Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, August 12, 2017

From Silliness to Seriousness and Back Again



Barely two weeks into August and it feels like fall this morning. I’m sitting here wishing that I’d give into the urge to turn the furnace on to take the chill out of the house. My yard on the other hand looks like a lush, dew-touched jungle in the early sun. Plants need thinning, trees need trimming, weeds need pulling and the woodpeckers are pecking on their feeding log near-by. They’re the only birds I’m feeding these days. I do see an occasional hummingbird coming by to check out the big ball of pink otherwise known as a begonia that sits by my window screen. They’re not impressed. Ungrateful creatures, I bought it just for them. 

Earlier this week the Gathering Girls got together for our First Mondays brunch. We have a seventh member now, invited in by unanimous consent. I like her a lot and we discovered Monday that she’s got a background in art. What are the chances that three out of seven random woman looking for friends would have art in common? Our little spin-off group from the senior hall has been doing brunches since early spring and back then I had visualized we’d be doing more summer outings than the two-three we’ve done in addition to the brunches. I forgot how old we all are and how that factors into how far people are willing/able to walk in peruse of fun. Still, I’m counting the experiment in trying to organize us a success. Did I mention that I appointed myself the group’s secretary who sends out a mass email reminder before the brunches and another of ‘minutes from the brunch’ afterward to keep us all on the same page regarding future plans? Yes, I can officially say I now have post-widowhood friends. It’s been a long haul finding them and it took an adjustment in how I define friendships.

New topic: I get my health insurance through an employee’s retiree trust and they are leaning on us to change from Traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage PPO. It’s voluntary now but how long will that last? I went to a meeting this week about the plan because I’m stressed out about making this decision. Literally half the doctors in town---all attached to the largest hospital---are out-of-network for the advantage plan but, for the most part, I don’t use that hospital or their doctors anyway. I hate changes like this! I hate that our entire country’s healthcare system seems to be pulling apart at the seams. I hate that I can’t be young again when all I had to worry about was measles, mumps and running with scissors.

In addition to the insurance meeting and brunch with the Gathering Girls, I had my second (and last) painting lesson followed by going to a Big Band music concert in the park. Another day I had lunch with my book club plus old friends from out of state were in town and we had dinner together. But the biggest time-consumer project this week was getting my carpeting cleaned. Everything small had to be moved out of the way in four rooms and then carried back again after the carpet dried. Last year when it was cleaned the dog vomited on it soon after the guys left. I have never had a dog who up-chucks as often as Levi does and no matter how hard I try to get a paper under him or him moved to a hard surfaced floor when I hear those telltale retching, gagging sounds, he resists. He seems to think vomit belongs on carpeting which is why I pay an extra $100 to have them treated with Scotchgard. It works. Sign me up for one of their commercials where I’d get paid to say, “Levi puked here and there and it didn't stain! It sits on the surface waiting for me to clean it up.”

Back tracking to the concert in the park: When Don was alive we went every summer Tuesday but this was only the second one I’ve gone since he passed away. Gosh, it was fun! B.L. and I had dropped our chairs off before walking across the park to get ice cream and when we got back we discovered that a couple had moved our chairs back a row and put theirs in their place. Who does that? We got our revenge laughing when a bird came by and pooped on the guy’s down-under hat. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to people watch at free concerts. My favorite was a guy strutting around in cheap, red gym shorts that at first glance looked like they had a girlie ruffle at the bottom and with them he was wearing red high-topped leather boots. On the opposite end of the ‘classiness scale’ was a couple who danced to nearly every song---songs like, Stormy Weather, Red Sails in the Sunset, String of Pearls, and Georgia. A grandmother dancing in a long, bumpy lumpy pink knit dress was also entertaining to watch. She was holding a towheaded boy who in turn was holding a black baby doll while five little kids ran circles around and around her feet. Other people watchers watching B.L. and I giggling over silly comments whispered between us probably thought we were two seventy year olds acting like seven. I don’t care. The world would be a better place with more silliness and laughter. ©


 This video of movie dance scenes mashed up has nothing to do with this blog. 
It's just fun to watch.

28 comments:

  1. Glad your Gathering Girls group is enjoying the company of each other. Nice there are some others interested in painting. I agree this insurance business needs to be settled. No one is going to be immune from the mess being created which gives little consideration to many of those who actually receive and need the coverage.

    Outdoor band concerts can be fun. I recall attending a few here when the children were young. Especially enjoyed some of bands, often Air Force Band annually, but that group hasn't appeared for several years. There would be only a scattered number of attendees across the park grounds picnicking on blankets each summer week. Years later when we went the area was packed with people as the concerts popularity had grown. I got out of the habit of attending at another locale monthly Sunday afternoon jazz concerts as I did for several years after my husband died, but they still continue. A lot of old stars in that dancing clip -- loved it!

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    1. Free outdoor concerts are popular around here. I could go to a different one four nights a week and not have to drive far to find one. And the best part is it stays light so long I don't even have to drive after dark.

      If insurance was the only thing stressing people out, that would be bad enough but it's just one thing after another with this administration.

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  2. That video is awesome. I remember hearing Debbie Reynolds say that she had blood in her shoes after that routine with Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor in "Singing' in the Rain" where they jump over the couch at the end. Her schedule was horrendous, and she didn't know how to dance before that movie. She only had three months to learn.

    You've had quite a journey in friend-finding, but you persisted. I think the thing to learn here is to put yourself out there in places where you have an opportunity to meet people. It isn't always easy to meet someone that's a good match. I'm glad you've found some people who have things in common with you.

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    1. Ohmygod, I've watched that video six times since I found it. It makes me so happy. I used to worship all those old dancers, but boy they've gotten skin as I age. LOL Debbie was amazing in that movie.

      You hit the nail on the head regarding making friends. And what you're saying applies to a lot of phases in our lives, not just widowhood. After moving or leaving friends behind through caregiving or whatever life brings we also find ourselves in need of building friends.

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  3. Summer is getting spent. Chilly and dewy here this morning as well. August can be such an odd month.
    Your group of friends appear to be working out quite well. Your quest when this began has worked out quite well!
    Animals do have that magnetic pull to hurl on the carpet, I no longer have wall to wall, but the large area rugs seem to have the same attraction.
    It's been years since I've gone to music in the park. Not mush of that goes on close by. It's not fun if you have to fight traffic both ways.
    Our insurance just keeps getting more expensive with higher co-pays and fewer benefits.

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    1. I've seen Levi run from the kitchen to vomit on the carpeting in the living room. Dogs all do it. I wonder if cats do.

      Here, I'm driving away from traffic to go to outdoor music in the park. Next summer I'd like to got more often. This summer's schedule is almost over. Another sign summer is winding down. I hate that!

      The change our trust wants us to make actually has lower co-pays and deductibles with makes me nervous there's something they're not telling us.

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  4. OH what fun! I have to say that bird pooping on the man was karma, but I would have preferred him not having a hat on.

    Most of the doctors around here don't take medicare of any kind and more than 1/2 don't even take insurance anymore. Scary shit happening. I hope this all works out for you. I too would assume that something is being hidden from me when it comes to having to make this change. They never make this change for your benefit only theres. Or they wouldn't change it.

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    1. Wow, won't take any insurance anymore! That's really scary. Who could afford an operation these days without insurance? I, too, assume the changes will save the trust money, not us members. On the other hand, the trust is not in the business of doing anything else but managing the money set aside for retiree medical costs.

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  5. My mother in Illinois has a Medicare Advantage Plan. If she doesn't have all of the suggested tests and screenings her premium goes up. She's 86 years old and is always going to the dr. for "preventative care" appointments. At her age it's getting difficult to travel the 20-50 miles (one way) 2-3 times a week. My sister and I both wish we could talk her into going back to regular Medicare, but she thinks it is regular Medicare so won't listen. Be very careful and do some research on your own before changing. Just getting a supplement to cover the out of pocket expenses may be all you need. To me the only advantage to Medicare Advantage plans is to the insurance companies.

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    1. Thank you so much for your input! I heard they have nurses that call you and "make suggestions." Honestly, it seems like an invasion in privacy to have someone in your business if you're not even sick.

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  6. I am all about Wellness and Preventative Care, but I'd rather not field any more phone calls than necessary. I already get an insane number of junk telemarketer calls on my cell phone (!) as it is that I DO NOT EVEN PICK UP. If a nurse reminder call is added to that, no matter how polite or pleasant she or he may be, I'm not a fan.

    Probably you can opt out of that and request email or snail mail reminders as part of the Medicare Advantage plan.

    Now, as far as more pleasant maneuvering, I always liked watching Donald O'Connor dance when my mother would put on old movies. He really seemed effortless, moreso than anyone else to me.

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    1. I already do all the preventive and wellness tests. I don't need the reminders. I need to go to a couple of union meetings and talk to some people who made the switch last year.

      I grew up with all those dance movies and with lessons to learn to dance. O'Connor was not one of my favorites but he sure could dance.

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  7. I changed to an Advantage plan a couple of years ago and it was a disaster for me. I thought it was going to be great, as it covered dental and eyes. Except there were restrictions on what dental was covered and when I went to get new glasses, the only place that would take my Advantage insurance was 80 miles away. Plus, when I had my A Fib experience, I ended up owing the hospital $1,600. Thankfully I could change back to my regular Blue Cross.

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    1. I'd forgotten about you making the change! Thanks for reminding me. It really does look good on paper but I did pick up on how far I'd have to travel for some services to stay in network. Get this, they are making it hard to stay in regular Blue Cross by making us automatically transitioning to Advantage if we don't call and jump through hoops to stay the same as we are.

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  8. Hooray for GIRL groups! All your hard work really has paid off.

    My Dr recommended the Advantage group ... or he won't accept you as a Medicare patient (he would have taken me, he said, but it's a lot less billing and WAITING to get paid for him. Fortunately, Providence Medicare Advantage is the largest hospital system in Portland, so everything is very close for me. They did pay for my eye exam and about 1/3 of my glasses!

    The government should have NEVER gotten involved in insurance. My Dr brother-in-law had to close his practice and become an "employee" of a local hospital because of the extra work involved with the last insurance program. For ONE surgeon, he had 9 insurance clerks ...

    I don't know what the solution will be. But I dread the transitioning.

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    1. I looked up all my doctors and they are in-network. At the meeting they did say the Advantage plan cuts the billing process in half which saves the doctors a lot of wait time. The reason why on hospital in town is out-of-network is because they have their own version of the plan and they are discouraging others providers.

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  9. Good luck with the insurance plan. Do lots of research first would be my guess. Sounds like you have a really solid and fun group and by being secretary, you can make sure it keeps going with timely prods.
    People watching is one of my favorite sports. Very entertaining.

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    1. I've always loved people watching (and then writing about them afterward). The free music concerts draw such a wide cross-section of people which makes it extra fun.

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  10. If you like and trust your auto home insurance person, ask them for a referral to someone who handles health insurance. There's SO much misunderstanding about Medicare, Advantage plans, and Medigap/supplement plans. You won't be charged anything for a visit to find what's best for you (and not your trust or doctor) and they might save you some money. But even with a referral, if you don't have a good feeling - go elsewhere. I have a Medigap/supplement plan which pays for everything but the Part B deductible. I've never gotten a bill for anything, and I know the Advantage plans can and do bill for many things.

    Your group of brunch friends has good taste! That's why there are 3 of you into the arts.

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    1. The employee retirees trust that pays for my health insurance, prescriptions, dental, hearing and eye care offers three plans. If I leave the trust umbrella I wouldn't be able to get back into one of their plans. Ever. And it's free to me. So looking for another insurance company doesn't make sense in my case.

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    2. No you wouldn't want to change. Free is the best price! Your idea about going to union meetings and talking to people who have made the change sounds like a good plan. Still, the trust should have someone to talk to for more details. They know how confusing it is!

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    3. The trust does. That's who put on the meeting I went to and there will be others and you can get individual help on the phone. Obviously, anyone who goes to the other hospital in town that doesn't accept the Advantage Plan was advised not to make the switch. The union meeting is coming up at the end of the month, I'm going to try to make it down....it's a long drive.

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  11. Being in and out of the bandshell, it is great fun both ways! I like being in the audience and watching the band members having a grand time playing and I love playing and watching the audience tapping their feet and enjoying themselves. I play in a jazz band as well as a large concert band, and we did a concert a few weeks ago with lots of old favorites like "it don't mean a thing" and Chattanooga Choo Choo. I met a neighbor afterwards who said "I didn't even know that you play and that was great"! We still have three more concerts before the summer ends. One is on the shore of a lake! We had one indoor concert because of rain. I am so glad that I decided to play an instrument, even in my "advanced years". I work hard but the rewards are great.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. The band we saw in the park has 15 members and they said that most of them teach music in the area schools and some of them play in jazz band as well as this big band that does mostly swing music according to their website. They were really good and clearly they were playing for the love of it because with 15 members they sure couldn't have made more than gas money each. Chattanooga Choo Choo---one of my old favorites!

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  12. I can never get it straight with the difference between original Medicare and an advantage plan. I have original Medicare plus a supplemental, but my SIL has an advantage plan that is the whole thing including drugs. She pays nothing a month..only copays. It's an HMO but all her doctors are in network. I pay no copay and it's a PPO but I pay about $151 a month then drug copays on top of that. So her plan is much cheaper, but I think if I have long term stay in a hospital or rehab, I have better coverage. Wish I could figure it out and it all will probably change and not for the better.

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    1. I wish I could figure it out too! According to the charts they showed us we don't pay more than traditional for long hospital stays or rehab because there is a cap on what we'd have to pay out of pocket with both. Just seems like there has to be a catch to explain why the pressure to change.

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  13. I thought it was only cats who ran to a carpet as soon as they felt a hairball coming up! (Although they tend to think getting up on a bed is even better than the carpet -- but never, under any circumstances, go to an easy-to-clean surface.)
    Because of my history of cancer, I'm wary of Medicare Advantage plans. It's when you have a serious health crisis that the lack of choice can be a problem. I believe that the rule is that you have three years to switch back to traditional Medicare, but that once you've been on an Advantage plan for 3 years, you're stuck with it. -Jean

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    1. Levi will hang his head of the side of the bed which sounds good except when he misses the floor and it goes down the side of the bedding.

      What you're saying about the lack of choice with a serious health crisis is what I've been worried about. No one at those meetings seem to have answers for caps on stuff. That 3 years thing is also something I hadn't heard!

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