Thoughts On Aging

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Just some observations on aging;
feel free to ignore if you’re young. 

You know you’re getting older when…

* when TGIF means “thank goodness I’m finished!” because you weren’t actually sure you could MAKE it through the week…

* when you double-book an evening out, not because you have an active social life, but because you forgot to write down your plans so you wouldn’t forget…

* when you watch an 89 yr. old co-worker hobble away and think to yourself, “man, I wish I could still move like that!”

* when your idea of a “perfect moment” involves a foam mattress pad and a cat…

* when “success” for you means the bills got paid on time because A. you managed to put in a full week’s work, and B. you remembered to pay them… (Thank you e-mail reminders)

* when someone asks you if you want to take a walk after work and you literally laugh out loud because you haven’t actually been able to walk after work in years… (especially on Friday!)

Mica - April & May 006

* when your choice of who to wake up with in the morning devolves to non-human species because, frankly, they are a lot less demanding and easier to deal with in the long run… (Mine has mottled fur and golden eyes)…

* when you start choosing food on a menu based on what you can chew, rather than on what actually looks good to eat…

*when the first word of every conversation you have is “what?” Followed immediately by “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that.”

* when friends and co-workers watch you as walk by, just in case you choose that moment for a “random gravity check”…

* when the music you grew up with (and still love and listen to) is called “classic”…

*when you realize you’d never get through an hour long TV show without that magical rewind button (assuming you can find it, of course!)…

*when you can remember remembering your best friend’s phone number, but now you can’t remember how to look it up…

*when you remember baking your TV dinners in the oven for 35-40 minutes each (“you mean it’s a whole dinner ready in just 45 minutes?  Without using any pans or dishes?!  How cool is that?!”)…

*when you remember the anticipation you used to feel every time the phone rang, wondering who might be calling and if you should answer it.  And the frustration and mystery of not knowing who it was if you didn’t…

*when marketing groups start targeting you for life insurance and retirement homes…

* when panic sets in because you suddenly realize that book club is coming up and you haven’t done the reading yet… (and the fact that you actually wrote the book in question doesn’t help a bit, because you can’t remember what’s in those particular chapters!) and finally…

*when you write a list like this and have to keep checking it to make sure you haven’t repeated yourself…

Of course, in a few more years it probably won’t matter if I keep repeating myself, because I won’t remember to check!

 

I’m All Ears

Since the government agency wouldn’t accept Total Hearing’s proposal for the daughter’s hearing aids, she had to go to another hearing center, get her hearing retested and have another proposal sent in.  Because I/we provide most of her transportation, the wife and I went along and watched and listened.  The more we saw and heard, the more dissatisfied the wife became with both the hardware and the customer interaction.  With three of their number being charged with various frauds, there was no assurance that they would remain in business to provide future parts and service.  When they handed over the hearing aids, they verbally assured us that there was a 90-day return period, if we were not happy for any reason.

The wife decided to take them up on their offer, and we were immediately tangled in red tape.  They got our payment immediately, via MasterCard, but wanted four to six weeks to issue a refund cheque.  Yes, we could return the hearing aids….for a restocking charge, something not mentioned in the rush to get our money deposited.  They would return our money, less $150….per ear.  Damn!  That’s $600 dollars total, for the two of us, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It seemed well worth the money to get away from such an unreliable, unscrupulous bunch of money-grubbers.

We went to the Arnold Hearing Centre in Kitchener.  It’s the business base for four other Arnold Centres in the nearby Southern Ontario area.  From the time we walked in we felt comfortable.  They took the time, and provided information and support that Total Hearing never bothered to.  The hearing test was longer and more involved.  Data taken for our files was more extensive.  The staff was just more personable and helpful, rather than focussed on the sales bottom line.

The model of hearing aid we chose was a little more complex than the bottom of the barrel units foisted on us by Total Hearing.  We wound up shelling out another, extra $600, but the difference is noticeable.  They are slightly smaller and lighter.  They have a wider range of controls, and they come with a business-card sized remote control to direct them.  They’re even smart enough to have a little voice that tells you “battery”, when it’s time to replace them.

Arnolds included, not one, but two, boxes of batteries, for each of us, at no extra cost.  We had bought a box of batteries from Total Hearing, but they would not give a refund for the unused balance.  I asked if Arnolds would take them as an exchange, since they were a different size from the ones in the new units, and they were happy to do so.  In fact, the day we were there, our technician said that he was running a bit short of that particular size and could use them till new stock arrived.

The cost of the unit which plugs into a TV, and broadcasts directly to the ear is $300.  Arnolds was happy that we had decided to use their Centre but felt badly that we had been dinged on the refund at Total, so they included one, at no charge.  We took it home and plugged it in.  The first night we wanted to watch a movie, it was amazing.  Not only is there no straining to make out the dialog, it makes it feel as if you are standing in the middle of the action.  We watch a fair amount of British TV, including Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.  Perhaps now, with our ears practically in the midst of the action, we will be able to forego the distracting subtitles to clearly catch the British-isms.  The most recent captioner for Poirot obviously doesn’t have the script, and makes mistakes even I can catch, especially when Hercule lapses into a bit of French.

I know that this post is probably uninteresting because it’s such a personal rant.  I just needed it, to vent my frustration at getting pulled in by some fast-talking snake-oil salesmen.  It’s also a cautionary tale for others, to think about any deal, especially one worth four thousand dollars.  After the fact, I can find no on-line review site for either the Total Hearing Centres, or the Arnold Hearing Centres, so I decided to post this to provide my own opinions about their relative merits and demerits.  If I can prevent even one potential Southern Ontario customer from being caught in the mercenary web of Total Hearing, it will have been worth it.

Please forgive my choler.  I will be back in a day or so with something a bit more universally interesting.  At least I hope it will be mildly interesting….I heard that!

Saturday The Fourteenth

On Saturday, the fourteenth, we got another call from the Money Mill doctors’ clinic.  The wife’s doctor is moving from family practice to Hematology.  She only works as a G. P. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  She is taking the entire month of April as vacation.  They wanted us to come over on Sunday to see a replacement doctor, the cosmetic surgeon again, as it turned out.  I had already made plans to take the daughter and a friend of hers to the Free Thinkers luncheon on Sunday morning.  I expected to be home about 1 PM.  The wife wanted a phone call when we left.

The last time we had to go to the clinic, they had put up signs saying that you could phone in and put your name on the list and get an approximate serve-time.  That way you could sit at home or get a coffee at Tim Hortons and miss the wait at the clinic.  When you do show up, they give you one of those buzzy, light-flashing flying-saucers you get at The Outback.  We called the wife at one, and she called the clinic, only to find that the phone-ahead was cut off at noon, and all the good times were actually taken by ten.  We got there by two, were almost the last served, just before five.  The diagnosis was that her allergies cause constipation, and the Prescription was for another over-the-counter medication.  She says, if it’s important, they’ll insist that she come in during working hours for a scheduled visit, no more of these three-hour, wasted afternoons, which only cause more inhalant allergies.

The daughter managed to get another hearing test and recommendation, from a different hearing clinic.  Their submission was accepted by ODSP.  I drove her to pick up her new Hearing Assistors today.  The only thing left to do for paper-work is have her doctor sign the prescription sheet, so these nice people can get paid.  See above.  The doctor is on holiday.  The earliest appointment she could get was May 2.  They understand, and say they’ll wait.  Her units are far nicer than the ones the wife and I got.  She gets a business-card sized remote control.  She can turn the volume up and down on each. She can turn either, on or off.  She can switch from front mike, to rear, and with the purchase of an $80 box, she can plug into a stereo or TV, and have it broadcast directly to the units.  Our $2900 units won’t do any of that.  Hers were only $2500.  20/20 hindsight.  If only we’d gone here first.

We have an interesting way of celebrating Friday the Thirteenth, fairly locally.  Some of you may have heard of it.  It started way back in 1981.  As a gag, on a Friday the Thirteenth, 25 local bikers got together, and rode about sixty miles south, to a town on Lake Erie, called Port Dover.  They had a great day and each of them told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on.   The next year there were over a hundred, and after that, it just took off.  It’s like the Canadian equivalent of the Sturgis meet.  Bikers now come from all over to attend.

The town of Port Dover is a little over 6000 population.  This year they had between six and eight thousand bikes.  Some of them had passengers, but the total estimated crowd was between fifty and seventy thousand people.  They close off the road into town, and only bikes get to enter.  Huge crowds of folks show up to mingle and watch.  Cars are parked along roads for miles.  Some farmers make more renting a field or two as parking lots, than they do on crops, the rest of the year.  There can be up to three FTTs a year, but they don’t always happen when the weather’s nice.  Even if they occur in Jan. or Feb., some of the boys still make the run.  Some of them run tricycles, some strap on a sidecar and some of them just fire up the Buick.

The residents of Port Dover have been interviewed over the years.  Aren’t you worried about drugs and drunks and violence?  The answer is always no!  Oh sure, with sixty thousand people in town, something always happens, but not usually from the bikers, who are on their best behavior.  It’s a great financial shot in the arm for the town, and the gawkers often return for a bit of tourism.  In the twenty years I rode a motorcycle, I often thought about taking the ride, but I was cheap and had too strong a work ethic.  It would have been fun, but I just couldn’t see losing a day’s pay.  I had hoped to be able to do it after I retired, but a dumb accident pretty much ruled that out.

What does or does not get printed in the papers can be interesting and amusing.  KayJai lives a thousand miles away, but today I read a story of a guy in her city, who dug up and carted off in his pickup, a tree from the landscaping at a new Canada Post building.  I howled at the line, “with Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in pursuit.”  I can just see the poor tree in the back of the truck.  That must have been like the OJ Simpson, low-speed chase.  She says they don’t hear about the Oktoberfest silliness that happens here, when we get eighty to a hundred thousand visitors.  Something to look forward to, fans.