More doctors, pills and other joys of growing old

By Ernie Sochin….

The number of pills you take seems to increase with age.

“Don’t grow old.” This is one of the few stupid things that I allow myself to say once each week.

This time I said it to a bunch of younger coworkers at my place of business. One of them shouted out: “What is the alternative?” Of course I had no acceptable answer.

What brought all this about is this damned aging process. When you live long enough as I have you begin going to lots of doctors. Remember the Latin phrase Doctoris Begetis Doctoris. This means doctors lead to more doctors. Go to one doctor and they send you to another for tests. The results of those tests require still more doctors to check you out.

Example: I happen to have a relatively low heart rate because I have spent most of my leisure time either riding a bicycle or playing tennis. I never stopped from when I was a child. A while back, I though nothing of riding a bicycle 100 miles on what were called “century runs.” I don’t do them now but just the other day I rode 35 miles just to see if I could do it. I did.

So you think that is good huh? Nope. My doctors are concerned that my heart rate is so low that I might stop breathing at night. They gave me two choices. One was to have my sleep-mate stay awake each night to make sure that I was still breathing. When I suggested this, she replied, “#%&*$#, honey.” She always ends things with honey.

The other option was to send me for a sleep test. This is a test where they place you in a nice comfortable room with a beautiful bed and then wire you up with dozens of things attached all over your body, to which they add a belt around your chest and one around your waste. Then they tell you to have a nice night’s sleep. Somehow I managed to flunk the test and now I have to do another with even more stuff attached to me. No doubt this will require another doctor to evaluate the results in addition to the three I have already gone to.

Just to be sure I wasn’t feeling too well, I got what would normally be called a “stiff neck.” Of course, at my age you have to go to the hospital to check it out. Turns out to be a thing called Spasmodic Torticollus. Ever heard of that one? Me neither. Luckily the cure for it was giving me a cocktail of Percoset and Valium and instructions to go home and do nothing for a day or so. I must admit, they were the happiest days I have had in a long time, until the meds wore off. I can understand why people become addicts now.

If that isn’t enough I had to go for several colonoscopy exams recently. If you haven’t had one of those I highly recommend that you do. Not because it may save your life someday, but because I don’t want to be the only one to have this wonderful experience. I love to share. The procedure is nothing. You go to sleep in a few seconds and wake up when it’s all over. Preparing for it is fun, too. You drink a gigantic jug of horrible tasting stuff and stay as close to your toilet as possible. I mean close. I am lucky to have a gastroenterologist who is also a fellow politician. Whenever someone attempts to introduce us, I respond that we already know each other intimately.

Of course between these visits I must visit my dentist and eye doctor, which leaves me little time for anything else. The pill companies must love me. Of course I read all the possible side effects of everything that I am taking and one of the constants in all of them is: “May cause instant death,” but not to worry, because doctors (and morticians) recommend them.

Growing old isn’t all bad. I will be 75 this January. (Birthday presents of cash may be emailed to my attention at this newspaper.)

One of the benefits is no longer having to lie about your age. There is little to hide. I now can flirt with young waitresses and they don’t take me seriously. “What a nice little old man!”

My dining companion still has issues with me calling them “honey.” She thinks it is demeaning to them. I think that it is better than “dearie” or “sweet pea.” We still argue a little about that but what can you do with a stubborn old man? I might have trouble running for president though, if what is happening to Herman Cain is any example.

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