I’ve given a lot of thought to various things over the past couple of days. I’ve looked at my life realized there’s this innate knowing that I won’t be here that much longer. I came to this realization yesterday. After spending much of the weekend in pain and hardly being able to move, I dislocated the patella on my right knee (meaning the kneecap moved out of place). I performed a battlefield maneuver and popped it back into place.
Although painful, a dislocated is not what I considered a significant injury for me (the absolute term, ‘for me’). That’s not to suggest that a dislocated kneecap isn’t a major medical issue. It’s just that for all I have been through, I more or less considered the event as just another indignity to accept.
Patients like me suffer all kinds of indignities. One such indignity is the requirement to bare all in the presence of young athletic-looking clinicians, where gravity has pulled cellulite into waves of hills and valleys that any miniature skateboarder would drool. I am also told to record my weight and contact the clinician should we suffer excessive weight loss.
“Have you recorded your weight?” my physician asks.
“No,” I paused. “Well, sort of,” I state.
“Meaning?” she asks.
“I take my weight every morning, but I can’t bend my neck to record it. So, I base my weight loss upon how much flab I can grab.”
Another slight pause filled the room.
“Ever see that ‘Special K’ cereal commercial ‘Pinch an inch?’”
“Well, I modified it to ‘Grab a foot.’ If I can grab more than a foot, I let you know.”
Just once, while disrobing and having some perky young face stare, I just want to say, “Welcome to your future bitch.” But I never do.
Another indignity is realizing just how fast my body has aged. Theoretically, I should be years away from such aches and pains. Now I’m comparing over-the-counter body rubs with 80-year-olds. I’ve gotten into some heated arguments over the value of Aspercreme, Icy Hot, Ben Gay, BioFreeze, Myoflex, Capzasin, and the like. We often bet on results.
“Hey, Mr. Rufus?” smiling.
“What are you pawning today?” he responds in a crusty voice.
“I got some Nurofen Gel. Straight from Europe.”
“Been there and done that kid,” he grovelingly responds. “You lose. So, fetch me another cup of coffee.”
“Damn,” I muttered.
I cringe at the person I was yesterday. I know the wisdom that comes with age is hard-won, but I could do without the flash of wince-worthy moments from my past—like worrying I was old at 23 or 25.
My life is littered with perceived indignities: first date, first real sexual experience, first presentation to a crowd, first proctology exam, first colonoscopy, and so on. Looking back, these seem so inconsequential. Real indignities are harder.
The fantasy of living until a ripe old age and dying in your sleep, while making love, scuba diving, or sailing is fiction. The real indignity is that many of us will die precisely like me–through an extended period of mental or physical decline. Nearly half of those my age will succumb to Alzheimer’s, not to mention diabetes or cancer.
The latest indignity occurred during the January 14, 2020, Democratic debate. For all the concern over healthcare, and the attempts by the current GOP led administration to repeal healthcare, the real indignity is that no candidate has neither proposed a plan nor discussed long term care for an aging population. The indignity of indignities is that no presidential candidate (Trump included) realistically discusses how to care or budget for generations to come. Thus, all candidates align on this common theme: They seductively offer hope without providing any hope.
And the infuriating indignity . . . is that we’re on our own.
“Welcome to your future, B****.”
Categories: Life Lessons