Old News-Day 44-Quarantine-Senior Living

Providing seniors with living accommodations is big business. All around the Chicago area there are numerous senior living communities that cover all the desires of older people and their wish to live independently. Not all seniors want independence, many want security, safety, and health care. Many of these businesses offer all levels of care. If all you want is an apartment without any extras, you can have it, If you want someone to look in on you every day, you can have it, if you need help getting dressed, or with bathing and toileting, you can get it. If your memory is shot and you can’t remember your name but you are physically in good shape there is an app for that too.

I don’t call my brother very often, but when the Covid-19 thing was still being referred to as the Corona virus from China I called him. When we do talk we will spend an hour covering all the kids and everything family related, then we go on to the important things in life, like world peace, war, terrorism, and corona.

Seniors at play

Two years ago, my brother Bill sold his house, and checked himself into a senior retirement community near where he lived. He likes it. His wife died four years ago and he got tired of keeping a house going. It was his time. I am wresting with the same decision myself. Getting back to my point. When the President announced his guidelines for how to deal with the virus I began my diary, and my brother’s community went into a lock-down. The management recognized that if the bug got into their halls there would be hell to pay. Immediately, they took the conservative approach. All they needed to hear is that the virus prefers older people. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make, after all the home is a money making machine. Death ends the money coming in and without money the place goes broke. That is the practical side, the human side is that pre-mature death ends the life of some really amazing people. This is a Christian home, and Christians believe in the right to life. They will expend monumental effort to sustain it.

Here are some of the things he told me today. His meals are delivered to his room every day. Normally, meal time is when seniors socialize in the dining room, but not anymore, the dining room is closed. They do not allow any visitors. Service people are allowed only after they have been checked for the virus and on a need for service basis. Relatives are not allowed. Social activities are held virtually, i.e. over the in-house tv channel. They conduct activities where you are allowed to stand in your open doorway while the activity director at the end of the hall uses a megaphone to give instructions on the game being played, or the exercise being done. Bill takes walks on the grounds and on the golf course next to the home. Any congregation of people outside is not permitted and broken up by the staff. Staff is checked every day before they are allowed to enter. They are screened for symptoms, those with symptoms are immediately sent home.

I asked Bill if they had anyone with the virus yet. “No,” he said and the residents will probably kill anyone who gets it. None of them wants to be known as the ‘one.’

When I listened to the news today, I heard a reporter interview the head of the VA. The question was a typical liberal question trying to find someone to place the blame on for the horrible stories we have heard regarding deaths at nursing homes. In this case she asked about what went wrong at the Massachusetts State run nursing home where seventy veterans died. VA Director Robert Wilkie answered the questions with a narrative of what the VA has been doing to control the virus inside the VA hospitals. He has it all right. They are not doing a single thing that can be criticized. Regardless, the reporter was relentlessly pushing to get someone to blame. My answer which was not heard because my voice doesn’t carry to New York was this: any jerk who wants an answer should look into the home where the problem is and start asking questions at the very top of the management. Read their mission statement, did they follow it? Do they even have a mission statement? Examine the records for their audit inspections, have they been cited for violations of their procedures? Do they have procedures?

I don’t know, but these reporters make some pretty big money yet they don’t seem to be able to engage their brains with any logic. I looked up reporter’s salaries and found that the one I was listening to makes eight million dollars a year. That is a lot of dollars for reading questions from a teleprompter, and watching a timer to know when to end the segment.

If COVID-19 Has any value it will be in the way we run our country and the way we live our lives from this point on. There is a good chance that the word ‘virtual’ will predominate our future. Until such a time as we can kill the COVID-19 permanently we will be social distancing, and avoiding crowds.

Today, I took package to the post office and was surprised by the crowd that lined up all the way out of the building. Everyone was staying six feet away from the one in front of him. The PO erected a barrier from the ceiling to the countertop with plastic film to separate us from them. We are paying serious attention to the recommendations. We all have the attitude that the guy next to me might be the one who gives it to me, and he is thinking the same about you.

Anyway, as the country begins to open up it is more and more apparent that seniors will have to live by a different set of rules. There is one problem with that, people like me don’t think we are old, we think we are twenty-five even though our bodies may be eighty-five. In my mind a senior is someone who is pushing a hundred years.

He is ninety-four, she is ninety-one

There is an old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.” This is an interesting time.

Probed In All the Wrong Places

One of the drawbacks a man faces during aging is a body part called the prostate gland. My prostate was referred to as a basketball by my latest urologist (U2). Latest because I out lived my first one (U1). The prostate encircles the urethra and as it grows it squeezes the urethra to narrow. The narrowing then makes urine flow slow down, and sometimes can be slow enough to become non-existent. Luckily, my Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) has not reached the point of a completely blocked flow. When that happens a man is brought to his knees with kidney and bladder pain that only catheterization and morphine can relieve.

Over the past fifteen years I have been able to control the need to pee by taking a drug called Flomax. U1 informed me that after about seven years Flomax can stop working. He recommended surgery which at the time was a ream job under sedation. I chose to tell my regular MD about the problem and he doubled my dose of medication. It has been working, but in recent months I have noticed the symptoms reappearing. U2 recommended two options: 1. Surgery, or 2. An in-office procedure called UroLift.

Before he asked for a decision, U2 told me he had to rule out any other conditions which might cause a problem. He had to do an internal bladder inspection, and then take a volumetric measurement of my prostate. Evidently, the UroLift is only recommended for men whose prostate has reached a specific size, and there is no sense in talking about a UroLift if the bladder is found to be cancerous and needs to be removed surgically.

Friday was the day I was scheduled for these two tests. If you have ever been told to drop your drawers to the floor by a woman in preparation for the almighty U2 you know how humiliating an experience it is. Even though I have had the bladder test twice by U1 it remains humiliating to me. Although I don’t remember it being painful when U1 did this test. U2 however has the finesse of a Yeti and seemed to be in a hurry, because his moves were rapid and I felt every twitch and every squirt of water he made. “Everything is okay,” he mumbled, you’ll have pain for a couple of days (He was absolutely correct on that matter). “Get your pants on and wait.” I sat waiting and had a super tremendous urge to relieve myself. I opened the door and asked for a toilet. A nurse showed me to the door. It was locked, someone was using it. I danced while I waited for the room to clear. The first pee after this inspection was really painful as was the second, third, fourth, etc. When I finished I opened the door to find a nurse waiting for me she pointed at another room. “You mean I have to go through this again,”?

“Yes” she said. “Take you pants off and lay on the table on your left side facing the cabinet.”

I did as she ordered, and waited for U2 to reappear. It took a few minutes for him to come in. “I’m going to take a picture of your prostate to measure it’s volume.”

“Is this an ultrasound?’ I asked.

“Yes”, and with that he shoved a dildo up my ass and waved it around all the time talking to himself. It felt like two hours, but it probably was only two minutes to complete. He showed me a photo of a very gray something, He said, “there is your prostate”, pointing at a darker grey image in a gray field. You are at 82%, and then mumbled something about my choices with a suggestion that I might want the UroLift option. Actually, he was right, I do want the UroLift, as I had already been researching the procedure and the system since U1 had told me about it three years ago. Finally, he told me to get dressed and to stop by the front desk to make an appointment before I leave.

The next day, I had a sharp pain in my lower back which I haven’t had in a very long time. I wondered if it was related to the probing of the day before.

I survived the humiliation of the testing and have forgotten about it, but now I look forward to the procedure with anxiety. I only have six weeks to be nervous before it happens.

Don’t Step Off the Ladder Without Looking

Over the past ten years several of my friends have broken a leg or a hip because they fell off a ladder. This seems to be a common accident among the over 75 crowd. Since I fall into that category, I am very aware of my dynamics whenever I climb a ladder. During my House in a House project I had many occasions to use a ladder. Instead of not using a ladder I studied my posture and body mechanics as I ascended and descended from said appliance. I have noticed with some alarm that my legs don’t seem to function as well as they did when I was younger. For instance, when I walk down stairs, I must hold onto a bannister to maintain my balance. What I am really doing is holding on whenever I bend my knee to lower my body to the next step. I lose control about mid-step. My knee suddenly gives out and the last half of the down step is a sudden release. Actually, it has nothing to do with my knee. It has everything to do with the muscles that control the step. My quads, as they are referred to, are no longer strong enough to hold my body weight after the knee has bent a few degrees. Each time I am on a ladder and it is time to step down I must be holding on for dear life, and I must see the step to which I am descending. A step down also requires a lot of concentration on the quad. The muscle never seems to be in control of the complete step. It is a short stretch down followed by a sudden drop. It has become obvious to me that if I don’t see the next step I could easily step off, or through the ladder, or miss the step completely. That move would be surprisingly sudden, and most likely I would lose balance and fall. This phenomenon doesn’t happen on an up step, but always on the down step. It doesn’t matter if I am coming down from a ladder or moving down stairs.

I also notice this happening when I am in church and I bend my knee to genuflect, I can’t touch my knee to the floor anymore. A similar weakness seems to occur whenever I enter my car. I have adapted a style of entry that puts my butt in and over the seat before I allow my knee to bend. Once my rear is safely in and above the chair I let go and drop into the seat.

I wonder if this is somehow peculiar to me, and related to my polio from seventy years ago. My legs were affected and my right leg in particular lost muscle. I am lucky that the remaining muscle has been able to carry the burden. It has been reported that people who had polio might experience paralysis as they age. The theory postulated is that the compensating muscles strands have tired out after many years of service. They go on strike and stop working. Contrary to this opinion are all the old people I see who have not had polio who still have problems genuflecting, walking down stairs, and stepping off ladders.

What I feel I must do is to strengthen my quadricep muscle so it will allow such moves. This will be helpful provided I don’t have Post-polio Syndrome (PPS). If I am experiencing PPS exercising may be further damaging. If I don’t have PPS then it becomes a matter of getting off my lazy ass to start working out.

211220-PSAc-Stress Test

Stress            
I am not sure exactly how it works, but this is amazingly accurate.  Read the full description before looking at the picture. 
The picture below has 2 identical dolphins in it.  It was used in a case study on stress levels at St. Mary’s Hospital, London. 

 
Look at both dolphins jumping out of the water.
The dolphins are identical.  A closely monitored
Scientific study revealed that, in spite of the fact
that the dolphins are identical, a person under
stress would find differences in the two dolphins.
The more differences a person finds between the
dolphins, the more stress that person is experiencing.
Look at the photograph and if you find more than one
or two differences you need to go on vacation….

a

b

b

b

b

b

b

b

No need to Reply,  I’ll be on vacation!

Never take life seriously
Nobody gets out alive anyway!

Where Do I Start?

This post may sound a little confusing but I will try my best to make it understandable. Currently, I am in the process of dealing with healthcare in the United States. The issue is not with myself, because I have Medicare and a supplement which covers my costs. I don’t even think about it. That is probably the crux of the problem. We in the good old USA don’t think about the cost of health care often because we are covered by medical insurance either by our employer, ourselves, or by Uncle. The issue I am becoming familiar with are the people who don’t have any insurance coverage at all. They could be middle class Americans who lost their coverage because of the wonderful gift from Obama known as Obama Care, and can no longer afford to pay for the so called “free” Obama Care. Others who are in the country under unusual circumstances, and are undocumented cannot get private health care, Medicare, nor Obama Care. They are the cash paying victims of our society.

Today, I made an appointment for a simple blood test with a blood lab that is national. The doctor directed me to get a test to rule out a vitamin deficiency. At first he told me to get it done in his medical group lab, but rescinded when I told him I wanted to pay cash and keep this off my insurance. “If you do it in our lab it will cost you $161.00,” he said. “You can find it for much less at a private lab.” I took his advice.

After a few times on the internet I finally found a website for a blood test lab and the key to unlock their tests other than COVID. The primary emphasis of their site directed people to go for COVID testing. I learned that they would give me the test I wanted for $48. That is because I compared them to a competitor who was offering the same vitamin test for $54. I registered for an appointment.

At the lab this afternoon, I was asked if I had an order from the doctor. “No,” I said, but you can call him and he will give you one. They called and I was rolling up my sleeve when I finally asked what the charge was going to be. “It’ll be $100.”

“Wait a minute, the website gave me a price of $48.” The technician read the dumb look on my face and said, “Thats the price you get when you register, and pay for the test online.”

“I did register for the test online.”

“Did you pay online?”

“No.”

“That’s why, without a doctor’s order it is different.”

“You mean that if I go home and register for the test online, and pay for it I won’t need a doctor’s order, and I get it for $48?

“Yes.”

“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

I was back at the computer logging into the lab website when my wife asked me what I was doing. I explained the whole thing to her but she didn’t understand any of it. “In my country all of the tests are free, but I know a place that will do it cheaper, I had the test done a few years ago.” She gave me the number, I called and made an appointment for the test for $45, and didn’t need a doctor’s order.

I have finally reached the point I was going to make when I opened this post. One trouble with our country is the high cost of health care. It is easy to tell why it is so high. My doctor has a staff to support, and he belongs to a big doctor group that owns many hospitals, clinics, and offices. All of them cost money to support. The private clinic is much the same, but on a smaller scale, and finally the independent lab that runs on a shoestring is the lowest cost of all. That isn’t apparent when they deal mainly with people who use their insurance and don’t care what the heck a test costs. It’s my guess that the little guy makes more profit than the huge hospital group because his overhead is so low.

I’m trying to decide who is the blame for this high cost, the government for supporting it with Obama Care or capitalism for juicing the profit from the insurance companies, or the insurance companies for juicing the people and their doctors.

So why is this a problem? With so many people out of work because of COVID I see many instances where people who lost their employer healthcare now wind up paying out of pocket costs that are unsustainable. It won’t be long before Uncle is preaching universal health care for all like he did when Obama was president.