces published. Then he decided to put out 10 BY 10 with ten unpublished works of flash by ten different writers. I was honored to be solicited---IN FACT, he wrote, "wait till you see who you are in with." 

   Well it's an all-star flash fiction lineup with : Paul Beckman, Jayne Martin, Robert Scotellaro, Renuka Raghavan, Michael C. Keith, Phil Temples, Francine Witte, Niles Reddick, and Kathy Fish. 
Thanks, Zvi. 

* * *

     Now the story behind the story, Beloved Do Us Part. I wrote this story mear the end of March, about a week after my father passed. It was a pretty dark week---so, as the mind expanded into the world of writing, I thought, what could be worse than going to a funeral?

   The answer involves an accident while delivering the urn to the service....and the protagonist arriving late, and having his wife drop one more bomb on him. 


Monday, June 13, 2022

REVIEW: Boston Small Press and Poetry and Joe the Salamander PRE-ORDER INFO


Second review (Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene)---and this text will appear in the print Somerville Times in July. Thanks Doug Holder
Doug Holder "At first glance it may seem that a novel about an autistic boy and his struggles, might not be a ripe subject for fiction. After all, this population is characterized by repetitive behaviors, and non-verbal communication, hardly the stuff for rich dialogue, and action-filled pages. But in Tim Gager’s latest novel, “ Joe the Salamander” the author brings an autistic boy named Joe alive, and follows him from a newly-slapped baby-- to his maturation as a man. This is a survival story in many respects because if Joe can’t adjust to a hostile environment, he would be doomed to be some ward of the state or even worse. Often the sins of our fathers are passed on, and as it happen Joe’s dad Adrian is autistic as well, and doesn’t have enough distance from the disorder to help his son. The women in his life—Millie his mother, and Laurie—a caring nurse, are the stalwarts in Joe’s travails.
Gager, who is a social worker, and who once worked out of a state office in Davis Square, Somerville, brings his knowledge of this disorder to the forefront. We experience the agonizing and grinding progress of Joe; we are able to get a fascinating look at his skewed thought process, and his profound confusion with emotion.
Joe when he was a young kid, often adorned a Superman costume. This is a great conceit Gager brings into play. The use of an all-powerful, flying superhero, transcending the fray—saving the day—breaking the nefarious bubble that surrounds our protagonist is inspired.
Not to give anything up, but in the end Gager ties things up beautifully."
Gager, to my mind brings the skills of a clinician to fiction, but this is not a dry, clinical work. Having worked in the mental health field at McLean Hospital for 37 years, this book rings powerfully true for me. This book is an accomplished work of fiction--but it should be required reading for aspiring mental health professionals, as well.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

What does it take to be part of Joe the Salamanders Advanced Reading Team?


Many of you have heard me reading from Joe the Salamander since May 2020 nearly every week at Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series. With the book out in about six weeks, I need some volunteers for my Advanced Reader Team. (Some of you folks who attend regularly may not need the advanced PDF sent) If interested email me: or comment below

This is what it consists of:

  1. About two weeks before the book comes out I'll send a digital copy to your email
  2. When the Kindle comes out, there will be a .99 cent version for ART people only and you will buy it. If this would deter you I will Venmo/paypal anyone who wants reinbursement.
  3. A week later, post a review. It doesn't have to be comprehensive NOR is a 5-Star review required, but boy those are nice.
That is all. Those's an outide review

And the press release form the Publisher, Golden Antelope Press

Thank you so much!

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

First Outside Review of Joe the Salamander (due out July 2022) from the Mid West Book Review


Established in 1976, the Midwest Book Review is an organization committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. 

 Here's what they had to say:

Critique: With its inherent message promoting the value of appreciating diverse abilities, disabilities, and circumstances, and although "Joe The Salamander" is a work of fiction, author Timothy Gager's novel is solidly and soundly based on real-life conditions as experienced by thousands of children throughout the United States today. Entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Joe The Salamander" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary Diversity Fiction collections. 
Editorial Note: Timothy Gager has published 16 books of fiction and poetry (including 17 of which were nominated for Pushcart Prizes). His work has been nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award, The Best of the Web, and The Best Small Fictions Anthology.

Friday, April 29, 2022

There is Some Gratitude to have two poems in Spring's Muddy River Poetry Review

You can read the poems HERE  and the rest of the issue HERE.  These are my first published pieces in 2022

     So why the "some" in the title of this blog?  I've not done the story behind the story of my work in awhile, but there is a story here, but it's just not about the work.  The story is about depression---and I'm extremely nervous and wary about posting it, but here it is. 

    Things have changed a lot since I submitted these poems in December 2021. I was about to leave to see my father for a pre-Christmas visit. It would be the last time I would see him at that Assisted Living location. The next time I would wee him would be March of this year at a Rehab/Nursing Home when he wasn't doing well. He would die a week later. 

     My story, not behind these poems, is grounded in my medical chart: Severe Clinical Depression: In Remission. How could I have possibly have anticipated the effect of loss. Well for awhile I pushed it down, and then it all appeared sideways, in ways I can understand at the most basic level regarding grieving, but I cannot understand why my high intensity/low frequency actions seemed to not be in control. And I own all of it---all the shitty behavior. Thus the spiral begins....having needs, but causing harm, and pain---leading to a depression I've not experienced in years. I've reached out--beginning therapy again, but meanwhile it's that dreaded dichotomy and questions about the meaning and purpose of life, and how to get back to getting through the very basic day-to-day things. 

    So the poems, both written in September at Writers in the Round at Star Island. The second poem, Not Perfect Does Not Make Practice is a completely fictious piece of work. I may have heard a true story about someone's mother crashing a car into the back of a garage, but it wasn't my mother. I interjected a need of a child to get somewhere via that car, but basically not much more to explain regarding that metaphor. Now the other poem...

Credit: Photography for the Star Gathering Website by Shoalers Sean D. Elliot, Charlie Nutting, David J. Murray, Tristan Bins and Lisa Santilli as well as

      Here's the  picture at the exact location I wrote The Holy Orchestrated on Star Island.  It was like a symphony how the birds stopped and rested on the monument located there  The movement, precision, sound and measure--within their own direction is magnificent beauty.  There is peace in location and within that metaphor, but that too seems like a far away location, as I've said here, a lot has changed. Can I get back....will I see or visualize those birds? I wish to get back, as the birds keep flying, circling and perching in a place that seems very far and difficult to get to. 

Monday, April 4, 2022

April Showers bring Spring Issue of Wilderness House Literary Review

 The entire issue can be read HERE. Enjoy the read!

And I had fun picking out the fiction....some really great stuff.

WHLR 65st  Issue (Volume 17, no 1)-April 2022

and all the rest

WHLR 64st  Issue (Volume 16, no 4)-January 2022


WHLR 63st  Issue (Volume 16, no 3)-October 2021

WHLR 62st  Issue (Volume 16, no 2)-July 2021

WHLR 61st  Issue (Volume 16, no 1)-April 2021

WHLR 60th issue (Volume 15, no 4) -January 2021

WHLR 59th issue (Volume 15, no 3) - October 2020

WHLR 58th issue (Volume 15, no 2) - July 2020

WHLR 57th issue (Volume 15, no 1) - April 2020

WHLR 56th issue (Volume 14, no 4) - January 2020

WHLR 55th issue (Volume 14, no 3) - October 2019

WHLR 54th issue (Volume 14, no 2) - July 2019

WHLR 53th issue (Volume 14, no 1)   April 2019

WHLR 52th issue (Volume 13, no 4)  January 2019

WHLR 51th issue (Volume 13, no 3)  October 2018

WHLR 50th issue (Volume 13, no 2)  July 2018

WHLR 49th issue (Volume 13, no 1)  April 2018

WHLR 48th issue (Volume 12, no 4)  January 2018

WHLR 47th issue (Volume 12, no 3)  October 2017

WHLR 46th issue (Volume 12, no 2)  July 2017

WHLR 45th issue (Volume 12, no 1)  April 2017

WHLR 44th issue (Volume 11, no 4)  January 2017