November 23, 2008

Old and Obsolete

I'm measuring up the windows in the Blazer, in the event we have to move in and run away from home. Hey, we'll need curtains for privacy, won't we, if we're going to live in car. Address: Wal-Mart's parking lot. Mitt Romney was just on TV saying how The Big Three has to get rid of their retirees. Oh, that's just great! What does that mean? That GM (where Don gets his retirement check) has to line us up and shoot us all like wild horses in the way of 'progress' because we're no longer useful to society? I love the flip way millionaires can say stuff like that as if the word "retirees" is not a collection of older people, most of whom too old or too sick to go out and get jobs to replace their retirement checks.

People like Mitt Romney don't have a clue how much fat has already been skimmed off the GM stew pot, how hard the company and union have worked to bring the labor costs per car down so they'll be competitive with foreign owned manufactures in the near future. With the 2007 GM/UAW contract they agreed not to give new hire-ins pension rights and starting in 2009 the UAW is scheduled to take over the health care costs. And older workers are being replaced at the rate of 20% per year. Getting rid of the health expense alone will save the company six billion annually. Meaningful restructuring has been going on at GM, contrary to Mitt's opinion. Great hybrids are in the pipeline ready to come out next year and the employee pay package per hour including benefits is on course to drop by 2010 to within a Starbucks cup of coffee to what the foreign owned car makers are paying in their North American workers. If Wall Street hadn't failed, drying up the credit market, GM and the other Big Three wouldn't have had to ask Washington for the bridge loan.

As you can see, on top of the other normal caregiver woos and worries, I have another excuse to indulge in comfort foods in the wee hours of the night. "Fattie, fattie, two by four coming through the kitchen door." Do you think I should do some more measuring in the Blaze to figure out where I can put a small refrigerator to keep me supplied with mint chocolate ice cream? Or may old and obsolete people aren't allowed comfort foods. Oh, well, I've got time to chart out the dumpers in the area that have eatables. Maybe someone will take pity on the homeless and throw out some Twinkies.

On the good side, after eleven months, four rejections and a court hearing Medicare now has to pay for Don's "new" wheelchair---his first replacement since the stroke in 2000. It ticks me off that they gave us so much trouble when I know two guys from speech class who have had several replacement chairs in that same time frame and neither guy is 100% dependent on their chairs like Don is. The orthopedic place that fitted Don's chair said they are hassling one in six applications now. Typical government waste, in my opinion, because a ten minute appointment with one of their own disability doctors could have assessed Don and saved a lot of money. No, they'd rather force us into court. They went so far as to use a statement I made right after the stroke (and got recorded on his medical records) about how Don's house (at the time) was not wheelchair friendly. I had to get a letter from our builder to prove we built a Universal Design, totally wheelchair friendly house. That was rejection number two.

Don't get me started on rejection number three which had to do with Don supposedly not having a caregiver to help him get around in a chair. Hello, what am I? I think it's hurt us that I've never asked for or gotten any outside help to care for Don. Medicare assumes he doesn't need any. Rejection number four was because they said we hadn't proved that he had a stroke, a fact that was clearly documented on the same hospital discharge paper where it said his house was not wheelchair friend. Typical fun and game in the caregiver world of insurance and Medicare.

It's been a long time since I've updated this blog. Its neglect was not by design but rather through laziness. I do keep the dog's blog up once or twice a week. So if you ever wonder what we're up to, via the dog's view of our post-stroke world, check it out. He's the joy of our lives. It's wonderful having a lively little thing around to make us laugh. Stroke and speech wise nothing much has changed. Don is still happy and wakes up every morning singing, "Jesus loves me, oh, well" and generally singing nonsense syllables through out the day. If things go bad and money is tight, I'm going to have to cut Don's anti-depressants in half and that will probably cause him to cut his joyful 'songs' in half as well. So if you ever see an old couple in a Blazer and the guy is happily singing "Jesus loves" and the woman is cursing "Jesus, what are we going to do?" that will be us. Wave and smile, okay? ©



Jellen said...


I'm sorry to hear about all your insurance and Medicare struggles. We had a few of our own, but nothing like yours. I guess it was too obvious that Max was disabled, or maybe it was the great help we got from Harborview Hospital in Seattle.

Glad to hear Don's got a new chair, and I hope you don't need to move into the Blazer. That's not the type of downsizing anyone wants older in life.

BookingAlong said...

I put check out The Planet Aphasis on my "to do" list for Thanksgiving, since I think of you often and your unique style. I am saddened by what you have gone through with insurance and Medicare. Isn't it awful when those of us caring for family members (in my case, a parent) have trouble getting any assistance because we try to SAVE the government money in the first place by doing it ourselves? At least, that is the way I see it. I'm glad you won the battle but oh...the work you went through!

One Mom said...

It never rains but it pours. Just when we learn to cope with what life throws at us, the rug gets pulled out from under us once again! It seems that tightening the old belt is a common refrain among the stroke survivor least the ones who blog or read blogs :) I'm looking at losing my own health insurance and my husband's long term care...I know, not really a good move after 2 MI's and a stroke!

I've already eliminated some of my drugs and cut some others in half. Try asking Don's doctor if he can increase the dosage so you can cut them in half without losing the strength. That works for some but not all drugs.

We'll be the gray Expedition with matching privacy curtains. Might as well move south for the winter.

The Bee Folks - Lori Titus said...


I can hear the stress you are under. Your writing style has changed slightly, but noticeably.

You will be in my thoughts these next few months as GM works out its issues. May I recommend a small tow-behind trailer so you can have a refrigerator AND a hibachi for cooking? (You can always find firewood SOMEPLACE...)

For what it is worth - I discovered on our last trip south that the lights in the furthest corners of some Walmart parking lots have plug-ins. The RV's were using them as they were parked for the night. I knew Walmart was RV-friendly, but open-use electric sockets were a 'shocking' surprise. Pun intended.

Tell you what - if you lose the house, come down my way. I'll pick you up to work in my office. You can answer the phone, 'Good Morning, Planet Aphasia, Jean speaking...'