Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Real Confussions and Doctor Appointments



I got a new house cleaner assigned to me this month and supposedly she’ll be my regular girl from now on. As I usually do when a stranger is working in the house I try to get a feel for what kind of person she or he is. It’s surprising what character revealing things people will tell when you’re just chit-chatting. The cleaner’s name is ‘Purity’ and one of the first questions I asked her was, “Do you like your name?” Boy, did I get an ear full about the teasing and bullying she endured in high school and how she couldn’t wait to get out. “My dad gave me the name,” she ended with, “and I’m a daddy’s girl so I’m trying to like it.” Purity is young and she says she has anxiety and depression disorders and is OCD “which makes me very good at cleaning” she said, and I was her first client as a new employee of my house cleaning service. But the most interesting confession came about when I asked if she had any children. “Technically, yes,” she answered, choosing her words carefully, “but my boyfriend and I gave her up for adoption when she was born.” She was pregnant during her last year of high school thus the source of the teasing and bullying was a puzzle with the pieces falling in place.

“Are you at peace with that decision?” It’s a personal question coming from a stranger but I couldn’t help asking.

“Yes, I really am,” she replied. “We knew we could never give a child the advantages that someone else can do and I have too many mental issues to care for a baby.” It was an open adoption, the kind where the adoptive parents attended all the appointments with Purity and were there for the birth. She showed me a photo of her daughter’s first birthday party, taken a few weeks ago---a sweet baby with purple frosting all over her hands and smiling face. I told Purity it sounds like it was a win-win decision for everyone. “It really was!” she beamed. “I wish more people understood that.”  

It’s easy to be judgmental of others and stereotype based on age. When petite Purity showed up on my doorstep, struggling to carry all her supplies in one trip, my first thought was this probably isn’t going to work out. How could someone so young take any job seriously? However, she was more thorough that most, worked fastest than any I’ve had in the past and never let our conversation get in the way of the progress she was making. Best of all from my point of view, she actually follows the news and could talk current events and politics! It was a match made “maid-service” heaven.

The next day I had my Medicare Wellness Exam with my internist. It’s the one where in addition to blood work and recording routine stats like blood pressure and your heart rate they ask you a series of screening questions designed to find out if you’re: 1) depressed and losing interest in life, 2) if you need to make your house old-person safe, and 3) if you’re still able to care for yourself. Jeez, nothing makes you feel older than being asked if you can feed and dress yourself! But it’s a free medical check-up so I dutifully didn’t whine. I remembered those (obnoxious) questions from last year so I made a point of wearing my Sunday best, nice shoes and a bright scarf---all matchy-matchy like someone who still cares about life and plans on sticking around until I’m a hundred and one. I don’t want a social worker showing up at my house because I "accidentally" wore three sweaters to my wellness appointment or because I gave the doctor the finger for just filling out government required paperwork. But I did lie about one of my answers. Last year it was an honest answer when I said I didn’t have any throw-rugs in the house but Wayfair’s Oriental Rug Fever infected me and I now have three “trip hazards” in place. (If you work for Medicare, don’t turn me in! I only walk over one. The others are just adding color by doors I rarely use.) 

While at the doctor’s office I was dreading getting the Bad Girl lecture for gaining weight over the winter so I beat the doctor to the punch and gave it to myself. When he asked, “So what’s new with you?” I answered, “Six pounds.” And when he asked, “How did that happen?” I said everything he’d want to hear about over-eating and not getting enough exercise. No excuses from this lady. No denial. I was a bad girl who understands cause and effect and nothing he could have said could top my beat-him-the-punch confessions. I promised to start walking again…blah, blah, blah and he compared the readings on my Fitbit to his. I was only down by 200 steps and I’d been up two flights of stairs and he hadn’t climbed any. The doctor was impressed. I went home and took a nap. Passing my wellness test was hard work! ©

18 comments:

  1. Did they ask if you had Black Lung disease or ever been in the Armed Services? I sometimes get those stupid questions. I once said, "Well, back in the day, when I was a youngun' and lived in Pennsylvania, I had to take my Pa's lunch to him down in the coal mine." I think these Wellness Check-Ups are silly. What can a Primary Care doc do about anything? Oh well--it's FREE!

    Can you imagine growing up with the name Purity or Chastity? YIKES! What a responsibility to protect that concept.

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    1. Yes, I get those black lung questions, etc., each time. Like my answers going to change from my last appointment? The Wellness Check-Up QUESTIONS are silly but the fact that the check-up (blood work, appointment, etc.) are free they do get old people coming in when they might not do it otherwise. That will save the system money in the long run to catch things earlier. The government loves statistics but what are they going to do with them? Pass a law that old people can't own throw rugs because it costs Medicare money when the fall? You can't legislate common sense.

      I thought the same things about the name Purity!

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  2. What a neat gal Purity is. I'm glad you learned about one root of the teasing she got. If she has anxiety and depression disorders she has more roots than high school teasing! I personally believe giving up her baby was actually very loving to her baby. It is very mature for her to recognize her own limitations. If only all parents-to-be realized parenting is more than biology and cutey pie babies! Sounds like you may have more interesting conversations with her.

    Good approach with the doctor. My appointment comes tomorrow and I'm going armed. Now, is the weather good enough for walking?

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    1. Yes, I think Purity and I will get along very well, assuming she stays with the company. She has another job, too. The turn-over is something I'm still not used to.

      I went for my first walk of the spring yesterday. I think I'm back in control. I even stopped at a smoothie shop and drank my (spinach and pineapple) lunch.

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  3. Are these Medicare wellness exams an annual exam? I'm new to Medicare (last December) and haven't been in touch with my doctor yet. Last time I saw him, he told me he didn't think I needed to do yearly exams unless something is wrong (he doesn't like that I don't take any medication that he recommends and I think he pushes drugs too much). But when there has been an issue, he has been good dealing with specialists and he is a pleasant guy!

    I worked with a young girl some years ago, helping her get her GED. She also had OCD and after she passed her GED she was so excited that she was going to work in the local hotel as a cleaner. She told me she thought it was a perfect job for her because she didn't have to interact with people and she got to clean to her heart's content!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Yes, if you request the Medicare Wellness Exams they'll pay for it annually but it's not required of anyone. My internist has always wanted me to go in twice a year, even before the MWE came into existence so it works for me to save money. I only take three prescriptions but he won't refill any without the bi-annual visits.

      Purity was excited about working for a cleaning service for the same reason as the girl you helped with her GED. I only talk with my cleaning people when they're cleaning the kitchen when they first get here. After a half hour I start my dusting in other rooms. I do my own so I don't have to worry about them breaking anything.

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  4. I combine the Medicare wellness exam with my annual physical from my PA -- so it costs me something, but is more thorough. I dread the questions about falling. I live alone and often try to do things alone that would probably be done more safely by two. I addition, I try to keep active. The first time I put on my cross-country skis for the season, I'm probably going to fall at least once. Two falls in a year triggers all kinds of extra questions. Yikes!
    Are you aware that they've changed the weight recommendations for elders? It turns out that, for people over 65, a BMI between 25 and 27 seems to be healthier than the usual recommendation for adults to keep their BMI below 25. Not all doctors seem to know this; a friend of mine was getting grief from her PCP because her BMI was 25. I sent her the recommendations from the National Institutes of Health so that she can educate her doctor. -Jean

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    1. No, I didn't know that about BMI! I have always heard/believed that it's better to be a little over weight as we age so if we get sick we're not down to skin and bones which is more dangerous for long-term. My doctor isn't too hard-nosed about my weight. He's SO skinny, I think he's kind of jealous. :)

      Falling on cross-country skis on snow is not the same as falling because of balance, light-headedness or tripping because older people tend to shuffle not walk. That shouldn't count as falls and I'd probably lie about if it were me skiing. LOL

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  5. I learn something from EVERY one of your posts. Thanks! I'm looking forward to Medicare kicking in. Although I do hate the thought of the govt knowing everything about me. As if they don't already, I guess.

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    1. The questions are really stupid. Like: "Do you have a smoke detector in the house?" What if I said, "no" are they going to tell me about the free program through the fire department to get one? Probably. "Do you pay your own bills?" I was tempted to say, "I didn't know it was optional not to pay my bills."

      I guess we need to remind ourselves that Medicare is an INSURANCE program and they do have a right to know something about us if we want them to pay our medical bills as we age. It's just that we all know what will happen if we ever get to a point where enough wrong answers triggers a call from Social Services. None of us wants to lose our independence. I just wish they were essay questions. Yes/no answers don't tell the whole story. "No, I don't cook. Don't like to and never have and in 2016 with a microwave, no one has to! Next question."

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  6. Purity? That is a tough name to live with. I once knew a child named Heaven. I just wanted to ask the mother one question. "Why?" I guess everyone has the right to name their own child. It's no worse than Apple. She sounds like a nice person. I hope she will be a good fit for you.

    I guess I'll get my wellness exam on Monday. I've heard about it, but this will be my first. Maybe it will give me something to write about on my blog. I've been dry recently. I don't have any throw rugs unless you count the bathmat. I do have area rugs, but they're large. I don't even want to think about what she will say about my weight. :(

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    1. Thankfully, 'apple' isn't catching on as a popular name. I did like Purity but hate the idea of saddling kids with names like that.

      If you didn't request the Medicare Wellness Test you might not get it. You'll know if you do because they'll have you read an eye chart before you get into the exam room.

      I've missed your blogs!!!!!!

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  7. You got blood tests? Shoot, all I got with my first wellness exam was a bunch of questions, blood pressure and maybe temperature. I've not been back for -- two years, I guess. I can take my own blood pressure and temperature, and it's none of their business how I furnish my house.I suppose I should go. I wonder if they would consider the fact that I'm still working on boats a plus or a minus?

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    1. I didn't get my temperature taken. I feel cheated! LOL But they did look in my ears. Working on boats would be a plus. You're engaged in life.

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  8. (apologies for late comment, bogged down in inaction)

    I agree idle chit chat reveals many things - and its a two way process!! I'm sure Purity also gauged you, as a conscientious and responsible employer. (The actual word that comes to mind is the old fashioned "gentlewoman".)

    The Medicare Qs made me think of the time similar questions, eg did I feel suicidal, were asked when I rang a federal agency regarding my options in a personal situation. I remember being very taken aback - I was just exploring possible avenues for action in order to make an informed decision - certainly not planning to take my life?! When queried, the employee said it was part of the set questions that they had to ask by law. Well, even if I was suicidal, I certainly wouldn't have told her.

    Re BMI, yippee for the higher level for 65+!!! I just about make it. As an aside, I was told that the waist measurement is a more accurate indicator of health (reason being that unhealthy fat around the waist is most dangerous). Needless to say, I didn't come in under the benchmark for my age then. I should have checked now, but don't really give much credence to these tests - muscle tone, diet, general health are much more important I think. ~ Libby

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    1. I agree, I don't think most people who are suicidal would tell someone that on a government test question but then again, I some people do put out "cries for help" that no one takes seriously, at the time.

      I give up on the BMI thing. I honestly think our genes are the most important thing and we have no control over them. I just wish I'd quit going up and down and stay in one place without constantly having to work at it.

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  9. I apparently has a quasi-wellness exam a year ago -- 6 mo before I went on Medicare. I had NO IDEA why my doc was asking me falling questions, safety questions, whether I was financially stable, felt safe in my home, etc.... she never explained where this was coming from and barely examined me (even tho I was there for my annual physical) and didn't order one lab test even though I have a history of a few things that should be check out with a simple blood test. I left angry and felt ignored. I found a new doctor, who I love, not the least of which because she is so lenient about the weight issue. :)

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    1. I had the same thing happen with my first Medicare Wellness Exam. No one explained why the bank of intrusive questions until I asked. Did you get your Medicare required hugs? I'm not actually sure it's required but I did notice that my long-time doctor started giving them with my first MWE.

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