Monthly Archives: May 2015

Hello? Hello? Anybody there……?

For a few years, I have been telling my girlfriends  (yes we old people still call our friends who are girls, “girlfriends”), that we should consider bank robbery as a new career since no one is every looking at us or paying attention to us. Pretty sure that was Diane Keaton’s idea in the movie, Mad Money…and then realized it was because it was written by Callie Khouri of Thelma and Louise fame.

So yesterday, when I went to the hospital to find out the status of my brother-in-law, I was still taken aback by events clearly attached to my age, and my apparent Invisibility Cloak that  I forgot to remove.

Weirdly, I was very dressed up because I had just been interviewed on a television show

Killer Caregiver on the Loose and On TV!
Killer Caregiver on the Loose and On TV!

about my new book: Showering with Nana: Confessions of a Serial (killer) Caregiver. Sure why shouldn’t I give myself a shameless plug here in case you missed it!

So when I went to the nurse’s station asking for information, I was told he was being discharged in two hours.

Imagine my surprise, as no one had called me to discuss his medical condition, I had no idea why he was in the hospital let alone leaving the hospital. I was informed that his nurse would come to his room to discuss all that with me in a few moments, as she was busy with another patient.

Okay.

A young woman walked into his room in scrubs.

“Are you his nurse?” I asked, hopefully, as time was ticking by and his transport was coming and I still had no idea about his medical status.

“No,” she said a bit bewildered, “I’m a doctor. I’m here to look at his wound.”

“Well, you better hurry because he’s leaving in an hour and you can’t do it yourself as his wound is on his backside and someone would need to help you turn him over.” Translation: I’m not the one who is going to do that.

Never saw her again.

His nurse arrives and I ask, ” I understand he is going back to rehab in an hour, I just want to know what was determined about his medical condition. Are they changing any of his meds and what did they decide as to what happened to him?”

“Well, I don’t know that. You’re going to have to let me go get his discharge papers.”

“Okay?”

When she returned, she started reading his med list to me. And I would ask what is that for? How long will he take it, etc.

“Ugh, you will JUST HAVE TO LET ME READ THIS TO YOU.” It was like she was reading aloud and just discovered that someone was actually in the room with her.

Stopped her right there.

Very quietly and calmly I said to her: “You need to stop talking to me this way. Your attitude is hurting my feelings. I can’t “hear” you if you can’t stop being mean. ”

“I’m sorry if you feel that way, ” she countered.

“I do, and you need to get the attitude out of  your voice.”

AND THEN,  we were able to have a medical discussion about our joint patient.

Regardless of the adorable hot pink dress I was wearing, that clearly does NOT make me look young, hip and in-the-know like I had imagined, I was at least able to demand some respect, if I couldn’t get it by default.

Since when did ‘middle-aged woman (okay  maybe a bit OVER the middle part) equal stupid? Please see this article below, which is a much more erudite, clever and a possible workshop for those of us navigating these waters!

The insults of age

A one-woman assault on condescension

 

https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2015/may/1430402400/helen-garner/insults-age

 

One thing many of us seem to  have in common is that we know:

“You Just have to Laugh……” You can tell by our laugh lines!

© Cathy Sikorski 2015

Send in the Clowns…..Don’t Bother, They’re Here

I’m thinking about asking the wheelchair repair guy if he wants to do a comedy act together.

Before I left the country for 2 weeks, I called the wheelchair repair guy (let’s call him Mike, well, because that’s his name).

“Mike,” I said, “the wheel on my brother-in-law’s chair is torn to shreds. It makes the chair bump around like he’s driving the post-Apocalyptic pothole roads from the Winter of 2015. And he’s inside….on carpet. Please get it fixed ASAP.”

“Okay,” said Mike.

The problem here is, I believed him. I knew it would be fixed, eventually.  I just hoped that with a two week lead and a few well placed reminders by my assistant, it might be close to being done when I returned.

Mike obviously spent the time shopping for a big red nose.

When I noticed my brother-in-law bumping down the hallway on my return. I sighed that exasperated sigh that we all save for just such an occasion. My exasperated assistant let me know that she even contacted Mike with the very complicated schedule of when the chair was in use or my brother-in-law was resting in bed. This was due to the fact that Mike reminded her, no one can be in the wheelchair when it is being repaired. There was even a nice little 4 day period where BIL was in the hospital, so no one was using the chair. My assistant gave that little nugget to Mike as a bonus, if he wanted to send his guy over there at ANY time of the day or night.

I called 15, 16, 18, 19 and 21 days after my first call to find out why oh why, Magic Mike can you not get your sh*&%t together and get this chair repaired? Are you practicing your own comedy routine? Are you shaping up your abs for your next film role? What is so damn important that it takes 21 days to get someone out to fix this one little wheel?

“Hello, Cathy?”

“Hi, MIke, is the chair finally fixed? You said someone would do it on Monday or Tuesday and now it is Wednesday.”

Faster than Mike. Smarter too.
Faster than Mike. Smarter too.

“Oh, no, someone has to look at the chair first, determine what parts are needed, get insurance company approval, and then physician approval.”

We’ve gone from a comedy routine to a cartoon, as steam is now exploding out both my ears.

“So all those times you said you couldn’t come because he couldn’t be in the chair, was so that you could just look at it? Let me ask you something. Couldn’t someone just look at  the chair even if he is in it?”

“Well, I guess so. But you said he was in the hospital.” How this even makes sense, I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure “Who is on first.”

“Mike, we don’t let the chair go to the hospital with my brother-in-law. The chair has proven it doesn’t know how to behave itself in public places, so when he goes to the hospital we make the chair stay home, by itself. That’s why every time he goes to the hospital, we call you to let you know no one will be in the chair for days.”

“Oh. Well, we looked at it so it will get repaired when all the approvals come in.”

Twenty-one days to look at it. I wonder if I can start sexting pictures of the wheelchair in compromising positions when I need it repaired in the future, so that Mike can definitely say they looked at it?

“You Just have to Laugh………..”

© Cathy Sikorski 2015

 

It’s Here…..It’s Here…..!!!!

showing_w_nana (1)

My baby has been launched!!!

You can find us at Amazon .com at this link:

https://www.amazon.com/author/cathysikorski

I  am so excited to see this fun work of such a long time finally come out to be a friend at your reading table. Thanks for all your continued support. Love to all of you my wonderful readers!

Something’s Fishy……….

Two years ago, my brother-in-law’s son purchased a fish tank as a gift for his Dad. My BIL had built a very elaborate fish tank in the home he had long ago shared with my sister. He really loved that fish tank. I do believe it gave him hours of joy. But when he moved and as he became wheelchair bound with Multiple Sclerosis, a fish tank was out of the question. It was just not feasible for him to take care of it the way he would like to, or be able to buy the fish he wanted.

Fishtank fish just don’t live very long. And my BIL likes to buy a variety of fish and tank creatures to populate the roost. So it would have been more of a burden than a joy.

But this gift from his son truly came from the right place. He knew how much his Dad would love this treat. What he didn’t know was how in God’s name any one was going to take care of it.

This is where I turn into the caregiver from hell. This is where caregivers do things they regret, but not really.

I took the young buck aside and said, “I know you live more than an hour away, but you have to be responsible to take care of this. I cannot take on a fish tank. It’s like a puppy to me. I just can’t put one more thing on my plate.”

He just looked at me and nodded, telling me not to worry,

sushi-190565_1280Really? Not worry? This made me so nuts, that all I could think of was, this may turn into a sushi buffet for my BIL, because I am NOT taking care of these damn fish.

The son came pretty regularly for about a year. The following year, my brother-in-law was and has been in and out of rehab and the hospital for almost the entire  year. Those fish were on their own. Again, or so I thought.

But the one thing I didn’t consider or count on was that my BIL’s caregivers, those blessed women and occasional man who come to get him ready for the day and tuck him in sweetly at night were angel(fish) in disguise.

angelfish-24669_1280angel-8186_1280

Every once in a while, over the months, I would get a text from one of the caregivers that I should not worry as they were taking care of the fish. Like I was worrying. Things that float are things that flush as far as I’m concerned. I know this is not animal PC, but I just could not and cannot go a half hour or an hour in a different direction every day to check out a gold fish.

So again, the caregivers who are in the building every day for other patients, not my BIL, take a minute to feed, clean and funeral direct, if necessary.

I am really, really grateful. Not in the ,”wow, I should take care of the fish, ’cause it makes him happy” kind of grateful. More the “I’m hopeful that he will know, he’s got good people in his world and sometimes it ain’t me …….” kind of grateful.

“You Just have to Laugh………..”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski

The best laid plans……………

I have literally spent more than 10 hours (probably more like 20) trying to figure out what new Medicare insurance plan to choose for my brother-in-law. He currently pays for his insurance through his former employer. They have chosen to get out of the business of supplying insurance carriers for their retirees, so by the end of May, all retirees have to choose a new Medicare Plan.

When I first got the booklet for this, I was sure it was a scam. These Medicare Insurance companies that ‘help’ you choose a plan are suspect to me. But I called his employer. All I wanted to know is if it was a scam. I didn’t want any specific information about my BIL or his account as a retiree.

I had to jump through a billion hoops (this is not included in the 10 hours above), prove my POA status, give them all my BIL’s vital statistics and THEN, they needed a PIN number. Somehow, the one I had was expired. So I asked for a new PIN which had to be snail-mailed to me.  I finally convinced the representative to at least just tell me if the Medicare company was a scam. She relented and said no, it was not a scam….but that was ALL she was going to tell me until I got my new pin number.

business-19156_1280Already, I’m exhausted. But I push forward. I go on the website. I enter every medication, every doctor and all the vital stats. Two hours later, they give me a proposal of 18 Medigap policies to compare with 26 Medicare Advantage policies and 20 Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans to add to the comparison. For those of you who may struggle with math, that is 64 plans I should look at to compare and contrast to choose the best one for my BIL. And choose, I must, because as of May 31, 2015, they will automatically cancel his current insurance.

This got me thinking, What if this information was sent to my BIL and he had no one to help him wade through it? First of all, it’s a website. There are  in fact, still some people, many of the  Medicare Age Variety who are not computer savvy, hell, who don’t even have a computer. Yes, snobby Medicare helpers, everyone on the planet doesn’t have a computer. Now my BIL is very computer savvy, but he can’t really type anymore.
And he doesn’t really read anymore, because comprehension and retention elude him often. And he for sure, isn’t going to decide to read through Medicare plans as a fun hobby.

I am considered an expert in this field of Elder Law issues, including Medicare Insurance. And I completely UNDERSTAND what I’m reading. I am expected to find the nuances and loopholes in 64 different plans that best serves my BIL. And even I find this daunting.

And once I choose I am in a quandary. This special circumstance where they are cancelling his policy is considered an opportunity for open enrollment with no underwriting. In other words, nobody is looking at the fact that he has a myriad of health issues which would kick him out of any health insurance otherwise. So once I’m there, I’m never going to be able to leave without a problem.

My point is this. I’m exhausted. My severly disabled BIL, on his own would have probably missed this whole need to do this and be without health insurance. How many retirees from this major Fortune 500 company are struggling with this project? Even though it’s a great website and the advisors are pretty good at their job…I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING, AND IT’S STRESSING ME OUT.  The choosing is a nightmare.

I know, three months from now I’m going to hear from the new insurance company that Oh that’s not covered, oh that has a huge copay, oh he can’t have that NEW drug that he wasn’t on when you chose this plan.

The only thing that makes me laugh now is laughter of relief. But don’t worry, I’m plotting revenge somehow and you will be the first to know!

“You just have to Laugh…..”

© 2015 Cathy Sikorski