There is a great deal of advice out there about the aging process, but I find that I keep making mistakes anyway.
To help avoid those mistakes, I’ve come up with a new (for me anyway) 3-step set of guiding principles I find necessary to repeat any time I am upright and attempting to move from one place to another; i.e., walk. Pretty simple: 1) watch where you’re going, 2) slow down, and 3) watch where you’re going.
To illustrate the importance of chanting this 3-step mantra, consider the fact that I have injured myself by falling to the ground (or concrete) 4 times in the last 12 months, 3 of those 4 in the last 4 months. To be precise, and to salve my injured pride, I just fall down because my legs didn’t work. Honest – I tripped on things that made me fall.
Fall #1: tripped in the garage on a box of books to be donated. Result: 3 stitches above left eyebrow and an eye that looked like I’d gone 20 seconds with Floyd Mayweather. Failure to watch where I was going. (Told by older son it was my fault for attempting to give away books.)
Fall #2: tripped over an air intake pipe for one of those bouncy things at kids’ parties while pretending to be about 72 years younger. Result: x-ray of right shoulder and 6 physical therapy sessions. Moving too fast and failure to watch where I was going.
Fall #3: tripped because my sandal got caught under the screen door on my way out of the side entrance to the garage. Result: dislocated fingers and 21 stitches in my right hand (pretty sure I tried to break my fall by grabbing the corner of the small concrete pad just outside the garage door, but not certain). Moving too fast.
Fall #4: (notice the irony) tripped over one of those concrete things that keep you from driving your car too far in a parking space, after parking in a handicapped spot while attempting to exit the parking lot and enter the local health club. Result: big-time injured pride, cuts and bruises, reinjured right hand fingers, and didn’t make it to yoga. Moving too fast and failure to watch where I was going.
Trips and falls #1-3 required professional medical attention; so far we’re relying on first aid the #4.
Things seem to be improving, but again it’s the learning about being old that kicks in. Wasn’t too long ago these sorts of minor things would be shaken off with some Ben-Gay and exercise. Now it’s 4-6 weeks.
What got me going on all this: a) the most unwelcome movies of these events apparently trapped forever in the theater of my mind, and b) the set of bills for #3, which required a visit to the emergency room.
First the movies. Can’t seem to stop playing them. Which in a way is good because it remings to watch where I’m going, slow down, and watch where I’m going.
Finally, the bills. The emergency room bill for trip and fall #3 came to $10,713.00. No kidding. The bill includes (I’ve rounded the charges to the nearest $1) 2 hand x-rays ($800), CT scans of the head and spine ($5,400), a standard emergency “Level IV” visit ($3,100), treat finger dislocation ($678), 2 pain killer tablets ($11), and a few other charges but my fingers have started hurting because I’m typing too much.
Near as I can compute, and computing this number from my Medicare Advantage company’s 10 pages of a “user-friendly” report, my plan has approved a payment of $404.72, or $10,308.28 less than the hospital has on its “itemization of services provided.”
I’m sure I haven’t heard the end of this; there will be some co-pays popping up at some point. My plan documents tell me I’ll owe $75 just for thinking about going to the emergency room (just kidding). I’ll get a bill for $75 and some on the itemization list the insurance doesn’t cover, but it can’t possibly add up to $10,308.28.
If it does I’ll see y’all when I offer you a smile and a shopping cart at WalMart. And I’ll be reminding the older folks (and myself) to watch where you’re going and slow down. For the nest 10 years if I live that long…..
(Note: A few readers have asked why I often, nearly always, end my musings with “Good grief.” It’s a favorite expression of the Charlie Brown character in the comic strip “Peanuts,” and that character and his combat with life’s challenges have always reminded me of, well, my own challenges.)