The older I get, the more I worry about my health. Like most young fools at 20, I thought I’d live forever—always healthy, no wrinkles, no gray hair, no hair loss. I’d be the first to get out of this world alive, well, and looking good. Thirty-some years later, I’m here to tell you that’s not working out for me.
I’m happy to say that I am, for the most part, quite healthy. Still, I have more aches and pains than I used to. I never feel 100% comfortable any more. My shoulder will ache for two weeks and as soon as that feels better, I’ll develop a bunion on my little toe. Three weeks of liquid corn removal therapy and my foot feels fine, but my teeth hurt and I find out I need a root canal.
I’ve noticed that lately it doesn’t take much for me to injure myself. Last week, I bent over to pick up a candy wrapper on the sidewalk and threw my back out. Guess I won’t lift anything that heavy again.
For a mostly healthy old dude, I’ve gotten to know a lot of doctors in the past few years. When I was growing up in Smalltown, we had one family doctor and one dentist. Dr. Braley could fix anything from acne to a heart attack. There were no referrals to dermatologists or cardiologists. Dr. B did it all. If he couldn’t fix you . . . well, you suffered and then you died. He delivered babies, removed ruptured appendices, performed tonsillectomies, and even did surgeries to prevent young couples from having that seventh or eighth little mouth to feed. (There weren’t any magic pills back then.)
The dentist in Smalltown was Dr. Carter. I remember him well. He didn’t believe in using Novocain. I’m not sure if he was a sadist or just figured if he hurt me enough I’d remember to brush my teeth. At any rate, if you had a dental problem, Dr. Carter would fix it. He’d either drill it and fill it or yank it out.
These days, there seems to be a specialist for every ailment. It takes a separate phone book just to list all the doctors in my little area. There’s a special dentist for every part of the mouth. I’ve seen different dentists to fill cavities, pull teeth, fix my roots, cut my gums, and straighten my smile.
There are special doctors for corneas, ankles, hands, feet, prostates, skin, bones, hair loss, weight gain, nerves, tops, bottoms, insides, outsides, front ends, and rear ends. The list could go on for pages.
For all my little aches and pains, I’ve been lucky, so far. I don’t have to take any prescription medications. The little woman, Winnie, started taking a blood pressure pill about a month ago and I haven’t had any food with flavor since. She’s become a sodium Nazi—“no salt for you!” I think she’s perturbed that I eat twice as much and exercise half as much and she’s the one with hypertension. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Since apparently only older geezers watch the evening news, the advertisements are almost exclusively for drugs. Just as there are doctors for every ailment, there seems to be a drug for every condition. You’d think there was money to be made fixing sick people. Watching these commercials, I don’t think I want to take any of these medications. The potential side effects are terrifying! At the end of each commercial there is always someone listing all the bad stuff the drug can do while treating your illness.
“While taking ‘thiscostsalotufool’, you may experience incontinence, problems with bladder control, or other leakages.” Heck, I experience that just listening to the ad. “If you develop bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth, or ears, become paralyzed, develop loss of memory, vision, hearing, or taste, or have difficulty breathing or swallowing, contact your doctor. These side effects may not be a good thing.” Ya think?
“If you are taking an antidoxythyrobenzochorazine inhibitor blocker, you should not take ‘thiscostsalotufool’.” Do you really think I’d know it if I was taking that kind of drug?
One of the blood pressure drugs warned about loss of libido as a side effect. The little woman called my doctor the next morning and asked if he could prescribe that for me. His advice was, “Just say no.” Like she hadn’t already thought of that.
My blood pressure creeps up from time to time and I’m sure I’ll have to join the millions on drugs eventually. I’m imagining the first follow-up visit with my doctor to see how the ‘thiscostsalotufool’ is working.
Doc: “So, Joe, how are you feeling?”
Me: “Well Doc, since I’ve been taking the medication, I vomit every morning, have frequent nosebleeds, can’t sleep, have difficulty breathing, and I’ve developed various leakages.”
Doc: “But the medication is working. Your blood pressure is down to 135/75.”
Me: “Oh, and Doc, I’ve suddenly developed the urge to commit homicide.”