One sick bunch

I have finally figured out the real reason people retire.

It’s not so they can leisurely stroll the golf courses or wave from the railing of a cruise ship as in the commercials that present us with a lovely fairly tale of our just reward for a lifetime of work. (Looking at our retirement investment statement this weekend, I see a lot of tomato soup and crackers in our future—and not the good brand name stuff either.)

It’s so they have time to see the multitude of medical professionals that our aging bodies demand.

Having our annual check-up in December means putting all the follow-up stuff off until after the holidays. Which concentrates the process. So the past two weeks have been filled with making appointments, moving appointments, coordinating appoints, getting to the appointments–generally in bad weather, packing up the receipts for health insurance claims and trying to keep a job, a home and lives running with the time left in between.  My brand new magenta daybook is already looking ragged.

Last week it was mammograms for two (certainly not most people’s idea of a date, but it works for us), blood work for my upcoming colonoscopy (oh yay!) and my love’s hopefully final post-op physio session. I got word that I have a B-12 deficiency, so that was another trip to the pharmacy. (There are 42 kinds of B-12 supplements, none of which differ in any significant way.  I picked the one with the biggest bottle and the smallest pills.) The dog had a vet appointment that needed to be reschedule due to a blizzard. Then there are the calls that need to be made to the pharmacy because we actually read the paperwork they give us and need to know if we’ll grow a third eye or drop where we stand if we take an Advil for a headache.

Thing is—we’re not alone. There is barely a soul I know on the other side of 50 who isn’t in the same boat.

I still think when it comes to medical care, we’re lucky to live where we do. One comes to truly appreciate socialized medicine the more one leans on it. Without public health insurance and my private plan at work, this aging thing could get costly—my love’s major surgery and five days in hospital would have amounted to roughly the cost of a new luxury sedan. Our co-pay for her semi-private room was a mere $150 and another C-note for her post-op drugs not covered by either plan. And there’s the $4 for the Rice Crispies and potato chips I had to sneak into her room when she wouldn’t eat the hospital food. Her $90 physio sessions cost us $18, thanks to what is still a fantastic family plan at my job. Blood work, breast screenings, preventative care—and my love’s twice-annual post-op look-see—they’re all free for the taking. The biggest financial hardship is the hospital parking fee, which I rationalize as a generous donation to the hospital’s foundation.

True, it can take a long time to see a doctor and our waiting rooms are crowded, but on the whole, it’s an amazing system, albeit difficult to sustain and there are those of us who didn’t vote for the guy now in charge who worry that it may not be around for much longer.  But given the fact that no one in Canada has to sell their house if they want life-saving surgery, we can’t complain—even if that is the one thing Canadians do well.

I hate bitching about getting older. I hate whining about things that can’t be changed. I think aging gracefully is about more than preventing wrinkles,  keeping the grooming up and switching to a sheer lipstick, it’s also a state of mind; it’s about embracing what’s to come as a grand adventure. Something I plan to keep doing that, no matter what physical affliction might come along.

Only thing is, I see now that I may have to do a lot of that embracing from a waiting room chair.


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