By the time you read this I will have had my first long-awaited appointment to have a cataract removed from my right eye. The left one has the macular, so that eye is only good for peripheral vision.

Thanks to my glasses and peripheral vision, I’ve been able to drive in the daytime. It is less stressful to drive with glasses. Without glasses, you see four headlights coming at you. With glasses you see only two.

Unless they knock me out, I’m terrified of having an operation on my eye.

I rather enjoy the procedures where they put me to sleep. Because I never drank or used drugs, it is a wonderful experience to get that charge of dopamine or whatever it is that lifts you up and away on a pink cloud.

I’m not as concerned about being able to see again as my wife is.

Every day for years I’ve told her that she is pretty.


Because for the past 30 years we frittered away every cent we could get – buying land contiguous to our farm to put in the forever wild Georges River Land Trust – we have no savings but count on Social Security and a teacher’s pension to pay for our supplemental health insurance.

My wife Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, is a very smart cookie. It goes without saying that she has a complete understanding of our medications – and their procurement, which is another matter entirely – and even more challenging.

Because of the convoluted health care system in this country, it is my firm belief that a person who hovers on average cannot even begin to cope with it. Marsha is not only on top of it. She is all over it.

There is not a program or agency that promises to knock a few bucks off our co-pay that she has not inundated with filled out forms. Everything sent is copied so it will be easier to fill out again should the agency lose them.

You know that this is not an easy thing to do. It is no exaggeration to say that she spends several hours every week, either on the phone or shuffling papers having to do with just our office visits and medications. Correcting the amounts on received invoices and getting on a first-name basis with the person in the billing office is even more challenging.

It is no exaggeration to say that Marsha has saved us hundreds if not thousands of dollars by not letting Them get by with anything.


For example, I went to the pharmacy to pick up three prescriptions. Only one was ready. It was $18. You can well believe that I’d had it drummed into me over and over that it could never be more than five-something. I raised an eyebrow and made old man noises.

Oh, eighteen dollars was right.

“That might be so but when I get home I’m going to hear from management and you are going to get a phone call.”

Sure enough. When I got home I was castigated as an incompetent. Did I show them that new little card from So-and-So that she gave me the other day? No? From now on she was going to have to go in herself, and on and on.

If you have been a husband for any number of years, you know the best thing to say in these situations is nothing, because in only a few minutes she might be sweetly asking if you wouldn’t like another piece of rhubarb pie.

In this particular case, quicker than a slippery lawyer can bail out a mobster in your favorite crime novel, she had documentation for me to run through the copy machine. The new little card she gave me a few days ago was also retrieved from my wallet and copied.


And after her phone call, if I give the friendly pharmacist those documents, all will be well with the world.

My question to you is, should it be necessary for elderly people to have to watch like a hawk bills that come from their friendly health care providers? Shouldn’t we have an hour or two we can call our own when we can simply read, putter in the garden, or watch the hummingbirds?

How many of our elderly friends are either going without proper care or paying much more for health care than they should, simply because they are too weary or not capable of understanding the way our system operates today?

Without my wife, I’d be one of them.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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