Two people sitting on a park bench looking at each other under their sunglasses

It's COOL To Be On Medicare!

"You're cool!" a third-grade boy said to me while doing cafeteria duty at lunchtime. "Thank you," I replied. A few days later, he said the same thing to me. This time he had a smirk on his face. Finally, another student spoke up and said, "Miss Connely, that's not nice what he is saying! COOL stands for Constipated Overweight Old Lady!" Ouch!

Did you know that there is a list of insulting acronyms on the Internet? Secret codes are not new. When I was a college freshman in 1975, my boyfriend told me, "Don't let anyone call you a Tulsa girl." "But I am from Tulsa!" I answered. He explained that Tulsa spelled backward was an insult. "That's awful! You guys must have too much time on your hands to think of that!" I said.

Preparing to retire

My teaching career started in 1978, and I retired in 2017. Looking over my photographs for almost forty years, I had morphed from Miss Peach into Miss Grundy from the Archie comics. No one escapes aging. I was once the youngest teacher on staff, then thirty-nine years went by, and I was the oldest.

When I told our school's gym coach about the boy's acronym, he marched the insulting student into our principal's office. To this day, I am not sure what they said to him, but the boy's apology was sincere. The coach assigned some consequences for his actions. "The smirk on his face is what angered me," Coach said. Oh, I know. Don't look at us with that tone!

I think the reason the coach and principal severely scolded the boy was that they knew I hadn't been feeling well. Our principal said to me, "Your students love you. Are you sure about retiring?" I was sure. Teaching requires a lot of energy, and I was exhausted at the end of most days. I also had some dizzy spells in class. "You want me to get the nurse, Miss Connely?" a little girl asked.

May 18, 2017, was my final last day of school. The day before, I had my first bone marrow aspiration. Students were hugging me goodbye, and my hip hurt. When you have pain from hugs, it's a good problem to have. Two weeks later, I learned that I had myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).

Glad to be on Medicare!

I am glad to be on Medicare. That's a sentence I thought I would never say, but when I learned how expensive the treatment is for MDS, my best option was to be on Medicare. So yes, it's cool to be on Medicare!

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older. I also have a supplemental plan. When it was time for me to decide on a supplement, I felt like I was studying for an important exam. So I asked everyone I knew who was 65 and over, "Do you like your insurance?"

Did you know that President Truman called for a creation of a national health insurance fund in 1945? However, President Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965. It only took twenty years. As of 2021, 63.1 million Americans had coverage through Medicare.1

Some people get excited about buying new cars, stylish clothes, attending concerts, etc. When you reach 65 with blood cancer, you are excited to have a good insurance plan. I am cool. COOL: Conscientious Optimistic Older Lady.

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