Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Choose Optimism

It only took one day of fussing with health insurance issues, COBRA and Medicare to move me off center. Add on top of that my mother hogging the telephone line all day, because her siblings and in-laws were engaging in unconscionable behavior, and the day was a doozy.

Herb and I spent much of yesterday and all of today straightening out his health insurance status with COBRA and Medicare after learning he had been given misinformation by his H.R. department when he retired at the end of January. Trying to do a financial analysis of the convoluted way that deductibles, co-insurance and the donut hole (Medicare Part D coverage gap) are applied will liquefy anyone's gray cells.

It didn't help when the H.R. manager said, "I've only been at my job two weeks," as an excuse for why she was unable to provide any reliable information to us. She didn't know she was speaking to a former customer service manager of an $8 billion bank, and I have some strong feelings about how to treat customers. But, oops, my error, because former employees are not customers. I guess that justifies the poor treatment. The corporate mantra, "Our employees are our most valuable asset," in my observation, is largely a euphemism.

My mother's sister-in-law called early in the day to report that Mom's brother had fallen seriously ill. The short version of the whole sorry saga of that dysfunctional part of the family is that Mom finally had to call her sister in another state to get the cell phone number of her brother's son, hours later, so that he could take his father to the hospital. At the end of the day, the sister-in-law is angry at Mom for being a "busy body," and my mother's brother is hospitalized with complications from a stroke. Thank God my mother is sensible, assertive and inured to criticism, or her poor brother would be dead now.

Normally, I am one of the most optimistic people you can hope to meet. I believe in the goodness of people. I believe in possibilities. I believe in good outcomes, even when the situation is dire. But, frankly, the idiocy of bureaucracy (is that redundant?) cuts me off at the knees and just flattens me, totally. I might have been okay, taken things in stride, if not for the background noise in the household of my mother and the saga of her brother's medical emergency.

So, to restore hope and optimism in our household, we resorted to the tried and true balm of a family meal. We invited Steel, who's been painting in the back bedroom, to sit down with us. Mom and I fixed a roast turkey dinner with yummy sauteed onion brussels sprouts, which everyone praised, and we ate our weight in ice cream. It was good to sit with loved ones and commiserate over the day's unhappy events, to laugh at stories of previous bad days from the distant past, and to indulge in the creature comfort that a shared meal brings.

I am reminded that I am fortunate, because I have a family that loves me and the wherewithal to be in a position to have health insurance, to indulge in a special feast for assuaging our day's frustrations and to be healthy enough emotionally, mentally and spiritually to bounce back from a bad day. I know that my sisters and brothers in war zones, in prisons and in poverty don't share my good fortune.

Optimism, like love, is an act of will. I can choose optimism and see possibilities, or I can choose frustration and its slow or quick slide into bleakness and despair. I don't know about anyone else, but for me, it's not helpful to have others - like my husband - point out my funk and try to lift me out of it.

What is helpful, and what was helpful today, is my friends, like all those Facebook friends, saying things like, "We get where you're at," and "We're saying a prayer for you." That makes a huge difference, and I thank my wonderful friends for their listening and hearing, and for their prayers and good vibes sent through cyberspace. God's peace, everyone, in the middle of this Holy Week.



Thanks to brother Jon for pointing out the word I was looking for was "redundant."

PseudoPiskie said...

{{{Lelanda}}}. Our folks taught us to laugh. Others often wonder if we are crazy or disrespectful but we think laughter is one of the greatest gifts anyone could receive. It certainly keeps life in perspective.

Truth's apprentice said...

as always, your 'take on things' inspires me.


Shel, I found this quote attributed to Saint Francis de Sales today: "Humor is the foundation of reconciliation."

Deborah Sampson said...

I do think we need to get together for a cup of tea (or other suitable beverage) and compare notes on retiring and/or laid-off husbands and share tips for coping with COBRA snafus!