The dermatologist prescribed Bacoban, a small tube of topical cream, for a skin infection. When my wife picked it up for me, she was charged $71. My AARP drug insurance, she was told, didn't cover this non-generic drug. Insane, I thought. I've paid less for chemotherapy.
I called the pharmacist. Hadn't the doctor indicated that a generic would be okay? Yes, he said, but the doctor had prescribed a cream, and the generic, Mupirocin, only came in an ointment.
Cream, ointment, so?
Big difference, said the pharmacist, but the best he could come up with was something about staining clothes.
I called the doctor. I could almost hear him shrug over the phone. Ointment, cream, so?
I went back to the pharmacist, returned the Bacoban for $71 and bought the Mupirocin ointment. My insurance kicked in. It was $7.
This is no screed against Big Pharma (if you aren't up on that you probably haven't read this far.) It's just another early warning beep that all of us in LIFE(Part2) are hearing more often these days.
My "condition" was basically an angry pimple. What if it were serious? What if I was weak or confused? What if a lot of money was involved? What if I was alone?
This goes back to questions I asked on Show #6, Fighting Ageism. Why can't we organize, on both a national and local level, to push back against commercial and political forces taking advantage of us? Whatever happened to the Gray Panthers?
For starters, how about an Elders Council in every community to help out people who need some advice about something daunting in their lives - medical, legal, financial, social? It could come out of a community center, a church group, a library. Just a neighbor calling up, confused, to ask what you know about creams and ointments.
Five of my favorite guests passed through New York last month, and I got to hang out and dine with each of them. Rare fun. Too often, even terrific TV interviews leave the feeling of a psychic one-night stand - when it's over, it's over. Happily, LIFE(Part2) is forever.
All-time fave Mary Ann Becklenberg was in town to do a spot for Good Morning America's website. She invited me along and I ended up on the podcast with its health correspondent, Meg Oliver. As you remember, Mary Ann, the star of Show #11, was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimers at 61. She was a hospice social worker at the time, a passionate and sophisticated advocate for her clients. Her devoted co-workers covered for her lapses - she missed meetings, forgot information. Her LP2 interview, at 64, was riveting and heart-breaking - yet also inspiring. Her message was simple and went beyond her affliction- Treat yourself gently and concentrate on what you have, not what you've lost. Mary Ann and I had a good time at lunch after the GMA gig (she's still quick and funny); we promised each other to do it again even if she didn't remember. Her wonderful husband was along, and Mary Ann agreed when I dubbed him Saint John.
A few days later, at a risqué Harvard Club panel on Relationships, Dr. Marianne Legato (Show #5), Dr. Robert Schwalbe, (#8), and Suzanne Braun Levine (#1) mesmerized that over-educated audience with their hard-won experience. The hottest topics were how to deal with the children that a new partner brings along and that old standard, infidelity. Married for more than 40 years, Suzanne became an LP2 icon with her observation that "the first thirty-seven years were the hardest." On this night, when Suzanne described her husband's extended trips without her, Marianne jumped in to say that she'd never trust a man out by himself. Marianne is a single mom who was married long ago for ten years; she's had many satisfying relationships since, thank you, she said.
Robert, who mostly treats men, advised all not to jump into bed before establishing an intimate relationship. Dr. Jane Adams (#2, #5 ) an expert on intergenerational matters (she wrote the book I'm Still Your Mother) was in the audience to lend support and ask a few excellent questions.
I had a wonderful time at both events, lots of talk, food, and a reprise of my favorite television show.