Sunday, January 26, 2020

Not for sissies

I borrowed the title of this post from the extraordinary book of portraits of senior athletes entitled Growing Old Is Not For Sissies by Etta Clark. The original book was published in 1986. Book two was published in 2016.

As much as I try to stay young and fit, I may be fooling myself. The maladies keep mounting up. January has been a torrent of injuries and infirmities. In the last ten days I have had six medical appointments. And I have another one today and one more February 7. Then there are the physical therapy sessions, four of which have been scheduled and six more to come. I have had quite enough of this nonsense.

First, I fell while running in Los Angeles and have partially torn two of my five my left rotator cuff tendons. The injury led to two doctor’s appointments, an X-ray and an MRI. I'll learn today whether I need surgery or if PT will do. My gut says surgery. 

Thankfully, my bone density test for osteoporosis showed improvement. My numbers for the MGUS protein that can lead to Multiple Myeloma were unchanged. Another cancer free year is always appreciated. Patients with MGUS have a one percent chance of getting Multiple Myeloma each year. So, if you have 12 years to live you have a 12% chance of getting the cancer. It’s not something you dwell on but it's lurking in the back of your mind. Imagine being diagnosed at 30, as my doctor described, and assuming 60 more years on this planet, you have a 60% chance of getting Multiple Myeloma. That would basically suck. I haven’t got many reasons to be happy about a shorter clock. This is one and only one.

Through this tumult my blood pressure has spiked, something I’ll chock up to nerves, and I’m pretty sure I have a left inguinal hernia. I recognize the symptoms since I had one repaired in 1987. And the odd sensation in my nether regions is in exactly the same spot. I reckon I’ll live with this one for awhile and bet that it doesn’t get worse. Back in 87 the operation was a snap but I the pain when I walked fifty feet between benches in the Burlington Mall gave me a cold sweat. Ten days later, though, I was on the treadmill as if nothing had happened.

I’m surrounded by operations completed or planned. In just a week I’ve met a hip replacement, two knees, three cataracts, a rotator cuff and a pacemaker. Honestly, every conversation goes to the political state of affairs or somebody’s maladies. I need to run with a younger crowd.

Last week I had my annual physical that featured a lengthy questionnaire with tests of my apparent cognitive decline. Twenty minutes into the inquisition I told the nurse, “This is pretty involved. I’ve never had this before. Is this a test for dementia?”

She replied, “Yeah, Medicare is requiring this now. So, we have to do it.” What Medicare might do with your personal information is a troubling question. And what happens if you discover the early onset of the disease? I've forgotten.

This is a warning to you oldsters. Take your Ginkgo Biloba and study up.

The questions and quizzes were softballs for the most part. But there’s a trick in the wicket. As I recall, the caveat being that I might not, she gave me five words to repeat back in order. My palms began to sweat and I hyperventilated. I stumbled through the five simple words in the correct order and promptly excised them form my limited memory bank. There's only so much space between my ears. Then five minutes later Nurse Ratchet, clever girl, asked me if I remembered the five words she’d given me. 

Seeing the panic in my eyes she clarified, “No. You don’t need to repeat them in order.” Still I clutched and got three of the words out before blurting out, “I don’t want to do this. I’m not going to play this game.”

“That’s okay, Three’s okay.”

“No three is not okay. You idiot.” I thought to myself.

The words, in order by the way, were:






1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

Apple, car, house, pen, tie. Say it again. Apple, car, house, pen tie. What a pithy search into your experiences without and within the medical industrial complex. I am glad you are taking note of all of these things because you never know what chord you will strike for your blog followers. Muchas gracias, Amigo!