Monday, May 24, 2010

Good News Today

It is Monday, May 24, 2010, and today I went to see the surgeon who did my lumpectomy last week and got the news: NO CANCER.
Then Alice brought me home and we watched "Death at a Funeral" (British version).
It has been a very good day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Am No Longer Unemployed

Today was a milestone: I have been unemployed since the summer of 2007, but today that changed. Today I retired.
It wasn't as easy as they'd like to make you think when you go to the Social Security website. They have videos featuring Patty Duke and Chubby Checkers – talkin' about my g-g-generation – telling us how quick and easy it is to retire online. Do it now! It's easy!
It's easy if you aren't as easily confused as I am. I tried to retire last March, because I'd been told to apply a couple of months before I turned 62. Being the good girl I am, I went online and began the easy process.
It was easy right up until they asked, “Are you able to get a job?” I said, “No.”
Big mistake: suddenly I was off the mainline to Retirement City, and shunted onto the sidetrack of the 7% incline of applying for disability.
Why I said I was unable to get a job: first and foremost I have a full time job doing paperwork to make things happen for my husband.
Second, okay, so I can't walk or stand for long because of various accidents that have left me bunged up and arthritic, but I'm not entirely sure that counts because there are plenty of people who can't walk who are employed. In my present condition I admire them quite a lot for making the effort, because I now have an idea of what it takes, but my mind and my fingers still work – sporadically most days, but that's not uncommon at all at any age – and that's enough to work in this society. Except...
Third, I'm over 60. I'm not the employee most places want. It's hard to find a job at any age for most people right now, but more so for what my husband calls the nouveau elderly, and if you doubt me take a random poll of people over 60 looking for work.
So I didn't want to apply for disability, but suddenly I found I had. I screwed up, and I didn't fix it, because I didn't understand how badly I had screwed up. I might be able to get disability because I am kind of disabled, but it would mean more of the kind of paperwork I've been swamped with for the last six months, and I'm tired, and we're broke. I simply wish to retire.
Then, this morning I remembered that I had the number of the man at Social Security who processed my husband's disability claim (my husband qualified easily, and all I can tell you about that is that if you can qualify for disability easily, your life sucks and blows).
I tried calling that number, and the man answered, and I told him what I wanted to do, and he was kind and humorous and helpful and fifteen minutes later, I was retired.
My head's been spinning the rest of the day. My friend Sonya is here visiting and she's heard me say, “I'm not unemployed anymore! I'm retired!” so many times to so many people that I expect her to say, “Enough already!” but she's been a really good sport about it and says she's happy for me.
So if you're thinking of retirement and the Social Security website lures you in with their red, white and blue promises of how easy it is, go ahead and retire online, but be vewy, vewy careful (Elmer Fudd was big for my generation, also).
Be prepared, also: if you watch the cute Patty Duke video telling you how easy it is to retire, you might be walking around the next few months singing in your head, “Because they're cousins, identical cousins just the same...” And if you don't remember that, you might not be part of my g-g-generation.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Grinding Wheel Grinds Slow But Small

Every year it seems that life has become so much more complicated that it couldn't possibly - watch out!
Know what I mean?
I learned today that I do not qualify for Medicaid because I am not blind, or 65, or disabled. Not being able to walk very well or to be able to stand up for long or to do much is not the same thing as being officially disabled. And even if I am, in fact, disabled, I still have trouble with the label, although I really appreciate my handicapped parking sticker on the days I really need it.
So I'm still uninsured, and I'm having surgery next Wednesday to remove the lump that probably isn't cancer but no one wants to take any chances. The good news: well, it probably isn't cancer, that's the good news. The other good news is that Swedish has a charity program that will take care of the costs of my surgery. So I'm told. This knowledge leaves me free to worry about the surgery itself, not paying for it.
It's enough to worry about.
I did qualify for a little food stamp credit, and that was good news, too.
We're reaching that point now, when most of our assets have been exhausted. The months of attrition are having their effect. Tomorrow I plan to cut off the cable and the land phone line. I will cling to internet a while longer, because I spend so much of my life on the internet, reading or answering emails, researching the odd questions that arise daily, looking up information which I have to save and print and pass along to other people - it is my connection to the outside world.
I was told to rest up before my surgery, so I would react to it better. I laughed. Rest up - yeah, that's a great idea. I must try that.
Seriously, I suppose I must. It won't be a great big surgery, but really, is there such a thing as "minor surgery?" Isn't having the body cut open and having a piece of it removed, doesn't that sound sort of "major?"
I am blessed in that my friend Sonya has agreed to drive me in to the hospital and back on the day. That was my biggest worry, truth to tell. I've done it so many times for Rick, but he's not healthy enough to do it for me - and he might have to do dialysis that day. So.
As a reward, Sonya will get to spend time with me after I have been given painkillers. I have been told I am quite amusing when stoned. Although I do tend to order things online and forget so I'm completely surprised when packages arrive. Oh well. That sort of mistake required credit. Remember credit?
Rick and I lay on the bed together tonight, holding hands, and talking about how strange it is that we cannot do everything for ourselves anymore. For so many years we took it for granted that what needed doing, we could do. No more. Suddenly we are, if not old, then unable. Disabled. Odious word, odious condition.
My beloved and beautiful cousin Nancy had her second round of chemo today. She said tonight she was tired. Some time soon, this summer or next, we'll go to the ocean together, and talk about our family, and how great life is, and how beautiful the ocean is, and how fortunate we have been to have one another.
How fortunate we all are to have one another. There, that's my profound statement du jour. Stick around. It's got to get better.