Growing Old is Not for Sissies….

Each morning, when we get up, my husband and I look at each other and remark that growing old is not for sissies. An incident Tuesday proved it. We’d been at a son’s house for dinner, and when we came out onto his back deck, it was dark and drizzling. I missed a step, and went down hard on a brick walk, fracturing my pelvis and clavicle.

I’m posting this from the hospital, and it looks as if I’ll need a couple of weeks in a rehab facility before going home. It will heal and I’ll be fine–but it will take some time, and it requires juggling a lot of commitments and inconveniencing a lot of people. (If I miss a day or two of posting–which I hope won’t happen, but may–you’ll know why.)

When something like this happens, it not only interrupts the habits and daily flow of life, it also prompts some unwelcome thinking about growing older and the fragility of life. On the other hand, it’s a reminder of what’s really important–family, friends, and meaningful work.

But you can never entirely take the nerdiness out of someone who teaches public policy, so this was also an occasion to be grateful for good health insurance, and to wonder–once again–why efforts to extend that same peace of mind to others evokes so much resistance. A fall like mine could bankrupt someone without coverage–a missed step on a rainy night could mean loss of a home, savings, the ability to send a child to college.

Why would anyone fight to continue a system like that?

On Facebook a couple of days ago, someone posted a picture of a hat shaped like the one Donald Trump has been wearing–the one he emblazoned with “Make America Great Again.” This one, however, had a different  and far better sentiment.

Make America Kind Again.

67 thoughts on “Growing Old is Not for Sissies….

  1. So sorry to learn of this accident. I hope you heal quicker than anticipated and get home soon. Meanwhile, as you are in the hospital, keep in mind that old saying by Lazlo Tooth, “Being in the hospital gives you a chance to catch up on your jello.”
    Get well soon!

  2. Dear Sage Sheila, Being total klutz my whole life I know well, the inconvenience of a fall. I am so very sorry you have to go through this pain and only hope you mend quickly. This area is so lucky to have your tutelage.

  3. So sorry about you accident; please make your priority your full healing. With your busy, involved, vital lifestyle, your frustration level must equal your pain level. We will be here when you are able to return full-force. Being thankful for good health care is one thing; being hospitalized and forced to put it to the test might be something else…but could provide fodder for your blogs:) As Theresa quoted, “…catch up on your jello…” If you are in Methodist; try their Tilapai, it was very good when I was there.

    Seriously; I am so very sorry about your accident, and it is a serious situation so concentrate on your full recovery.

  4. I echo the sentiment expressed by the above poster about your accident, I hope all goes well. But a lot of folks don’t have your “good” insurance and most likely do not have your income. It’s quite frustrating to hear from friends in other industrialized countries how their nationalized healthcare is working well for them. It’s also frustrating to realize this country cannot and will not do the right thing and offer Medicare for all. In fact,Hillary Clinton has said we will “never have single payer in this country.”

    It’s astounding the biggest roadblock to national healthcare in this country is coming from the Democratic Party. The ACA isn’t working. It’s not the appropriate cure for America’s needs. Access to insurance isn’t access to healthcare. No matter how mellifluous the platitudes and canards.

    You’re right and I agree. I cannot and will not understand why there are some people vehemently opposed for the universal access to first rate healthcare for all Americans. One expects such attitudes from Republicans….But from Democrats? When the Democratic Party abandoned labor et al in favor the managerial class and the educated bourgeoisie is when the party abandoned its core principles and constituency.

  5. Thankful for you and all you do to make this world a better place!!!!
    Hope your recovery is quick.

  6. Jello! Blech! I fed mine to my husband. Before you go home, get someone to walk through your house and on sidewalks, making sure it’s safe to walk. Get a cane. Before you go home, get someone to bring voter reg cards and register nurses. Lots of them aren’t registered to vote. Stick a poster for favorite candidate in a flower arrangement. I’m sorry you hurt. Make a campaign for all public places to install hand rails. Keep us posted for progress.

  7. Sheila–so sorry about your mishap, but you’re no sissy, so I know you’ll be fine. If you want a visit and some Starbucks coffee, you know how to get ahold of me.

  8. Hope you heal well and quickly. I recently had nerve surgery on my left arm. I have decent insurance, but it’s still going to cost me several thousand dollars. Someone in a worse position than mine could be taken down by this, and it shouldn’t be allowed in a society as fiscally rich as ours. Get better soon!

  9. Sorry for your mishap. I’m a contemporary – maybe a few years behind you – I’m doing my best to keep fit to avoid an incident like yours. But, you never know what’s around the bend. Wishing you a speedy and complete recovery.

  10. Oh Sheila, I am so sorry to hear this and sincerely hope that you mend completely and quickly. A good friend of mine told me once that as we get older we don’t bounce as well as we did when we were younger. Unfortunately for all of us, he was right and I know this from personal experience.

    My very best regards to you and Keep your chin up!!!

  11. Wishing you a speedy recovery! I fractured my pelvis years ago so I can sympathize with you. I only stayed in the hospital for less than 24 hours (for a variety of reasons). It was very humbling to need to use a walker for several weeks as I learned how to navigate both my home and the outside world while needing to keep both hands on a device to be able to remain upright. Most importantly, I learned just how difficult the physical world is for people that have a disability.

    Sheila, you have such a wonderful and widespread forum to tell the rest of the world about what can happen financially to people in just the blink of a second when they don’t have good health insurance. I hope you will be able to change the minds of some people that are against Medicare for all.

    You asked “why would anyone fight to continue a system like that”. It is selfishness and greed. Even before the ACA was enacted I recall people that had good insurance complaining that they would have to wait to get in to see their doctor if more people became insured and that possibility really angered them. Just one small example of the selfishness in our country.

    As you mentioned, you are very blessed to have good insurance and I am happy that you won’t be financially strapped just because of one little missed step.

    Finally, as a fellow Type A person I am going to guess that your recovery will be frustrating. Try to behave and follow the doctor’s orders. I didn’t.

  12. I hope your body heals quickly and you mind enjoys the change of perspective.

  13. Best wishes, Sheila. I’m sure you will mend and be back as strong as ever.

  14. Well, darn it……..grit your teeth and feel better. Do absolutely everything PT says to do…they and the nurses are the gods of health care. Sending healing thoughts…….

  15. Sheila. . . enjoy the solitude, if you can. . . perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, given that my experience has been that the hospital staff seems bent on showing up too frequently. The solution to that is to ring the buzzer. That usually keeps them away.

    I associate the quote, “Growing old is not for sissies” with Tallulah Bankhead, for some reason. But it’s quite accurate as my 72 year old body and mind can attest.

    Enjoy the time reading if you can. Keep your blood pressure down by leaving to TV off.

    I’m assuming that you’ll still be blogging which will assure those of us who each day follow you that you’re alive and well. . .

    And I can’t resist the temptation to observe that as bad as you feel, you are much better off than the current state of our friends in the GOP. John Carter

  16. Please get healed soon and keep moving as much as possible. One misstep may lead to new insights into healthcare concerns as you have indicated. But most of all, you are a voice for reason in an unreasonable time. We value this forum and you as a place of refuge and civility for those who are willing to participate in our Constitutional republic without rancor.

    My husband agrees with and his mantra of late has been that getting old is not for wimps. He and I both has daily aches and pains that mean less mobility and limits to activities we once enjoyed. It is a price we are just barely able to afford with much of our limited income paying insurance premiums, Medicare and Advanced coverage as well as out of pocket. It makes up more than a third of our monthly income.

    Always look on the brighter side of life, as the song goes. A positive attitude like yours means a quicker recovery. We will keep our positive thoughts coming to you and your family as you heal.

  17. Speedy Recovery Prof. So sorry to hear of your injury. After I am in the hospital for a bit and get REALLY bored, I find myself discussing political things with the staff.
    EX: You folks pay SS Taxes on 100% of your income. Why do you think the Doctors and administrators only pay on 1/4 of their income? Does that seem right to you? It leads to some fun exchanges.
    GET WELL and get home soon.

  18. Going to sue your son?……….oh, wait, he’s an attorney…….never mind………Love, Scott and Caran Keller

  19. So sorry about your accident! It’s such an opportunity for learning new skills: how to carry your coffee while using a walker… Registering people to vote from your bed is a great idea. Listening to your favorite music turned up loud will help you keep your spirits up.

  20. Ah, Sheila, so sorry for the physical pain and existential angst your fall has caused. So glad for your supportive family and good health insurance. You’re right: health concerns are unwieldy enough without adding financial hardship to the mix. [Single-payer, single-payer, single-payer….] (Here’s hoping you’re up and around again soon.)

  21. Get well quickly. The best way to do that is through the physical therapy that they will soon have you doing. It will be tough, but the end result is worth it.

    Not sure America has ever really been kind, but it has had a better sense of purpose.

  22. A couple of months ago I spend a day in the hospital and underwent a battery of tests. I was treated so well by the nicest caregivers. At the same time, it was maddening to realize how many duplicate procedures these professionals were forced to perform on me for – I assume – fear of lawsuits. That is what drives the cost of healthcare through the roof. Maybe we’ll hear from you about this topic in the future. Wishing you all the best and a speedy recovery. (Rather than prayers I’ll make an extra donation to a favorite charity.)

  23. Take advantage of forced relaxation and heal quickly. It’s okay to let others help you! Sorry to hear of your tumble.

  24. So very sorry to hear about the accident and unpleasant results, Sheila. May your recovery be smooth and your patience expanded!

  25. Best wishes for a full and complete recovery. Like they say “watch that first step”.

  26. Sheila,

    This is why we geezers say we don’t mind aging, it’s the side effects that are hard to take! I hope there was no need for any surgical procedures and that once all is stabilized, you will be back on the road again. Although I dearly wish this hadn’t happened, I’m glad that the prognosis is good. You’ll be back on your feet soon!


  27. When I was a boy I figured out the end of life. First you got hardening of the arteries and acted funny then you fell and broke your hip then you died.

    Obviously you’re off script on the hardening of the arteries and death part. In fact if you hold off death until your work here is done you’ll outlive us all.

    So sorry to hear about the fall.

    My advice? Despite the temptation of jello at every meal get out of the hospital as soon as humanly possible. Bad stuff happens there.

    BTW don’t watch any TV hospital shows in there they’ll scare you to death.

    Advice columnists would probably advise look for the opportunities. The fact that you can’t do some stuff means that you can do stuff that you didn’t have time for before.

    You’ve got many friends here pulling for a speedy recovery each in our own way and that in itself is a powerful sign of a life very well spent. Keep it up.

  28. Noooo, I’m so sorry to hear about the fall! Rats. That’s just bad luck. I hope your recovery is quick and easy. Hopefully, the pain killers don’t cause more problems too. Eat whole foods and avoid that stuff they serve in those rehab centers. Maybe in your boredom, you can start to write another book? Get Well soon.

  29. Ow, ow, ow! So sorry to hear about your fall and injuries, Sheila!

    Be sure to rest, and beware of watching too much of the coverage on Drumpf. I see Nuvo has decided to use his “real” name, just as John Oliver suggested.

    Now, it may not do any good, but at least it’s his real name — and it also does not have the tendency to think of a winning hand. Instead, it’s more like his real character. Drumpf goes with his haircut — the Drumpf cut.

  30. To Ken Glass, who said, “At the risk of offending some, I’ll pray for you.”:

    Good grief!

    Ken, do you know what offends us? The persecution complex of those who constitute the vast majority and make up the dominant culture, but who for some reason always feel put upon when asked not to force their way of life on others.

    No one minds if you practice your religion, and no one minds if you pray for Sheila. As a matter of fact, I take it as a sign of your generosity and good nature that you do so. I wish her the best as well!

  31. Be aggressive with that therapy and take the pain pill a half hour before the PT PT means “pain and torture”.

  32. I’m so sorry to hear of your injuries. As someone who once walked away from the hospital with an $11,000 bill – today likely to be $50,000 – I, too, am thankful for good health insurance. It drives me crazy when people say that no one is turned away from care. Sure, they can get care, but they also get a legion of flying monkeys set upon them when they can’t pay the bill.

    Good energy your direction >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  33. Dr. Kennedy, I am so sorry to hear that. I agree with Stuart, take the pain pill before therapy sessions. I pray quick healing for you! Don’t push it till the doctor says go.

  34. So sorry for your ordeal. I’ve been in rehab for a spell and it is working really well. Best to you and Bob

  35. Just now logged onto my computer, and your blog entry for the day was the last thing I expected to find. Sharing my first thought, “Well, dayum, if Sheila’s fallen can we be far behind?”

    On a more serious note, a speedy recovery is my wish for you. Take care and if you are able, enjoy a bit of enforced physical rest.

  36. Damn! Luckily your mind and fingers are not affected and you seem to be in good spirits. I echo all the good wishes and excellent advice from the other posters.

  37. Waiting to hear that you’re back on your feet. We all need your unique wisdom. Take good care!!

  38. I’m very sorry, Sheila. It must be very painful. I hope they’re giving you good drugs. If you miss some column, don’t worry about it. We’ll miss you but as JoAnn said, we’ll be here when you get back.

  39. Sadly it is true, growing old is not for sissies — but it beats the alternatives.
    Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.

  40. As Ms Kennedy also wrote today, “…so this was also an occasion to be grateful for good health insurance…” Using Ms Kennedy’s mention of health care prompts the below comment.

    As a participant in Medicare insurance for a couple of years, I have absolutely no complaints about the level of care I’ve received or the benefits.

    What’s not to like about having approximately $110 per month for Basic Medicare deducted from each SS benefit check plus opting to pay a $29 monthly premium to United Health Care via its AARP Medicare Complete PPO Plan? Mind you, this $29 monthly premium includes prescription drug coverage for prescription medications in Tier 1 and Tier 2 (generic drugs) that cost zero for a month’s supply. Doctor office visits require a nominal $10 copay. Additionally, gym membership is included with zero cost. For $140 per month, I now have better healthcare coverage for less money than I did for decades in group healthcare insurance offered by my employer.

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