(Editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich and published 8/25/13 by the Atlanta Journal Constitution
Over the span of about a week, I watched as my right ankle began swelling and stiffening, and then my calf began swelling, and then my upper leg, and finally, the whole right side of my body (breast and face included) swelled up to the point that I looked like the Michelin Man's Wife. This is not good, I thought to myself, so I showed my leg to my neighbor.
She freaked and told me to grab my Medicare card, she was taking me to the ER of Methodist Hospital of Southern California ("Arcadia Methodist"). And when I showed the admissions clerk my leg, she freaked, ordered a wheelchair and put me at the front of the line.
The ER doctor, a very funny young man, did not freak, but he did tell me I might have thrown one or more blood clots so he would be ordering a whole slew of tests. And, boy!, did he. I had a series of ultra sounds to my lungs and legs, blood tests (from a vein and from an artery), a chest x-ray, and then he hooked me up to a whole series of machines until just about every inch of my body was covered with little plastic discs which would hold the lead wires from those machines.
There were no blood clots. There was, however, a massive bacterial infection which for some reason only affected my right side. The jury is still out as to why just one side of my body was affected, but one part of that right side was my lung, so by mid-day I was having some trouble breathing.
Dr. Hong (the funny ER doc who calmed me down by using a hilarious Irish accent) started me on an IV of hydrating fluids and another with Cipro, an anti-bacterial antibiotic. And then he told me he'd be admitting me one day at least.
That Cipro did the trick, so I got to come home on Tuesday evening, On the way home. we picked up the prescriptions and discovered that my Medicare Part D coverage was in full force. That relieved a lot of my anxiety. I hoped that was a harbinger that my Medicare Part B was going to cover what must be at least $45,000 worth of tests. That still remains to be seen.
At any rate, I'm home, with my old cat, wondering whether this was a signal the universe was giving me that my days of independent living are about over. That also remains to be seen. I'll be waiting to see the Social Security and Medicare raises at the end of the year before I make any decisions.
All I can say is thanks to whatever stands behind this universe for Medicare and for LBJ's push for it.