By: Ruth Deming
Doctor Foxhall, my primary care doctor, wrote his patients a generic letter suggesting we investigate a new health care plan called “Devoted Health Care.” I grabbed my “Everything Notebook” and dialed the 800 number. “Brandon” was the name of the sales agent. Seemed nice, friendly, but he often talked so fast I couldn’t get a word in.
First, I needed some facts.
The firm was started by two brothers – Ed and Todd Park. Brandon said he had never met them but had talked to them on the phone.
The company was five years old and had greatly expanded: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, Texas, North Carolina and other states.
Finally I found out Brandon was based in Arizona and had been there “less than a year.” While on the phone, I gave him my undivided attention even though I was cognizant of who was walking past my house here on Cowbell Road. It is imperative, I believe, to know who our neighbors are, and to be on good terms with them, like Scott, of course, who has been my boyfriend for sixteen years, and has been charged with driving me to all my doctor appointments.
Sadly, the “Beau” of Cowbell Road, George, died in a retirement home. His wife, Elinor, had passed and George had given me a couple of her lamps and an old Victrola that I, shamelessly, tossed in the Yellow Plastic Bin, our township-owned garbage can.
Surprisingly, George met another gal, after Elinor developed dementia and died, and had flown up to Oregon to meet Sally’s family. When I wrote George again at what he called “the ole ladies’ home” the letter was returned to me.
Brandon and I spoke 51 minutes.
“Brandon,” I said. “Might I get off for five minutes? My library just sent me a list of books I can rent. It’s called ‘Wowbrary.'”
“Of course you can, Ruth,” he said. I liked that he always called me my name.
I reserved Lee Child’s newest crime-thriller and re-reserved the difficult to remember “Killers of the Purple Moon” about the genocide of the native Americans in Oklahoma. In fact, only yesterday I sent my son, Daniel, a birthday card, which I wrote on the back of an Amy’s Thai Curry box, and told him to read the book. I will never send him another gift as he has never liked any of them.
Dan is still my blue-eyed darling.
“Are you able to talk now, Ruth?” asked Brandon.
Devoted Health Care, he told me, would cover vision and dental. Vision included eyeglasses, which I always bought OTC – or, over the counter – but now, hey, I could buy fancy Christian Dior glasses with gems in the corners.
My current dentists I could not stand. Aside from having terrible magazines in the waiting room, their practice constantly told me what terrible-looking teeth I have. They wanted me to have cosmetic surgery and they would be happy to refer me.
True, my teeth were crooked and discolored but I think of them as healthy. I floss faithfully and brush with a powerful electric toothbrush.
Coffee often stains the teeth. I have given up my coffee addiction.
And, as a person with diabetes – never call us “diabetics” – which Brandon did – I engaged a diabetes doctor I do not like. He is originally from Santo Domingo and wants me to wear a diabetes sensor on my upper arm.
Turns out, we discovered, my primary care – Dr. James Scott Foxhall – was the only doctor I liked.
“May we fill out your app now?” asked Brandon.
“Um, what’s the app again?”
“It will save time,” he said, “when you sign up with us and save all that money we were talking about.”
“Certainly not,” I said forcefully. “I have to… “
“Oh, I understand,” he said. “You must check it with your husband or your friends.”
“Absolutely,” I said.
I knew Scott would never let me switch plans.
This morning as I ate my delicious breakfast on the red couch in the living room – two brown eggs, cherry tomaters, Cabot cheddar cheese, and mushrooms – a small brown bird perched on the brick right outside my window.
He was watching me, closely and carefully.
Should I chase him away?
I would wait until Saturday, October 15, the day Brandon would call me for my final decision. How shall I tell him the bad news?