I’D JUST ARRIVED IN the charming, car-free village of Murren in the Swiss Alps, and was trying to find my B&B on the helpful signpost near the station. Stepping back for a better view, I tripped over the curb, with my backpack pulling me further off-balance. I went down with my left wrist under my hip.
Two wonderful British couples rushed to my assistance. One pair took my backpack to my B&B and the other escorted me back down the mountain to a doctor’s office.
I DON’T REMEMBER when my hearing started deteriorating. I suppose it came on gradually. I definitely remember when I developed tinnitus—ringing in the ears—and it was tinnitus that sent me to an audiologist in 2012.
She confirmed the information I’d already found on the internet: There’s no cure for tinnitus. While I would always miss the complete silence I’d previously enjoyed, at least mine was a tolerable background hum, unlike some horror stories I’d read.
ONE REASON I WAITED so long to sell my house was my extreme reluctance to move all my belongings. I didn’t want to deal with the hassles involved—because I’d gone through that less than a decade earlier.
In 2013, I had the house renovated. I replaced almost all the flooring, with hardwood downstairs, carpet upstairs and tile in the bathrooms. I also updated the kitchen cabinets. That meant, of course, that every single thing in the house had to be moved.
I NEVER PLANNED TO retire at age 53. I wasn’t an early adopter of the FIRE, or financial independence-retire early, philosophy. In fact, I didn’t start saving seriously until my late 30s, when I left my first husband and finally realized that—unlike pensions in my native U.K.—my U.S. pension didn’t come with an annual cost-of-living adjustment.
Instead, three developments in the late 1990s led me to consider quitting. First, I was no longer enjoying my job.
IF MEDICARE’S A MAZE, its Part D drug plan is a maze within a maze, with no one good path and plenty of so-so choices, along with a couple of potential “gotchas.”
Until 2006, Medicare offered no coverage for outpatient drugs, so today’s situation—however imperfect—is certainly an improvement. It’ll improve even more for people with high drug costs in 2024 and 2025, as I’ll explain at the end of this article.
What if you have Medicare Advantage,
I GREW UP IN ENGLAND, with health-care coverage provided by the National Health Service, so I’m extremely sympathetic to people calling for “Medicare for All.” Still, I do wonder whether they realize that Medicare is neither cheap nor simple. My medical costs in 2021 were more than $10,000, with half of that for a single drug. And it would have been even more without the $3,000 a year kicked in by my former employer.
WE HAVE A MEDICAL profession apparently wedded to the notion that quantity trumps quality. That’s why, although I have no problem with being dead, I have serious concerns about the process of becoming dead. I have no wish to linger for months attached to tubes, or to disappear for years into the mists of dementia.
I have few childhood memories, and I wouldn’t swear to the accuracy of those I have. Still, one from my teens has remained with me.
I EXPECTED TO SPEND early 2017 blogging about my fourth round-the-world trip, which I’d just completed, and planning my next journey. Instead, I spent much of the year on the couch with a heating pad, in between assorted medical appointments, everything from acupuncture to meeting with an infectious disease specialist.
Eventually, I got a definitive diagnosis—I had a form of rheumatoid arthritis—and, in early 2018, an effective medication. But I had been forcibly reminded of something I’d first learned 10 years earlier,