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Role Reversal

Today we become house sitters. Our daughter and her family are off for a family vacation. They are leaving, our motor home remains parked in their driveway. The summer continues to melt away and we aren't going anywhere. Normally, we're long gone by this time of the summer. One of our reasons for buying the motor home in the first place was to escape the unbearably hot mid-west summers. This summer we're stationary and the rest of the world is on the go.

Despite my whining about our being parked, it was planned this way. My knees have been getting more painful as the years have stretched on. In the last several years, they have tolerated my activity only at the price of long recovery resting periods after each period of activity. I was spending more time sitting in a chair than on the go. It's not the lifestyle we wanted. I've done knee braces, medications of various kinds and modifying my activity, all with diminishing returns. So finally after all this, we decided this was the year to rebuild my knees. As of last Thursday, I now have two shiny new knees. You can tell by looking, the zippers are evident.

Today I start home therapy for my right knee. A visiting nurse will arrive this morning to assess my condition and guide me through the next three weeks of my recovery. The therapist arrives this afternoon to lead me through the first exercises to recover full use of my new knee. I know the drill, still it helps tremendously to have some guidance with the whole process. I see one of the great values of this kind of attention being that a professional is assessing my condition and prescribing activities to challenge me appropriately to keep the recovery going at a fast rate. Without professionals monitoring me, I might go too fast or too slow. My right knee seems to be recovering much faster than the left knee. I'm experiencing less pain and greater mobility.

So today my daughter and her family are off on vacation and we remain parked, a reversal of our normal situation. We'll stay here for the next six weeks. After the six week visit to the doctor, we are going to head for California to visit another daughter and her family. We'll spend a month there then return to the mid-west for the final visit with the surgeon before heading south for the winter. In the meantime, I am having a number of interesting experiences.

On Saturday, I was in Wal-Mart, waiting for the pharmacy to fill my prescription. I had three separate discussions with other customers. I don't usually visit with other customers at Wal-Mart, it is a place to shop not visit. Most people are there on a mission and aren't looking to visit. Sitting there by the pharmacy, one after another, three people came up to me to comment on my knee surgery. The first, a man, his wife and daughter approached. He asked me about my knee surgery, did I have them both done recently? I told him they were eight weeks apart. He lifted his shorts a little to show me his scars. He had both knees replaced in one surgery and we discussed his recovery process. Later a younger man came up to me and asked about my knee surgery. He talked about the pain and difficulty of movement he was experiencing. He is planning to have his knees replaced in two months and was full of questions about the process and the recovery. Then a lady approached. She was picking up medications for her husband who had just had a knee replaced. She was surprised to see me out and about so shortly after my surgery. Her husband was having a much more difficult recovery.

So I'm part of a club. I guess I'll be meeting lots of new friends. At a picnic for the local pilots organization last week I picked up several more new friends who noticed my scar. We visited about our surgery, recovery and current condition. Who knew there were so many of us? I certainly didn't know until now.

I'm joining another club today. Today my insurance switches over from the insurance policy of my employer to Medicare. Yes, I'll be 65 this month. Having insurance with my employer has been a mixed blessing. They haven't been paying for my insurance, only keeping me in the group. Being in a group means I have insurance, good insurance and won't be dropped. It also means that I have expensive insurance and the cost has been an increasing burden on our budget. Medicare will reduce my insurance costs while providing good insurance and a guarantee of not being dropped. At my age, I would not want to be without good health insurance.

When we went full time, being tied to my employers insurance meant that we had to return to Missouri for all of our medical care. Louise has been in the same situation, being tied to her employers insurance. We've managed to do the routine stuff without problems by planning to swing through the area each spring and fall. In the case of my knee surgeries, we've had to change our routine to be in Missouri for this surgery. Now with Medicare, we'll be able to get our medical care wherever we are. It gives us a bit more freedom. Still, since I have a good doctor and a favorite surgeon here in Missouri, we'll keep returning as long as it is convenient.

The whole Medicare enrollment process has been an interesting challenge. It took me quite a bit of reading, searching and questioning to arrive at an understanding of the possibilities available to me through Medicare. Both Louise and I have elected to go with the "original" medicare for the simple reason that it allows us to travel and receive medical care anywhere in the US. With the right supplemental policy, we are even covered for trips outside the country. It is a little more costly than some other routes but compared to what we have been spending on medical insurance, this is a real improvement.


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