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Guestwords: Hi Ho, It’s Off to Work I Go

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 11:47

How remarkable it is that at this Medicare stage of my life I land a job, while others of my generation have been given the boot, or have given it to themselves once they saw themselves as the office dinosaur, or felt that their co-workers saw them as such.

What’s my job? I go to the doctor. Yes. That’s my job. It started out part time, but now it’s full. I work hard, complete the tasks assigned. My bonus for that is to be shuffled by my medical team from one to the other of their doctor pals — maybe an M.R.I., just to be sure of this or that, maybe a biopsy.

And I take work home. Like right now, I’m in physical therapy twice a week. Ankle twist. The work here is grueling and needs more time than my insurance will cover for work on site.

Also I’m in psychotherapy once a week to spill my guts over general life, once infused with parties and travel, now reduced to binge-watching “Law & Order” a second time around. (So what? I don’t know that until I’m halfway in.)

When I have time off from recurring therapies, my work is varied, different each week but still demanding. The dermatologist finds trouble on the tip of my nose and also future trouble popping out all over the place. Not steady work, I know, but I’m asked to return in a couple of weeks to check the healing where more stuff is on the rise. A continuum if you will.

The periodontist cleans and scales every three months, and how quickly that email reminder rears its ugly head. Prior to my appointment, I do a number on my gums at home — floss, pic, proxy brush. I do this in my car when I’m in the passenger seat and also at the movies when the lights dim. Now it occurs to me — and I should get a bonus for this piece of brilliance — they should sell a dental kit at the candy counter, packaged as a set with the candy, so you can counteract the peanut chews or gummy fish (my personal favorite).

Often my work keeps me too busy, but then I see the upside. Now I have something to talk about with my friends. The phone rings and I discuss my job with whoever is calling. Here, sensitivity is key. Alice got upset when I said my feet hurt while she was in the hospital for knee surgery. Mary gets upset when I discuss the removal of squamous cells on my person when she is going for heart surgery. I watch my step. But if I stop telling, my friends usurp the conversation with their stuff. Who needs that?

Today was a banner day at work. Frozen shoulder, which I never heard of, let alone I haven’t even been in the freezer that much. X-rays will be done. I’ll work to thaw out. In any case, I do have the extra shoulder.

And on the heels of that, a new job opportunity pops up from Medicare: If I have two or more chronic diseases, I qualify for a free monthly follow-up from somebody. Boy do I qualify: 1) Chronic suffering is my lot caused by a disease known as hypochondriacal syndrome; 2) I work too hard.


Hinda Gonchor’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Gannett newspapers, and previously in The Star. She lives part time in East Hampton.


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