I don’t know if it is because I spent all of my professional life more or less tied to a telephone line, but I have come to resist talking on the telephone – to anyone! With technology having grown into what it has become, telephones should be extinct, even the ability to speak live to a person on a cell phone! Now, I get it – there are still among us those who did not grow up and grow into the benefits of technology – and I give those few a free pass, but I also know people well into their 70s who use a cell phone these days. And, obviously, cell phone coverage has changed as well – no longer are their such things as ‘roaming fees’ or paying for long-distance calls.
As someone who almost over-respects a person’s privacy, I prefer texts and emails outgoing. We’re all busy hurrying around doing nothing, and we all have different hours of going to bed and getting up. I can’t tell you when I’ve last actually spoken on the phone to a loved one, but I suspect it’s not since right after my dad passed away, and that was more than 5 years ago!
I also know that I had to learn how to multi-task being on the phone with other things while at work, and my attention was always divided when listening to someone speak. As a result, these days when I do need to speak on the telephone for a professional reason (customer service, making medical appointments, etc.) I end up making notes about what’s being said so that I don’t forget minutes later.
I am back at square #1 – again – with Medicare. I thought things were finally moving forward after my agent and I communicated by telephone the last time in order to fill out the application for me to enroll in a Part B plan through Aetna. Huh! Even though this plan came up as available to me, it turns out that it isn’t – and now I have to go searching through all of the allegedly available plans to me again.
So that will be my plan for this weekend, followed by making a list of questions, followed by phone calls (UGH! – again!) on Monday and then followed by another telephone consult with my agent once I have answers. My agent says he’ll gladly go through the telephone calls with me, but to be honest, it feels like that’s a waste of his time; I also find that I can be a little more direct with my tone of voice when no one is listening in. Right now my agent thinks I’m a nice person – why should I change that opinion??
I’ve got a few typical rants I feel like sharing, but I need to remind myself to focus on this one thing that keeps popping its ugly head up at me and get smashed down and conquered. Honestly, I look at the people I know who have already conquered All Things Medicare and wonder why I’ve never heard a single complaint? I’ve successfully navigated auto insurance for over 40 years, life insurance for 35 years, medical insurance all of my adult life – until now. So why is this causing me so much trouble?
Anybody have any wise words of wisdom on navigating this path to success??? It’s now become a source of anxiety – on different levels depending on what I’m dealing with – but at some level all the time, even just thinking about what the next steps are.
They’re back: When I first moved here, I found that spring and autumn brought out something I was later told were ‘water bugs’ and that they were harmless. Sorry, I know that insects have some necessary reason to exist, but I don’t like them…. from the smallest gnat and up. Water bugs are uglier than ugly and come from the roach family. I went to the local hardware store to look for something to help kill them. While they may be from the roach family, roach traps didn’t help. Bug sprays killed them if I drowned the suckers in it, but it didn’t keep them away. When the neighbor upstairs started getting them too, the landlord had someone come out and spray around the outside borders of the building. I bought one of those pest repellants that you plug in, which stays plugged in 365 days a year. This spring, they seem to be returning en masse. The first two I found, one each day, were already dead or almost dead, lying on their backs. I scooped them up on my trusty flyswatter and flushed them down the toilet. The third day, I found one sitting just as proud as can be on the floor. I stomped that bugger hard and it also got flushed. The next day, I found one inside my bathroom trash can. Luckily for me, it was empty of trash so I just turned it upside down over the toilet, shook it until the bug fell into the bowl and flushed. Now I’m going to go another season unwilling to walk anywhere without sturdy shoes on my feet so I can squish them!
They’re here: I forget from year to year how much I like malted milk balls until Robin Eggs come out as part of the Easter candy line-up. I stumbled across them in a big-box store and grabbed two bags. I had plans to make small Easter baskets for my five neighbors in my building, and thought they’d be a great addition to what I’d already pulled together. And they would have been…. if they hadn’t gotten consumed by me before it was time to put together the baskets. No problem, though – I found some at my grocery store and picked them up as a replacement. They didn’t last until it was time to put the baskets together, either. Fortunately, I had plenty of goodies for the baskets and no one but me (and now you) knows that something was missing. I decided to go out to the big-box store when it opened the day after Easter to see if I could score more Robin Eggs, determined I was buying all they had whether they had been marked down or not. All of the Easter candy had been removed from the section where it had been displayed and I didn’t find it anywhere else in the store. Again, no problem – I’d go to the grocery store and get more. The employee was putting all of the leftover candy on a table up front marked at 50% off, but there were no Robin eggs! He said they’d sold out of them before Easter!
What’s a girl to do? Come home and go onto the Amazon web site, of course! (DUH!). Plenty of options there. I looked at ounces versus cost. In the end – DON’T JUDGE ME HERE! – I ended up buying a bulk package of 5 pounds of Robin eggs! When it comes to things to snack on, I go through spells – I buy something and then end up losing my desire for it and giving what I don’t eat away. I’ve chomped down at least a pound of these things already, so I don’t know if that’s going to happen here! Meanwhile, my mouth is a happy camper noshing away!
It won’t go away: I thought I was on my way to making the final decision about Medicare. I looked at every single plan my advisor said I was eligible for, and narrowed it down to just two. During my conversation with him over those two, I chose one. Unfortunately, it was a small company, one that only serves customers in my state, and one he doesn’t work with. So, he gave me the web site link and wished me luck. First red flag – the web site was as plain and simple as could be, offering only the phone numbers for Medicare and Medicaid with which to sign up. (In other words, no agents working on their behalf.) I’ve always preferred to work one-on-one whenever possible, because I’ve dealt with customer service stuff where I call, talk to a person, get information, call back, talk to another person, tell them that person #1 said such-and-such, and get an apology that person #1 was incorrect and what person #2 is telling me is the correct information. That’s the same reason I don’t go to big hair and/or nail salons – I want the same person to work with me each time so that they know what I want/need without having to guess and not give me what I want/need.
I decided to look at my original option #2 for Medicare plan B, and thought I’d also look at its web site ahead of time. Well, as it turns out, the web site tells me different information about premiums, co-pays, etc. than what the material my advisor sent to me has. So, now I’ve had to set up yet another phone appointment (my advisor does work with this company, at least) to discuss this. Meanwhile, I feel like I’m starting back at the beginning…
What makes it worse: My Medicare advisor asked me when we first started working together about using Zoom to interact. I told him that my technology understanding was nothing more than an engine sputtering and stuck in first gear, and that I had no idea how to make it go zoom. Now, with this latest situation, he wants our next meeting to be done via Zoom so he can get someone on the line with us from the actual insurance company to answer my questions.
First off, I always despise being in front of a camera at any time (I get sweaty palms just having my driver’s license photo taken!). Secondly, I’ve heard my voice recorded and how other people hear it, and it sounds so much worse than how I hear it inside my head. Third, I don’t know how much the camera will capture of my surroundings, so I feel like the entire area around me should be neat and clean and tidy. All of that is in addition to my having to study tutorials on how to actually use this thing called Zoom and hope I don’t look more stupid than I feel about it when the time comes!
Can’t stop the clock: And, of course, on top of all of this, I can’t stop the clock from ticking away the seconds and the minutes to push me closer to that number 65 in chronological age.
Now that I’m saddened by recounting all of this again, I think I’ll go stuff my mouth with some Robin eggs!
It is this year – 2021 – in which I will “officially” become a senior citizen. That’s right, the magic chronological age of 65 will become my status in a few months. Unlike many, I’ve never had trouble stating my age, never complained about growing older. Something from a purer place inside me always acknowledges the marking of another year gone and another year here as a badge of sorts, making me proud that I’ve somehow survived yet another revolution around the sun and am living to talk about it.
Thinking about this upcoming chronological number is, however, a bit more murky for me. Physically, I feel (most times) a few years older than what I think 65 should feel like. Mentally, I feel sharp enough in thought and intelligence to feel as though I’ve not been affected by any chronological number. Yes, occasionally, I’ve had moments where a word is “on the tip of my tongue” but I can’t grasp what the word is, but merely consider that happening as a result of having so much information stored in my brain that the dots take longer to connect until my brain finds what I want to say. Emotionally, I’m not sure how old I am. I’m still naive about a lot of things, but I’m also more cynical about a lot of things.
I had the honor and privilege of recently hearing a yet-released original composition called “Water’s Edge” by Dom LaFerlita. Dom is a 25-year old Australian man, who has been educationally investing himself it music personally and professionally for the past 10 years. He will soon be receiving his Masters in (I forget the exact title but something in music teaching). He studied classical music throughout much of his education, but has recently forayed into all different genres of music. He also had three years of vocal lessons, and his voice – especially his range – is wonderful. I consider Dom not only to be an amazing musical talent but also a dear friend.
The first time I heard “Water’s Edge”, it was played for a group of us just to get a feel of if we liked it or not. Although he’s released two albums of all original instrumental music, this was his first foray into making originals adding his voice. More recently, he provided a link where it could be listened to in it’s “unreleased” version via Soundcloud. This time, I got to listen to it without the distraction of other people, and it hit me really hard (yes, there were tears I couldn’t stop from falling!)! For whatever reason, it smacked my brain with the realization of my own mortality, and that, unless God wants me to live until I’m 130 (I don’t think that’s going to happen!), more than half of my life is over. I got stuck with not so much living with regrets for things I’d done or said, but coming to grasps with the realization that I haven’t done nearly as much good for my fellow man and Mother Earth as I would have liked to. I’ve done good – I’m not doubting myself for that – but with a little more energy, a little more commitment, I could have done more than I have. For someone who has always said that, without children to leave behind as my legacy to the world, the positive impact I have made on people is what I can leave behind as my legacy. There is a line in this song that says, “…to be the best person I can be…” and it pricks my soul. I’m physically feeling my age, as I said earlier, and I know I do not have the strength to go back and rewrite the script of all of the times I could have given more but didn’t. And yet, that same recognition of my age makes me understand that I will not have nearly the same amount of opportunities to do/say/give more. In fact, if I am 100% honest, I have to admit that I haven’t done/said/given more because I was being selfish with my energy. And that was back when I had energy, at least a lot more than I do now. Suddenly, the realization of turning 65 makes me understand that I can’t rewrite my path to this point, and I can’t do much to change my path from this point on.
When I remove myself from the lyrics of this song and just think about the composer of the song, tears still fall, though they are both happy and sad. I know that this was a song written after (and perhaps sparked by) a dark period of thought. How to I not shed tears of sadness that someone dear to me should be in pain? And yet, there is hope in this song as well, if nothing more than hope that this time is just a stumbling block to be moved from, and so there are tears of happiness that this dear person will (has) come back from that place with a better understanding.
So, all around, this song doesn’t get into just my heart, but it gets into my soul.
Back to turning 65 this year. It is my opinion that nothing about Medicare is easy!!!!! It feels like there are a thousand ‘agents’ out there vying for your business, and I swear, my TV commercials (what little I watch) are about about 5 to 1 Medicare versus any other product/service. I mean, we all know that Big Brother is tracking us on social media so it knows what ads to provide, but TV too???? Meanwhile, those of us out there who have no clue where to start probably don’t want to work with someone who cold calls you from showing interest in Medicare through any social media (I learned this the hard way when I got 19 calls within a 2-day period offering help in signing up for Medicare). It feels like a knife fight between agents to get this business – if only people fought as hard for the senior citizens for other reasons. I did watch a webinar so I do have a basic understanding of the different plans and what each covers. Plan A is hospital stuff, and it is provided at no charge (all of those Medicare taxes that were deducted from your paycheck all those years). The rest of the plans – B, C, D, G – are add-ons for any other medical needs like doctors, prescriptions, lab tests, specialists, etc. and if you opt for any of those, you get $148.50/month deducted from your Social Security and then you pick from several supplemental or Medicare advantage and there may or may not be a cost, depending upon what you choose.
Maybe once I finally break through this mire, I’ll be more relaxed about this official birth year? One can only hope!
P.S. Sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. (My mentor told me that years ago!). With that in mind, I’m adding the link for anyone who wants to hear “Water’s Edge”. If you have Spotify, Apple Music, etc., you can hear all 14 of his released instrumental originals! You can also order CDs of this music through his website at: www.domlaferlita.com.au