Enough of This Week

It’s been a tiring week, all things considered. As with most people in this part of the country, I’ve had enough heat and especially humidity for a season or two just in the last week. Today was the topper so far. I kept watching our Columbus, Ohio, heat index and air temperature on Accuweather and comparing to Tucson, Arizona. This has been pretty close all summer, but Tucson won today. The sad thing is, that’s not unusual.

I tackled the Medicare/Medicaid issue today. Apparently I’m trapped somehow on Medicare and cannot simply, sanely go back to Medicaid. I bet they change their tune if they don’t get the premiums. Anyhow, I went back to the mis-named “Opportunity Center” today. I started as early as I could get organized in hopes of beating the heat advisory. I arrived before 9 a.m., and exactly 100 people had numbers ahead of mine. I sat quietly for three hours and a couple minutes. Have I mentioned that the seating there is steel? My butt is not as well padded as my belly, and it kept reminding me. Among other things, I remembered digging irrigation ditches in Myrtle Beach, SC, back in 1987. That was easier than sitting on those damn steel seats for three hours. At some point during that wait, I started to consider my motivation. After all the doctors, tests, medications, and other efforts over the past three years, I feel about the same or a little worse than when I started. Certainly I’m grateful for the SSI income and the SNAP benefits, but I’m no longer sure the medical help is really helping.

Digging ditches involves friendlier people, too. I finally got to see a clerk who spoke too quickly for me to understand, abruptly and with no sign of any emotion except disgust. Eventually, I was able to understand that she wanted me to go to another room. After about ten minutes standing in a line, the next clerk, like the first except with a heavy layer of makeup,  tried to figure out what I wanted. After a few minutes working her past her assumptions, I got to sit on more steel. As it turned out, I should have gone back to the original waiting area. The second rude clerk didn’t tell me that.

Another twenty minutes passed. I heard my name called by a young man facing the original waiting room. Once I got his attention, he was a pleasant change. We went past the counter into the cubicle farm and sat down on padded chairs (!). He caught on to my basic issue right away and brought another, more experienced man into the discussion. That one was also nice and understood my situation. Getting the details straight took a moment. I never seem to fit the assumptions built into any system of any kind, and neither of them had encountered my exact situation. However, they knew how to start on fixing it. They have applied on my behalf for a plan that’s meant to fill in the payments of Medicare for people in roughly my situation. I should hear something next week. They gave me a hotline number, too.

I finally got out of there at 1:14 p.m., into the middle of the heat advisory. I basically coasted home on the bicycle, but even that short trip was enough to kick up my asthma. I called the hotline number I was given. I had a short hold and a leisurely conversation about, among other things, whether I knew someone named Tracy (or Casey or Stacy maybe) with the same last name as me. What we didn’t talk about was some way she could actually help me. Apparently the reason I had a short hold was that they weren’t going to do anything anyhow. I expect they don’t get many calls once people figure that out. The operator gave me another number, and I followed it up. Nothing useful going on there.

Except for one unwelcome nap, I’ve spent the rest of the day catching my breath, sitting on my hard plastic chair right here in front of my computer. This chair is pretty nice after the steel ones up the street.

I have one thing to follow up next week with the State about a fumbled change of address, and maybe the same with Social Security. Whether I’ll do anything about the medical insurance mess remains to be seen. If the medicine is not helping, I’ll take some time thinking about that. How much effort should I put into this? I’m not actually out of any medications yet except the Vyvanse I’ve been out of for weeks.

Any way it goes, next week will probably be an improvement over this one. The weather is expected to cool and I won’t have to repeat this week’s frustration.

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