Monday, June 15, 2020


from Catherine Castle

I had a call from my family doctor last week. They wanted me to have a Medicare Wellness Check, something they do yearly when you reach a certain age.

“We’d normally have you come into the office,” the office girl said, “but with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d like to do this by phone. Is that all right with you?”

I’d had these before. They usually listen to your heart and lungs. This isn’t possible over the phone, so I’m not sure how much of a true wellness check a phone visit is, but it’s the way of the world at the moment. Then they go over my meds and supplements list, check my short term memory, ask if I’ve fallen recently, then ask a bunch of questions like: Do you feel depressed? Are you having thoughts of suicide? Do you feel safe at home? Can you spell world backward? All of which I could answer with ease. And, on the bright side, I wouldn’t have to endure the “white coat” blood pressure syndrome I always have at the GP’s office, which usually elicits a round of doubts about my home meter and my ability to check my own blood pressure—even though it’s normal at other doctor offices. So, I said “Yes.” They asked some preliminary questions, including have I fallen in the past two weeks, and then they took my phone number and scheduled an appointment for the next day.

Medicare wellness checks always start a round of jokes in our house, beginning with my mother-in-law. Years ago when she and Dad lived in a retirement home that required regular medical reviews, a nurse would come around and do their wellness checks. She’d take each of them into a different room, ask questions, and then say, “Spell world backward.”

One day, my mother-in-law told me the secret to passing her test. “I listened at the door, so I’d know the answers,” she said. “That way I knew how to spell world backward.”

We’re adding our own jokes to the Medicare wellness questions based on this year’s experiences. After this virtual visit I’m not sure I’ll ever view wellness checks the same again.

First off, the physician’s assistant who called me for the appointment was 20 minutes late. After apologizing profusely she said the office girl, who’d taken my phone number, had written the number down wrong, missing my number by one digit. After leaving 5 messages on the wrong number, they finally decided to look up my number in the records. Really? I’d have checked the number after the second time. Who needs the wellness check here?

Then the PA said, “You’ve already answered that you haven’t fallen in the past year.” “Whoa,” I said, “That’s not what she asked. She said two weeks. I’ve fallen twice in 2019, one of those in the past 12 months.” Then I went over the information, which should have been in their records already. Strike two for the office girl, whom I’m sure is way, way under Medicare wellness check age.

Next the PA said she’d normally ask me to draw a clock and see if I could put the right time on it. Okay, in today’s digital world, who wears an analog clock? I do, but most of the young people, and a great deal of the older ones, I see have digital watches. You can thank FitBit and Apple for that. This comment was especially funny to me as, that same morning, my husband had looked at the kitchen Micky Mouse clock and said, “Is it 10 after 12 or 2 p.m.?” I questioned whether or not he needed the wellness check instead of me. But since the hands on that particular clock are very close in size I gave him a pass. However, that particular clock is right side up, unlike my watch which I sometimes put on upside down and then have a heart attack when I think I’m late.

Since she couldn’t see my clock drawing, the PA asked me to remember 3 words. I faithfully repeated those words in my mind while conversing with her, and successfully repeated them back. Later that day it occurred to me I could have cheated like my mother-in-law and written the words down. And no, I didn’t cheat.

I passed all the tests and, thank goodness, she accepted my meter’s BP reading. It’s a good thing she didn’t ask me to:
• Walk out of the room and then come back in and remember what I was looking for.
• Empty the groceries and put the milk in the proper place—the refrigerator, not the pantry.
• Remember the names of the last three new people I met before COVID-19 turned me into a shut-in.
• Remember my age or how long I’ve been married.

If she had, I’d have failed the test, as I’ve been known to screw up all of those at one time or the other. Fortunately, I found the milk before it spoiled. I’m still messing up the other three things.

What about you? Have you had a funny COVID-19 doctor appointment yet?

Speaking of funny—check out Catherine’s romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama. This award-winning book is sure to give you a few laughs, hopefully like this post did.

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

With a sweep of his hand, Jack spread the photos out on the table in front of Allison and Beverly. “Here’s a few I just grabbed from the database. Any of them interesting?” He studied Allison’s reaction. She didn’t bat an eyelash as she scanned the men’s pictures. Then, without warning, she scooped them up and shoved them at him.

“I told Mama I wasn’t going to do this. It’s a stupid idea.”

“I’ll admit it’s not the ‘some enchanted evening, see a stranger across the room’ romantic way to find a husband, but it’s not totally unacceptable. Several of the couples my company has brought together have married.”

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

“It’s a new company, Allison. I don’t have the stats yet.” He pushed the photos across the table. “Just take a peek. What harm can it do?”

Beverly grabbed the photo of a particularly handsome man. “How about this one? His coloring complements yours. You’d have beautiful children.”

Mama!” Allison snatched the photo away. “We’re not going to discuss my possible, yet unlikely, progeny in front of Jack.”

A flash of Allison kissing this guy flew through his head. He grabbed the photo from her. “He’s not your type anyway.”

“And just how do you know?” she asked.

“I dated you, remember? You ditched me for some suave, corporate hotshot. At least it’s what you said.”
“Allison!” Beverly exclaimed. “You never told me that.”

Allison shot him a fierce scowl. “I’m not comfortable discussing my love life with you, Mama. Besides, what’s done and over with should be buried . . . in the past.” She picked up another photo. “What about him? Or him and him?” She pointed to two nerdy-looking fellows. “They seem corporate.”

Mama leaned over and checked out the pictures Allison had indicated. “Too ugly,” she said. “He’s got to be handsome. Like Jack. I want to know my grandbabies will be as beautiful as you two.”

He grinned. “Thanks for the compliment, but I know I’m not your daughter’s type.” He laid a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill this out. Then I can get a better idea of what you want in a husband.”

“I don’t want—”

“I know,” he interjected. “But, for your mom’s sake, just pretend you do.”

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Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.


  1. Thanks for hosting me today!

  2. Love this post, Catherine! Haven't had a doctor's appointment during these fun times, but my hubby has and I wonder if this is the norm. Hope not! All the best in life and career!

    1. Not sure but I do know many of my friends are having to wait a week or more for appointments. One has a kidney stone too big to pass and has to wait 2 1/3 weeks to see the doctor. I hope that doesn't become commonplace.

  3. Enjoyed Medicare Madness. The "It's a good thing she didn't ask me" part ticked everything on my list. We may be sisters. :)

    1. Ooh. A new sister! I like that. The more the merrier.

  4. Never heard of these 'wellness checks' before. Umm...a waste of time perhaps?

    1. Well, it certainly was in my case and they charged 3 times what my obgyn did for a telephone check up on my cancer surgery follow-up (during the shut down) and I actually talked to the obgyn doc. The wellness was just the PA.