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

Saturday, April 28, 2018

From Doctor’s Bills to Elephant Bells

Elephant Bell

I got a bill from the doctor’s office for the first time I saw his nurse practitioner about at my Popeye’s Elbow. $39.00 for the clinic visit and after the “Medicare Insurance Adjustment” the grand total came to $107.43. What the heck? Insurance adjustments are supposed to lower your bill, not raise them by $68.43. I called their billing service and was told that Medicare likes to help you get to your deductible faster. “By making me pay for services I’m not getting? That makes no sense what so ever!” I told her. “I know,” she replied. “You’ll have to call Medicare for a more comprehensive explanation. We can't do anything about it.” Medicare takes forever and a day to send out their Summary Notices but when it gets here you can bet your grocery money that I’ll be calling about that $68.43 “adjustment.” In the meantime I was told I should pay the bill in full. It’s been years since I’ve racked up enough doctor appointments in a calendar year to satisfy my Medicare deductible before November. And I like it that way because that means I haven’t been sick. What a crazy, stupid change in Medicare if it pans out not to be a mistake. What if I didn’t have an extra seventy bucks to throw around on something I didn’t get?

The next day I got another bill from the doctor’s office, this time for $52.00 and after the “Medicare Insurance Adjustment” it was reduced down to $43.39. I called again. I was told the first bill was for the use of the clinic room, the second was for the services of the nurse practitioner. I used the bathroom while I was there so I'm surprised I didn't get billed for a toilet paper and flushing fee! 

Service people saw the surly side of me this week. My irrigation company called two weeks ago and wanted to come out this week Wednesday to turn my system on and fix any heads that winter may have damaged. Great, I could be home then but the scheduler couldn’t give me a window of time they’d be here. “I’ll let you know later,” he promised. He didn't. Tuesday morning I called him and asked if he could give me a window for the next day. “I’ll call you after six when I have the route set,” he said. I replied---and not too nicely, I might add---that I liked their old system better. “What was the old system?” he asked and I told him that the guy who did his job for years before he took it over always gave us a window of three hours in the same phone call when he’d set the date. “I can do that when I call tonight.” “A lot of good that does,” I snapped, “when I’ve had to keep the entire day open for two weeks waiting for you to call with a time!” Fortunately, the young guy who showed up to do the work was a sweetie pie and I didn’t give him a lick of surly or sass. 

Thursday the tide was about to change. When I came out of the grocery store I loaded my bounty into the car, hopped in the driver’s seat and hopped back out to take a sheet of notebook paper off my windshield. In block print, no punctuation or capitalization---a sure sign the writer was under thirty---were the words, “have a happy day” followed by a happy face drawing. I looked around and of course no one was around to see me smile. Then a cynical thought crossed my mind. Maybe someone scratched or dented my car and he/she left that note because someone saw it happen and the note writer was pretending to leave their contact information. I walked around the car, carefully eyeballing the gray metal and plastic. It was fine. I was truly the recipient of a random act of kindness. I kept the note and I’ll pass it on to another unsuspecting soul who will probably wear a silly smile all afternoon like I did---hopefully without my momentary cynical thought. 

Life was good again and it got better on Friday when I went to a lecture called, What Happens When You Tickle an Elephant's Toes? Crazy name but an interesting lecture about the Elephant Nature Park outside Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, which is a place where dozens of elephants live who’ve been abused and neglected. The woman giving the lecture took part in one of those volunteer programs where she paid to spend two weeks working at the sanctuary bathing, walking and feeding the elephants who live there. She’s a fascinating person. She works in a Search & Rescue K9 Unit and has been to over 40 countries. Her vacations are never your standard, hotel and tour bus kind of vacations. She finds these off the wall, ecotourism vacations that I’d never do but love hearing about. Why is it that some of us are doers and others, like me, are their cheerleaders? In my next life I want to be a doer who finds out firsthand that if you tickle an elephant’s toes they "laugh" just like we do and who learns that elephants are so smart they'll pack grass up inside the bells they wear around their necks to make them stop ringing when they play hide and seek with their Mahout. ©

NOTE: Ecotourism is defined as, “tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, especially to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.” In other words you pay to work to make a difference for good causes.  Volunteer for Wildlife 


26 comments:

  1. You've reminded me of the elephant jokes from childhood. Remember? "How does an elephant hide in a cherry tree? It paints its toenails red." And so on.

    That Medicare stuff is crazy. I'm heading in for an eye appointment in a week, and it will be interesting to see how things work out. I've not year been to a doctor of any sort yet this year, so I've got the proverbial clean slate, and since it's an every-six months appointment, I know roughly what the charges will be.

    Your story about the note on the car was fun. In another vein entirely, I know someone who once was cut off from a parking space. Just as she was beginning her turn into the space, another driver cut her off and pulled into it, nearly hitting her in the process. She was so irritated. She found another space, and then wrote a little note, which she also tucked under the windshield wiper. It said, "I'm so sorry I hit your car. I don't have insurance, but I'm sure yours will cover the damage. It's not too bad, anyway, so it should be easy to fix." Can you imagine how long that person went over their car, looking for the damage? It wasn't at all a nice thing to do, but it still makes me laugh to think about it.

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    1. Your car story made me laugh. It's a harmless revenge and very clever.

      That was my first appointment for an kind of medical appointment, too. A clean slate. I can't believe the explanation I got from two different people at the billing office is correct!

      Now, I'm going to go paint my toenails. LOL

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  2. I love reading your slice of life posts, Jean! Please keep writing! Also, thanks for writing about ecotourism. I don't know if I will ever do it (although I think I just might someday!), but like you I do love reading and hearing about others doing it.

    Deb

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    1. I love the blog community for the "slice of life" posts we all write. We find so many things we have in common or think in common. I'm addicted...

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  3. I had the same thought about the note on your car while I was reading it! Cynics are we!
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. Isn't it too bad that our world has turned us into cynics. I'm glad to know you had the same, first reaction I did.

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  4. Something's in the air this week. I've been terribly cranky and edgy. If I found that note on my car, all I would have done was be aggravated that A)it made me have to get out of my car to deal with it; B) it was now my responsibility to have to throw it out; C) it was trying to tell me what to do!

    Here's to better weeks ahead!

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    1. Now I'm afraid to leave that not on someone else's car! Things will get better soon, Nance. Spring is on the way or so they tell me. I think we're back to fall.

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  5. Your medical system is screwy to me. I went to my physical on Tuesday, it wasn't long when the nurse took my blood pressure, my weight and the doctor came right away. We discussed my blood pressure, he listened to three things I asked, he checked everything and sent me down to have my shingles shot, blood shots and blow out my hears that were full of wax. The only cost out of my pocket was the blood shot for the test for my prostate. My Shingles shot cost me only 20% and my insurance company took 80%. It's great but we have been having problems in our hospitals. So I guess we can't have everything.
    I'm glad that at the end of the week, you had better things going on your way. See ya Jean.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I understood how our old Medicare worked but they've made changes so this year I'll be on a learning curve. The billing office told me the charges will get lower over the year. I don't get that at all!

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  6. I got a bill for a test I had done--$92.00.
    The last time I had the same test, it cost nothing. That bill will get paid, in 4 payments, because I don't have the $$ to pay it all at once.
    You and I had a similar week with all the frustrations.
    It's bound to get better--right?

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    1. I sure hope so Judy. My April is always full of doctor appointments so I expect a few frustrations with billing but I need them to at least make sense!

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  7. This reminds me of the old elephant jokes that were popular back in the day. "How do you know an elephant has been in the refrigerator? You can see his toe prints in the Jell-o."

    I laughed out loud at how you thought maybe your car had been damaged. I'm glad it wasn't. It's nice to think that random acts of kindness are still waiting out there for us.

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    1. Where was I when all the elephant jokes were popular? I don't recall ever hearing one before the comments in this blog introduced me to a few.

      I've actually been the target of five random acts of kindness in recent years. Once in a restaurant someone paid for my $10.00 meal. The other times were at Starbucks in their drive-up line.

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  8. Your post today made me smile and put me in a better mood. Thanks. I needed it.
    Genie

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    1. That makes me happy. Thanks for sharing that.

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  9. Oh don't get us started on Medicare! We could do a month of blogs on that one topic! I resent getting so many pages when I just need one or two ... not a list of foreign languages they can provide assistance with.

    I get charged $30 for most Dr visits and then NOTHING for $4,000 of MOHS surgery on a 4mm basal cell spot. It is crazy. I can't IMAGINE having to deal with Medicare over $100 ... I am going to resort to writing and sending "return receipt required" rather than a phone call that can get disconnected (50% of the time on my record for Social Security) or never recorded.

    I couldn't volunteer in a climate with bugs and humidity and non 4 star hotels ...

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    1. I'd worry I was allergic to plants and bugs overseas since I'm so allergic here and I'd die of the hives. Otherwise I'd be fine with the roughing it part.

      I just got my medicare summary today---two months earlier than I expected to get it---but none of the numbers match up on anything! I hate having to deal with that and wonder we'll all do it in a few years when our brains don't work as well.

      I can't believe you got charged so much for a basal cell spot. The most I got charged for that was $600 and I thought that was outrageous. I'm getting a new dermatologist this summer so maybe I'll have sticker shock.

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  10. Even worse, I was worried that the note on your windshield was what some carjackers use to get you out of the car after putting your keys in the ignition. Sure glad you and I were both wrong and it was just a random act of kindness. Shoreacres story made me smile. Loved it.

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    1. Wow, I never thought of that and I have heard of that scam! Thanks for the reminder.

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  11. That medicare thing is the stupidist thing I've ever heard. Just sayin' -- and now I need to look at all of mine!

    I love the note idea. I think I need to make some artful happy day notes and do that sometime. Just to feel good -- and maybe help someone else feel good, too!

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    1. That's a great idea...to make some artful notes to scatter around. Should be fun to leave them around.

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  12. I never heard of any elephant jokes.

    I'd have had the same cynical reaction as you that someone had damaged the car.

    Makes me wonder if it's a generational thing. In the same sit, my adult kids would have tossed the note away into the nearest bin without a second thought. ~ Libby

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    1. I googled the elephant jokes. Apparently a man wrote a book in the '60s of elephant jokes and they were fad for awhile.

      That's kind of sad, that your kids would toss a note like that without a second thought. But it's really just one step more cynical than how you and I first reacted.

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  13. Medical bills are purposely confusing and ridiculous....like phone and/or cable company bills. They count on us not to make head nor tail of them and just pay. Good for you to check and call and argue!

    I am not an adventure traveler either but like you I love to hear about it. I also love elephants. Cool to know such a sanctuary exists.

    Sort of love that note. I got one once, complaining about my parking, which I deserved on that particular occasion --- I was a bit over the line because when I pulled in the car next to me was crooked and I didn't want the driver to clip me backing out. But it still startled me to be called names and told to get off the road. People can be so mean. So I'm glad your note was a happy one.

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    1. We are so programed to get hateful notes windshields it's nice to know the oppose happens from time to time.

      I lost my head and bought a cheap elephant bell online, thinking it would make a great addition to my wind chime collection, but the wind doesn't have the same gait as an elephant walking so it doesn't work for that purpose and Levi refuses to wear it. LOL

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