You might remember I turned 65 a couple of weeks ago. I had my first encounter with Medicare on Saturday.
I fell off a bicycle and cracked a rib. I think the woman I was named after, Great Grandmother Stuart, aka “Janie Go”, would be proud. Family lore has it that she once packed the entire family for a three-month trip from Texas to California with less than 24 hours notice. I think my aversion to moss growing on me is a genetic thing.
Sarah couldn’t get the bike to shift out of the last gear. Knowing that you have to be moving to shift the gears I hopped on the bike and started riding it around the empty cul-de-sac. Sure enough, the gears were stuck and nothing was going to change the gear. By the time I figured this out I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t remember the last time I rode a bike and it felt really great. I thought of my friend Mary McLachlan who rides every day and with a biking club and goes all over Dallas and-- here’s the important part—is in really good physical condition. I thought of what great exercise riding a bike down our country roads would be. “I want a bike!” I earnestly whispered to myself.
Then I hit the curb at the side of the driveway. As I approached the ground, the thoughts came quickly: “Don’t hit your head! Don’t break a wrist! Just do a soft landing and roll with it.” Lord knows, I have plenty of softness covering my body. And this probably would have worked if I hadn’t landed directly on the curb with my ribcage. The curb had its choice of which rib to crack and chose the fifth one.
I didn’t give in to the pain until a couple of days later. I have fallen before-- increasingly more and more lately as my sense of balance sometimes goes to live with the car keys. So when I didn’t start feeling better by Tuesday I knew something was different this time.
The doc sent me home with a primo pain prescription and instructions to drink lots of water, breathe deeply to avoid pneumonia and not expect it to feel better for a couple of weeks. I think the water thing is just a generic instruction. Evidently, whenever we are in doubt, we should get a whole bunch of water and either boil it or drink it.
If you have seen Despicable Me a billion times like I have, you will remember the line when Gru tells the kids they can’t “cry, whine, laugh, giggle, cough or barf or sneeze or fart.” That is another helpful instruction the doc could have given me. Anything that moves my rib cage hurts. And it is the hardest restriction of all. Being around people always involves laughter of some sort if you’re doing it right. And this is allergy season for me right now so coughing is a fact of life.
I have decided to just take the magic pills, a good antihistamine, some cough medicine and go to bed with three books and the complete season one of Downton Abbey.
I’ll see you in two weeks. Will Christmas be over by them?
Ps: Medicare paid for everything at the Emergency Room. My drug supplement took the magic pain pills down to $2.72. I don’t know why people are so afraid of Medicare.