|Self-portrait, 29 Nov 03. Age 57.|
AETAT SVAE 57/ANo 2003
(Low resolution digital photo;
"Dutch old masters" image enhancement by Mark Lindquist.
Behind my right shoulder is a telescope.)
To see picture of me at age 58+1/4,
a change in your EKG from last year"|
|When is my good health going to run out?|
|The Friday before my
57th birthday (21Nov03) began with a routine visit to my dentist for a cleaning. I have come
to look forward to these visits because the dentist gives me nitrous oxide, which
greatly reduces my anxiety. My ensuing work day
went well enough that I did not need to take an Ativan pill to
deal with anxiety there.
|As the end of my work day
approached -- about 3:30PM, I noticed that I had a voicemail message. Entirely
unexpectly, it was my doctor telling me that the EKG from my annual checkup the
previous Tuesday had changed from the previous year. He said it might have been
a problem with the EKG machine, or a blocked artery, or just my growing older.
He instructed me to schedule another EKG for Monday or Tuesday, and that he had
told the scheduler to make a place for me in his schedule. He had called around 1:30PM,
and by the time I noticed the message (about 3:30, as said...), not just he himself but
also the person who schedules apointments had left for the day, so I had to
wait until Monday morning to even schedule my appointment. All weekend I was
worried that, finally, my age was catching up with me -- in the form of a
clogged artery that might require an angioplasty or coronary bypass surgery.
|For many years I have been worried about
detrimental effects of my work "life" on my health....|
I got an appointment to get my repeat EKG on Tuesday afternoon -- the nurse said they
were too busy on Monday. So I started waiting another anxious day. But then the
doctor's office called me and said I could come in at 12:15 "today". I [anxiously] jumped at
the chance to get the worrying over sooner.|
|My doctor called me into
his office after the technician did the EKG (any time with "my doctor" is a rare thing in
"these days" of managed health care!). He showed me the recordings of both EKGs,
and said that it was as he had expected: The second EKG was normal. He tried to
explain to me that the heart has 3 natual pacemakers in it, and the first EKG had
by chance recorded a transient condition where #2 was setting the pace instead of #1.
I did not really understand this, but even to me it was clear that the 2 printouts
looked different. My doctor asked me what medications I was taking, and, when
I mentioned that I took a little Elavil to help me sleep, he said that likely
was the cause of the situation the first EKG showed. He said that if this was the
case, then all I needed to do was find a different sleep aid. He asked me to wear a 24
hour heart monitor, just to make sure of my condition.|
|Tuesday (16Dec03), my
doctor phoned to tell me that the heart monitor had not
detected anything amiss. He said I had 8 extra heartbeats during the 24 hours,
but that was within acceptable limits. He seemed still puzzled about the
results of that first EKG. He said that I did not need to stop taking Elavil to help sleep, but that
I should cut down on
and alcohol, both of which could cause the kind of thing that first EKG reported.|
|"It's not the size of the ice, it's the size of the fall that counts." (--me, BMcC)|
|I believe old persons often go into
irreversible "decline" after breakng a hip in a fall.|
|I drive into the supermarket
parking lot and into a convenient space on a slight upgrade.
I make sure to put the parking brake on. I open the car door,
turn and step outside. I find myself falling as I hit the ground on my right
hip and elbow, and my head hits against the rear bumper of the
car in the next space. I'm wearing shoes with leather heels, so I attribute my
fall to my foolishness in wearing shoes with heels that are prone to
slipping. Yet again, again, I think: Dumb me!|
|I do not
lose consciousness, and no bones seem to be broken. Being now 57 years old,
I have begun to worry about falling and breaking my hip, etc. I conclude that
I'm lucky this time (it's Thanksgiving Day).|
|After finishing buying my groceries, and
carefully walking back to my car and placing the groceries on the
back seat, I get in the driver's seat and try to reconstruct my earlier motions
which led to the entirely unexpected fall. I slowly open the car door and turn and
begin to step out of the car -- and, looking down, I see 3 pieces of the peel of an
orange on the ground. I think: Maybe the leather heels on my shoes were
not to blame after all. It did seem unlikely that they would totally lose traction
on the dry asphalt of the parking lot. No: Now I think that the carelessness of
the person who ate the orange and threw the peel on the ground was to blame.
I was probably entirely innocent. I pick up the 3 orange peels and
throw them down a nearby storm drain. Then I see more pieces of
orange peel on the ground in a place a persons is less likely to slip on
in getting out of their car, but I decide to leave without
throwing them away (I should have -- mea culpa).|
|In any case, I think was lucky -- although, on the
other hand, even when I had just fallen, I had thought that,
if my hip was broken, the hospital was just across the street.
Thank God I wasn't going to spend the rest of Thanksgiving there!|
to do preventive medicine: my fourth colonoscopy|
|Did the doctor look for the right things?
|I had my 4th colonoscopy, 07 Feb 2008. I had my first
at age 50, then 55, 58 and now 61. I believe my maternal grandfather died wretchedly from colon cancer in his early 60s. My third
colonoscopy, the doctor removed 2 adenomatous polyps, which is why my 4th was scheduled for 3 not 5 years after (I forget the
results of the first two procedures). I wonder whether, if I had not had
any colonoscopies, I too would have colon cancer. This time, the doctor removed 2 polyps, but they
were apparently benign -- the Tuesday after the procedure, I learned the doctor said I should come back again in
5 (not 3!) years -- at age 66.
Take note: About a month after my most recent colonoscopy, I read an
article in the New York Times
that said the most dangerous colon abnormalities are not polyps but flat or depressed lesions, and not all
doctors are trained to look for these. I worry whether my doctor looked for these, and I am frustrated that
the article came shortly after instead of before my procedure, so that I could have asked. (If you
are going to have a colonoscopy, ask about this!) --Finally (31 Mar 2008, while writing this warning...), I did get up the gumption to call back and ask the
nurse about it, and she said my doctor did look for depressed as well as
elevated abnormalities, so hopefully I'm OK.
Read more about my concerns due to my ancestry, about aging.
Learn about my childrearing (The Sorrow and The Pity).
Read more about me (as an adult).
"Shipwreck with Spectator" (Life as a journey...).
Read Medieval morality play: The Summoning of Everyman.
Copyright © 2003 Brad McCormick, Ed.D.
(2008-03-31 ISO 8601)
31 March 2008CE
||A friend asked me why, along with writing about exquisite works of art and other
elevated (and "respectable", "polite"...) topics, I write also about banal (and even "offensive"...) details of my life,
in this website (e.g., above, or, in my friend's opinion, even more
lamentably, where, on the page from which you
may have come to here, I describe my dermatological fears --
what I, bitterly, call: my "roots").
My friend said I demeaned the high by including the low -- and that, further, while
persons will be interested in the fine art objects I share with them, nobody
will be interested in my zits. My friend's question is a "good" one.|
|My answer is that
the banal and even offensive details are part of the same social world as the
exquisite works of art. To fully "appreciate" either, we need to see it in the context of
the whole social world of which it is part, which social world includes both. What about
that (i.e., "our"...) social world led to the production of both the offensive and the
exquisite? Since both have happened to me, I see my life as: evidence in a
judicial inquiry -- albeit no real court is going to take the case.|
I do not like postmodernism's (and, earlier, Beaux Arts'...) "decorated sheds".
I do not like veneers. The parts one doesn't easily see should be at least
as beautiful as the most "obvious" parts. The emperor's physique, under his clothes,
should both be and "look" good.|
|So, dear reader, the
"best" I can do if you feel as my friend did, is to repeat the ACOA (Adult Children of
Alcoholics) dictum, that you may: "Take what you like and leave the rest".|