Declined. Again.

MA-Can-I-still-get-a-Medicare-Supplement-if-I-have-COPD-or-Emphysema

Obviously, I’m frustrated.

First, because I have to spend HOURS on the phone trying to figure this drama out.  Second, because after spending all that time on the phone, the answer remains, “No.”

Under Obamacare, I was able to get medical coverage for the first time since 1992 that I could actually use.  2013, I had skin cancer in my shin, and they covered the cost of that surgery for $8,xxx and my out of pocket payment was $860.  $860 for surgery that saved my leg, if not my life.  Life changing.

I worked a Corporate job with excellent benefits from 1979 thru 2015, however, the coverage I paid for was not always usable by me due to my birth defects.  Rather than play the denial game, I simply lived beneath my means, and paid out of pocket for anything I needed.

I don’t drive a Cadillac or fancy sports car, so I don’t need a fancy medical plan.  However, the simple existence of my birth defects becoming public knowledge in 1992 when my medical records went digital meant that I routinely was denied medical care, and “No.” became the standard response for actually using the insurance that I paid for with each job.

With my departure from Corporate America in 2015, the battle for medical coverage reached new heights as I fought for coverage under COBRA for $644 per month.  And, as Aetna, my new insurer under my employer, decided that “No.” was now its favorite word.

In June 2016, I was finally approved for long term disability (LTD), and a 2-year waiting period to qualify for Medicare was also started.  Seriously.  I’m disabled, but there is zero insurance coverage?  Mind-blowing.

So, I paid my COBRA through December 31, 2017, with the knowledge that the benefits would be exhausted as of February 2018.  I tried to select a policy to cover me for my medical needs, but was told that I could not choose it until I was approved for Medicare, which happened mid-year, AFTER the open enrollment period.

There was no counseling for Medicare coverage, and I had to wing it on my own.  I contacted AARP who sent me to United Health Care (UHC), and they promised to cover me for a Medicare Supplement plan for about $150 a month.  I gave verbal approval to complete the forms they would send me, and they took $150 out of my Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) check each month, before I saw a penny.

However, no forms were signed.  Why?  Because, when I got to the question, “If you have COPD, please see question 7.”.  In its pre-qualification forms, UHC then informed me that I did not qualify for a Medicare Supplement as I was under 65 and had COPD.

Did you know that there are two (2) sets of rules for folks to qualify for Medicare?  No?  Well, let me tell you.  The protections that apply for workers who retire at age 65 or above are very different than the guidelines (not protections, but “guidelines”) which apply to disabled people under 65 or their specific age of authorized retirement.

Working since I was 13, I have paid into Social Security EVERY year for 42 years (excluding the year that my employer absconded with my tax and SS payments in 1975).

SSDI Earnings Record life long

It makes me crazy to have paid into my benefits for all these years, dealt with the denial of coverage for many of those years, finally gotten the necessary coverage my payments should have yielded under Obamacare, only to go back to this whack-a-mole game of trying to obtain the disappearing benefits – even when one is required to pay yet again for necessary coverage !

As you can see from my crazy paycheck history, my income changed all the time based on health, what type of job I was working, family issues for changing jobs and relocating, etc., etc., etc.  But every single year – regardless of what was going on it my life – I paid into the program(s) meant to help me if I became disabled or achieved retirement age.

So, it’s maddening to be declared unable to work, and then find out that in addition to the changes that were made to Social Security and Medicare over the years, there was an additional change that prevents someone who is not indigent and not yet of retirement age, to qualify for the necessary medical coverage they need when disabled.

Medigap insurers

Having worked my way through their websites (useless !  one cannot enroll on a website – WTF !?!???) I am at my whits end.

I can see a great policy – if only I were allowed to exercise the right to buy into this supplemental insurance !

Medigap F

Starting with the thought that my premium might be between $21 and $74 each month, imagine my surprise to chase this ever-evading insurance company ball all the way to the point where my costs would be $455.99 per month – if only I didn’t actually NEED my insurance due to my pre-existing condition, COPD.  So, having wasted time attending seminars, combing the website, consulting the professionals, and having spent three (3) hours on hold this morning, going through the phone tree with various companies, I once again confirmed – there will be NO INSURANCE COVERAGE for me due to my pre-existing condition.

It doesn’t matter that I never smoked.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve not been hospitalized since childhood.

It doesn’t matter that I’m not on oxygen.

It just matters that I have a lung disease which MIGHT cost them some money, so I get zero insurance coverage except for what remains of the original Medicare coverage which has been cannibalized within my lifetime to deprive me of benefits originally paid for when I first signed up for coverage in 1974, when I was a child of 13, starting my first job and trying to survive while my parents marriage imploded.

So, with all this under my belt, I’m going away to get my monthly haircut.  I’m out of energy and any semblance of patience for today, so I will be at this keyboard again tomorrow trying to find an insurance company to throw my money at in the hope that any worst-case medical expenses not covered by original Medicare will be picked up by them.  Medicare Allies says they can help.  Let’s hope they are being truthful in my case:

Medicare Allies 2019

Medicare open enrollment is frustrating.

So needlessly exhausting.

We need socialized medicine that doesn’t deny one coverage due to birth defects.  If we are going to insist on keeping these children alive by repairing their birth defects, then we need to have a medical insurance program that ensures that they maintain quality of life without being driven into poverty through covering their medical needs – if they are able to work, or were fortunate enough to be able to work and buy their way into benefits at some point during their lifetime.

Actions have consequences.  If we are going to insist on life at all costs, then we also need to insist on QUALITY of life by allowing those people who have birth defects to protect their assets against raiding.  The stress from trying to juggle all the bills involved in remaining healthy is exhausting, and no one is well enough, in my humble opinion, to want to sign up for this medical denial of coverage dance once a year during open enrollment, or every time they have to use the actual benefits they’ve paid for.

 

 

 

“Womanly” potential

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After “Quincineara Beat Down“, you can see that I’m struggling with a topic, and still trying to find a way to say EXACTLY what I mean.

At this point, I’m still struggling with my lack of sexual activity.  Part of it is due to my underlying illness, and part of it is due to family obligations where my partner is raising his foster son (again), and being the primary caregiver for his 80-year-old Mother. It’s a long and complicated story, but it’s sufficient to say that I’m not getting any and it’s ok.

But, just because I’m not getting busy with anyone does not mean that I am blind to the reality that women are facing today – the fact that we must be “feminine” and “womanly” before we’re anything else.

That focus on womanliness has been the bane of my existence because I’m not a girly girl.

In fact, if you’d asked me, I’m more like Mr. Spock on a good day, with everything being analyzed, especially intimacy and sexual issues.

For me, the need to don war paint, wear “feminine” clothing, and otherwise be anything but what I choose to be on any given day just feels like a fraud.  Why aren’t I good enough, just as I am, straight out of the package?  Why must I be dressed up and focusing on my appearance 24 x 7 x 365 in order to be “womanly”?

No answers here, but it’s still lingering in the back of my brain as the liver doctor wants me to see a nutritionist (which appears to be code for bariatric surgery), and I want nothing to do with that request if it involves surgery, or if it means I’m going to lose weight.

My weight is part of my wellness program (moving to CA 33 years ago and putting on 60 pounds happens to be choices that allowed me to live much longer than expected, AND stay out of the hospital).

 

Diplomacy challenged.

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I belong to the MyCOPDteam website, which is a support group for people battling COPD and trying to find resources in fighting this crazy disease.

I say COPD is crazy because even the so called “experts” on the disease – the docs, respiratory specialists and patients themselves – can’t all agree on it’s causes, triggers, definitions, etc., etc., etc.; making for a rollercoaster ride of things to consider and try in order to remain healthy on a case-by-case basis.

Into these care and treatment considerations come the various personalities of the patients and their caregivers and loved ones, willy nilly, with very little opportunity to filter in or out anyone who may be unhealthy for your individual state of mind.

There are key issues to be addressed with any chronic health issue, but the most important questions don’t get addressed until much further in the online support community, long after you have emotionally engaged with an internet friend or foe and their health outcomes.

Being a crabby New Englander, I was taught that a friend, no matter how boon a companion in real life, is still an “acquaintenance” until you’ve known them and been friendly for at least five (5) to ten (10) years.  What then are the rules for boundary management in internet life?

The reasons for the 5-10 year minimum getting-to-know-you period or reasonable limit is because people lie.  Or prevaricate.  Or put on one personality in public, but may actually be a whole other soul-sucking personality over time.  Until you’ve been in the trenches with someone, you don’t kniw who they are, but rather have bought a bill of goods they are selling you about their personality.

Into this picture comes the art of real life vs. internet life, and how well one manages the graces and decorum in the troll-filled universe we sometimes inhabit in the internet determines in a big way whether or not one is a fan of spontaneous interaction.  With strangers.  And their relatives.

I’ve done pretty well in the 1:1 world of Better Breather Classes.  I am who I am, and I participate fully.  Take me or leave me, but you won’t say you didn’t “notice me”.  And, we all have an unstated but clearly understood rule about manners and communication and kindness.  When in doubt – don’t say it, don’t do it – keep things running smoothly and ensure everything is non-confrontational and polite.  Everyone handles their chronic illnesses differently, and it’s not my business to police your interactions with others.  There is no “right” way to handle how you deal with your illness aggravations and vulnerability as you age.

I’ve also done pretty well in the world of internet dating, breaking through the safety wall to meet and date (or drop) the object of my potential lust and affections.  Because of the boundaries I created to protect my real world identity, few people got to be facebook-level friends  as my answer was always, “No.  You have my contact info on this (other) site.  Until we meet in the real world and decide that we know what we want from each other in terms of public behavior and manners, we’re fine staying friends on this (other) site and not on facebook.  There is no “right” way to handle how you deal with your love life and carnal desires, but I draw the line at starring in an episode of “Cheaters”, or of having your relationship drama rain all over the people in your life – online or in the real world.

So, with these experiences in mind, as I’m dealing with the bleed-thru of the MyCOPDteam friendly acquaintenances and their connections into facebook, I’m finding more things are getting on my nerves.

First, I’m not religious, so the whole “Prayer Warriors, I need your help” demand as a constant background battle cry is exhausting.

Second, we don’t all deal with the inevitable complications and end of life decisions the same way, so my diplomacy is being stretched thin as I go on facebook at all hours of the day and night, unprepared to deal with what can be endless drama in my otherwise lighthearted facebook experience by people who are chronically ill and showing their chronic illness panties – intentionally or otherwise – for all the world to see and remark upon.

Unless it’s siloed among my own family and extended family members – a place where it’s much easier to identify the landmines and avoid them through years of real-world exposure – I don’t wanna know.

 

Childhood Trauma

I’ve been away from this site for quite awhile, as everything I’ve wanted to write about seems pointless and Debbie Downer.  But, I have 5 posts that I’ve been editing over all these months, and a blog by DrugOpinions on trauma got me to thinking about why I’m stuck in writer’s block hell.

Can ACE helps to solve our societal problems?

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Backstory:  It’s been a challenging Summer, with a bunch of myCOPDteam friends passing away, and with my budget being incredibly tight due to a car accident that totaled my new (4 months old) car, and dealing with the pain involved in the (relatively minor) injuries I received.

I’m broke due to being out of pocket to replace my car (found an IDENTICAL model, yes!), and the ongoing physical therapy co-payments as I work to rehab my body without relying on pain killers or other aids that might make my existing ailments worse, (for those who might have lost teack – Asthma / Emphysema / COPD;  diabetes;  non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; blah, blah, blah).  With all this being said, writer’s block is an additional bonus to my frustrations for dealing with my life right now.  Usually, I write until whatever’s bugging me is purged, and that outlet has been closed for quite a bit of time.

So, to try and clear my head, I’m going to try and figure out my ACE score to see if it adds any clarity to the crap floating around behind my eyes and between my ears these last few months.

ACE Questionnaire

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
    No___  If Yes, enter 1 __  [ 1 ]
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __    [ sort of?  Touch was used for control and silencing me, after all spankings stopped at age 5, when my Mom was afraid my father would beat me to death at my refusal to be apologetic when being defiant ]
  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __   [ No ]  but, I had lots of surgeries, including one on my bladder, and I often wonder if that impacted my early interest in how the body parts worked…
  4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __   [ No ]
  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ No ]  My father was a functional alcoholic, but my Mom was the bulwark of the family and we were well cared for.
  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ 1 ] yes, thank heavens !
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ No, never in front of me.  That trauma was reserved for my Aunt and Uncle, who I was sent to live with for 3 Summers after my parents separated, and who seemed to get aroused by the violence after we were all in bed but unable to hide from the sounds of their fights, violence and sex, late at night].
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ 1 ]  Yes.  My father and my Aunt were both functional alcoholics.
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?                        No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ No.  While I believe depression runs rampant on both sides of my family tree, my father was on lithium when I was 9, which contributed to the quietest 6 months in our household before he couldn’t stand the peace and quiet and refused to continue on the medication].
  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __  [ No ]

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score


It turns out that as the ACE score increases, so does the risk of chronic diseases, social and emotional problems later in life.
**************************************

To continue the topic for scoring, one summarizes the scoring as follows:

What’s Your ACE Score? (and, at the end, What’s Your Resilience Score?)

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — racism, bullying, watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, involvement with the foster care system, involvement with the juvenile justice system, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.

The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

**************************************
The focus on the ACE scoring that I find most interesting is how “toxic stress” is defined to highlight impacts on your health.

While I don’t consider my ACE score particularly high based on the questions asked, it’s the focus on resiliency which really captures my attention.

I consider myself extremely resilient.

But, considering the fact that my first chest surgery occurred at about six months old, and involved breathing issues due to a physical deformity involving my chest and ribs, as my bones curved inward, endangering my lungs and heart and preventing proper growth as I aged, it comes back to a whole chicken vs. egg question for me.

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Looking at this score image in particular, focusing on COPD, throws the entire dynamic into the trash bin for me.

If I started life with a birth defect, and the inevitable evolution into COPD is a foregone conclusion if I lived long enough to wear out my body, then the ACE score has no relationship on my likelihood of contracting COPD.

This is one of those kitchen sink analogies where everything impacts one’s quality of life and rate of illnesses, negating the value of the cause and effect study for me.

So many people with horrible childhoods are hale and healthy into old age, so I’m going to lump this into the, “if you only have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail” theory.

So, let’s look at the resiliency scoring from another study:

Aces Too High

RESILIENCE Questionnaire

Please circle the most accurate answer under each statement:

1.  I believe that my mother loved me when I was little.

Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

2.  I believe that my father loved me when I was little.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
3.  When I was little, other people helped my mother and father take care of me and they seemed to love me.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
4.   I’ve heard that when I was an infant someone in my family enjoyed playing with me, and I enjoyed it, too.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
5.  When I was a child, there were relatives in my family who made me feel better if I was sad or worried.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
6.   When I was a child, neighbors or my friends’ parents seemed to like me.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
7.  When I was a child, teachers, coaches, youth leaders or ministers were there to help me.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
8.  Someone in my family cared about how I was doing in school.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
9.  My family, neighbors and friends talked often about making our lives better.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
10.  We had rules in our house and were expected to keep them.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
11. When I felt really bad, I could almost always find someone I trusted to talk to.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
12.  As a youth, people noticed that I was capable and could get things done.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
13.  I was independent and a go-getter.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True
14.  I believed that life is what you make it.
Definitely true         Probably true         Not sure         Probably Not True        Definitely Not True

How many of these 14 protective factors did I have as a child and youth? (How many of the 14 were circled “Definitely True” or “Probably True”?)   [ 8 ]
Of these circled, how many are still true for me?  [ 8 ]

Quincineara beat down

In this generation of #MeToo, I’m watching all the quincineara preparations of the young ladies around me (similar to the debutante ball my Nana tried to get me to desire and agree to have, just before I graduated high school), and it’s just exhausting.

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I am well beyond the age of getting married and having kids, but I’m at the other end of the age scale where an unmarried older woman has no one obliged to take care of her thru means or family or birth, so the focus on a woman’s day as a married princess or object of desire is beating me down and exhausting my psyche.

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My decision was made long ago, in terms of hope, my reality, and knowledge of what I would and would NOT tacitly agree to endure, in order to “hope” for security in my old age.

I say “hope” for security, because the reality that I’ve experienced is that the woman is sold a bill of goods about her value as an untainted virgin, and her family rushes her into marriage (either approving or disapproving of the male) in the hope that any pregnancies happen within the confines of marriage, so that the grand children are someone else’s responsibility to raise.

For all intents and purposes, they bless the union hoping 2 unfinished but physically mature children  will grow old together, learning to cleave to each other, despite life’s storms.

The family hopes for prosperity and joy for the young couple, and they pile on the pressure (with Mother Nature’s full backing and manipulation of the hormones) to hurry up and add kids into the mix.  All while raising the next generation of girls to desire a fantasy as they mature,

While I have no hands-on experience of the debutante ball or quincineara party, having chosen a solo path for myself, I do have opinions on the outcome.  But, there’s no surprise in that, is there ?!???!

We are programmed at a young age to think of things life and our corner of the village or society “owes” us.  Birthday parties.  Christmas presents.  Weddings.  Showers (bridal, birth, new home, etc.).  We are taught (at least in my culture) that life events are a series of routines and obligations.  That you show up for someone, and they show up for someone, and then a combination of friends and family show up for you, “when it’s your turn”.

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(See the people peeking out of the shack in the background?  That may be her reality for living conditions once the sweet 16 ceremony announcing her availability for marriage and motherhood is over).

For some of us, the rules have changed or evolved when we weren’t looking, and we never get “our turn”.  In my case, it was embracing Women’s Lib as a way to have it all and be beholden to none.  After all, I reasoned, my Mom did everything right and still ended up working all hours of the day and night (with the help of her wonderful girlfriends) to keep a roof over our heads, and the plumbing working, and the bills paid.  Mom broke the cycle of silence by opting for divorce vs. accepting disrespect and abuse from her spouse,  and it was her choice to walk away from the insanity of her marriage that was the saving of her and all of our lives.

In my case, the passing of my Mom and Brother informed me over time that my choice to move away from my family, to break with tradition, has left me without a home port.  I became an adult orphan when I moved 3,000 miles away from my home port, and I never knew it because I made a conscious choice to build a husband and child-free life, and I moved into a youth-oriented area full of single people who appeared to have made similar choices.  Plus, my ability to hide from my family’s censure or expectations (if ever necessary) was strengthened by weekly or as necessary phone calls between myself and family and friends, so the bonds stood firm.

It is only when the fabric of our support circle is ripped through the passing of another that we realize how truly connected we were to each other, and how important it is to mend the fabric of our bonds to ensure continuity.  It is only when we see who among our family or childhood friends refuse to meet us half way in rebuilding a bond that we realize what we’ve lost with the passing of a matriarch or sibling.

So, we build again and we hope again, and time passes.  Now, we are the older, single person in a space that appears to only value youth and malleability.

Married friends launch their kids into the world, building the next generation, and the topic of Sweet 16’s, Debutante Balls, or Quincinearas become important to the next generation of Grannies and Nanas and Moms, who see the changes in the world and want to pass on “protection” to the next generation of women by ensuring the girls go down a path of set expectations for “princesses” or “queens” about how a ‘real’ woman lives, the matriarchal center of her family through the ages.

As I get ready to welcome a long term guest into my home, a women with an ex husband, grown children, and few places to turn, I wonder at that mythical young woman making her quincineara.

She’s surrounded by family, friends, momentary party excitement, and a “village” trying to direct her choices.  Trying to ensure that she is married young, before she knows who she is and what she wants from life.  Trying to ensure that she gets pregnant quickly to continue her species, as well as plant the seeds with those much hoped for children for anticipating that they, in turn, will be the extra hands of caring and support that her parents and grandparents may need as the circle of life continues and those hoped-for babies grow to adulthood, and pick up the mantle of caregiving aspirations.

I, meanwhile, deal every day with how best to retain my independence, afford to age in place, and stay as healthy as I can despite my medical issues.  Child free, and without anyone emotionally and biologically programmed to care for me as my body continues to age and my birth defects continue to evolve and plague me.

As I visit “F”, who is coping with dementia, and try and share companionship and adventures, I reflect on her 3 marriages, divorces, and childless state.

As I visit “F”, whose affairs are supposed to be monitored long distance, from Canada, while her mind and personality slowly slips away, I wonder at all the thousands of choices that had to fail to bear fruit for her to be here, at this moment in time, independence gone, and depending on the kindness of strangers as caregivers in her assisted living facility.

I am thankful “F” made good choices that lucked out to her having financial independence until her money runs out (which will hopefully not happen until after her mind is fully gone), and I’m grateful that she has some connections to family in Canada who will handle her affairs to the best of their ability, even though they won’t get on a plane or drive down from Canada to see for themselves that she’s doing ok.

Meanwhile, I’m also opening my home to “CM” who did everything society and her family expected, but..

– who ended up divorced and raising her kids solo

– who had a husband who refused to pay child support

– who now has grown children struggling to build their own lives

– who is now 64, never really worked (beyond raising kids), struggling financially, and

– who has been couch surfing since at least 2009, trying to survive.

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”CM”, if the Park managers agree, will move in with me as we try and get her back on her feet, financially, by helping her qualify for subsidized housing so that her broken and no-longer-able-to-work body can have a place to call her own in order to age in place.

At some point, if she cannot get the help she needs any other way, we may have to force her into a woman’s shelter to allow her to jump the line for necessary housing assistance.  “CM” was supposed to get on various waiting lists way back in 2009, but I suspect that pride and hiding from her reality stopped her from following thru on those recommendations to get what she needed.  At any rate, I’ve agreed to give her 6 months or so in my spare room at Old People’s “Camp”, and we’ll see what’s possible for helping her avoid homelessness.

She’s a far cry from the unknown road ahead for that quincineara girl, but in the belief that it truly takes a village to help each other get thru each stage of their lives,    I’ll try my best to help her get on her feet and stay independent for as long as possible.

It what the village is supposed to do, when one of their own needs help.

 

 

Elder Abuse

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Today, I was supposed to go help my friend, F, reorganize her single large closet in her assisted living apartment.

We were going to sort through all the clothes she moved from her home, weeding out the ones she no longer wears or needs, and organizing her travel photo albums so that they would be on bookcases at floor level, instead of higher up on shelves in the closet where she can’t access their contents.

We were going to move the chest taking up space in her bedroom, blocking easy access to the closet, and we were going to find a way to store her granny cart and her vacuum so that they weren’t taking up valuable floor space outside her closet.

Instead, I’m going to be dealing with a panic attack over finances and trying to calm her down.

P, the controlling friend that has made all the decisions regarding F’s finances, is harping on the fact that F is spending “too much”, all while knowing she just sold her fully paid for home for $789k, and that the place F has chosen to live should run her about $70k to $80k per year.

Instead of treating F like an impaired but reasonable adult, P is refusing to answer F’s questions (regardless of how many times the questions are repeated), leaving F to play a tit-for-tat game of hiding her money (and pulling out a lot of cash so that she feels she has control of her money, since she’s no longer seeing monthly statements).

F’s determination to wrest control from the largely silent Canadian relatives who have all her money and power of attorney (now that she’s been declared in need of guardianship / conservatorship) is a drama that didn’t need to be.

But, I blame P as the instigator.

P is a control freak, in my humble opinion, and her unwillingness to answer F’s reasonable questions has lead directly to this crisis.

(Calling me last night about 8:30pm to cancel our get together today, and then calling me at 6:02am in a panic to discuss things, shows what stress F is being put under by receiving mixed messages and different answers from everyone in her life).

So, I’ll go see F later today as originally agreed.  We’ll work out a strategy for her to stay calm and – possibly? – get some answers.  And, I’ll give her some suggestions about how to stay calm and create a workable budget for weekly cash so that she has a negotiation strategy for dealing with the drama that I otherwise consider elder abuse.

Please, if you have an elderly friend whose elevator no longer goes consistently to the top floor…  just be kind.  Be patient.  Answer all their questions even if they’ve asked them 1,000 times.  Don’t bully them.  Don’t boss them.  Try to listen and be supportive without badmouthing anyone else trying to help them.  Just care enough to show up.

We’re all going to be in a vulnerable point at some stage of our life due to age, infirmity or financial vulnerability.  Just be patient.  Try your best to be kind and not make the situation worse.

 

 

Hello. I’m still here.

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Still struggling with my attitude problem, my money being drained five minutes after I get paid, and my 2012 Kia Soul not selling.

So, there’s been a lot of me and the fur-coated diva on the couch, napping, in between lots of driving back and forth to the heart of Silicon Valley (about a 60 to 100 mile round trip, depending on where we end up walking, and whatever errands need to be run).

I think the money is disappearing so fast because of my poor money management, and all the gas for the extra trips, but I’m not sure if I’m lying to myself or not.  We’ll see how this next paycheck goes.

I’m also doing a lot of thinking about how to fix a running toilet:

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…and trying not to let my success with fixing the washing machine earlier this year go to my head !  To fix the toilet I must first take apart the bathroom cabinet / towel storage system (yet another daunting distraction), and with the house in various states of projects, I’m just overwhelmed with the clutter.

Did I ever tell you how much I hate home ownership and its related maintenance duties?

I first grew up in a 200 year old farm house constantly in a state of repair and strip-the-walls-down-to-the-studs “improvements”.  After my parents divorce, I finished growing up in a cottage style house that was always being renovated and reinforced against the always-pending storms.  Rain, Snow, Hurricanes, Nor’easters…

The cottage had an incredible mold / mildew problem due to it being a 1950’s era tract box, with very little insulation  – at least due to then-modern standards.

So, to find myself living in a mobile home built in 1976 with zip for insulation, doing my own repairs while short of breath and exhausted from lack of decent sleep is not ever an adventure I foresaw in my life.

But, it’s better than being homeless or having someone tell me I (temporarily) make too much money to be able to qualify for the construction aid programs meant to aid seniors and disabled people.

Back to today’s story, though…

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Would you believe that some former owner spackeled the toilet tank lid in place??!!??

It’s moves like that which make home ownership and repairs such an adventure.

It’s still been cold or chilly a lot more than normal, which is making me wonder if I’m being lazy for getting things done or if it’s just not hot enough for me, but that’s an every day kind of musing that helps me waste time and avoid getting much of anything done between naps, LOL.

Between running my friend around doing her errands, I’m arguing with the endocrinologist.  My A1C has been in the 7.5 range for most of the Winter (bad fudge !  Bad !), but since I sent her a chart of my A1C over the last 2.5 years showing weight and medication points and sleep patterns, plus proof that I walked at least 830 miles last year and an average 80 miles a month in good weather, she’s agreed to calm down and breathe.  She’s expensive, so I didn’t want to move my appointment closer than July 9th, and she’s finally agreed to see me after some arm twisting.

I also found a Harvard Health study which wonders if tight control of the A1C in someone who has other co-morbidities is worth it, and which posits the idea that an A1C between 7 and 8 might not be unreasonable for those with chronic health issues.

Rethinking A1c goals for type 2 diabetes

In particular, I’m cherry picking this part of their conclusions:

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I think I have invested enough effort in staying as well as I can, and I am not going to make myself crazy trying to regulate my blood sugars when all it does is leave me tired and short of energy.

Since I’ve stopped taking the Januvia my blood sugar has risen, but I feel better and my finances thank me for not paying $525 each month for a medicine that causes constipation and hemorrhoids, without really addressing the underlying problem.

It’s funny, though.  I started this blog about friendships and home repairs, and it digressed into another rant about health.  Go figure !

Needless to say, I’m fine and still putting one foot in front of the other.  Time to get my butt in gear and start my day.

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