I am my younger self. Right now. Age 74. As I tell people regularly, my level of “piss and vinegar” is alive and well and rising in intensity every day.
The moment people see “gray hair,” the condescension begins. The doctor is “required” by Medicare to do a memory test that isn’t a memory test at all. It’s a test of multi-tasking, which no human does well at any age. Add a condescending tone and it’s insulting: “I’m going to give you three words and, in a few minutes, I’ll ask you what they are.” The doctor then turns back to her/his computer to input data and doesn’t hear you when you ask questions because she/he is focused on entering data. As I said, they can’t do it either.
I recently visited a friend in skilled nursing and the sides of the bed were up. They won’t let anyone out of bed, even if they’re able. Liability reasons. Of course, nothing’s worse for health than not moving as much as you’re able, but that no longer matters. Life is also very boring if you’re in a wheelchair and stuck in front of some inane TV program you can’t shut out. My friend begged me to take her out of there, which I am not in a position to do. I wasn’t even allowed to wheel her outside on a balmy day. I wonder if she’ll ever be outside that building again.
I also get mad at the wider world, especially lately. As a writer, I know that many writers start their days with some version of “morning pages.” It might even be Creative Caffeine Daily. But I start my day by getting my juices flowing in a letter. I write my Congressional representative or senator. I write my local city council. I write whoever’s got me riled up lately. And I try to say thanks for something that works and offer a suggestion about improving something that doesn’t. Not just complain, although it’s tempting. There’s no shortage of issues, large or small, to address.
Of course, lately, I’ve been researching the issue of Medicare’s required memory test. Medicare actually threatens doctors with not being paid if they don’t do the test. Using a sledge hammer when tweezers would be more effective.
Meanwhile, after the “double whammy” from the Supreme Court on guns and abortion, I have plenty of fodder when my Medicare letter is done and sent.
I make good use of my current self — young as always.