|Bill has lunch on his last day at the hospital (he left most of the food)|
Last month, after witnessing Bill slug through another ordeal in dealing with the VA for him health care I decided that I would be his official caregiver.
This is a job I should have undertaken years earlier but I was either too lazy or just wanted to respect Bill for his independence.
When Bill and I first met I was twenty-two years old and Bill thirty-five. Even though my three years in the Army (from age 18 to 21) matured me immensely, I was still in many ways a (have to be careful with what I say) "kid" and Bill was the "man." After all he was almost old enough to be my father. He was only five years younger than my Mother.
Over the years our roles have gradually changed.
When I met Bill in 1964 he was making three times my income. When we build our house in 1980 I was making twice what Bill was making. I advised him to take early retirement (at 55 years of age) because I was making enough money for the both of us. Of course you know how that worked out. Two years later Mellon Bank bought Girard Bank where I worked. Four years later I lost my job.
Fortunately I got another job at another bank. Then I began an odyssey of jobs from working at two more banks, as a consultant and finally as a hotel front desk clerk. In between those jobs I had a summer job as a gardener at $8.65 an hour on a rich woman's estate. But I digress.
Through all this adventure, I managed to keep us afloat even through the housing crises of 2006 where we almost went under with our house on the market for eleven months and a new house mortgage to pay for.
A few years ago I noticed that Bill began slipping. Hell, I began slipping too. But you do what you have to do. Survival is what life is all about. That an a little love too, if you're lucky.
Now, the past few years with having gone through several medical issues myself, I realize that the end is near. We've been lucky because Bill has been relatively healthy during all these years. In fact he's even VERY healthy. But at 88 years old, body parts start to fail. I've noticed that fact with myself (you should see me get out of bed in the morning) and with my friends.
Two nights ago when I responded to the "tap, tap" on the floor beneath this chair in my home office at my computer, and I saw Bill naked and bloody lying postrate on the floor at the bottom of the stairs, I realized that our live if fundamentally changing.
I took care of what had to be taken care of that night to get Bill immediate medical care. Now I have to deal with the Catch-22 bureaucracy of the VA in getting Bill's medications and medical bills paid for. He doesn't have Medicare Part B, only Part A. I have both Part A and Part B (at least until Trump and his Republican cohorts dismantle Medicare and privatize the program) so my journey through the Medical Treadmill is much easier. Not so with Bill and his VA care.
Tomorrow we visit the local VA outpatient clinic. I need prescriptions filled for Bill that I got from his recent stay at the hospital. I know that the VA is going to tell me that I have to contact the Wilmington VAMC. WhenI call the Wilmington VAMC then tell me they can fill any prescriptions until his "health care provider" (the doctor he sees at the Georgetown VA) sends them a "note." Thus I'll get the runaround again tomorrow just like I did trying to get his upcoming cataract surgery eye drops medication (the eye doctor finally sent him the medication free of charge - sample bottles he had from salesmen).
I apologize for boring you with all this minutiae but this is what my life will be in the future. I am officially a Caregiver.
In many ways I am lucky though. Bill is still about to get around. His faculties are good. His heart is good both physically and emotionally. But he does tire easily. He's very hard of hearing. He has cataracts which resulting him him losing his license. He doesn't have much of an appetite. He sleeps a lot, which reminds me of my Mother's habits during the last years of her life.
When Bill had his episode this past Sunday night it just reminded me of how much I care for this man I've lived with for the past fifty-two years. This man who has devoted his life to me. This man who has put up with me (I am NOT an easy person to live with) for the past half century.
Even though the next years of my life with Bill will require more from me I can honestly say I feel privileged for my new role.
This is what love is all about folks.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm tired. I'm going to go to bed early tonight to get ready for the next battle tomorrow at the VA Outpatient Clinic.