Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Egerton Chang | FLOW woes and health throes

Published:Sunday | June 18, 2017 | 6:00 AM
Sudden cardiac death can happen to you.
Sudden cardiac death can happen to you.
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Recently, I had occasion to request more cable boxes from FLOW. They had initially installed some boxes. However, bearing in mind that my family is quite big by today's standard, and given the fact that the cost of each additional cable box works out fairly reasonable, we decided to install five more.

Now, the initial installation went quite smoothly and in a timely manner, they being installed within a couple of days and by a pleasant and knowledgeable technician named Donovan Taylor.

In fact, I had to call his superiors and personally point out the good experience we had with him.

Getting the last five cable boxes fitted has been quite the opposite experience, however.

More than five weeks have transpired and a total of seven or eight teams of technicians have visited the premises (I have lost count). Finally (I hope it is finally), they are installing the boxes as I am writing this column.

During this time, I have called a multitude of occasions and have involved a lady in the president's office ('DS') at least six times.

One wonders how much money FLOW has spent on this one job and, quite frankly, whether they can make money if even a small portion of their jobs are like this one.

 

Hypochondria

 

The Mayo Clinic defines hypochondria as follows:

Illness anxiety disorder, sometimes called hypochondria or health anxiety, is worrying excessively that you are, or may become, seriously ill. You may have no physical symptoms. Or you may believe that normal body sensations or minor symptoms are signs of severe illness, even though a thorough medical exam doesn't reveal a serious medical condition.

I am a hypochondriac of sorts. At least, for a certain period of my life. From very early, I had feared dying by heart attack.

This fear culminated in the early 1990s.

Previously, I had thought, I was having a heart attack or saw early symptoms thereof and had checked into an emergency/outpatient clinic quite a few times, all proving negative.

 

The Big One

 

But I really thought that this one was 'the big one'.

Of course, the more I thought about it the more anxious, the more sweaty, the more nervous, the more stress I was putting on my body, thereby resulting in higher blood pressure, which further compounded the problem.

I actually tried to simulate the symptoms partially, on reflection, because I didn't want the embarrassment of not having an attack, as crazy and ridiculous as that may seem.

Dr Edward Chung and Dr Donald Christian (deceased), renowned cardiology specialists and soon-to-be icons, tended to me in the operating room at Nuttall in that wee hour of the morning.

I even handwrote a will, so transfixed was I.

Somehow the good doctors must have caught on to my 'ruse' as the situation was eventually de-escalated and I was subsequently discharged.

Since then, the pendulum must have swung to the opposite extreme of feeling I am stronger than iron and not being over concerned about my health. So much so that I felt that I could do without my daily BP medications for three to four days without any problem.

Fire Station

Around 12 years ago, I was pushing my youngest child in his stroller on the sidewalks in Fort Lauderdale. I noticed a sign outside a fire station offering 'Free Blood Pressure Checks Inside - Free Coffee and Donuts'.

I, not being one to turn down anything free (coffee and donuts), decided to stop and have my BP checked. I had been in Fort Lauderdale for around a week and my meds had run out for about three days. I didn't feel 'no way'.

There was a panicked look on the fireman's face on testing my BP. It was ludicrously high, like 220/130.

He immediately told me to call my next of kin and said he was carrying me (baby and all) to the nearest hospital.

The long and short of it is that I spent the entire afternoon, evening and early night in the ward under medication and observation until my BP had returned to an acceptable level and had been stabilised.

The moral of the story is, don't be overanxious about illnesses and disorders, but at the same time, don't ever think you are stronger than steel and that nothing can happen to you. Do maintain a healthy suspicion about any unusual signs.

The good news, knock on wood, is that I recently did a battery of tests, including extensive bloodwork, ECG and X-rays, and they indicate everything is normal - for a man of my age.

Property Tax Amnesty

On Father's Day, June 19, last year, I proposed a property tax amnesty in 'Tax amnesty, US presidency, And Poppa's Day'.

Using as an example the case of my son lending a classmate 'a lunch money', which was to be repaid, plus $50 as interest, yet, in an emergency situation, he accepts just the original amount lent in full repayment.

Similarly, what's the use of the government putting on its books $100,000 of debt, which includes $30,000 of interest and penalties, when, realistically, we know that the debtor can only pay $70,000. Particularly, when the debtor can scrounge around and find the $70,000 now with the added incentive of having the interest and penalty being forgiven (written off).

And the Government really needs the money.

I wrote:

Bear in mind that the economy is not exactly booming and the landowner also has pressing things to pay (like school fees, rent/mortgage, grocery, gas) that he/she may find more imperative to pay at this time.

Remembering that this scenario is probably repeated well over 10,000 times, I suggest that perhaps it might be best for the parties to come to some agreement in this regard.

In other words, I am suggesting a property tax amnesty.

It is interesting to note that recently, Senator Don Wehby called for the same property tax amnesty that I had previously advocated.

In 'Tax Amnesty - GraceKennedy boss, gov't senator suggests policy to collect $234 billion in arrears', published April 22, the report states:

An amnesty to collect $234 billion in tax arrears should be implemented, argued government senator Don Wehby in the Senate yesterday, which approved legislation to legalise the revised property tax regime.

"The minister of finance (Audley Shaw) has stated that the Government has no intention of taking away anyone's property because they are facing financial or other hardships. I support this position," the GraceKennedy chief executive officer said. "I believe that an amnesty for the collection of tax arrears similar to the one done for outstanding traffic tickets should be pursued to get persons to regularise their status."

Property owners owe the State $13.5 billion.

 

PSOJ Support

 

In further support of my proposal for a property tax amnesty, 'PSOJ supports call for property tax amnesty', Gleaner, April 26, 2017, states:

"The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) is supporting a proposal by Senator Don Wehby for the Government to grant an amnesty to delinquent property tax payers.

"Chief Executive Officer of the PSOJ, Dennis Chung, says the proposal will encourage those who are delinquent to become compliant.

"Chung says the proposal would allow the Government to collect the much-needed taxes to fund the collection of garbage and pay the electricity bill for street lights."

My proposal to offer a limited property tax amnesty, writing off penalty and interest while giving the property owner time to pay, would certainly fit this bill and satisfy both the PSOJ and Senator Wehby.

Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there.

- Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and e_rider69@hotmail.com.