I remember as a callow youth looking down my nose at old people who sat around doing nothing but discussing their doctors, their diseases, and their operations. Not that I was around your old people much, but when I was around them that’s all they seemed to want to talk about. When there were many other things of greater importance, I thought, like war, world peace, and the state of the economy that one might be discussing. Maybe I just envied them because, man, you could tell these people were really into what they were discussing, like you know when I had my hip removed, and they would go on savoring every detail even using occasional medical terms.
And then when the folks hit their late 60s it seemed like the big event of their week, whatever week it was, was to go to the doctor. Well, what will you be doing, and it was like, well, on Tuesday I go to the eye doctor and I will be getting back the results of the blood test, and I have this corn that needs looking into. And I though, Jesus, what kind of life is that when the high point of your week is to have your teeth cleaned.
Well, age humbles us all. When we went down to visit Carol’s mom last, I called ahead and made a date with an old friend whom I have known since 1973. So I we met up and talked while Carol went to spend time with her mom. We talked up and down over a thirty plus year period about this and that and what happened to whom, and so on, and what do you know but we had a good hour in there talking about our diseases.
I described my colonoscopy and tried to talk her into getting hers, but I probably failed. She has an ongoing problem. Once she was swimming and felt a pain in her ear, and thought well it was a whopper case of swimmer’s ear, and went to the doctor, and he gave her antibiotics or something. But the pain did not relent and so after two weeks she went to an ear expert and the expert said her eardrum had burst and what was worse a horrible infection had set in that eventually complete screwed up the little parts in there—the “hammer” is it called—and the other thing, so that she went deaf in the ear pretty much and began to suffer also from vertigo.
The vertigo thing sounds pretty terrible because there are no warning signs at all. I mean none. Just suddenly and for no clear reason you get vertigo and you start to lose your balance for no reason at all. That must be awful. Here you are one second taking a step forward and the next you are falling. There doesn’t seem to be any cure for it. They did an operation on the ear to try to get the hear back and put in plastic replacements for the broken parts, but they went out of whack and didn’t work. To do that operation, they had to cut her entire ear off. Of course, they sewed it back on.
So far I have avoided having my ear cut off. In fact, no doctor has yet to make an incision in me. Yesterday, the skin doctor blasted me in a couple of spots with liquid nitrogen to get rid of some pre-cancerous lesions. And for the first time ever, he started fingering his way through what remains of my hair and blasted a couple of spots on my scalp too. I have to face the fact that the skin up there has lost most of its natural covering and I better make sure to wear a hat.