After I turned 75 I was told I didn’t need mammograms any more. They said breast tissue changes and mammogram are no longer good predictors. They encouraged breast self exams. It was never my favorite examination so I was happy.
In 2020, in the middle of the Covid lockdown, I thought I felt something and called my doctor who encouraged me to get a mammogram . Let’s not think about the logic at work here. I did a little informal research and found out they now have some kind of 3D imaging. So I called my insurance “concierge” who is supposed to have all the answers, and asked if this required an extra charge, or how do I get it. Answer: this is done routinely. What she did not tell me was that since I said I thought I found a lump, I would be responsible for all kinds of charges. If I had just made an appointment for a routine mammogram, Medicare would pay for the whole thing.
THINK ABOUT THAT ONE!
So I contest the charges on the grounds that they should have told me about it. I certainly gave them a chance. They are the only vendor that isn’t required to tell me a price before I buy; clearly a recipe for extortion. But I pay the bill. Months later I get a bill from a debt collector; the radiologist claims he hasn’t been paid. This one I protest vehemently. Where has he been all this time. He should ask my insurer for the money.
Two years have passed and I thought I was finished. I get a bill from another debt collector telling me I owe $44.49. I decide it’s not worth $44 to figure out if I really owe it two years later. I’m ready to pay the bill. I look at the papers carefully. They do not tell me how to make out the check, where to send it, or any other useful information. Not even an email address. Am I expecting too much?
I had an appointment this morning at Eye and Ear Clinic in Oakland. The clinic is at the top of what is referred to as heart attack hill. Walking the mile on Bayard I am able to avoid most of the hill. I entered the hospital complex at Presby, which is nearby and avoids some of the hill, and was greeted by someone asking if I had an appointment. That’s the standard opener since Covid arrived. Yes, I have an appointment at Eye and Ear. Oh, she said, that’s a long walk. Did someone drop you off? They can take you across the street and drop you right in front. No one dropped me off, and anyway that’s not quite true. Is someone with you? Why can’t you talk to me? I just want directions to get to Eye and Ear.
Finally, understanding only the first part of the directions, I got on the elevator and went to the next info desk. Yes, I have an appointment at Eye and Ear. How do I get there? Is someone with you? Why can’t you talk to me? I just want directions to Eye and Ear.
I have never before been asked if I had someone with me. And why do they assume it would be better to speak to a companion. I am still making my way alone and intend to continue for as long as possible regardless of how old I look or what anyone else thinks.
The audiologist was good. She did not suggest my problem was due to my age or that I should just live with it because of my age. I go back in three weeks to pick up custom ear molds, which are supposed to help my hearing. Stay tuned.
After my 79th birthday last May I started to think about becoming 80 and what it might mean. First, let me say I know a number of people in their 80’s, and older, who are doing just fine. But, in the past, I knew many who weren’t fine, or were already dead, and the prevailing stereotype is 80 is old old. Should I stop traveling? Should I stop driving? What does it mean to be 80?
Added to that my knees have been bothering me for months and the pain makes me feel very old. I had cortisone shots in July that helped enormously–no pain for months. But while I was walking around in the bitter cold in New York City something happened to my right knee and I’m suffering again. I have been going for physical therapy and doing exercises religiously. I joined Weight Watchers just before Christmas and lost 11 pounds, so far. Still suffering. Finally I decided that 80 was just the day after 79 and my real problem was the terrible cold weather and snow and ice in Pittsburgh.
I am writing this from Israel where it is warm and sunny and I’m feeling better–not great, but better. And my friends, Yona and Arik, are treating me like a queen, so this my not count as traveling alone.
I’ve been to Israel many times in the distant past, but this is the first time in, probably 30 years. I am amazed at how the country has grown and changed. The roads and highways are wonderful and there are cities replacing the sand, shrubs and a few shanties from before.
Yona picked me up at the airport on Monday and I saw only the view from the road, but that was amazing enough. I postponed my collapse from jet lag long enough to play with Yona’s three grandchildren. The youngest seemed to be fascinated with me until I told her, in Hebrew, that I spoke only English. That was the end of our relationship. Actually, I am amazed at how much of my very scant Hebrew has come back to me.
Today we went to Ceaserea where there has been extensive excavation of the port city built by Herod during Roman times and a large, newly constructed, modern city.
From there, we went to Atlit to see the prison camp built by the British to incarcerate the Jewish refugees who had survived the Holocaust and were trying to enter what was then Palestine. These people, who had no place to go and were welcomed nowhere, went from Nazi concentration camps to remarkably similar British concentration camps. Imagine the terror. Once the state of Israel was proclaimed by the UN, all of the Jewish refugees from Europe were welcomed along with a huge number of Jews from Arab countries who were forced to leave their homes.
We had a late, excellent lunch in a restaurant in the Arab village of Ein Hud and that was the end of my day. Wiped out and jetlagged.
I am taking pictures but I don’t think I will be able to post them until I get home. I replaced the cursed Asus with an iPad mini and I haven’t figured out how to get the photos onto the mini. Nothing like new technology.