Tag Archives: Medicare

In a Dissimilar Vein

Birdie drew blood the other morning. Or, rather, she had it drawn. Her doctor ordered it as part of Birdie’s “Welcome to Medicare” physical. “Welcome to Medicare” sounded to Birdie like an induction ceremony for the initiates to a special club. The kind where the leaders go into a back room and vote on nominees using white and black balls. Birdie was not black-balled. She’s in. They have her blood.

The technician, Helen, tied on the tourniquet, asked Birdie to make a fist, massaged the vein in the bend of Birdie’s arm, and stuck her. Since blood and having things stuck into her arm makes Birdie’s color pale, she didn’t watch, but she heard Helen make a noise. Just a slight noise, but a noise that definitely implied, ”Hmmm. That didn’t work.”

Helen apologized and said she’d have to find a different vein. As she removed the blood-letting paraphernalia, she explained that this vein had been too small. She’d go for one on the back of Birdie’s hand. Birdie found it sad that of all the things that could have been small–her waist, her nose, her feet, her behind–it turned out to be her veins.

Helen directed Birdie in a number of hand calisthenics in order to pump up the chosen vein with the required volume of blood. Another stick, and they were on their way–filling up two small vials with Birdie’s essence.

After it was over, Birdie recounted her experience to her daughter, Lexy. Lexy said, that unlike Birdie, she had veins that begged to be bled. They stood up and waved–practically shouting, “Choose me! Choose me!”, giving high fives to all the technicians gathered around marveling at the purple plumpness lying practically on the surface of her arms and hands.

It was apparent that Birdie and Lexy did not share vein DNA, but at least, Birdie was in no danger of bleeding to death during the blood-letting ceremony at the “Welcome to Medicare” initiation.

This is my entry in this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge

20130416-093218.jpg The prompt this week was the third definition of color



Birdie had been getting mail from AARP for some time now and had also been taking advantage of senior discounts at the movie theater and fast food restaurants for quite a few years, but she hadn’t been OFFICIALLY OLD. Not OFFICIALLY. Recently, however, the government had alerted her that she was, in fact, OLD. It was now OFFICIAL. Birdie was on the government mailing list for OLD people. It was time to sign up for Medicare.

Birdie went on-line, being assured by Patty Duke, the patron saint of Medicare, that it would be a snap. She began filling out the form but encountered a glitch on the line that asked for her place of birth. She typed in St. Louis. The form kicked it out. Birdie put it in again. Kicked out again. So she reasoned that perhaps the electronic gods of Medicare did not like the abbreviation St. She typed in Saint Louis. The gods mulled that one over for a while and finally digested it and allowed her to click the continue button. She completed the form and was assured that she would hear something soon from Medicare or possibly from Patty Duke, herself.

Birdie did, indeed, hear something soon. She received a letter that told her that the information she had given on-line concerning her place of birth did not match the OFFICIAL OLD PERSON records. She would have to go to her local Social Security office to clear up the misunderstanding.

This was Birdie’s first ever visit to the Social Security office. She found that it is almost as hard to go to the Social Security office as it is to go through the airport, just not as much fun because there is no vacation on the other side. You have to empty your pockets, take off your jacket, surrender your cell phone, and walk through a security monitor. You can leave your shoes on. Apparently shoes do not pose a threat to Social Security officials.

Birdie explained to the young man behind the bullet proof glass, who will probably never get to collect Medicare or Social Security himself, why she was there and showed him her letter. He conferred with his OFFICIAL OLD PERSON computer records, and it turned out Birdie was OFFICIALLY born in Saint Louis or St Louis but not in St. Louis. Good to get that cleared up. So just as soon as Birdie can manage to have another birthday, she’ll be OFFICIALLY eligible for Medicare. That is, if her card arrives in the mail in time. Sure hope they don’t send it to Saint Louis.