Three Cheers

It came in the mail yesterday.  That little red, white and blue card.  It gave me mixed feelings.  Good, to know that my Medicare insurance will begin.  And a really subdued feeling that I am indeed…65 years old.  Or will be in a couple of weeks.

The benefits actually begin on 4/1/2017, though I won’t turn 65 until 4/6/2017.  That’s the way it works.  It begin on the first day of the month of your birthday.  Your 65th…birthday.

Lots of things give me cause for serious thoughts.  This event definitely is one.  And it is an event!  A signal that I have…lived long enough to…earn…this well-payed for insurance program.  Not only have I reached 65, but I have paid the premiums all along the way.  Medicare is a good program.  I’ve seen it help a whole hell of a lot of people along the way.  And I’ve seen it firsthand.

In my profession of Licensed Nursing Home Administrator for the last 35 years, I’ve handled Medicare cards thousands of times!  But I never once thought about seeing my name on one.  It just never occurred to me.  Or maybe it was always so far away in the distance that I couldn’t even imagine it.  For whatever reason, I never thought about seeing my name on one.

But there it was.  Right there on the card.  Charles Roy Hutson.  It was, and still is, very surreal for me…especially having handled all those cards for all these years and seeing all those…OTHER…names on them.  Too numerous to mention.  And many of them long since passed away.

When you are…older…like I must be now, the Medicare card becomes a primary form of…identification, I guess…but its not really an ID card per se.  It is just something that almost everyone you deal with, has to see now…especially in the healthcare field.  And of course there will be more visits to healthcare providers as we get…older…you know, like I am.

In my job, I never cared so much about an actual ID card like a driver’s license.  I always had to verify that each person possessed…you guessed it…a Medicare Card first, then a Social Security Card.  And in more and more instances as time progress and medical services out paced our ability to pay for them, I also had to see the Medicaid Card, which later became a paper.

I don’t look forward to all those visits to healthcare providers, but I know that more will come for me…and for all of us as we grow…older.  And there is, I guess, the good part.  At least we ARE growing older.  Some people don’t have that…good fortune.  You could call growing older a not so good thing, but I still think it is.  I’m not ready yet to die.  And based on my experience as a LNHA, the vast majority of humans I’ve dealt with are also, not ready to die…no matter what their ages.

That said, there were also a lot of those who were ready to die.  It is truly amazing the difference among people as to how they take growing older…and the reality of their…dying.

I think periodically about writing a book about my 35 years of experience in the nursing homes.  It doesn’t really sound all that appealing I think to most people. It could well be therapeutic for me…but I wonder who would want to read it.  Most people don’t even want to have anything to do with a nursing home, let alone read about them in their spare time.  And visit a nursing home…God forbid!

There are many prejudices about growing older, and having to go to a nursing home is actually a fear of many.  For me, I’ve already put in 35 years in a nursing home, so I don’t have so many prejudices…as opposed to the realities I am aware of…

But this is not about nursing homes.  I only mention them in relation to all the Medicare cards I’ve seen and handled…without my name on them.  And now…I have one with MY name on it.  And…I suppose I will take it all in the stride of life…but right now…it feels so weird that…I’m not sure what to think about it!  On the one side its kind of scary…being 65.  Never been here before.  And we’ll only pass this way once.  Maybe that’s the scary part.  The road ahead…

As that nursing home administrator, I’ve hung around a lot more “old” people for a lot more extended time periods than the average person.  I know full well of the challenges that they had to face…and I wonder which of those challenges that I will have to face in my own life.  And how I will face them.

That little red, white and blue card signals the end of one era…and the beginning of another, probably more for some of us than others.  But again…on the good side…I’m not dead.  And I think that is a good thing for me.  So I guess having that Medicare card must also be a good thing.  I’ll play it that way.  Three cheers for the red, white and blue!

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