Sunday, January 11, 2009

It Must Be the First of the Year...

Do you remember Johnny Carson's running gag... "It was so hot..." and the crowd would ask, "How hot was it?" and Johnny would add... "It was so hot that...and deliver a punch line." Well, in MY "Deli World"... "you know it's the first of the year...
  • if your grandmother is worried about a $227 gas bill and telling you, "I'll just try to keep the heat down a little lower and put on an extra sweater." We go through this every January - her bill is high, she talks about being "cold as a frog" and putting on extra clothes while she cuts back on heat. Every year I assure her she can afford to keep her house as warm as she likes (which is 80-85 degrees). I know... I know... she's messing with my head!

  • if your new Medicare Part D prescription drug provider is refusing to cover all of the prescriptions they promised to cover when you enrolled in their plan in November. Aetna didn't even wait one month - they went ahead and refused to pay for two of my grandmother's drugs right off the bat. The doctor was able to get authorization for one, but we are now going to try Nexium for one month instead of Aciphex and see if that works. The kicker is that, on paper, Nexium is $180/month; Aciphex is $150. However, Aetna must have a "deal" with the Nexium maker, because they will approve its use! So we are praying that the Nexium works.

    The funny thing there is that, as I explained this to my grandmother, she said, "Honey, that's okay. I've been reading about Nexium, and it's supposed to be real good. Besides, there are lots of things I can try if those insurance companies want me to - I hate for you to have to worry with them." Now, two years ago CignaRx required we try two other acid reflux drugs, and we ended up in a MESS - and back on Aciphex! And I can assure you that she would not be "okay" trying a variety of other drug substitutes, if asked. So we will see where this goes.

  • the cardiologist will start shuffling the six-month "spring" appointment date and time. I think we have changed the upcoming visit twice now. The doc (who I really do like) must have gotten a good deal on a cruise or something toward the end of March!

  • my grandmother starts talking about the dreary weather and how "the four walls are closing in on me." The day after Christmas, she actually told my mom that she had been thinking... "Maybe I should just go to the nursing home, where I wouldn't be so lonesome." LONESOME? Hellooooooo!!! This is the woman who, 1) tells me continually that her biggest fear is having to go to a nursing home, and 2) is so busy she can barely find time to eat and sleep! Just last week, her next-door neighbor told me that "Polly has someone at her house every morning... often more than one car at a time... and sometimes in the afternoons and evenings." It often takes several attempts to reach her by phone - because her line is BUSY! I don't know what hour of the night she is lonely!

  • the forms have arrived to apply for utility assistance, food stamps, and a re-evaluation for Medicare services. Some of the applications require print-outs... bank statements, reports of all prescription drugs purchased, copies of utility bills. The folks at the pharmacy shook their heads in agreement when I said, "My grandmother has exactly the same amount of income/expenses today that she did yesterday... and the government seems to know EVERYTHING else about us, so why don't they know THIS?!" We copied the forms and mailed them to the agencies, and everything is in the works.

    My grandmother is anxious to get her utility assistance. She heard on the television news that some elderly persons were receiving $150, so she assumes she will receive that amount. I told her that HER form said $139, based on her Social Security income for last year, which increased for 2009 by $42. So it is likely that she may get something even less than $139. I am quite sure she didn't hear me... she will expect to receive the $150 reported on television!

Couple of side notes... the other day my grandmother was telling me about her gas bill and how she was running out of money...

[Grandma] "Aaagh! I don't know how much longer I am going to be able to afford all of this! I'm about out of money!"
[Me] "No, you aren't!"
[Grandma] "Well, I don't know about that!"
[Me] "Well, I do - because I keep your books!"

My grandmother continued discussing how high things were and how high her gas bill was, and finally, I told her, "Please, just quit worrying about all of that. You can afford it, and we are going to make sure you have everything you need. Just turn your heat up and be warm and quit worrying."
Her reply... "Honey, I don't worry! I learned a long time ago that it didn't help a thing to worry!"
I had to laugh, "Well it sure seems to me like you are fretting about this gas bill!"
She answered, "Oh, I FRET, but I don't worry."
Apparently there is a difference in the two!

My sister-in-law reports that her parents, who together sort of make a "whole person" - her dad can't hear or remember - her mother can't see - are having problems with managing their daily affairs. However, her mother refuses to give up control of this and many other things that are honestly beyond her capabilities any more. So... when a recent electric bill was double what it should have been, the parents went into a tizzy. When my sister-in-law finally found the bill in a STACK of papers her mother fumbled through but could not see, the bill - and the checkbook - indicated that a recent payment had never cleared at the power company. The new bill included a past-due amount, which was explained at the top of the bill. But my sister-in-law's dad looked at the BALANCE DUE at the BOTTOM of the bill and did not realize there was an explanation of charges elsewhere. Suggestions to auto-draft all future utility bills were met with fervent protests! So for now, the past-due payment was resolved and things are in a 'hold-your-breath-and-hope-for-the-best" mode.

I can relate to this, as I used to give my grandmother a check to put in the collection plate at church for her monthly tithe. Then I noticed that a check didn't clear for more than three months. I knew that I had specifically given her the check... and she remembered getting it from me... but she could not recall what she did with it. I told her not to worry about it, but of course, it was money for the CHURCH, so she "fretted" for quite some time. One day she phoned and said, "I found the check... it was in the pocket of another purse!" I now have that monthly payment auto-drafted from her bank, and when she asks, "Did you pay my tithe?" I answer, "Yes, I surely did!" I've laughed that the church coffers would be overflowing if we were all as conscientious about our tithes as the little old ladies of the South!

My niece is expecting her first child in May. This will be my grandmother's first great-great-grandchild. She has already made two blankets for the new baby and is feverishly working on a third. We won't have to worry about this baby being warm! Several "little old ladies" in our community in my grandmother's age group (early to mid-nineties) are not doing well in the last few weeks. Mam-ma's neighbor and I were discussing this last week, and she asked, "How much longer do you think Polly can stay alone? She seems like the Energizer Bunny!" And truly, she does. However, we discussed the fact that even a fall could change everything, so I know this is a day-to-day thing. But for now, she is warm, her bills are paid, and she is stitching away between phone calls and visits!

No comments: