I'm loving Medicare -- am doing my best to belly up to the bar of oh-so-sweet Government Healthcare as often as I can since I became Medicare-eligible October 1.
Having signed up for Regence of Oregon's Medicare Advantage, I can toss down even more benefits. Like vision and dental.
So I've had an eye exam; bought new contact lenses; gotten a teeth cleaning; and, yesterday, my first Medicare-paid annual physical exam. Sweet.
If only this terrific single payer insurance was available to everyone in the country. But Republicans wanted their Romneycare, which became Obamacare, which is a heck of a lot better than the mess U.S. health insurance was before, yet nowhere near as good as Medicare For All would be.
But I digress. Lost the point of this here blog post for a bit.
Shows that maybe some of the questions I was asked during my physical exam weren't as strange as they seemed to this healthy, fit, mostly cognitively normal (who the hell is, all the time?) 65 year old guy.
The medical assistant who started the exam off by weighing me, taking my blood pressure, and such, clued me in to the fact that the wonderful new world of Medicare (goodbye and good riddance, my much-hated individual Regence policy) brings along some different questions from what I've been asked before.
Not sure whether this was part of the initial "Welcome to Medicare" Preventive Visit my Regence Medadvantage booklet says I'm entitled to. Regardless, I was asked lifestyle questions intended to assess some risks to life and limb.
Like, whether our home has any loose rugs. "Yes," I told the medical assistant. "Our dogs like to lie on them. They'd revolt if we took them away." Then I was asked if we had any hand rails in our house, to prevent falls.
"No," I said. "But look: I ride a longboard. I'm probably a lot more likely to fall off of my senior citizen skateboard than take a tumble in the shower. I do Tai Chi also, so my balance is pretty darn good."
Recollecting my response, it now sounds defensive.
I was having to deal with the fact that my Medicare card now marked me as a member of the Old Farts Club, those people I barely imagined I would ever be who fall down for no good reason and forget things for, um... damn, can't remember.
Ha-ha. Just joking.
Actually I passed the next round of senior-citizen cognitive questions with flying colors. These came from my family physician, who was reading off of the trendy laptop that has replaced paper medical records in her office.
I want to share some of the questions so other people about to turn 65 can start preparing for their first Medicare test. They included:
What town are you in?
What county are you in?
Who is the president of the United States?
What day is it?
I'm particularly proud of my answer to the last question, since I now realize that probably "Thursday" would have sufficed. But I thought my doctor was asking for the day of the month, which I knew without looking at my Casio watch.
"November 7!" I was so proud.
And also a bit creeped out. Because, as noted above, for the first time in my physical exam life I was being screened for signs of senility. A good thing, since many old people do experience serious cognitive decline.
I may also. One day. Not now. I wanted to show my doctor that I still had most of my wits and sense of humor about me.
After she came to the end of her questions I said, "I must be halfway congitively competent, because I now write a regular column for Salem Weekly, the alternative newspaper. Or course, it isn't necessary to make perfect sense in the column, since most readers of Salem Weekly are stoned."
She laughed. My doctor and I get along great. Along with having pleasingly small fingers to perform my least favorite part of a "older guy" physical exam, she habitually says near the end of the exam:
"You're my poster child for men your age."
Which means, I take it, that I am in great shape for a Medicare recipient. In addition to semi-clean living and eating (I've been a vegetarian for 44 years), I exercise diligently and often. Including my regular outings on a longboard, land paddling my way around Salem's Minto-Brown Island Park.
Pays off. So far.
I just hope that if the day comes when I can't accurately answer those cognitive decline questions, I won't know it. I'd prefer to go from normal to wacked-out senile in one fell swoop, rather than suffering the knowledge that I'm losing my mind.
"Chester Freaking Arthur -- that's who our goddamn president is, doc. Everybody knows that. Now ask me your next dumb question!"